You may have heard the latest buzzword ‘minimalist’ floating around, people claiming to be one or to live in a minimalist abode and how it has changed their life and made modern living just that much easier. People have written books on it, given ted talks and seminars, but what is minimalist living really, and will becoming a minimalist really make your life simpler?
What does it all mean?
A minimalist is the word used to describe a certain style that pares down elements of design. The term minimalism originated in the art world, referring to painters and musicians that were stripping things down, only doing what they saw as the bare essentials and letting that speak out of their art. Over the years it has become a word used for anything that strips things back, minimalist clothing or design, usually referring to simplicity not lack of fabric!
In the context it is now used in, people are refereeing to themselves as being minimalists and living minimalist lives. When they say this they are talking about striping their lives back to the bare essentials. Minimalists talks about giving up a lot of material possessions, focus less on having ‘stuff’ and more on having space and the freedom that comes from that space.
So do you think the minimalist life could be for you? Lets delve in deeper and take a look at the first simple steps you can take towards having a more minimalist home without having to give everything away and more in to a caravan!
Cutting It Down
The first thing that springs to mind as we talk about minimalist living is obviously owning or having less. Do you often walk in to your garage and stub your toe on a box that you have no idea what is inside it? Are you laundry cupboards full to bursting with who knows what and do you have that one room with all of you craft supplies that haven’t seen sunlight for years? Having a lot of stuff can often lead to stress, always trying to look for places to put things, feeling guilty about buying new things because you have so much already.
Maybe once a year you manage to do a big spring clean and get rid of some of the clutter, but most of the time it’s just organizing things back into boxes that won’t be opened until the next spring clean. Living with less is one thing that the minimalist movement is founded on. Here are a few tips to get you started on the path to less.
A very personal way to start is with clothing; you can do this for yourself without stepping on any ones toes. Fast fashion is something many of us fall victim to, and we will buy and buy to keep up with the latest trends, often cheaper clothing too so we don’t feel too bad for spending. These clothes often get used a few times and then go back in the closet where they stay and take up space, but still you look at your hanger and complain there is nothing to wear! Well it’s time to get real and brutal. A great place to start is by taking all of your clothes out and sorting them first into piles.
– Love (your favourites)
– Useful (Things like winter jackets, or exercise clothes)
– Staples (the items you find yourself wearing most days, jeans or work clothes)
– Like (those items you are not in love with but you still like)
Now if there is anything that doesn’t fit into those categories they go on the chuck out pile immediately. Maybe a pair of old sweats with holes in the knees that are your comfort pants, or an old t-shirt with a silly slogan on it!
Now take a closer look at each category. Start with your staples, do you wear jeans a lot but have 10 pairs? Well which do you use the least, or don’t fit quite right? On the chuck out pile they go. You can go through each group of clothing quite methodically and ask your self these questions.
– Does it fit well?
– Have I worn it in the last year?
– Do I like the colour/pattern?
– Do I feel good when wearing it?
For this to work you will have to be quite honest with yourself. It helps to envisage the nice clear space that you will have in your wardrobe when you have whittled away at your clothing stack.
Once you have cut away about everything you feel you can then reassess. If it looks like there is still a lot, and you feel the need to cut down further but don’t have the heart to throw anything else out, then I suggest this brilliant trick. Put everything on hangers facing the one way, everything you wear an item of clothing from your wardrobe put the hanger facing the other way. Over the next few months it will become apparent the thing you wear regularly and the things that are just taking up space and you can make further cuts accordingly. There are many methods like the ten item wardrobe method that people do use when redesigning their wardrobes, which are great things to look into if you need that extra push.
Now we’ve all been a bit guilty of keeping little knick-knacks that we are fond of, ornaments and decorations around the house. A lot of the times these things collect dust and look out of place and random around the house. It’s time to take a harder look at what is really there to beautify the home, has large sentimental value or what is just there because your aunt gave it to you for Christmas last year and you have put it on the mantle piece and forgotten about it. This is a great time to do a revamp of your home, decide on a particular design theme, if you haven’t already, and start to tidy things up. Look around of your desktops, benches and bookshelves. You can use a similar method to that of clearing our your clothes. Either take everything down and put it in the one place of go through your house room by room and look at each item to see if you really love it, if it hold great sentimental value or is in keeping with your design theme, or if it is in fact, just collecting dust. Clearing space will allow for less cleaning and having DE-cluttered benches has quite a soothing affect. This isn’t to say you must get rid of everything and have blank walls. But just pair down what you do have until it is back to the essentials of design.
You obviously need furniture in a house, people need somewhere to sleep, a table to eat at and comfy chairs but do you have random furniture around the house that seems to be taking up space and hardly gets used? Some people have a habit at finding bargains or verge side collection finds and bringing them home and trying to make space for that cane arch that just seemed to be too good not to have even though there is no real space for it in their home! Take a look at what you use and what you need and also the quality of those products. If you are buying a cheap lounge set chances are it’s going to break down quicker and have you looking for other replacements. So take a good hard look at what is around you and what is essential.
The kitchen cupboard can become their own black holes. There are always so many different gadgets out their to supposedly make your life simpler, but that pasta maker gets used twice and the zucchini curler and yoghurt maker never even got a look in! Go through all of your draws that only keep the essentials that you use on a weekly basis. If you have only used something once or twice the chances are you will not use it again and all it is doing is taking up space and giving you a headache each time you are searching for something you do really need.
You may have old pans that have lost their stick but they stay in the cupboard just because you haven’t got time to throw them out. The kitchen is always full of strange one of devices, and there never seems to be enough shelf space, so take a further look and see what you can rid yourself of to free up more space.
If you have kids, chances are you have a lot of toys and games that are floating around the house and seem to never be in their toy box but instead all over the floor. You can probably relate to that feeling of dread when you see your children pull out another game before packing up the last and knowing how much of it is going to end up under the furniture for you to try and sweep up. Kids don’t actually need every new toy or game and are often quite content with cardboard boxes and some simple Lego. Go through your kids toys and games and see what games are missing pieces and give them the flick. There may be games that they have hardly ever used too, so these can go on the give away pile. A great idea for toys is to keep them in rotation.
Put some of the toys and game sin a separate box to your main toy shelf or box and every month or so you can switch it up and bring out some other games putting the ones they have just had, away. So even though you are not buying anything new it feels new to the kids because they haven’t seen it in a month. This way you don’t have to deal with them pulling out every activity you have at once and making a huge mess. Let them be creative and make the most of what they do have instead of over stimulating them with every game under the sun.
Toys and Devices for Big Kids
Now that you’ve sorted the kid’s toy situation out, it’s only fair you do it for yourself also. Do you find yourself wanting the latest fads and electronic devices? First sort through your old things, do you have a model plane on a shelf in the garage that has a wing broken that you’ve been ‘meaning to fix’ for three years now? Get rid of it! Do you really need a tablet as well at your laptop and smartphone? Just like with your kitchen goods and furniture take a look at what you really need, but you use on a regular basis and what you think stimulates your body and mind in a healthy way. We can get so caught up in advertising for the latest fads, or maybe there is that special on gym equipment, but you actually find it really hard to be motivated enough to work out at home, how about save that money, get a gym membership if you really do want to stay fit that way, and then save your space and have more freedom to be flexible. Often our argument of ‘it will be cheaper in the long run’ doesn’t quite work out because we may lose interest quickly in our jet ski or be working so hard to pay it off we don’t have time to use it anyway. Renting things like boats and jet skis, even cars if you live in the inner city, can be a better way to go. Free up your bank balance by only paying for something when you really need it.
Is It For You?
So is it for you do you think? Would you like to be freer from stuff? Try out these first steps and see how if feels, you may find it becomes easier and easier as time goes on to live with less and you’ll have more time and money for the things that are really important. When you do go through your house, consider donating clothing or appliances to goodwill, to give people with less of the basics a bit of a helping hand. Living in a minimalist way does not have to be a strict lifestyle where you own nothing and never work to give you more ‘time’. It is much more about cutting out of your life the things you don’t really need that take up your time money and attention that could better be spent elsewhere. Take a look at your life, try out some of these steps and see how it feels for you and who knows where it will take you.