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Can you be a Minimalist even if your house isn’t new, white, full of windows, empty or neutral colored? Here’s why I wholeheartedly say YES.
When I first heard the term “minimalist” my eyes were drawn to the gorgeous white, glowing beauty of nearly empty spaces and natural beauty. I desperately longed to have a house that looked just like that: picture perfect.
Only my house didn’t.
It still doesn’t.
Some of our walls are white (or maybe it’s some kind of off-white…), but it’s far from new, modular, or empty.
Built in 1920, there’s a lot of dark wood pretty much everywhere. There are also quite a few unique built-in features–also dark wood. (See our house in pictures here).
And I love those charming built-ins. But they aren’t cookie cutter minimalist.
We have a good number of windows, but our house seems to have more shadows than the even, bright light of the famous YouTube Minimalists. And I’ve had to adjust my expectations.
The examples we see are staged. They are literally curated to look the best they can be.
While some people’s homes actually do stay like that, their kids do dump toys, dust collects and the floor still needs vacuuming. Their house might look empty, but what’s behind that entire wall of cabinets? Closets? Garage?
Most modern homes are incredibly large, so they automatically will look empty when you place one couch, one chair and a small table in them. Put that couch, chair, and table in a room in my small, older home and it will look cramped. Does that mean I’m not a minimalist?
Minimalism is Unique to You & Your Life
There is no list that makes you a minimalist or not. It’s a mindset, lifestyle and intentional way of life. It’s not legalistic, despite what some may say.
Some people say your rooms must be empty or you must own less than 300 items. I’m calling it friends–that’s not minimalism–that’s legalism.
I didn’t choose to be a minimalist for a set of rules–I cut down my clutter for freedom.
Certainly, a book or checklist of things to declutter can be helpful as you work towards living with less, but please, do not let that define you.
If you’re a part of Facebook groups on minimalism or watching YouTube videos that make you feel like you’re failing at this because your house doesn’t look like that–stop watching, turn off notifications or just leave.
You get to define what’s important to your family. You get to define what minimalism means for YOU.
And I guarantee that it won’t be exactly the same definition as everyone else!
Why White and Gray Are Not Always Best
Search Google images for “minimalist” and you’ll be scrolling endlessly through those shockingly white spaces with accents in black or gray. It’s incredibly monochromatic. At first glance, many of us find that appealing. But let me ask you a question.
Would you really want to live in that space all day, every day?
What about your family? Your spouse? Your kids?
While appealing to the eye, there’s something incredibly important to consider here.
It’s your heart.
Please hear me. Some people love the colors white, black and gray. They are comforted by them. If that’s you, awesome!
But, there is scientific evidence that for most people, that’s not the case.
I watched Ingrid Fetell Lee’s TED talk on “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It” and was utterly surprised by her research. What she found was simple: if you want to feel joyful, you have to uncover something that sparks it.
Simply put, she discovered that universally, childhood is joy. Color sparks joy. Pattern sparks joy. Confetti and balloons and blossoms. Wavy lines and circular objects, especially when multiplied, create a feeling of abundance and calm.
So what does that mean for a minimalist?
Well, that’s up to you. I’m firmly determined that kids need color in their life. I want my home to be warm and meaningful, not drab and depressing. My walls are still white (mostly because I’m too lazy to paint), but I choose accents with colors–teal, blue, purple.
We need color in our lives. Kids need color. Families need color. It doesn’t have to be the main focal point, but include pops of color and pattern in your life.
Four Empty Walls or A Design You Love
Along the same lines as including color, is the idea that blank, empty walls and floors make you a “true minimalist”. If that really makes you happy, go for it.
But for the rest of us, feel free to put some meaningful photographs and artwork on your walls. Add a rug, put pillows on the couch and a lamp. Certainly, most of us have extra things around us that we can edit out and declutter, but going to the extreme of a bare room is probably too far.
Final Thoughts on the Picture Perfect Minimalist Home
Rather than picture perfect, I’d rather have a home that makes me happy. A place where I feel comfortable and cozy. A clutter-free space that has intentional design and pieces that resonate with my heart. This is about less is more.
If minimalism is a heart issue, then shouldn’t our homes be full of just that–heart? Let your passion and style show. Undoubtedly, the less clutter that surrounds them, the more your true style will shine!
Related Articles on Minimalism
- Our Minimalism Journey || Our Home in Pictures
- The Minimalist Home — Book Review
- My Minimalist Kitchen || What it Really Looks Like
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