Changing to a Minimalist Decor
Disclaimer: One of my loves in life is antiques. I don’t just love antiques for their appearance. I love antiques for their history, the times they represent, and their many uses. I am not a minimalist. Last year I was fed up with all the dusting. We have two pot shelves in the main part of our home and they were full of antiques such as salt glaze crocks and signs. The cleaning was overwhelming. One day I decided that we needed to clear out some of our stuff. We kept the antiques we love and got rid of the clutter. I am going to share my story along with some tips to get rid of things you don’t need.
There must be more to life than having everything.— Maurice Sendak (Author of "Where the wild things are")
What Minimalists Know That Other People Don’t Know
- Once you have read a book, give it away or donate it. Most people do not reread the same books. If you do reread books, be choosy about the books you keep. Did you love the book? Love the story? If not, move it along. This thinking works for movies and CD’s as well.
- If you are not using something it’s just taking up space. We talk ourselves into keeping things. If you don’t play softball anymore why do you have an entire bag of equipment? That tux/formal dress you wore once, needs to go, and why are you saving love notes from your high school boyfriend? Get rid of the stuff you don’t use.
- One great one is better than four good ones. I’m going to use quilts as an example. If you have four quilts that don’t go with anything you own get rid of them. One quilt that does go with your décor is better than that four that don't go with anything. Sell the four and get the one you love. (you can apply this to anything, coffee cups, lamps, etc.)
- Everything you own takes up space in your life. Recently, I sold my old faithful vehicle to a friend because, we had three vehicles and we didn’t need them all. All the things sitting around your house are taking up mental space and physical space in your home. Let these items go.
- The stuff you don’t use is cash. The things you buy cost money. The more you buy the less cash you have (I know…Duh). Also the things you own can be sold. The yard sale after my purge brought in over $500. Not bad. Truthfully I don't even remember what I sold.
- Minimalists value experiences over things. Shopping can be downright exhausting. Would you rather be exhausted because you shopped or because you took your kids to the water park or met a friend to play tennis? You get the idea.
- There are no logical arguments against getting rid of things you don’t use. This is a tough one to admit but, there aren’t any real arguments against living semi-minimalist.
- Things you only use occasionally can be rented. Things like boats, trailers, big vehicles, gym equipment, books, and dvd's can all be rented rather than stored in your home.
- Laptop computers and tablets can take the place of many electronics and storage devices. Books on tablets take the place of physical books. Pictures on the computer can take the place of albums. Some people are even letting go of traditional television for electronic data storage.
Life with Clutter
"I had it all once and it almost fell on me, so I kept what I needed and loved, and lived happily ever after."— M.D. Jackson
Live with Purpose
Before you start chucking stuff out onto the curb, take a minute and think about what you want your life to be. See that life. What are you doing? How are you living? Does that life include taking care of all your stuff? Would you rather be spending time with family or on a hobby? Did you always want to learn something like dancing or surfing. When you daydream, what is your life? De-cluttering is about a redirection in your life. It’s about embracing what you love and letting go of the things that don’t work in your life.
Living Konmari or Something Like it
For those of you unfamiliar with Konmari, it is a method for deciding what items to keep versus what items to get rid of when you purge. The over simplification of that method is that you sort things into piles such as all your books, or all your clothes, all your things of that type. Then you hold each item and decide if the item brings you joy. Obviously, you are going to keep things you use all the time.
At the beginning of the year I went through my clothes. Having recently changed climates, I had clothing that were not appropriate for the area. Sweaters, coats, and heavy sweatshirts were the first things I let go. After this purge, I had an entire rack in my closet that is empty and an empty dresser drawer. My husband was skeptical but, soon began helping me clean out areas in our home. I did the same thing in my kitchen, living room, and dining room. We still have a lot of stuff. Now my belongings are manageable.The weird thing about getting rid of so much stuff is that I don't remember what we had before we purged.
What is your fall back for how you talk yourself into keeping things? Stop your inner hoarding dialogue. Once something is gone you probably won't miss it.
Here are some rules I made up to get rid of things:
- If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it.
- If you don’t like how it looks, get rid of it.
- If you intentionally overlook it in a drawer, get rid of it. (this happens a lot with utensils and clothes)
- If you haven’t used it in a year…get rid of it.
- If you are only keeping it because it was given to you, get rid of it.
- If you think it’s important, ask yourself if it is bringing value to your life, if not, get rid of it.
How to Get Rid of Stuff
Here is my short list of how to get rid of things:
- If it’s expensive sell it. This can be done on Facebook, Craigslist, eBay, or etsy.
- If it’s clothes, donate it to a good charity.
- If it’s old or in bad shape, throw it away.
- If you have someone who always wanted that item, give it to them.
- If you don’t want to mess with options 1-4, call a local charity to come pick your stuff up.
Congratulations on purging! Now let's decorate!
You paired down your things, now you want to decorate your home. When you search “minimalist bedrooms” you are going to see a lot of platform beds covered in white linens next to empty night stands in front of blank walls. Minimalist doesn’t mean “nothing” it means minimal. Even a minimalist bedroom should have one or two pieces of art on the wall, a bed in any style you want, and nightstands with lighting. You don’t have to have art if you don’t like art. Remember that art can be a wall mural, a photo, or a metal sculpture. Your wall art should be something you love. Speaking of something you love, you can use any color bedding you want. Minimalist also doesn’t mean "white". If you have a great art piece with your favorite color in it, your bedding can be one of the colors from the art piece. Your room is still a reflection of you.
Think for a moment about your favorite hotel room. Most likely, it was a room where you felt peaceful and happy. The decor in that room was cohesive. The furniture was just what you needed. In that moment you didn't have all your stuff. Your stuff was sitting in your house. The point of going minimalist or semi-minimalist is to have peace inside yourself.
Minimalism is not about getting rid of everything. Minimalism is about creating a space that puts you at peace and makes you feel relaxed. Right now the coffee table in my living room is being used to store my grandchildren's toys. I don't see or think about those toys. Some strategies in minimalism come from being able to store what you need without having those items take up visual space.
Tip: Avoid doing activities in your room that will create clutter, such as, office work.
Comparing Living Rooms
Both these living rooms are minimalist. The first one is an example of extreme minimalism. The room is cold and let’s be honest even the cleanest of people is going to have an issue with keeping that white couch clean. Color does not equal clutter. This somewhat sterile living room may reflect the owner. White is an easy to use color choice. White is also a completely impractical color choice for everyday use. I would use white for the wipe-able surfaces. You don't want to go from dusting stuff to having to spend all day cleaning everything until it sparkles.
You can have a comfortable room and be minimalist. Consider how you are going to use your space. How many people are regularly in your rooms? What activities do you do in the living room? Your home is about you and how you want to spend your time. You can have two couches in a minimalist living room.
The second living room has a mural on the dining room wall. Obviously this is a smaller home. The owners kept it simply yet, cozy. You can tell these people have some personality even though they don’t have a lot of stuff everywhere. This room is a great example of how a space can have personality and still be minimalist.
The kitchen is one of the easiest rooms to go minimal. The reason is that most kitchens have a lot of cabinets full of stuff that is rarely used. We tend to collect gadgets and even replace gadgets without getting rid of the old ones. You rarely have sentimental items in the kitchen. When you clean out your kitchen, you may find that you don’t need all your cabinets, and you can get everything off your counters. Remember minimal doesn’t mean without style. Any style kitchen can be minimalist.
Above, are two very different kitchen styles. The first is kitchen minimalist with a twist, open shelving. Strangely this person has been able to display bowls without the kitchen looking cluttered. The space still feels clean. Here again, minimal doesn’t mean; nothing. Choose what is important to you and make that what you see.
The second kitchen is a fun industrial style with a lot of personality. The brick easily replaces the need for “stuff” all over the counters by adding visual interest. Even in the background we see very few things on the walls hinting to that minimalist clean feel. Don't be afraid to use finished that have pattern such as brick.
The bathroom is probably one of the toughest areas of your home to sustain a minimalist decor. You still need certain items to maintain your appearance and keep yourself clean. If you have a small bathroom it can be a challenge to keep items put away. As with all your other rooms, clean out your drawers. Over time I have realized that many items are easier to store without the packaging. Band aids, Q-tips, small ointment tubes are all easier to store in a drawer organizer rather than the original boxes.
Tip: Get in the habit of putting beauty products back in a drawer rather than leaving them on the counter. If you don't have drawer space, use creative counter storage that visually hides the item such as a box or basket.
What is the Point of Becoming Minimalist?
A few years ago a friend of mine sold her 3,000 square foot home, bought a travel trailer and began an adventure. She still lives in a trailer today. Her and her husband work online and have continued to travel all over. Their life style is not for everyone, however, I do appreciate her mission to as she says "live life more deliberately". It's tough not to see the positive side of going minimalist.
Everything you own requires care. At some point you have to clean and maintain all the items you own. Have you ever met people who have large homes and no time? The more stuff you have, the more you have to clean. It becomes a question of what you want to do with your life? Is it worth it to own every DVD on the planet? Does everything have to mean something or are some things just things? These are questions you will have to answer.
© 2019 MD Jackson MSIOP