Living a Simple Life – The Simple Mindset

When it comes to our home environments, for most of us the primary requirement is to create well functioning, but also attractive, happy, calm and safe sanctuaries that offer a buffer to the maddening hurly burly of modern life. The prospect of being able to lead a simplified lifestyle may seem like the answer. The difficulty is how to achieve it. Living a simple life needs a simplified mindset, a subject that is recently addressed by Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote, authors of ‘Keep it Simple’.

Their holistic, lifestyle approach is informed not only by our basic human needs but also by the current realities of economic insecurity and unsustainable practices in an ever challenging world. Of all the lifestyle models that are on offer at the moment, easily the most popular and compelling is the one about ‘living a simple life’ or ‘living a natural life’ or a ‘pure’ or ‘Wabi Sabi life‘. It may have many names but the message is largely the same. What’s more, this lifestyle, that has profound implications on your attitudes to many aspects of contemporary life – political, philosophical, economic, social – also comes with a highly attractive and intelligent approach to interior design.

So if your life has been hashtaged, liked, pinned and tweeted to oblivion, and you yearn for a quieter, de-stressed, uncluttered, home-grown, upcycled and hand-made life of lower consumption and higher authenticity, then Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote offer their five golden rules to help you achieve your goal.

living a simple life living room

Ditch Fashion

Trust your individuality and allow your own style to shine through for a more personal, organic kind of decorating that transcends fashion.

Find Your Style by analysing your own lifestyle and educate yourself in the history of interiors, current and past, and research the use of different materials and fabrics so that you become your own expert and better placed to explore your own ideas.

Make sure you Tell A Story by creating a visual narrative that will evoke the right mood and feed your emotions.

Finally Believe In Yourself. True style comes from within. It is born of bravery and self-conviction so trust your own taste and don’t be afraid to experiment as we learn as much from our mistakes as our successes.

living a simple life kitchen


Most of us have too much stuff and while we dream of living the simple life with few possessions, not many of us are that disciplined.

Decluttering is essential to the Keep It Simple ethos as it helps you focus on what really matters in life – less stuff equals less to clean, less to organise, less stress, not to mention a more aesthetically pleasing home.

In order to achieve this you need to Organise. Be ruthless and get rid of anything that you don’t love, need or use regularly and then go about giving everything you are keeping a proper home.

Which brings us to Storage, and plenty of it as it is the secret of every well designed home.

living a simple life upcycled

Save Money & The Planet

Far from being a passing fad, recycling, upcycling, retro-fitting or whatever you want to call it, is here to stay, and rightly so. The need to save energy, preserve natural resources and protect the planet plays a vital role in the design world and it’s important not to brand this stance as a style statement but a way of life.

We can all play our part by checking our desire for ‘new’ things and starting to accept the imperfect and embrace the idea of repair and re-use. Recyling is at the heart of the Simple Mindset philosophy as it forces us to shun the easy option of chain store shopping.

living a simple life upcycling

Get creative and start to Re-think different objects’ uses, for instance old headscarves can be turned in to cushion covers and discarded drawers can be reinvented as under bed storage with the addition of castors.

Finally Make Do and Mend. Take a leaf out of your grandparents’  book  and stop throwing things away, start appreciating the imperfect and get repairing.

living a simple life outdoor bath

Be In Touch With Nature

Nature grounds us. It has been scientifically proven that our appreciation and love of the natural world is an integral part of the human psyche and staying in touch with it improves our health and cognitive abilities, promotes healing and reduces our stress levels.

No wonder then that striving to be in touch with nature is another important step to a happy and relaxed home.

Bringing the outside in by Blurring The Boundaries is a great place to start and simple tricks like French Doors onto the garden, the use of natural materials in your decorating scheme or even just a bunch of flowers on the kitchen table will all help.

living a simple life alfresco living

Gardening is a great leveller so whether you have a small back yard, allotment, huge kitchen garden on just a window box four storeys up, give it a go and Grow Your Own.

Cooking and eating outside are also a great way to get back to nature and bring a deep sense of wellbeing whether it’s fish and chips on the beach or a relaxed family barbeque make sure you manage to incorporate some Alfresco Living into your life.

living a simple life wood interior

Relax and Enjoy Yourself

Your home is your haven, a place to relax, unwind, play with the kids, enjoy the company of friends and be inspired. We think that no house is a design success if it does not meet the above criteria.

Think carefully about the realities of your lifestyle and decorate your house accordingly making practical choices from the start so that you can enjoy your home rather than being a slave to it.

That doesn’t mean that you should compromise on style – far from it. Rather that you embrace a way of decorating that can weather the bumps and scuffs of daily life while improving with age and growing in character.

Make sure that you incorporate designated areas for Downtime and somewhere (however small) to Get Creative as relaxing and creativity are both essential in the prevention of stress and depression.

living a simple life alfresco dining

Rubbing Along Together in a busy family household is no mean feat as the home has to be all things to all people. Make sure you take everyone’s needs into consideration to avoid rows and above all keep a laid back attitude and a good sense of humour – you will need it!

Entertaining is all too often seen as a stressful chore requiring a complicated menu and polished silver.

Well not the Keep it Simple way. Your home is there to enjoy so for a stress-free evening keep the food simple and the atmosphere relaxed allowing yourself the time to add a few finishing touches that will make it a memorable and enjoyable event not just for your guests but for you as well.


by Atlanta Bartlett & Dave Coote
Photography by Polly Wreford
Published by Ryland Peters & Small, RRP £19.99

Atlanta Bartlett is an interiors stylist and Dave Coote designs both furniture and interiors. Atlanta and Dave live on Romney Marsh, Kent, with their four children: Indigo, Hogarth, Bluey and Honey-Rose. Atlanta is also the author of the international best-selling ‘Easy Elegance’ and ‘At Home with White’, and the co-author with Dave of ‘Pale and Interesting’.

To order Keep It Simple at insider price please visit GDC Interiors Journal Book Collection


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