A Practical Guide to a Minimalist Home
Spring is here. The birds are singing, the days are longer and people are cleaning. Ah yes, everyone’s least favorite chore, spring cleaning. But let’s be honest, after we’ve cleaned and organized our homes, it feels great. What if you could feel that good (or better) about your home all year round? A minimalist approach can help.
I never thought of myself as a minimalist until recently. To be honest, I didn’t know what the word meant until someone called me a minimalist and I looked it up. I suppose you could say I am an accidental minimalist. I never sought the label. I was simply drawn to the benefits of living with less.
There are many common misconceptions about minimalism. Minimalism does not mean loss, deprivation or scarcity. That is a glass half empty view. On the contrary, minimalism provides us with space and simplicity so we can enjoy more freedom, more time, more beauty and more peace in our lives.
Have you ever looked around your home and wondered where all the clutter came from? Did that make you feel good or were you discouraged, frustrated and stressed? Maybe it was a reminder of that overdue credit card bill for stuff you probably didn’t need.
Imagine a minimalist home. Not the stark, cold and empty buildings you often see in architectural design magazines, but a real home. Your home. The counters and tabletops are clean and uncluttered. The walls aren’t littered with random artwork purchased simply to fill space. Instead there are select pieces of art or photographs that conjure up wonderful emotions and memories. The shelves have only one or two important mementos with space to stand out and be appreciated. There is enough furniture to suit your family’s needs, but no more. You have space to move. Your home still has character and personality, but without the clutter.
Which house do you want to live in? If you chose the latter, I can help.
A practical guide to a minimalist home:
One step at a time
De-cluttering your home can be overwhelming at first. We become attached to our stuff and it’s hard to let go. Take it one step at a time. Begin in a small room such as your bathroom or home office. Before long you’ll embrace the cathartic process of de-cluttering and feel a sense of accomplishment, motivating you to continue the process in other rooms.
Assess the situation
Before you take action, stand in the middle of your room and look around. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Are there items that stand out and have special meaning to you? What things mean very little or maybe even make you feel stressed? Now imagine your minimalist home and consider which of the things belong?
Begin the purge
This is the most challenging part of the process, but also the most rewarding. Place into a box all of the things that were not part of the minimalist home you envisioned. If you’re purging large items such as furniture, put it out of view and outside of the room.
Remember that you’ll have an attachment to everything in your home. Every item will come with a memory or serve a purpose. But ask yourself if you really need an item. If it has gone unused for three months or more, chances are you can do without it. Maybe you don’t need an item, but you want it. Ask yourself why and consider its true value? Be ruthless.
When purging, it can be helpful to imagine a forest fire is burning towards your house. What if you only had a few hours to pack up your possessions? What would you take? If you’re unsure about a particular item, purge it and put it in the box. We’re not actually getting rid of anything just yet. That will come in a later step.
A place for everything
Now that we’ve purged the things we don’t need or want, it’s time to find a place for everything that remains. Use your newly uncluttered surfaces to display family photos and artwork with pride. Find a space for your laptop computer and cell phone. Everything should have a place appropriate to its purpose, whether that is to be functional or to add beauty to your home.
Don’t simply place items where you find empty space and don’t shove items into drawers and cupboards. If you can’t find an appropriate place for something, reconsider whether or not you really need or want it.
Now that you’ve de-cluttered and created a room with space, beauty and functionality, it’s time to clean. The joy of cleaning a minimalist home is that it takes less time. There’s no frustration trying to move things around and clean under stuff. You can quickly dust, wipe, vacuum and mop the smooth uncluttered surfaces.
An excellent way to keep your home clean is to clean-as-you-go. When you finish dinner, do the dishes right away. Splashed some water around the kitchen sink? Grab a towel and wipe it down before moving on. Have a few minutes before the big game begins on television? Go ahead and dust. Clean-as-you-go and cleaning will never become an overwhelming chore.
Create a waiting room
It’s time to deal with all of your unwanted stuff. Find a place in your home that is out of sight. A corner of your basement or garage works well. Put your large items and your box of unwanted stuff into this space. This will be your waiting room. The place where your unwanted stuff will live until you can find it a new home.
Go through your box one item at a time and consider whether each item can be sold or donated. If so, take action within the coming week. Remember, this is a waiting room, not a place for your unneeded and unwanted items to live forever. If you don’t think and item can be donated or sold, recycle it.
Remember those items you weren’t sure you could part with? This will be their home for the next three months. If during that time you need or want the item, go ahead and get it. In that case it obviously has meaning or serves a purpose in your life. However, if it remains in the waiting room for three months, it’s a good sign that you should sell or donate the item.
Now that you have a clean, uncluttered and beautiful minimalist home, keep it that way. Unnecessary stuff has a habit of finding its way into our homes. Before you purchase something in a store, consider whether you really need it. Say no to free samples and great deals on things that you really have no use for. Let family and friends know that you’d rather not receive unnecessary gifts. Encourage them to spend time with you instead, and if they insist, suggest useful a item such as a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant.
A minimalist home is not an empty space that lacks character. A minimalist home is an uncluttered space that gives you the freedom to live a simpler life with less stress and more time to create the memories that make a house a home.