With the start of a New Year thoughts can often turn to re-defining who we are and the spaces we live in. In some ways it seems a lot easier to clear out the clutter in one’s property after the indulgence of the festive season. All the additional gifts and mountains of toys your children undoubtedly received may have made you realise how many ‘things’ you actually have in your home.
Now that the last of the guests have left and you have flopped with relief into your cosy arm chair you might be thinking that a more minimalist approach to your living space could give you just the boost you need.
Benefits of a minimalist home
Less stressful: Clutter is a form of visual distraction, and everything in our vision pulls at our attention even if only a little.
More appealing: Think about photos of homes that are cluttered, and photos of minimalist homes. The ones with almost nothing in them except some beautiful furniture, some nice artwork, and a very few pretty decorations, are the ones that appeal to most of us.
Easier to clean: It’s hard to clean lots of objects or to sweep or vacuum around numerous pieces of furniture. The more stuff you have, the more you have to keep clean.
What a minimalist home looks like
Minimal furniture: A minimalist room would only contain a few essential pieces of furniture. A living room, for example, might only have a sofa, another chair or love seat, a coffee table, an entertainment stand, a television, and a couple of lamps.
Clear surfaces: In a minimalist home, flat surfaces are clear, except for one or two decorations.
Accent decorations: A home completely clear of things can easily lack personaility. So instead of having a coffee table completely free of any objects, you could have a simple vase with a few flowers, for example.
Quality over quantity: Instead of having a lot of stuff in your home, choose just a few really good things you really love and use often. A really nice table, for example, is better than five pieces of press-board furniture.
How to create a minimalist home
One room at a time: Unless you’re just moving into a place, it’s hard to simplify an entire house at once. Focus on one room, and let that be your centre of calm. This in turn will inspire you to simplify the rest of the rooms in your own time.
Start with furniture: The biggest things in any room are the furniture, so you should always begin simplifying a room by looking at the furniture. Think about which furniture can be eliminated without sacrificing comfort and liveability.
Only the essentials: Whether looking at your furniture or anything else in the room, ask yourself if the item is truly essential. If you can live without it, then it can go.
Clear floors: Except for the furniture, your floors should be completely clear. Once you’ve gotten your furniture down to the bare essentials, clear everything else on the floor you don’t need.
Clear surfaces: Same thing with all flat surfaces. Don’t have anything on them, except one or two simple decorations.
Clear walls: Clear your walls except for one or two simple pieces of nice artwork. They tend to have more impact than lots of pictures all placed together.
Store stuff out of sight: Store everything you need out of sight, in drawers and cabinets. Bookshelves can be used to store books or DVDs or CDs, but shouldn’t have much else.
Declutter: If you are clearing flat surfaces and the floor, and storing stuff in cabinets and drawers, you’ll probably want to declutter your storage areas too.
Plain window treatments: Bare windows, or simple, solid coloured curtains, or simple, wooden blinds work well for creating a minimalist look.
Plain patterns: Solid colours are best for floor coverings and furniture as complex patterns, such as flowers or checks, are visually cluttering.
Edit and eliminate: When you’ve simplified a room, you can probably do more. Give it a couple of days and then look at everything with a fresh eye.
Place for everything: Find a place for everything, and remember where those places are. Where does you blender go? Give it a spot, and stick with it. Aim for logical spots that are close to where the item is used.
Once you’ve simplified a room, take a moment to look around and enjoy it. It’s so peaceful and satisfying. This will be the reward for all your hard work.