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Living minimally: a lesson from Airbnb

Mike and I have been airbnb enthusiasts for several years now. In fact, we traveled an entire month last summer through Paris and Italy staying in all airbnb rentals! If you’re not familiar with airbnb, it’s a website that markets people’s homes, condos, rooms – and even airstream trailers and yurts – as short-term vacation rentals. This concept allows travelers to 1) keep costs lower than pricey hotels or resorts, 2) live and experience a city like the locals do, and 3) connect and converse with airbnb hosts and other travelers. Bonus: often times you get way more amenities, like gourmet breakfasts, bottles of wine and fresh French-press coffee, because most hosts want to make your experience extraordinarily nice.

Overall, we’re people-people, so we have enjoyed our collection of airbnb experiences over the years.

Last week, we took a long-weekend getaway to Northern California to visit some family. Part of the plan was to stop one night in wine country (because we never say no to vino). Since Napa and Sonoma are very popular this time of year, hotels were scarce and crazy expensive for less-than-exciting accommodations. No thank you. Enter our alternative option: book a place with airbnb.

I chose a historical home not too far from downtown with all 5-star ratings (it’s one of my airbnb requirements to make sure we stay at weirdo-free places). Once we arrived, it was clear the pictures online didn’t do this place justice. The quaint, 2-bedroom/2-bathroom bungalow was beyond well-manicured on the outside and inside. A flagstone path lined with little olive trees and lavender plants led to a porch with a natural rug, wooden bench and adorable pillows. I wasn’t even inside the house and I already was in love with its charm.

Inside the home, we were greeted by our host. She was warm, fun and I could tell we were interior design soulmates. We stayed in her guestroom with an attached private bathroom, so it felt like we had one wing of the house while the host had the other. The bedroom had the most amazing iron bed with luxury linens and a super comfy mattress. The large shower was stone with glass doors – and the towels were incredible! I later learned that the bed, linens and towels were all from Restoration Hardware, so now I understand why they were superior quality.

We were welcome to use anything in the home, including the patio, which was designed as an extension of the home’s interior. The outdoor space featured a huge southwestern-style area rug, lounge-worthy seating and this awesome vibe that said ‘please throw your cares away and just relax here.’ I could go on and on describing this house, but here’s the key takeaway: there was no clutter. Everything was thoughtfully placed. Everything was quality over quantity. Everything was displayed in beautiful taste.

Did our host live so minimally because she was renting her space with airbnb? Were all of her other things packed away somewhere in storage? Or, was her historical bungalow so small, she didn’t have a choice but to live so simply? I was intrigued, so I asked her all about it.

To paraphrase her answer, she mentioned how she chooses to live in a minimalist home because life is so crazy, that her home should be one area where she doesn’t have to worry about anything. The order of it all keeps her happy and relaxed – and focused on more important things.

This concept really resonated with me. I’ve been wanting to pare down my life for several years now. Even though I have no problem donating things or trying to declutter areas, it always seems to come back. Perhaps I haven’t taken the serious steps to keep only what is meaningful to me, or brings me some sense of joy.

I also learned that simple is not to be confused with cheap. This woman’s style was impeccable and everything looked functional, yet luxurious. It made me realize that perhaps it’s better to invest in one item that is pricier and brings you great delight than eight cheaper versions of the item that will pile up in your home!

Overall, I feel inspired to take the steps to make a huge dent in my physical possessions. After all, I can’t take them with me when I’m gone, but I can take the relationships I’ve made and experiences I have lived through – which can include how a more simple, decluttered home makes me feel.

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