5 Uses of Minimalism in your home
I’m going to be honest. I am not a fan of minimalism.
By now I’m guessing that you have an idea of my style. It’s colourful, moody and dark with lots of vintage things dotted around and details in things like the skirting boards and lighting. I hate white walls and much prefer greys especially dark ones with depths of colour in them. I wouldn’t say that I am a die-hard maximalist as I can’t stand clutter and a mixture of patterns in the same place but I'm probably closer to that end of the spectrum. I would definitely not call myself a minimalist.
One of the reasons I’m not keen on minimalism is that I hate white walls. I don't think I can ever bring myself to paint any wall in my house white. Practically speaking as a mum of two boys I know white walls, furniture or accessories will get grubby very quickly. I don’t even buy white clothes for myself or the kids anymore as I can’t bear the inevitable stains they will appear on them. Clearly I have a problem with white! Maybe it’s too idealistic for me, or too perfect or too clean. Things that I know that life is not! I love colour and experimenting with different hues in interiors and photography. I think my main problem is with monochrome. I hate absolutes. I see life in colour and love celebrating the diversity that colour brings to a room. I was recently at Hever castle and was walking alone (a rare moment for me!) through the beautiful gardens and realised that there is so much colour inspiration in nature and a lot of that translates into interiors whether we realise it or not. We all use wood as a natural material for our furniture and paint colours usually have floral or nature-inspired names. Greys, blues and greens help on a simple level to make us feel calm, replicating how we feel in nature. I’m excited to learn more about colour theory and how our associations, memories and nostalgia for certain hues affect us and can be used for inspiration when starting to design a room.
I almost named this post why I hate minimalism BUT the more I have researched into this popular home theme, there are actually quite a few of its principals that resonate with me. So I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water and have uncovered five aspects of Minimalism that I want to share with you to help you add style and purpose to any room.
One thing that pops up as a recurring theme as I have journeyed through other people’s homes is clutter and how this seems to stand as a barrier between both getting creative with a room and even being motivated to make any changes at all. Clutter affects our minds. I’m not completely sure how this works but all I know is that I can’t sit down and relax in the evening until all the kids toys are tidied up. Who actually enjoys clutter anyway? There is no purpose to it at all. I have recently tried to have a great purge every month or so but I feel that I'm only scratching the surface. There is still so much stuff everywhere! With the impending renovations about to take place in our house a serious amount of sorting needs to take place.
My first port of call to aid me in this was to buy Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Having heard mixed reviews I was unsure whether to bother or not but I have been pleasantly surprised! She explains a little about the psychology behind sorting out our homes (I'm always interested in understanding the mind better) and although there is a certain order she says that you must follow, there is flexibility within those guidelines. Before even considering storage she says that discarding MUST happen first and she expresses fervently that you need to do it by category, not by room. Famously having coined the phrase “Does it spark joy?’ she explains the bizarre act of holding items in your hand, being present in the moment and questioning how that object makes you feel. I know this sounds pretty strange and time consuming but I see the point is to make intentional decisions about our material objects so that in the end we are only surrounded by things that we deem important and beautiful. That can definitely make a difference to our everyday mood and eventually our lives. Minimalist rooms have NO clutter and not even that much storage so we can only assume that a lot of throwing away has happened in these rooms and lives. This is definitely something that I can admire about minimalism.
I’ve recently watched Minimalism which tells the story of two friends in America now dubbed ‘The Minimalists’ who travel the world preaching that you can have a better life if you purge your life of materialistic treasures. It doesn’t claim specific steps you need to be happy (thank goodness!) but wants to promote freedom from the things that trap us in this consumer culture. It’s about being more conscious and deliberate with life decisions and things. This is definitely not a bandwagon that I am about to jump on fully but this simplicity can be made good use of in our rooms. Along the similar vein of decluttering we need to consider storage and clever homes for all those bits and pieces lying around. There should be a place for everything. My greatest struggle is the kids toys but some tips I have learnt is to circulate toys, keeping some stored in tin boxes on the shelves out of reach and keeping others in a cupboard. This is working a treat with the boys at the minute. Also toddlers grow out of baby toys very quickly so why not donate some unused ones to your local playgroup? Maybe you no longer watch DVDs and only watch blu-rays so get rid of the excess. You might even be able to sell them and get earn a little bit of cash. As for shelves really consider what you want out on show. Do you need all those photos on the window sill or could you simplify them into a gallery wall or get matching photo frames so they are more visually pleasing? What about your books? How would they look to either be in height order or colour order? I am obsessed with the latter! This commitment to simplifying means that we don't have to get rid of everything but we can be a bit more decisive that we don't need everything that we currently have. I think we underestimate the well-being that comes when our spaces are more ordered.
When you look at any minimalist room there is a clear modern design influence. There is never any up-cycled furniture or decorative gold picture frames on the wall or patterns anywhere in the scheme. This is clearly why I can never be a minimalist! Although my preferences don't lean towards modern design I am very interested in the marrying of vintage styling with a modern twist. I think when we consider most rooms we cannot deny that they are usually an eclectic mix of themes. We might have a traditional room scheme and then a TV smack bang in the middle of the wall. Or we might go for a old fashioned shaker style kitchen and then an American style fridge standing proudly in the corner. I personally love embracing this mix of styles as it is a way of creating a room scheme that is really creative and unique. We will all sit at slightly different points on this spectrum between modern living and older aspects of design but whatever we choose we can't deny the need to incorporate modern gadgets and necessities such as TVs, plug sockets etc. into our room designs. Here minimalism can show us nifty ways of incorporating such elements into our creative design process.
4 Negative Space
Negative space is something that I am only beginning to learn about but makes a lot of sense to me, especially considering my previous career in choreography. In a room negative space can be considered a blank area or empty space that has been intentionally left that way. Think of it as a section of the wall where you are not hanging anything up or a space in the room that doesn't have furniture placed in it. The reason for doing this is to create a balance in a room and even let another more prominent part of the room shine. This is all about personal aesthetic which can't really be taught and is quite subjective but once you start considering negative space in a room I think you'll start to get a gut feeling for where you want the 'empty' spaces to be. This reminds me of moments of stillness in choreography or that moment of breathe before movement. It isn't an instant decision either, you may need a few days or weeks to see if you've made the 'right' choice. Minimalism in my opinion has a bit too much negative space but it can inspire where we might choose to use it in our own projects. One of my favourite interior design bloggers has a whole article devoted to this concept so if you are interested in reading a little bit more about this concept then hop over to Making Spaces and take a look.
5 Lack of colour
Although this is the element of minimalism that I hate the most, I can actually see the benefit of using it as a starting point for a room. For some people the absence of colour in completely white and monochrome rooms are exactly what they want. But more often than not whites and greys can actually provide a fantastic backdrop to add lots of colour. One of my favourite spaces at the minute has the simplicity of minimalism but combined with more exciting design themes. Check out the luxurious quirkiness of House Curious.
So hopefully we can see that Minimalism isn’t just a decorating scheme. It is much deeper than that. It can be a lifestyle, a mentality and a philosophy to live by. It can be a singular act that tidies the clutter away or an ongoing process of refining and honing our rooms to breathe more calm and create more space. Essentially it is striping things back to what really matters and most importantly doing it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to you.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Minimalism and how you can integrate it into your home? Maybe you love it as a scheme all on its own. Maybe you have other tips... Keep in touch,
DISCLAIMER: All photography is my own unless otherwise stated.