I’m frequently contacted by clients who are interested in creating a minimal home. It’s often a reaction to a general feeling of overwhelming excess and the accumulation of far too many things in their life. It’s also very fashionable, reflected in social media and interior design. Others crave peace, you’ve probably read about the effect that an overload of visual and mental stimulation has on our stress levels.
When I talk to my clients about their idea of minimalism they often have a vision of how they want their home to look or the lifestyle in which they would like to raise their children. Some plan to move to a tiny home in the future and some are downsizing dramatically because they want to live a different life.
They feel the need to simplify their lives but don’t know where to start. They know they’re unhappy in their home and feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they have to manage. Or they feel that their children are growing up in an unhealthy atmosphere of consumerism and constant stimulation. Minimalism seems to be the antidote but there are worries and questions that are completely understandable.
One of the concerns I hear is that they don’t necessarily want to live in a white, Spartan home that looks like it’s clean enough to do brain surgery. All these clients want is the relief of less stuff cluttering up their home.
Other clients do want the extreme simplicity that they see in Pinterest posts and on Instagram. But when it comes to actually making that happen in their home they find they struggle with the extreme decluttering that is required. There’s a big variation in the needs and wants of people interested in minimalism.
And you know what? There’s no scientific formula or prescribed method that will achieve Ideal Minimalism. There’s no test. There are no officially certified judges. There is no way to measure if you have achieved Perfection. THANK GOODNESS!!
So what is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a philosophy. It’s mainly all about reducing physical clutter in our environment to help us focus on the things that really matter to us. Clutter, the obviously visual AND the stuff squirrelled into every cupboard in the house, causes stress for a lot of people. There’s heaps written about this on the internet if you wanted to research further, but you’ve probably experienced it yourself.
Everyone is different, we have different tolerance levels for visual stimulation and distraction. I get pretty tense when there are too many things lying around on the surfaces in my apartment. Some of my clients are happy with just a reduction in the volume of things that their brain has to deal with. Others are desperate for the fullest expression of minimalism – nothing on any surface. Zilch. The barest necessities in their cupboards.
Minimalism can also be an antidote to the voracious consumerism we are perpetually told is essential for our wellbeing and the economic success of our country. It can be adopted as a lifestyle to fulfil a desire to reduce our impact on our planet. And it can simply be a path to calm in our frantic, busy, overwhelmingly stimulating lives.
But it doesn’t have to be white. It doesn’t mean you can’t keep things around you that you think are beautiful. You CAN have comfy or cosy minimalism. It’s called…
It’s as old as the hills. It used to be normal. Just how we lived. We made the things we needed or invested in the purchase of special things that would last a long time. It’s functional, comfortable and fits the vision of a calmer, sustainable and economical life. It’s also adaptable to the realities of your life, temperament and tastes. And so is minimalism.
What is clutter to one person is minimalism to another. Who says you can’t have a gorgeous deep pink velvet couch in your minimal home? If your tastes run to colour, brightness and opulence but you’re wrestling with dreams of simplicity, why not combine them? Make the look your own unique version of minimal.
The wonderful thing about minimalism or simplicity is that you can make it what you want, you can live the life you want. It’s incredibly flexible. So how do we go about adapting the elements of our home life to the dream of a simple home or a minimal retreat?
The Big Toss. You COULD just chuck out everything except the basics. The Sallies will love you! It’s efficient and freeing and exciting. It absolutely is an option.
However in my experience that method can be problematic. Especially if you live with other people. Even if you are the only person you have to consider, it pays to think carefully about your belongings to avoid regret.
Extreme Decluttering. This isn’t your average declutter. It’s a robust and thorough method of eliminating unnecessary objects from your environment. The crucial element is taking the time to consider the impact of the absence of these objects from your life (and the lives of those who share your home).
Slow And Steady. As motivated and enthusiastic as you may be, it might just feel too much to do a big purge. There’s no reason why your progress towards a simpler or minimal home can’t be done at a pace that you’re comfortable with. As long as you follow your vision and make consistent progress.
If you find yourself procrastinating, dithering, or avoiding the decluttering that’s needed to achieve minimalism maybe you’re not ready. Maybe you need to declutter a different part of your life. If your motivation is to try to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and you can’t make minimalism work for you, maybe it’s time to look at the rest of your life.
Your home is both an expression of your inner life and a reflection of your needs. Your goal is to make a happy home. A home that serves you and your family. That can mean any variation of any philosophy or design concept that works for you.
You are free to choose and make it your own.