By MEGAN JOHANSSON
I loved colors when I was a kid – and bright ones at that. The more I could tack onto my walls, the more complete I felt my space was. Stimulation was my jam, and so much so that one bored Saturday I decided to paint purple, hot pink, and orange circles on my ceiling to give my light pink walls some “contrast.” In case you’re wondering, I had a closet-sized basement bedroom with no windows, so calling this “a bit much” was an understatement.
Thinking about that space today makes me start to hyperventilate and want to run outside for a breath of fresh air. There was just so much to look at. It was basically a Phish concert packed into a box, which is nice for some but definitely not for me. Thankfully I have since moved on and in the past few years, I’ve embarked on the magical path that is minimalism.
So what does it take to be a minimalist? Well, you can go all-in and completely purge your belongings until you have so little that you could literally move anywhere with a small suitcase. Or, you could become a semi-committed minimalist (like yours truly) and start with this basic set of rules to give your space that refreshing vibe you’ve probably always wanted (but never had the time to achieve):
A - Attack Your Closet (If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it.)
I spent years breaking this rule before I finally looked at a beautiful pair of “one day” pants sitting at the very top corner of my closet, then looked at my never-going-to-be-seventeen-again hips, and knew something had to be done. Keeping clothes in your closet that you never wear because they’re either too small, too big, have holes/stains, or don’t fit your style is a giant waste of space.
Unless you’re holding onto something for a particularly sentimental reason, then it’s got to go. Sell it, donate it, or if it’s in bad shape, toss/recycle it - whatever works as long as it goes away.
You may think you’ll have the time to patch up that sweater, or turn those shrunken jeans into cut-off beach shorts, but be real – how long have you been telling yourself that? Whenever you’ve had free time for the past two years, have you ever wanted to devote it to mending a worn garment? I promise that if you do a closet overhaul, you’ll be amazed at how much clearer your space feels, and how many things you actually do have in your closet that you want to wear. When everything isn’t hiding under old t-shirts, it’s much easier to find that top you actually like.
B – Be Selective with Your Décor (Avoid over-stimulation.)
Just because each room has four walls does not mean that each wall has to be covered in artwork. Your décor should be selected purposefully for a room, and it should reflect your interests and work with the space. Many of us have the tendency to want to spruce up a room, but instead of starting completely fresh, we just add to what we already have. This can cause a room to feel cluttered and out of sync.
The best way to know if your décor is working is to make a blank slate, then add elements one at a time until you are satisfied. Take down all of the frames and artwork from the walls and clear off your bookshelves. Then look at the décor you have on hand. Which pieces do you love, and which ones are you tired of looking at? Take the I’m tired of you items and either put them away in storage if you still love them and want to use them again one day, or donate/sell them to get rid of them completely.
Once you’ve got your pile of heck yes items, see if finding a new home for them – perhaps in another room, or on another wall – does the trick. Maybe you want to combine a few frames into a gallery wall? Or maybe the hallway would be a much better spot for your wedding photo? Keep playing around until you find a combination that works for you.
After that, you should feel much more at ease with your space and refreshed, but if you still feel like the room is missing something, then by all means go on a hunt to find the perfect piece. Just remember that you want it to be cohesive with your new décor setup, and you don’t want it to overwhelm the space. Selectivity is key here. You want some whitespace on your walls, otherwise you’ll be right back to square one with a cluttered vibe.
C – Cut Down on Storage (Avoid buying more bins at all costs.)
It’s incredibly easy to rack up more and more storage “solutions” in your home. While I’m a big fan of organization and of those neat little in-drawer boxes that keep all your undies in line, most storage bins and boxes end up adding to the clutter.
Before you go out and spend $100 on a bunch of see-through plastic tubs, first take inventory of what it is you are trying to store. Do you actually need those items? If not, can they be sold, donated, or recycled? The less junk you keep hanging around your house, the more calm and content you will feel.
We like to accumulate things, yes. But don’t automatically hang onto something without seriously considering why you are doing so. I loved my CD collection as a kid, but there is absolutely no reason for me to keep a stack of those babies hanging out on a shelf in my basement for all eternity.
Make what you keep intentional. If it doesn’t have a purpose, then let it go.
Ready to give minimalism a shot? Start with this list, and I think you’ll find that as you eliminate what you own, you’ll be less inclined to add to an already-full space. And remember to start small – it doesn’t have to be 100% minimal on day one. You can do one drawer, or tackle your t-shirt pile first. Pretty soon you’ll be wondering why you ever thought you needed so much stuff in the first place.