The Peacefulness of Empty Space: How Moving Can Be an Opportunity to Reset
When we move from one home to another, it presents us with an opportunity that we don’t get very often: starting from scratch. It’s an opportunity to rethink what we do in each room, what we put into each room, and consequently, how we want those rooms to look and feel.
When we move into a new home or repurpose rooms for changing needs, we can be tempted to fill the space up quickly. We move all the books, all the bedroom and bathroom linens, all the appliances – even the pizzelle maker that you’ve never successfully used. These things accumulate over time. We keep them out of attachment, fear, or optimism, or for many other reasons that might not be actual desire to have or use them.
Empty Space = Possibilities
Before that happens, a new space is often empty and imbued with a peacefulness that comes from possibility. In these situations, there’s an opportunity to reflect on what we put into the space and to bring only what we truly need or want into it.
Typically, when we pack, we pack up everything, move the furniture, and unpack everything, often in a very similar way to how things were set up in our previous home. But what if you only put into your new home office, living room, or kitchen, the things that you really use or really love?
Imagine having the opportunity for a two-stage move; take only what you can’t live without, settle into the new digs for a while, and then revisit what was left behind. Take it? Leave it? Sell it? Pass it on? Sometimes less really is more - when less stuff means more space for your peace of mind.
A new home is like a blank canvas upon which we can create a whole new work of art, including the feelings and emotions that we want our work of art to convey. While we may default to setting up our new home just like the old one, moving homes is a good time to ask ourselves if we still do all the same things that we used to do, or that we’re set up to do. Do we even want to? Even treasures like books can become a burden if we aren’t actually reading them. Is it time to regift them or visit the local Free Little Library?
When we focus less of our energy and resources on stuff, we not only create more space in our homes, we free up energy, resources, and often time to experience more of life. Richer experiences in life might mean travel, taking classes, or putting in that longed-for landscaping, or it might mean creating a beautiful reading nook so that we do read all those books.
Intentional Space = Intentional Feelings
When we focus more on experiences rather than stuff, we become conscious that every moment is an experience and we can ask ourselves how we want to spend that moment, how we want that moment to feel. Even our relaxation time is a moment. But is it relaxing? Are there things we can do to make that relaxation time more peaceful? More enjoyable?
A branch of architecture called neuroarchitecture has been studying the psychological effects of home and building design on people.1 One discovery is that minimalism and empty spaces are more relaxing and peaceful than cluttered or busy spaces. A well-curated space can convey comfort and relaxation while a busy space is often crowded with things that need to be done, fixed, or attended to, and this prevents us from truly relaxing. In the emptiness of space, we find peace.
In order to have moments of serenity, our minds and spirits need fewer demands on them. Interior designers work with the idea of negative space, meaning the space between your stuff.2 If there is no space between the stuff, our eyes have nowhere to rest between focusing on points of interest. Without negative space, both our eyes and our brains become overstimulated by the busyness of a room. You can create negative space, and therefore a sense of relaxation, by ensuring that you don’t fill every wall, every foot of floorspace, or every inch of surface space. Be intentional in what you introduce into the room, into the moments you are creating, and let the room itself highlight what you choose.
Curating those peaceful moments might involve editing what’s in a room to create negative space, almost breathing space, between focal points. Editing, often called purging, is hard, but necessary if you want to curate your environment to support your desired experience of the home.3 That’s why moving presents such a great, and potentially less hard, opportunity.
If we think of our lives as an experience rather than as an accumulation of stuff, then we look at the empty rooms in terms of what we will use them for, what we will do in them, rather than what they will store. If we’re going to read those books, we can curate the perfect book nook to do it in, somewhere that looks and feels peaceful, joyful, and comfortable.
The Danes have coined the term hygge to describe a space that is peaceful, comfortable, and well-curated.3 The term is fluid, meant to be adapted to different functions, aesthetics, and styles, but focuses on the intentionality of the space – what's in it, what it’s used for, how it makes us feel.
Be Clear, Curate, Relax = Your Space
If moving presents us with an opportunity, then the challenge for us is to first be clear about what we want to do in the new space, how we want it to look, and how we want it to feel.
Do you need a home office? Is your living room for visiting, for television, or would it be better as a yoga space? Do you use the dining room, or has it become the home office?
The next step is to curate. This involves active choices rather than reacting to things you’ve always done or stuff you already have. Put what you need into a room. Then add what you want into the room. Then look at what’s left and ask yourself if you’ll really use it, or if it contributes to the feeling that you want your new home to convey. Does your home office need all the stationery and pens and paraphernalia of yore, or are your work and personal uses fully digital now? Do you use those large hardcover dictionaries? What would your home office look like without all the stuff that used to signify office? What would it feel like? Does your living area need seating for six, or would one comfortable chaise do?
Remember that your new home is not a storage space, but a living space. Bring into it only what you need and want, so that it doesn’t become a room full of stuff that you don’t use. It’s helpful if you can triage your belongings in one spot - a garage, attic, basement, or storage locker - where you can put everything, and only move something into a room as you need it and when you want it. You may find there are quite a few things that never get curated into your new home. Garage sale anyone?
Historically, when goods were scarce rather than mass manufactured, having new things, rare things, or many things was a sign of wealth or accomplishment. Nowadays, experiences are what we all crave, and empty space is the new luxury. Curate your life with intentionality, curate your home with your life in mind, and then relax and enjoy the peacefulness of empty space.
Looking for a cozy new space? FairSquare Group Realty is here for you. We’re the real estate brokerage that offers a smart, modern choice for Canadians. With thousands in commission savings for sellers, $2,000 cash back* for buyers, and experienced professional support every step of the way, it’s the new way home. Yours. Call 1-855-999-9740 to learn more.