This isn’t a one and done blog topic but rather an introduction to a new, more satisfying lifestyle for those seeking simplicity. Are you downsizing or leaping excitedly into a tiny house or cottage? Maybe your cluttered or full rooms make you feel overwhelmed, like they’re taking over? Or, do you enjoy looking at bare counter tops, sleek furniture, and tidy rooms? The beauty of minimalism and living simply is that you get to define it by how it makes sense for you and your lifestyle. Most likely you know where you fall on the minimalist spectrum as it covers furniture design, home decor and design, fashion, lifestyle and personal processions. Terms like simple, streamline, uncluttered, pure, serene, calm, bare, and essentials, will resonate with you and you’ll strive to enact these principles into your life. Welcome and keep reading!
I was asked recently “how do you live minimally when your spouse wants to hoard and keep everything?” This situation is a common frustration among couples. Luckily, the solution is simple: start with your own stuff. This will help relieve some of your burden and lighten your load. Hopefully, along the way, your spouse will join you in your efforts.
In two of my previous blogs Making room in your rooms and Evolving rooms and flexible spaces. I discuss how to clear out the clutter. For those who are ready to start really simplifying its time to purge the surplus from your home or business. Below is an outline of categories I’ve cultivated to reference when starting to reduce:
- Clothes, shoes, coats, & seasonal gear
- Bags & luggage
- Furniture & decor
- Bedding & linens
- Pans & baking dishes
- Pantry & refrigerator
- Tupperware & food storage
- Cleaning supplies
- Toiletries & medicine
- Office & desk
- Bills, mementos, & mail
- Books & media
- Electronics, gadgets, & small appliances
- Junk drawer & tool box
- Holiday decorations
- Toys & sporting goods
- Car & gardening supplies
Spend time clearing and reducing items from these categories until you only have your desired and used items. Some categories may be very easy while others may require more time. Once you’ve exhausted this list, you should feel emotionally and physically lighter. Arrange a charity to pick up your items, sell them, or pass them along to someone you know, just free yourself.
Now, its time to start putting in place some principles that maintain your newly found freedom. What may seem like discipline will quickly come routine. Additional resources are abundant on this topic. Two that I am familiar with and follow are the Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus and becoming minimalist by Joshua Becker. If you want to learn more in depth on the living minimally then these three gentlemen are a great go to resource.
A few principles that are constant throughout any minimalist reading deal with the accumulation of new things once you’ve purged the old.
- 1 in 1 out Rule. If you bring something into the home then an old thing needs to go. Example, if you buy new shoes, then toss out the old ones.
- Stop Leisure Buying. Going shopping at the local mall used to be a common Saturday activity. People have accumulated a vast amount of clothes that they rarely or no longer wear. The too tight designer jeans bought on clearance, the leather boots that make your feet hurt, the wet suit you bought for that one vacation, and the wool ski sweaters that make you itch, its time for them all to go. Now, with the help of online shopping, the impulse of casually browsing is reduced. Only shop when you need something.
- Getting Unusable Gifts. Receiving a gift from a loved one is wonderful, if you can use it or want it. However, if its not your style or useful to you, thank them, keep it for a while you’re comfortable with and then pass it along.
- Keeping Nostalgic Items. This one is very difficult. Some people want to keep everything because of its meaning. Ask yourself “If I get rid of this item, did that event/person change?” You still have your memories, the situation still occurred. Baby clothes for example, keep the “coming home” outfit and your favorite onesie and then pass along the rest. Teens’ sport/activity t-shirts are another nostalgic category. Memory quilts are popular options for sentimental clothes and then can be actively used again. If you or someone you know doesn’t sew then there are companies online that will make the quilt for you, simply mail the clothes to them and six weeks later, your memory quilt is ready. Children’s drawings and artwork is another tug at the heartstrings. Every year, purge out the ones you and your child don’t really care for, take a photo of them and toss them. Keep only the ones that you cherish and frame them or place them in a memento box.
- Saving for “One Day If…” It makes financial sense for children’s clothes to be kept for younger siblings but if you’re hoarding things in the garage and your basement is bursting, its time to reevaluate. “You might need that one day” is a slippery slope. Use it today, plan for tomorrow, but never keep for what if. Your house is a home to live in not a closet to store stuff.
- Traveling Light. I’ve heard this from so many seasoned travelers, travel light. Once you start this practice, you’ll never want to travel burdened with big suitcases again. People who travel heavy need to have a lot of options and feel completely prepared for any situation and don’t make outfit decisions before they leave. Check the weather for your trip, make outfit choices that mix and match and leave the rest at home. If you have access to a sink or bathtub, then you can do laundry. When I studied abroad for four months in college, I packed one week of warm weather clothes, one week’s worth of cold weather clothes, and travel sized toiletries to cover the first few days there. All of my clothes layered with each other. I had space in my luggage for my art supplies, souvenirs and items that I bought there during the four months. For a regular vacation, a small 19″ carry-on and a backpack will work for you just fine, you’ll see.
- Capsule Wardrobe/Uniform. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs made wearing the same thing everyday trendy. Their wardrobe of a gray tshirt and black turtle neck respectively, with jeans became their signature looks. Who would dare comment to these two successful gents if they wore the same shirt yesterday? They’re tech icons and they rock the “uniform” idea. A capsule wardrobe (~30 items) is much easier for many people to get on board with and adopt. I’ve even read about seasonal capsule wardrobes, however I feel that idea is stretching the concept beyond its intent. The idea of a capsule wardrobe harks back to the 1900’s where people simply didn’t own a lot of clothes. Instead, they owned only what they loved, choosing quality over quantity and maintained them. Don’t fear judgement as you embrace your freedom and lighter lifestyle. A minimalist wardrobe will simply be another aspect to your lifestyle and extension of your beliefs. Your coworkers will see your tidy workstation and your friends will see your uncluttered home, then understand your capsule wardrobe as completely logical.
- Minimalism & Interiors. I’ll continue this blog next month to cover minimalism and interiors in depth as many people have a preconceived notion that minimalism has to mean modern, not necessarily so. Any style of interior can be minimalist by simply not getting lost in the details and decor. Tune in next month for a more in depth discussion.
Remember that minimalism is a lifestyle, a practice, and a way of life that alters the way you see your possessions and environment. Set them free and they will set you free.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA