There are some key benefits to creating a minimalist home such as achieving a more attractive and calmer living environment. But is it possible to turn an ordinary home into a minimalist one?
The key to a minimalist home is clearing away clutter – this includes all that stuff that you don’t really need and rarely use as well as frequently used items that simply look untidy. So minimalism is not about simply de-cluttering and throwing away, recycling or donating to charity all those unnecessary possessions that we all seem to accumulate. It is also about being able to store away everyday items that we do use regularly in a way that makes them easily accessible when we need them but out of sight when we don’t.
It’s no surprise that effective storage is a must for a minimalist and that many people can only maintain their calm, ordered home by renting a small self-storage unit for all the stuff that can’t be stored easily at home.
I believe everyone could turn their home into a minimalist home and enjoy a new way of living whether you are young or old. My own grandmother was a classic example of this when she had to adapt her home when she became less mobile and took the opportunity to completely re-think how she was living. She kept all her favourite things but realised many of her possessions were just clutter. When she later opted for live-in care (where a carer came to live with her to help with everyday tasks) she had both an attractive home and a practical home thanks to homecare.
But before considering what minimalism is, let’s think about why you would even want to embrace minimalism in your home. What are the advantages to the individual and the family? Can a minimalist home really work with young children and provide a stimulating environment for them to grow up in?
The 3 Advantages of Minimalism in the Home
1. Your home will look more attractive
Imagine the clear uncluttered surfaces with everything neatly stored away until it is needed. No more tripping over children’s toys littering the floor. No more shelves full of ornaments you neither like nor want. Just elegant statement pieces of furniture that are shown off to their best because they are surrounded by clear spaces – room to move and room to relax.
2. Your home will be easier to keep clean
It is so much easier to dust and hoover if the floors and other surfaces are free from too many objects. You won’t have to move items on shelves and surfaces before you can clean them so cleaning the home will be a much quicker task.
3. Home life will be calmer
It is much less stressful when it is easy to find everything you need and in a minimalist home everything is neatly stored away in it’s own allotted space so is always easy to find. No more rushing around looking for a particular item only to find it under piles of papers and children will always know where to find their favourite toy or book.
So these are the advantages of a minimalist home but how can you turn an ordinary home into a minimalist one?
Of course, a dream scenario would be an employer providing a full relocation to a super minimalist home in Brazil or somewhere equally exciting (we can all dream!). Maybe near the beach in Rio…. That way you could start afresh instead of packing up and shipping belongings to Brazil you could buy everything new when you got there. Now that really would be the dream especially with so many great Brazilian furniture designers. A glitzy cabinet from Fernando and Humberto Campana maybe or a leather chair from José Zanine Caldas? Ooh I’d be spoilt for choice!
The first step is to de-clutter, whilst minimalism is about more than simply de-cluttering, this is still an important phase because once you have de-cluttered your home you will have a better idea of how much new storage space will be required to house all your essential items.
Then you will need to create the additional enclosed storage – for a truly minimal look this should be as unobtrusive as possible – simple cupboards painted the same colour as the walls (neutral, of course) so they blend in – and should make use of existing alcoves and niches to avoid encroaching on a room’s floor space. An essential part of minimalist living is keeping the floor clear of any unnecessary items.
Always over-estimate how much storage you think you will need – one of the biggest factors in the failure of a minimalist home is not actually having the storage space to easily keep those belongings out of sight.
Next, consider whether you really need all of the furniture that your rooms contain. Clearly there are certain essential furniture items that every room needs: chairs, tables, sofas, beds etc but there are also many that you can live without. But a minimalist home should still be comfortable so ensure there is enough seating for the family and guests. There’s little point your guests admiring your sleek, minimal home if there is nowhere comfortable for them to sit down.
Just because you are aiming for a minimalist home does not mean that you can’t have books, magazines, CDs and DVDs in your living space but they will need plenty of storage space behind doors and out of sight wherever possible. Shelves of books and DVDs are dust magnets that not only look cluttered but are difficult to keep clean and dust-free.
Choose any ornaments or other decorations very carefully – you want to introduce something of your character into the room otherwise it would be a completely bland space but, at the same time, it is very easy to overdo it with ornaments, family photos etc. The perfect decorations for a minimalist room are paintings hung on the walls – they add colour and something of your own style without cluttering any surfaces, and maybe a modern vase or a structural houseplant. Plants in particular can add to the sense of calm in a minimalist room.
Stick to neutral colours for the walls and as many of the storage cupboards and drawers as possible, and avoid patterns on any fabrics, floor covering or soft furnishings as even the simplest pattern can create a feeling of clutter in a room. If you can’t live without curtains (which might not be practical in a cold climate) then choose a plain, and preferably neutral, colour, but in warmer climates simple blinds are preferable or if you don’t need privacy then no window dressings at all.
And a final reminder about storage space – it is essential that there is ample storage space and that there are designated, and easily accessible, places for all items that you will need to retrieve on a regular basis. It is impractical, for example, to store your DVDs in a cupboard under the stairs in a spot requiring you to move other items out of the way to get at the DVDs. Putting some serious thought into your storage will help you to maintain the minimalist look that you have worked hard to achieve in your home.
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