Thursday, September 27, 2007

Experiments in minimalist living: Simrishamn

Three years ago when I started my early retirement, I decided to go to Scania (Skaane), the southernmost province in Sweden, where I lived about a decade ago (see post A place with a view on Although during most of my time in Sweden I lived in Stockholm, and loved it, after I discovered Scania, I fell in love with it, too.

Simrishamn, a picturesque fishing village turned tourist mecca, seemed like a right place to spend a summer in - may be even as a permanent base from which to travel. I was lucky to be able to rent a small townhouse (row house) in a quaint, less touristy and much smaller village near Simrishamn; white brick, red roof and two tiny gardens, one in front and one behind the house. Part of the garden was already planted. A plum tree,
a small lawn, and a hedge of red currant bushes.
And I could instantly enjoy most welcome guests in the garden: flowers planted by my neighbor several years ago, that threaded itself to my side of fence:

But the inside of the row house was empty. Initially I had no furniture - just my clothes, books, laptop and a few " making me feel instantly at home" accessories.

So the day I moved in I bought a camping bed and bed linens, a lamp and a phone. I hanged a painting by a Costa Rican artist friend, put a cardboard box I found to a good use... and voila: a stark, minimalistic bedroom

But with a living room I hesitated. My brother offered to bring from Stockholm my furniture that he stored for me, so I decided to wait a week or two.

Just happened to read somewhere about some music celebrity, who was into a minimalistic design big time and in the living room of his vacation cottage he had only a big rock and a Bose stereo.

OK, I am neither that young - or that macho - to enjoy reclining on a rock, nor a musician, so I decided on an armchair and a TV as my minimalist requirements.

But before I managed to go to town to shop for those pieces, one of my new neighbors dropped in for a visit, to see who I was, how I was settling in and if I need anything. Her gesture delighted me, but also surprised. Swedes are usually shy, do not initiate contacts with strangers, but are usually polite and helpful at heart behind that facade of standoffishness.

This woman from Scania, Carina, was just the opposite: welcoming immediately, trying to be helpful without being asked, not shy at all and not a slightest hint of standoffishness.
Her attitude was that of an instant friend.

And as an instant friend, after seeing my empty apartment and hearing about my plans, she took charge: put me in her car and drove to a country flea market of sorts, where she quickly pointed me to a rustic fall leaf table and a couple of chairs for the breakfast nook in my kitchen and for my living room: an armchair ( an early IKEA design circa 1950? ), a side table, a small puff to serve as an ottoman, a TV, a lamp, curtains matching the chair etc.
When we brought home these purchases, she left me to arrange them, and returned soon after with a couple of plants for my windowsill. And voila again: an instant living room in a grandmotherly-minimalistic? cottagy-minimalistic? style? You be the judge :-)


zooms said...

The first words that sprang to my mind when I saw these images were;
freedom,independence,uncluttered, beautiful, space,
which are way too many words to actually describe what I mean,
maybe the right word would be -


Minerva said...

you think? ;-)... thanks, zooms.

Anonymous said...

Your lifestyle or taste determines what the focal point of your living area is. If you have a fireplace, you can rearrange your furniture around it. Or if you have a piano, and this is the focal point of your living area, your furniture could be set around it. When rearranging your furniture, also consider traffic in your Living Room Decoration area. It is always good to arrange furniture in off-square angles. This makes the room warmer and more casual.

Minerva said...

Lol, living, sorry, but... this was a platitudinal advice: if you have a fireplace or piano you can REARANGE your furniture around it and do it in off square angles. This requires furniture, and to me minimalist living means minimal furniture. If the only thing I had was a chair with an ottoman, a small side table and a TV, WHAT do you suggest it should be arranged around (hint: a view of an old plum tree outside) and HOW to do it in "off-sqare angles"??? ;-)
P.S. If you want to promote your decorating blog at least do it sensibly showing off your knowledge by customizing your advice to be relevant. As it is you come across as a carrier of a bunch of ill digested platitudes, not as an expert on decorating.