For the true pioneer of vintage simplicity, may I present Thoreau. Or, rather, his cabin. Here is an interior photograph of Thoreau's reproduction cabin built near the shores of Walden Pond. He moved in on July 4, 1845, thirteen days before his 28th birthday (which for me would have been January 26 of this year, since I turned 28 on February 9th!).
Anyway, his experiment in living simply lasted scarcely two years, but the journal entries from those years stayed in his mind. He compiled his entries to create "Walden," his masterpiece.
Simplistic, rustic, vintage, and minimal, Thoreau's cabin is the epitome of what I'm striving for; however, if you read other posts of mine you'll discover a great deal more complication in life than what Henry advises!
Alas, I confess to be far more idealistic than the Concord naturalist. But if anyone wished to live truly humbly, with a small amount of items and enjoy a sort of roofed camping existence, here is what you'd require:
Bed - Probably made himself, little more than slats and boards. A rough mattress, most likely stuffed with horsehair or real goose feathers, a real 100% organic wool blanket (cheap in his time, not in ours!), and a goosefeather pillow with cotton cover.
Three chairs - You know my love of simple chairs! I would like that yellow one very much. Knowing Henry, he probably borrowed them all from Emerson or Louisa's father, Bronson Alcott. Needless to say, these could be picked up at any garage sale for a couple dollars a piece.
Desk - A bit difficult to see in the photograph, but my favorite piece. Simply made of real wood (the Victorians didn't have particleboard), with a slant flip-up top and storage for Thoreau's journal, inkwell, and pens. Elsewhere in "Walden" he mentions reading several books, so no doubt those would be in here, too.
Table - Curious little table on three legs. I've deemed this type to be called a cricket table, but any small table would do. I'm guessing his is about 3 feet in diameter.
Various Sundries - According to "Walden," he also had a mirror, tongs and andirons, kettle, skillet, frying-pan, dipper, wash-bowl, 2 knives, 2 forks, 3 plates, 1 cup, 1 spoon, a jug for oil, a jug for molasses, and an oil lamp.
Do I think I could get down to this level of simplicity? No, I find my life quite comfortable. Do I think others should get down to this level? Only if they consider it a worthwhile endeavor and it does no harm to others.
I think the main reason I adore Thoreau's simplicity is he teaches you the basic difference between NEEDS and WANTS. It's a distinction that is sorely lacking in our culture. Advertisers would have you believe that so many things are needs, when they're actually wants. They know that the more you think you need something, the more likely you'll purchase it.
As Thoreau plainly demonstrates, there is very little we actually need. The rest are just wants. Keeping this vital difference in mind could prevent a lot of consumer heartbreak ... when the credit card bills pile up!