How To Decorate While Embracing Minimalism
Realizing that minimalism was the right choice for me didn't happen overnight. I struggled with the question: Could I really become a minimalist?
Now that I've embraced this decision, going on ten months now, I've drastically purged my possessions. I cannot count the number of trips I took to Salvation Army and Goodwill while I was living in Denver.
However, I'm still a girl who likes a comfortable living environment. I did have to figure out what items to keep to make life easier and the home that I share with My Person beautiful.
Here's what I figured out about decorating as a minimalist:
1. Make your own rules!
I love to read other people's opinions and ideas about minimalism, but I subscribe to no one philosophy. And that's what I love about simple living. I can incorporate tips into my version of minimalistic living and reap the benefits.
But I don't follow strict rules or guidelines set out by any one person or organization. I don't count how many hangers I have in my closet or obsess over the number of DVDs I own. I decluttered. A lot! And now I carefully consider any purchases that will bring more stuff into our home.
2. Choose a color palette.
I'm actually pretty happy that I figured this tip out years ago before I even knew what minimalism was. I have moved several times and in every new apartment there was a new distribution of the stuff.
I kept moving all of these things around and the color scheme in my bedroom didn't complement the colors I used in the living room. So I was constantly hitting Target, The Container Store, Lowe's, and any number of other home decorating stores to buy baskets, boxes, and containers in the "right" color for the room.
After a few years, I realized that if I used the same color palette throughout my home, I could mix and match the stuff much easier. The media boxes that I had in my closet in one apartment could easily be placed on a shelf in a new apartment because the colors worked together!
And this idea pairs perfectly with minimalism too. While I have neutral colors in my palette, I am particular about how things look. If an item doesn't work with the color palette, I don't consider it any longer. Saying no to a potential purchase is much easier for me when I have my color palette in mind.
3. Decide which decorative items you need.
You know what items make you feel most at home. And keep you organized. Don't get rid of those things just because you're embracing minimalism. Just manage those items! I have three examples from my experience.
- In my kitchen, I have a dish towel with measuring conversions printed on it. It's a simple white towel, but the quick reference measuring equivalents looks attractive while remaining functional.
Words cannot describe the kitchen towel collection I used to have. Multiple colors, stripes, themes, textures. I had shelves of kitchen towels! All donated and replaced by my conversion towel, three white flour sack towels and two white waffle weave ones. Easy to bleach if need be and easy to replace when that time comes.
- I absolutely need a throw blanket. I get cold pretty easily, so snuggling up into a warm blanket is a must for me to enjoy reading. Now, I have one throw blanket. It's large enough to share with My Person.
I used to have an entire basket of throws! So not only did I have multiple throws, I had a basket to contain the throws that I wasn't using. And I used to have a tray that I kept on top of the basket because I was convinced that piling clutter upon clutter was attractive when it's really just more to clean!
- I do like media boxes. They're versatile and can house those items that you need, but you don't necessarily need to see. Media boxes are also easy to clean. Much easier to swipe over and around a media box than the stuff inside it!
One set of ours is in a neutral tone. These four boxes house our DVDs. I couldn't rationalize getting rid of DVDs that we will watch on occasion. However, I did re-package all of the DVDs into sleeves that fit nicely into the media boxes. And the DVD collection will remain contained in these media boxes. No expansion allowed!
The other set of media boxes is brick red, one of our favorite color palette selections. Right now, I use these boxes in my home office. I keep one box full of greeting cards. I really like supporting artists on Etsy and there are so many fantastic card shops there! I need some way of reigning in how many cards I buy, so I keep them in one media box. Again, no expansion allowed. The other three media boxes house office supplies and extra charging cables. My desk is a simple surface with no drawers, so I want to keep pens, sticky notes, highlighters, and the like out of sight.
4. Decide which decorative items enhance your environment.
These items are purely decorative. They have no purpose other than looking good. I like looking at beautiful things! Being a minimalist doesn't mean I want to live in an ugly home!
In our San Francisco studio, we have nothing hanging on our walls. We do have floor-to-ceiling windows and a view of downtown, so we consider that pretty decorative...even on foggy days. In our Tucson home, we have a few key pieces on our walls. These paintings mean something to us. We may acquire more pieces over the years, but they will be carefully chosen.
What do you like looking at? Have you acquired a special piece on vacation? Hang that. Don't feel like you have to hang an entire collection of that.
I am a huge geek, so I used to have all sorts of action figures, stuffed animals, posters, books, and decorative whatevers all around my apartment. I gave away many of these items to good homes. Luckily, I had some fellow geek friends who were happy to take my Vulcan teddy bear and the like off my hands.
Now I have a select group of figures that keep me company while I'm writing at my desk.
Do these decorative items adhere strictly to the definition of minimalism? Of course not, but shouldn't you love your home? Please refer back to point #1 here.
5. Don't get sucked into consumerism. Avoid going to the store.
Stay strong and avoid buying crap you don't need. Once you've decorated your home with the minimal amount of decorative items you like, why add thoughtlessly to the environment you've worked so hard to create?
I try to avoid as much advertising as possible. I try not to compare my life with anyone else's. I make shopping lists to keep my purchasing focused.
But the single best tip I have about avoiding consumerism is to avoid entering stores unnecessarily.
I haven't been in a Target in months! I haven't been in a mall in at least a year. I go to grocery stores and farmer's markets because I do want to pick my produce and fresh ingredients. But for most other items, I shop online.
I have my list. I create my cart. I can come back to re-consider the cart, especially if there are things in there that I may be debating. But mostly, I'm buying soap or toothpaste or toilet paper. I don't have to go to Target to get those things. Or at the very least, I can order online with Target and go pick those items up at customer service.
By avoiding the aisles, I just don't expose myself to the pillows and bed sheets and wreaths and clothes and electronics and stuff that I don't need!
And on the rare occasion that I must venture into a store, I have a list. I stay focused. I minimally interact with the sales people. If I need them, I ask directly for what I need. I do not engage them in any sales conversation. "I'm just browsing" is my standard polite reply to questions.
My home is just perfect the way it is. I have crafted a beautiful vision with My Person. And now we decide together if we need to add any more stuff to our home.