If you like the uncluttered look but don’t necessarily want to give up all your stuff, there are ways to make minimalism work for you. To achieve a minimalist aesthetic at home, start with paper and pen.
Yes, I’m giving you a writing assignment. Get comfortable with a glass of wine or your favorite drink and have a look around your home. Think about how you really want to live in it. Look at different areas of your home and think about whether you’re using it in the best way FOR YOU. If not, how would you like to use each space? How would you like to feel when you open the door and walk into your home? Once you ask yourself questions like these, I think you might decide to make some changes. I hope they include bringing a bit of minimalism home.
You don’t need to throw out all your stuff to do minimalism, instead, aim for what we call semi-minimalism. It strikes the right balance between sparse (oh, those crazy minimalists!) and crowded. It’s about creating a space that feels pleasing to you visually and energetically. If you’re up for it, here are some ways you can do minimalism (or semi-minimalism) without changing your whole life:
If you love books, guitars, vinyl records, shoes, or if you have a thing for Disney dolls, keep them all together as a collection. The area for your collection can be a mini-museum for your passion item. Creating collections get them from all over the house, to one room/area, leaving the rest of your home to function as they should.
Have empty walls and bare floors
Having more empty wall space and bare floors moves the decorating needle toward minimalism. The negative space will give your eyes a place to rest, which will make you feel calmer. To achieve this, edit your rooms a bit. Remove a few wall pieces and show off more of your floors.
Add closed storage
Another way to get the less cluttered look is to put things away in cupboards, closets, and behind closed doors. It’s a nice cheat that gets you the look of minimalism without having to give up those things you’re still attached to. Just shut them away!
Take advantage of natural light
Unless you geek out on interior design as I do, you may not have noticed the less-is-more window treatment trend. Today, it’s rare to see designers use heavy drapes in living areas. Heavy window treatments usually attract more dust and block natural light, and in 2019, they make a room look heavy and dated. Today, heavy drapes are reserved for bedrooms and stuffy spaces. Get on-trend and switch out heavy window treatments for a more minimal style.
With more stuff, use less color
I have less furniture than most people I know but my home doesn’t look bare because of this decorating trick: I use colorful accessories like flowers and bright pillows to “fill” my space. If you have more stuff, do the reverse and limit the colors in your room to to 2-3 colors, or stick to neutrals. It will make your room look less “busy” and feel less cluttered.
Do less bulk shopping
If you’re short on storage, you really have to limit those Costco visits. The trick to shopping in bulk when trying to be a semi-minimalist is stock up on a few things, not everything. I stock up on paper towels, toilet paper, and a few kitchen staples only. For everything else, no matter how fantastic the sale, I pass on buying bulk and only buy to last me about 3 months. That means, one 4-count box of lightbulbs, one 8-pack of Triple-A’s, one tube of toothpaste, you get the idea. Even in their cupboards, (semi)-minimalists try to maintain order and limit how much they consume.
Decorate for your life, not special occasions
Ever walk into someone’s living room and see it decked out with a three-piece sofa set that leaves precious little space to walk? You feel uncomfortable, don’t you? Often-times the homeowner bought “a sofa set” and if they bought it, think they must use it… and only have that much company on Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday. Two pieces or a sectional is all most apartment-sized living rooms can accommodate comfortably. Rooms should be decorated for your everyday, not for special occasions. If you must have a three-piece, consider putting one piece in another room—even in your bedroom. You can bring it out to the living room when you need more seating.
So as you can see, with a little bit of thought, there are ways to achieve the minimalist decor and still keep most of your beloved stuff. You can get the look of clean lines and thoughtful design without changing your entire lifestyle or becoming one of those minimalists.
The payoff is that you’ll begin to enjoy your space more.
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and some psychological trickery, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for greater productivity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if she's available for one-on-one work.