Minimalism, as a popular lifestyle today is simply put: “less is more.” Many of us embrace a cleaner, uncluttered look in our homes, longing for more space to breathe and live in harmony with our ideas, friends and families, instead of gathering and displaying more stuff. Although there are more than six million Instagram posts, tagged #minimalism, this trend is not so easy as we cherish our memories and the comfort and style these objects play in bringing our homes to life in a deeply personal way. I think most of us are at a crossroads with the spare technology of our smart compact iPhone at our fingertips and Alexa buried in that little dot that sits like a lump in the family room, directing our everyday urges and the innate need to be surrounded by physical expressions of the things we love. We want a neat and streamlined home to keep the chaos at bay but yearn for those touchable pieces that make our homes messy and livable.
One of the hallmarks of a minimalist home is the ability to reduce stress and maintain a happier outlook with less things to break, less stuff to clean and rearrange and more space to calm our nerves to enjoy a neater and fuller life. However, most of us are ensconced in our clamshell of life’s debris and we rather like it like that. I confess, I do, but here are a few tips to add a few touches of minimalism to combat the stacking of too much stuff.
Carving out small spaces that open up a room give the illusion of a more expansive area, allowing the room to breathe and feel fresh with less obstacles to confront daily. Anxiety is reduced and peacefulness is restored. Installing open shelving in the kitchen instantly conveys an airy and light feeling. Rescue your kitchen counter tops with an ultra functional rail system to hang your favorite utensils, cooking pans and bowls and herbs and spices. Use sconces attached to the wall or hang a trendy pendant light fixture from the ceiling to free up an area. Consider installing a shelf above the bed to scatter all those night time or decorative items you need. If you have a tight hallway, a shelf can be added here, too, that runs along the full perimeter to hold baskets or books that you cannot bear to relegate to the trash. An essential to a more minimalist home is a sturdy fold away ladder, ready at your fingertips to access all those new high up places you have just created.
Favor Neutral Colors
Choose soft and subdued colors and try to simplify to two or three shades for the most spare and clean look. I think of it as the “3 b’s” – bone, biscuit and beige – or whatever combos of soft colors that appeal to you. To overcome the bland feeling that a neutral color delivers, amp up the volume with texture in these same hues. Throw in some chunky throws, beaded or faux fur pillows, canvas, burlap or jute rugs and my personal favorite – woven wood window treatments, spun with natural grasses and reeds that are richly tactile, contemporary and casual. Woven woods add a level of vitality if your room seems dull and your windows need an uplift.
Focus on Function
Ditch all furniture that seems bulky, overdone and distracting. Pare down to styles that can do double duty- look polished with clean lines but hidden inside are lots of nooks to cram in the objects you need and love. Platform beds with pull out drawers underneath or a stately armoire full of shelving allow you collector’s redemption. West Elm has an ingenious new collection of sofas and coffee tables that open up to reveal neat little pockets of storage. Pick and choose carefully in your room edits. Do you love that big distressed farm table? Keep it and exchange the oversized chairs for a simpler vintage or modern chair. Are your windows laden with bulky vertical blinds or fussy draperies with dark overbearing patterns? Just swapping these window treatments out for a light sheer drapery panel or almost invisible cellular blinds might be the only trick you need to become a minimalist. Barely there window treatments are just a click away and the easiest way to modernize and simplify any decor.
Parse, Pare, Put Away
Even though I saved this idea for last, decluttering really encompasses the whole movement of minimalism which is really just good sense to feeling better when you come home and have established a place for everything. Strive to attain order and curate often. Beware of litter traps like the kitchen table, the hall entryway and the laundry room. Be harsh with yourself and your family and insist on a tidy home. Another rule I like is the “one in one out” rule. Every time you bring in something to the home, you have to remove something or the math doesn’t add up and you will be besieged with overflowing drawers, a stinky fridge, a pharmacy of out of date vitamins and mismatched dishes.
A crammed living space is a house full of malaise and bad vibes. It’s time to strip down the house and make room for life.