I have always been highly affected by my physical environment and drawn to tidy, organized spaces. When I first heard about minimalism, I studied the subject like it was my job. For a variety of reasons, I began to equate minimalism with a modern aesthetic featuring a neutral color palette. With this in mind, I examined my every possession and tossed, donated, sold and replaced almost everything I owned.
At first, I loved my sleek minimalist space. I could breathe more deeply and think more clearly. Eventually, though, I felt like a stranger in my own home. I longed to see a bouquet of flowers spilling out of a pretty blue pitcher, a stack of my favorite poetry books and my beloved collection of heart-shaped rocks.
After what seemed like an epic fail at minimalism, I regrouped and asked myself how I could embrace simplicity while staying true to my personal style. My answer turned out to be pretty simple.
Pretty—as in fairly or mostly and as in beautiful or lovely.
Simple—as in pared down to only those possessions necessary for my well-being and comfort.
A quote written by William Morris in the 1800s has inspired many minimalists. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or beautiful.” It’s a lovely sentiment, but because useful and beautiful are subjective, it requires us to make some personal decisions about what minimalism looks like for us.
To make minimalism work for me, I had to make a major shift in my thinking.
- A minimalist’s closet could hold five identical black T-shirts, but mine could just as easily have five beautiful blouses hanging on silk padded hangers.
- A minimalist’s set of dishes may be plain white, but I could use a small set of floral china.
- A bold, abstract piece of art might hang in a minimalist’s living room, but I could choose a sweet watercolor of a robin.
We can embrace the philosophy of minimalism regardless of our personal style. I like pretty things. Maybe your style is more glamourous, bohemian, sporty, contemporary, or vintage. Our possessions should make us happy. Decide what you really need, and let each thing reflect your own style.
Ironically, I made the mistake of complicating minimalism. I wasn’t seeking an avant-garde lifestyle. I was seeking simplicity. I just needed to make sure my home neatly contained only my favorite things I use and love.
For me, minimalism is pretty simple.