5 Ways to Live a Simpler Life
5 way to live a simpler life by Swell Made Co. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler.

5 way to live a simpler life by Swell Made Co. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler.

Life is complicated. It just is. But it can be less so with small, but significant changes. Living a simpler life (or minimal) is not about deprivation, it's actually the contrary. It's about being intentional and making room for the important things in life. Here are some ways you can embrace simplicity too. If you're like me, it may be a slow and steady process with the challenges of family, careers and relationships. Even an ongoing one, but once it becomes habit you'll see a huge changes in your life. Because it's the little things that have a big impact.


“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris


1 - Declutter

The first way (and one of the hardest ways) to embrace simplicity is to declutter. In all aspects of your life. Physically (stuff, stuff, stuff) and emotionally (yup, that baggage). For the last 15 years, I have been practicing minimalism in a way that works for me. It's truly different for everyone. No, I don't have stark white home. Yes, I still struggle with having "stuff" because I have a family of 4; but I am intentional and thoughtful about what comes into my home and have mastered lettings go of things that serve no purpose or bring no joy. I haven't read any best-selling books about it (although, I'm sure they're great). I just put it into practice whenever I can. Moving many times and living in efficient spaces (small) will force you to really consider what's worth having around. Take it one step at a time until it becomes second nature.

Start with one room and work toward the whole house. When buying things, ask yourself if you really need something. Think about how your choices influence your own peace of mind, but also the greater world around you (ethically and environmentally). Less is more. Quality over quantity. All of those things are true. Having less stuff makes space for gratitude and focus.

Once you practice decluttering in a physical capacity, you can apply that same mindset to your emotional space. This one is much harder for me. Letting go of old habits and relationships that are toxic to your well-being requires a lot more strength than letting go of physical things. Often because this type of clutter has been taking up space for far too long. So long, that it clouds judgement and the respect you have for yourself. It's okay. The same concept applies. If anything (including things) evokes negative emotions or makes you cringe, let that shit go. You'll thank yourself. Good vibes only, right?

2 - Get Outside + Move

Get outside! It's one of the simplest way to disconnect from the complications of life and reconnect with nature. Being in nature has been proven to provide benefits for our physical and mental health. From the physical activity involved to the clarity and focus it provides for your mind. Trees and fresh air have the power to bring a sense of comfort and calm and restore our energy in the simplest way.

Once it becomes habit, you'll crave being outside to just be. To breath and to listen to nature (and yourself). There is so much beauty in our own backyards, we just need to seize the opportunities to enjoy it. You can walk, run, meditate or do yoga. Do nothing or anything, but try it outside. Find the things that move your body and heart and stay with them. It might be a struggle at first, but pushing through to see the benefits is well worth it. 


"Simplicity makes room for the important things in life. It's up to you to determine what's truly important. Then, let the rest go."
- Lesley Pocklington


3 - Eat Well

Another simple way to be kind to yourself is to fuel your body by eating well. It doesn't have to be complicated. Some of the most delicious meals have only 5 ingredients. There are tons of cookbooks and blogs out there that tackle this fresh and simple approach. Keep it simple when it comes to nutrition and eat what truly makes you feel incredible. French fries make me feel incredible for about 5 minutes, it's true; but filling my body with nourishing food most of the time is a habit I just can't give up. 

4 - Invest in real life

This is another one that's hard for me. When I moved from a big city to a smaller one, I had a bit of an identity crisis and loads of FOMO (fear of missing out). Once I realized that simple human connections were far more important to me than visiting the next Instagram worthy restaurant (spoiler alert - the food is never as delicious as the cool wallpaper), all was well in the world. As much as I like to visit new places, I'd rather keep it simple and have an honest and real conversation with a pal over coffee or wine. It's that simple! Trust me, your heart and mind will be far more grateful for genuine experiences. 

It's so easy to get caught up in the world of social media when you view life from an unrealistic lens. Step back and see what's real and truly important to you and invest your energy there instead.


"Out of clutter find simplicity."
- Albert Einstein


5 - Slow down

Being busy all the time is overrated. We all know that, but somehow (like social media) it's easy to get caught up and pack your days full of appointments and activities. Even multitasking (which I used to be the "queen" of) has been proven to be ineffective and bad for your mental health. It's not an intentional or enjoyable way to live. So, slooow down and give yourself and your mind some space. Savour the moments and simple things that make life good.

That's why I love stationery so much. The slow, intentional act of writing a note is so rare and special these days. If you feel good about sending a note, just think about how the person on the other end feels. Just as good, I bet! 

Whatever brings you joy, you should do more of that instead. If you're feeling over committed, it's okay to simply say "no". In short, practicing simplicity is to not do anything, own anything or be around anyone that you don’t love. If it makes you feel bad (or not good) it has no place in your mind or life. Once you practice this kind of kindness towards yourself, it will flow into everything else. It's a process and a journey, but so worth it. Thanks for reading!

Swell Made Co. was created out a desire to simplify, but enhance my own life back in 2014. Since then, I have made a commitment to slowing down and making sure intentional choices flow into my business and personal life. Have you found ways to simplify your life? I'd love to hear them. Feel free to share in the comments or get in touch!


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The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home
The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

Plants make people happy and do us good. It's true! Actually, it's scientifically proven. If you're an urban dweller like me, plants are a simple way to connect with nature on a daily basis. Houseplants bring beauty into our homes by elevating spaces, but they also help us feel creative and rejuvenated. Best of all, common indoor plants are capable of cleansing the air in your home.

NASA's Clean Air Study suggests that plants are capable of naturally removing common toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia and benzene (found in paints, glue and other household items). While it might seem like magic, the higher oxygen levels naturally provided by plants have been proven to improve health and well-being. So, which plants are best for cleansing the air in your home? While, any plant will do, here are some of my favourites that are easy to love and care for if you're not a green thumb. If you're a plant killer, perhaps you should check out our Plant Lover collection. 

The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co.

The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co.

The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home:

  1. Snake Plant

  2. Boston Fern

  3. Dracaenas

  4. Bamboo or Lady Palm

  5. Philodendron

There are many more air cleansing plants out there. Just ask when visiting your local plant shop or florist, these are great to get started and can be found commonly. Keep reading below to learn more about each variety.

Snake Plant - The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

Snake Plant - The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

1 - Snake Plant

The snake plant (sansevieria) has incredible air-cleansing qualities removing four of the five most commonly found household toxins. The snake plant (also called mother-in-law's tongue) is super low maintenance. It requires low to moderate light and low water making it a breeze to care for. Ridiculously easy.

2 - Boston Fern

Hang this dramatic fern (nephrolepis exaltata) in bright light and it will happily help cleanse the air in your home. Large and leafy this beautiful fern does require quite a bit of moisture even though it's considered easy-going. From this list, this plant requires the most care. Just give it regular mists and you'll both be happy!

3 - Dracaenas

There are 40 different kinds of dracaenas plants, so they're easy to come by. Red-edged and cornstalk are well known vareties. Another power houseplant, it removes four of the five most common toxins found in the home. Place it in a spot with bright to indirect light and water moderately. Keeping the soil moist, but not soggy is key to caring for this plant. 

Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant (#plantgoals). The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Lauren Mancke.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant (#plantgoals). The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Lauren Mancke.

4 - Bamboo + Lady Palms

Bring the Bamboo or Lady Palm into your home for a bohemian or tropical vibes and some serious air cleansing plant power. With a penchant for formaldehydes, benzene and carbon monoxide, these plants are more than just pretty. Plus, they are natural humidifiers as well. Easy to care for bamboo or lady palms require bright to indirect light and moderate watering. They can grow quite large given the space (larger pot) to grow.

5 - Philodendron

A common variety of the philodendron plant is the sweetheart plant with its adorable heart-shaped leaves. There certainly is much to love when it comes to this plant, with it's cleansing abilities and it's super low-maintenance nature. It can trail and creep around your spaces, which makes it even more endearing. Like most of the plants listed here, it requires bright to indirect light and moderate water.

All of the plants mentioned above thrive best with well-draining soil, so the roots don't drown/rot. Happy houseplant hunting and loving!


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How To | Style Your Shelves
How To | Style Your Shelves by Holly Young and Swell Made Co.

How To | Style Your Shelves by Holly Young and Swell Made Co.

Styling shelves can be a daunting task to get just right. I know. In my living room I have some beautiful, classic built-ins (I live in a century home); but styling them has always been a challenge. Thankfully, my friend Holly was up to the challenge! Holly Young is an Ontario based artist with a love for home décor and anything mid-century modern. Trained in fine art and interior design, Holly's home has been featured on Apartment Therapy and her work was recently featured on Little Green Notebook. We have a lot in common when it comes to home style, but Holly has a way of making it come together effortlessly. She's going to take it from here with her tips on how to style your shelves. Enjoy!


5 Tips for Styling Your Shelves by Holly Young

When Lesley asked me to share a few shelf styling tips with you I was on board. We have built-ins in our living room and they really pull the entire space together. You may require help from a friend or expert, but when you get it right you will just know. I kept ours the same for three years! That is an eternity in the world of design. If you don’t do anything too trendy, they will look great until you decide to change them again.

1 - Declutter

One of the simplest ways to freshen up your shelves is to declutter. Go through your items and edit, keeping only things that are meaningful and complementary to your style. Switching things up from room to room is an inexpensive way to get a new look without breaking the bank. I was able to see the potential from all of Lesley’s accessories and collectibles as soon as I entered her home.

2 - Group Things

Re-arranging items and grouping similar pieces together will make all the difference. The hardest part is finding the time to take everything off of the shelves and dusting it. Lesley’s aesthetic is modern and classic. Lots of neutrals mixed her favourite graphic combo of black and white. Most of the colourful accents used here are sentimental souvenirs and travel photos. A few family portraits are mixed in and add just the right amount of personality. 

Grouping items in threes is so simple and effective. I did this with Lesley's vases and other items. Varying the height of pottery, plants and photos helps your eye travel around and not focus on one element. Movement gives a sense of flow and balance. 

3 - ADD GREENERY

My favourite décor item is a plant. Thankfully, Lesley had so many beautiful pots and plants to choose from. The more variety you have in your pots and plants, the better. Variation of size, shape, colour and height of plants will add visual interest. Plus, plants are a healthy choice for your home. They help you feel at peace and they purify the air in your space. 

Style tip    - Add a variety of greenery and fun pots to your shelves.

Style tip - Add a variety of greenery and fun pots to your shelves.

4 - LOOK WELL READ

Before I started styling Lesley's shelves I asked her if she had more books. The bottom cupboards were filled with them. They just needed a place to shine. I chose a few that had a similar colour palette and took off the book jackets to reveal the typography and colours.

When you are placing your books, mix it up. Stack three on one shelf and stand a few on another. This will add height so everything is not linear. Mix it up with horizontal and vertical groupings. Use things in different ways. Instead of having the woven bowl Lesley bought in Panama stand up, I simply put it on a low shelf (on top of books) so the pattern could be seen at eye level. I also moved a little black chair and made it a book end. 

5 - GIVE IT TIME

If you have just moved into your home it may take you a few months to collect and curate items to use when styling your shelves. I am a big fan of mixing vintage finds with store bought accessories. Some of my favourite things in my home cost only a few dollars at a secondhand shop. As you are drawn to and collect items, you'll see what your true style is.

I used almost everything Lesley had in her shelves. I added more greenery, books and switched up some white pottery with darker tones so they would pop against the white back drop. They were simple, but impactful changes that complemented Lesley's style and highlighted meaningful pieces in her home. Happy styling!

Holly Young

Style tip    - Add groupings of books. Mix it up with vertical and horizontal groupings.

Style tip - Add groupings of books. Mix it up with vertical and horizontal groupings.

swell-made-co-styling-shelves-4.jpg

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