It seems like everyone these days is on the “clear the clutter” bandwagon, looking for the perfect organizing system and just the right amount of items in their homes. And for some people, this way of life is a continuing cycle of buying things you love, then having to pare down when the visual chaos gets too much. One way to avoid this circular path is to adopt minimalism as a lifestyle.
Meet the Expert
- Tara Spaulding is an interior design coordinator at Patio Productions.
- Kelly Simpson is the senior director of design and innovation at Budget Blinds.
- Lisa Jane is an interior designer from Ruling Homes.
What Is Minimalism
At its core, minimalism is about living with fewer things. It has been applied to many areas of life, including art, music, fashion, and decor with different types as it relates to how people choose to create their home space.
When it comes to minimalist design, think of decorating with only essential elements that bring purpose to the space rather than unnecessary details. This includes open floor plans, functional furniture, intentional layouts, neutral palettes, and layering textures so everything looks cohesive.
Benefits of Minimalism
If all of this sounds extreme, perhaps understanding the “why” will help. First, there is a certain freedom that comes with letting things go. The reduction of clutter alone is a big step toward that freedom.
It can feel overwhelming to have too many things piled up all over your home. Especially when you can't find something you need or you can't properly relax because there's clutter everywhere. A minimalist lifestyle can also help you make intentional buying choices since it emphasizes the importance of functionality.
Tips for Creating a Minimalist Home on a Budget
The beauty of minimalist decor is that it encourages you to spend less and be mindful of everything you bring into your home. As you peel away the layers of each room, think about how you will use the space and which items that you already own will align with those needs. Taking a realistic inventory will help you decide what needs to go. After taking stock of your possessions, it’s time to start the transition to minimalism.
“Start converting your space by getting rid of furniture that is not functional like decorative furniture,” says Tara Spaulding, an interior design coordinator at Patio Productions. “As you arrange your furniture, focus on symmetry. Since there will be more space in the room, how you position the furniture is important to create a well-balanced interior design. Besides, the furniture placement will draw attention due to the space around it.”
Of course, using things you have already paid for is a big win for your budget. That is why it is so important to take the time to really get a feel for everything in your home instead of rushing to get rid of it all. If your furniture has clean lines, it will fit in fine with your new lifestyle.
How to Maximize Your Space
Once you clear out the clutter and furnishings that no longer fit your life, you will be surprised by how what you thought was a small space suddenly seems larger. When it is time to shop for the few items you might still need, think about what that piece will be doing for you.
“Choose furniture and decor that serves more than one purpose. For example, an ottoman that also serves as storage, or a sofa in a studio space that also doubles as a bed,” says Kelly Simpson, senior director of design and innovation at Budget Blinds. “Window treatments are a great example of multiuse decor as they provide style while also offering light control and privacy.”
Using simple window coverings in a neutral color palette lends itself naturally to minimalism. Get rid of the fussy ruffled window toppers and ornately patterned curtains. Also, consider how to hang new coverings. Hanging the curtain rod several inches above the top of the window adds the illusion of height, which makes the whole room look more spacious. Adding some vertical storage or display pieces helps with this as well.
And while you are looking up, don’t forget the floor. Minimalist decor does not lend itself to what might be some old habits that are hard to break.
“Do not store or stack anything on the floor,” advises Spaulding. “Also, clear the surfaces and the walls. Only leave a few things on the wall or the surface, such as unique pieces or souvenirs.”
The same goes for cluttering up a room with too much furniture or the wrong kind. “Ensure the furniture you add is appropriate for your home. For example, adding a work desk in your bedroom is inappropriate as the bedroom should be relaxing,” Spaulding says.
How to Save Money
Going minimalist is more than changing up your home’s decor. You are changing patterns as well. When you shop for new things to create your spare space, it isn’t an invitation to fill it right back up again. And you don’t necessarily need to head to a swanky furniture store where you will pay top dollar. You can find good buys on great pieces in many different places like secondhand shops.
“Consider shopping secondhand for furniture, decor, and other household items,” says Lisa Jane, an interior designer from Ruling Homes. “Thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces can be great sources for finding gently used items at a fraction of the cost of new items.”
Even better? Ask friends and family about their spare items or check out places like your local Buy Nothing group on social media or Facebook Marketplace. You can often find solid pieces such as bookcases or a dining table for no cost at all. With a little elbow grease, these freebies can become just what your home needs.
Minimalism has staying power, and there is no sign that it is fading, especially with a renewed focus on our homes. If the idea of living with less to have more appeals to you, take notes on why and take stock of where you are now so you can get where you want to be. Our homes are where life happens, so you owe it to yourself to make it the most serene and happy space possible.