Seth Barham Design
Minimal and effective design, inspired by culture.

Spartan Wanderer

Ramblings from the road, gear reviews, design trends, and whatever else happens to be on my mind.

My Minimalist Apartment

Some of you might remember a video I made a while back of my apartment here in China. Well, the place ended up having a lot of problems despite initially blowing our expectations out of the water in regard to how we thought the living situation might be in a small Chinese city. There was water damage everywhere, which gradually got worse until the ceiling started leaking and parts actually started falling down, the kitchen was too tiny to do anything in and, most importantly, the bedroom was cold as hell in the winter. For some reason our heating system only half-worked.

The school didn't make a huge effort to fix these problems, so we threatened to leave (a very effective strategy to get what you want in this country) unless they allowed us to move into another teacher's apartment who was leaving soon. The rest is history, and now I have a sweet pad. It's modern, suits my minimalist aesthetic without me having to do too much and very warm during the -35°C winters. Let me show you around!


So, as you can see, my kitchen is still quite small. But now that Kate's back in England, it's the perfect size for me while I use my tears as cooking oil and "All By Myself" plays in the background. Personally, I really like that there's only one hub and the fact that my oven is incredibly small. If you're living the bachelor/bachelorette lifestyle, this is all you really need. The orange cupboards are kind of a weird choice, but they work with the rest of the place as you'll soon see.


This photo really features my two favorite aspects of my apartment: the open plan and the wooden floors. Who would've thought you could get that Scandinavian feel inside of an emotionless, Maoist concrete block? You can see my water cooler, which everyone here needs for potable water. And my "dinner table", which is why I don't entertain much beyond providing booze.


Guys, this is where the magic happens. Not the sort of magic people talk about on Cribs, but magic nonetheless. Most of my blog stuff, design projects, lesson planning, etc. gets done in this little corner. Although, I'm experimenting with a new setup soon. I already have the desktop connected to my flatscreen for a premium Netflix experience, and I'll be getting a wireless keyboard and mouse to make it possible to work from the couch.


This is the living area, or as I call it on my day off, Leisure Central Command. If someone said that I'm not a minimalist because I like to kick back in front of that nice TV and crack into some brewskies, well, then I'm not a minimalist. Personally I believe it's a bit of therapy that everyone needs after a hard week. The guitar is borrowed from another teacher here. During the winter, we're going to become good friends.


These stairs lead up to the lofted bedroom, but that's not the point of the photo. I'm mostly focusing on my love for A Song of Ice and Fire here. If you've seen the show, great. But please don't deprive yourself, just take the plunge and read the goddamn books. You'll be doing yourself a huge favor, I promise you. Then, you too can be worried about the possibility of George R. R. Martin dying before he finishes the last two.


You see here how my bedroom is sort of lofted over the rest of the place. Yeah, my ceiling is incredibly high. I like how this setup really maximizes the volume of my concrete cubby-hole. It makes sense. If you have so many people in a country, you just need to start stacking things from the ground up. The prayer flag on the railing is a recent souvenir from the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai province. It's supposed to radiate positive energy into the world when the wind hits it (#hippyshit), so it's in perfect position across from my window. But mostly it just looks cool and makes me look cultured.


This is the bedroom. Although it's technically not a room as there are no doors in here apart from the bathroom, so I guess "sleeping area" is a better term. The big lotus sliding doors hide all of my clothes, suitcase, ironing board, etc. The fan is incredibly necessary, sometimes even in the winter. It can get really balmy because all the heat rises up to that area. The area beside my bed is the perfect place to do yoga in the mornings while the sun filters through.


This is a better view of the living area. The sofa looks like it could have come straight from IKEA like many things in the apartment. I'm very impressed with my school's taste, that is if they actually chose everything. It's pretty awesome that you can see a butt-print from where I was sitting earlier in this photo.

The Pleasant Emptiness of Minimalism

Because I have so few things, the place doesn't look too much different than before I moved in. Of course, I have put up a few tasteful decorations to combat that sterile stereotype that minimalist spaces come prepackaged with. There's so much space in here, despite not really being a huge apartment, and that is a benefit that everyone can gain from minimalist living no matter how small your space is. Getting rid of clutter really opens up a room. It may look empty, yes, but the beauty is in what you now do with that space.

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