We live in a society where we can’t stop raving about our material possessions, accumulation of distractions, noise – to put it colloquially – ‘stuff’. For many, meaningful things or associations are fewer than all the stuff we have.
Minimalist or simplistic living is the way to shun material possessions or ‘clutter’ and live with the philosophy of ‘less is more.’ Thanks to people like Marie Kondo and her books that this age-old practice has gone mainstream.
Lately, many people are opting for this style. A minimalistic living can bring a sense of calm, contentment and balance in life. While you can find mentions of minimalism throughout history, especially in Buddhist philosophy, the de-cluttering craze saw a resurgence around the globe only recently.
An immediate benefit of going minimal is increased savings as a result of control in the buying spirit. Other benefits include a home that immediately catches the attention of the guests with well-organised spaces, orderly placement of things and visual appeal. So how can you take the path of minimalism? Here are a few tips.
Start with your mind
It is difficult to go minimal unless you have convinced yourself first. Making your mind accept minimalism as the way of life is a tough choice in a world where the ego is easily encouraged via social media, and materialism multiplies by the second. So, you have to cultivate a sort of hermit-like disposition and learn from Spartan discipline to prepare for a de-cluttered existence with only the things that you absolutely need. If you need any inspiration, remember these few words from great Bruce Lee’s iconic ‘Be water, my friend’ quote: “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water.”
A minimalist lifestyle might be difficult to adopt with family because all members will have to agree on it. The good thing is that it is not entirely impossible as many families around the world are taking this route.
Prioritise what you need
With almost everything available online, it’s easy to go on a shopping spree. Most of us are never tired of buying things to decorate our homes. From a luxurious armchair to quirky lamps, we want it all. This is human nature, but this is what one must learn to control to start living minimally. Ask yourself this question: Do you really need it? Whether you are buying new stuff or getting rid of older things, consider this as a yardstick and prioritise your things according to requirement. Think of the item’s utility to you and your future with it when deciding whether it should stay or go.
Start with a small room
Start small. Choose a room that has the least amount of things to select from. It is not easy to de-clutter but starting with less to choose from will help you prepare for bigger spaces around your house. If you can live without any of the things in this room, discard them. You can either sell or donate them.
Expand to other rooms
Once you are through with the small room, you will see a boost in your confidence to go minimalistic. You can now shift your attention to bigger rooms. There is no need to rush through things; you can choose to redo one room at a time at your own pace. This will be less strenuous and more economical than taking on the task of de-cluttering the entire house in one go.
After you’ve rounded up all the stuff you are ready to let go, you can also have a yard sale or just donate to your favourite charity.
Rearrange everything you are left with
Once you have removed what is not needed, whatever is left are your most important possessions. These are the things you cannot live without. It can be a chair you are emotionally attached to or a piece of clothing that is one of its kind. You can now rearrange these things to increase space and make your house look even better than before.
Take the help of friends or experts who can guide you on making the interiors look simple yet attractive. Remember that going minimal is not a compromise on either luxury or attractiveness. On the contrary, it extracts the best out of spaces, comfort, colour and design.
Minimalism via colour
Colours play an important role in your outlook on life. If you like flashy colours, you are most likely among those who love thing over the top. If you like subdued tones, you are more inclined to appreciate simple things. A quick online search will reveal that most minimalist homes have white as the dominant colour in everything from walls to bedsheets. Apart from white, any of the lighter shades of pink, green, yellow, blue or grey can be part of the minimalist colour template. The right kind of colour will not only make the inside of your home feel alive, but it will also accentuate the charm of the spaces and the things in the rooms.
At this point, try to imagine what the colours of your new minimalist house should be. If the existing colours of the house are not the shades you want, then it is time to bring out the paintbrushes.
Do not overdecorate
A key thing about minimalism is that the decorations should be simple. Think of a wall with just one or two picture frames or a ceiling without a chandelier. It is this pattern that you have to follow for all your rooms. Again, not over decorating does not mean making rooms look empty. All you have to do is use the decorative elements as accents. The focal point is the key. Nothing in the room should serve as a distraction.
Light is absolutely essential
Allow as much natural light as possible into your rooms. Light helps minimalistic style look even more visually appealing than without it. You can opt for sheer curtains or none at all if privacy is not an issue in the room.
Conducting regular cleaning is key to maintaining the minimalist look of the home. Every nook and cranny should be cleaned thoroughly. Dust should not be allowed to settle on any object in any of the rooms, be it the living room or the kitchen. Cleaner surfaces reflect light better and make the spaces appear brighter.
Control your buying instincts
A tough thing after you have converted your house into a minimalist’s dream is to keep it that way. Why is it tough? Because it requires you to keep your buying instincts in check. The moment you succumb to the material desire of things, you will start accumulating stuff you may not require. And then, you will reach the stage where you were before you embarked on your quest for minimalism. So, avoid those advertisements for the latest gadget or activewear if you already own a version of it and don’t really need a new one.
When you buy an item, think about whether you absolutely need it and then check if it can serve more than one purpose. Take this simple example: can you wear your favourite designer jacket in ways to suit different occasions? If you can, it is multi-purpose. Apply this simple rule to all objects you intend to buy.
(Main and featured images: Jarek Ceborski/@jarson/Unsplash)