My Personal Definition of Minimalism

An uncluttered family room, minimalism

Many years ago, when I first heard the term “minimalism,” I pictured a loft style space with high ceilings, tall bare windows, stark white walls and sparse white leather furniture. Surely, no one with children could lead a minimalist lifestyle. Families and minimalism were mutually exclusive in my mind. I firmly believed that you couldn’t be a Costco shopper and a minimalist at the same time. I was wrong.

Minimalism isn’t a harsh decorating style or a strict lifestyle regime.  It’s a big picture value system about the volume of stuff we “need” in our lives. Minimalists have “stuff,” they even have cozy family homes, but they like to keep things pragmatic and simple.

I live in a typical eastside home with my husband and two boys. Each of my sons has a bedroom, we have a play room, and a guest bedroom. We have stuff in our attic. I shop at Target and at Costco. Yet, I still consider myself a minimalist. Here’s why:

• I am not a collector. I don’t have lots of back-up or duplicates of any one type of item. I have t-shirts, but they all fit into one drawer nicely. I have two sets of sheets for the beds in our home.
• I don’t give myself a hard time if I find something I haven’t used in forever. There is a reason I haven’t used it – I didn’t need it or I didn’t love it. I feel no guilt in letting it go. Apparently, I had enough without it.
• If I replace a household item, I donate the old version pretty much right away. I don’t like old coffee makers or lamps hanging out in my garage collecting dust and encroaching on my parking space.
• I re-sell things on Craigslist. My son played the French horn in fifth grade band and now he’s into guitar. The French horn can go to another aspiring elementary school musician.
• I shop at Costco, but only for things we’ll use up quickly. I will buy toilet paper and paper towels, meat, veggies, but not a three pack of barbecue sauce which we don’t use frequently and would last us 8 years.
• I love clear counter tops in my kitchen. It’s way faster to wipe them down if you don’t have to move ten different appliances and boxes of food.
• You won’t find high school prom dresses in my closet. Or anything from college, or from before I had children. You might not find much in my closet that I don’t wear regularly.
• I have very few emails in my inbox. I do save emails in folders if I feel I might need them in the future. I send all subscriptions like coupons from retail stores to a separate email address. If I need a coupon, I look there.
• I work with my boys to clean out their bedrooms at least once a year. We pass down clothes, and donate toys.
• If I don’t know where I would store it, I don’t buy it. We considered getting a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree, but when I saw the size of the box we would have to store for 50 weeks out of the year, I changed my mind.
• I love books, but I only hang on to those I know I will read again. I give most books away. I am making more use of the Kindle app on my tablet.
My version of minimalism works for me. It helps my home feel calm. I can stay organized. It reduces my housework. I can find things easily. I have more than enough. I have exactly what I need.

Author: Vlasta Hillger