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So you want to be a minimalist. Where do you even start?! Joshua Becker recently released his new book, and I gave it a read. Here is my The Minimalist Home book review through the lens of a Professional Organizer specializing in minimalism. Beyond the hype, let’s dig into the soul of his message and how he instructs family’s to get started.
You can find a copy of The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life here.
Overall, I do strongly feel that The Minimalist Home is a book that will be valuable to every aspiring minimalist. Joshua Becker wrote this book as a start to finish guide for minimizing your home. I found the majority of the book to be solid instruction and inspiration, but of course, there are a few things I’d take with a grain of salt.
The Target Audience
You may enjoy this book if:
- You are exploring the topic of minimalism, but haven’t yet gotten started
- You’ve started to declutter, but still have spaces that are difficult for you
- You want to study the methods of other minimalists
You will likely not enjoy this book if:
- You are able to go through spaces and declutter on your own, using your own methods
- You have already minimized the majority of your spaces and feel confident you are doing well
Instructing Through Story
Perhaps my most favorite piece of The Minimalist Home are the stories. Not just Joshua’s stories, but the captivating and thought-provoking insights from dozens of people worldwide who have embarked on the journey of minimalism. Storytelling is powerful. It makes you stop and think, ponder and reflect.
Joshua does tell his story, and if you’ve ever heard him speak or read his blog, you’ll be familiar with it. I truly appreciate that he is emphatic about minimizing with a purpose–knowing exactly why you are decluttering and curating your home and how that will change your life.
Having a vision and purpose is incredibly important in decluttering because it’s hard work, and giving up or getting distracted is common. By focusing on life goals and benefits, we open a whole new aspect of joy, passion, and purpose that is truly life-changing. Seriously, what could you do if your house wasn’t demanding all your time and attention?
The Becker Method
The room-by-room guide to decluttering your house uses what Joshua calls The Becker Method. He wants you to start with clear goals and vision for your home and life.
Involving your family if you have one, start in easy places and progress to harder ones. Always appreciate the benefits along the way. And finally, look at those goals again and make the most of your life.
It sounds simple, but it’s really not! But it’s a roadmap, and if you don’t already have one, it is well worth it to follow along and see if it works for you.
Ask: Do I Need This?
In his decluttering instructions, Joshua advises to hold each item and ask “Do I need this?”.
When I first read this, I rolled my eyes. But I kept reading.
And here’s the thing. Decluttering is personal. It is unique. The question that resonates with you, may not resonate with someone else. This is a huge reason that Professional Organizing is a skilled profession. When working with clients, I often have to go through a string of questions to find one that strikes a chord with their heart and helps them make decisions.
Joshua spends several pages throughout The Minimalist Home discussing all the aspects that go into deciding whether to keep something or not. “Do I need this?” is just the four words he decided to narrow it down to.
You may prefer to ask if you use, love, desire, value or treasure an item.
You may prefer to consider if it sparks joy, adds beauty, has meaning, or helps you achieve your purpose in life.
You may wish to ask yourself simply, “is this something I want to take into the future?“.
The wording of the question itself is not important. However, thinking about why you have this item, where it came from, and why you would keep it or let it go, is of utmost importance. If an item no longer has a place in your life–it HAS to go.
Let’s Talk Duplicates
Ah, duplicates. This is an area where I personally struggle, as do most of my organizing clients. I am all for minimizing–having fewer things–but I do think that forcing yourself to keep only one of everything possibly could do more harm than good.
I appreciate that Joshua makes a case for only having one set of sheets, one jacket, etc. And if that works for you–fantastic! However, most of us with young families may find that it is indeed necessary to have two sets of sheets.
Also, my young daughter currently owns a lightweight jacket, winter coat, and a raincoat. I also like having a variety of weights to my outerwear, though my winter coat also serves as a raincoat.
For sure, there are areas of the home that have an astounding amount of duplicates that we can absolutely minimize–clothing, the kitchen, and junk drawers immediately come to mind–but do not let yourself get so hung up on this idea of perfection that you lose momentum and get stuck.
If you’re having a hard time letting go, just move on. Don’t dwell on it!
Step-by-Step Room Minimizing
The highlight of The Minimalist Home for most people will be the step-by-step minimizing guide for each space of the home, which interestingly also includes the yard! This type of practical guidance is incredibly unique and I’ve never seen this before in any other book, even my Professional Organizing textbooks.
I was inspired by his methodology of considering the weight of each item–does it truly benefit you or burden you to own this item?
The practical advice Joshua gives starts at the beginning. Move things that don’t belong in that space. Clear off the flat spaces. Let go of visually cluttering items. But beyond those basic steps, he lists actual examples of items found in most homes and why you might consider letting go of some of them.
In true Joshua fashion, there is a great emphasis on relationships, connection, and purpose over clutter and chaos. At the end of each chapter, there is a checklist of questions to ask yourself so you can reflect on each decluttered room and decide if it fulfills the purpose you desire for that room.
Easy to Hard Spaces
The room order that Joshua teaches is his perception of easy to hard spaces. It is critical that you understand what is easy and what is hard for you. The book’s order:
- Living Room/Family Room
- Bedrooms/Guest Room
- Clothes Closet/Mudroom
- Bathrooms/Laundry Room
- Kitchen/Dining Room
- Home Office
- Storage/Hobby/Toy Room
While the standard decluttering advice is to start in simple, non-sentimental spaces, the exact starting place differs among experts. Often, you hear to start in the bathroom. Sometimes it’s the car. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the living room suggested as a starting place.
Ultimately, it’s your decision where to start. If you can’t decide, then I’d go with following the book’s suggestions from beginning to end.
Highlights of the Book
There were a few things that really struck me as unique in The Minimalist Home.
- Finding an “iconic” wardrobe. (He doesn’t teach this as a requirement, just a suggestion. I’m intrigued!)
- Focus on Multi-Tasking Items (especially in the kitchen) and let go of rarely used one-taskers
- Curate bookshelves to hold influential and meaningful books you will read again and again
- Focusing on your current season of life – not your past self or fantasy self
- Understanding that you don’t have to own everything — reconsider borrowing, renting and hiring
Following the room-by-room guide are a maintenance guide, discussion on downsizing homes, and a chapter on the true value of minimalism in changing your life purpose. All wonderful, thought-provoking material.
Differing of Thought
While The Minimalist Home was very well put together, it is important to note that any author has a personal bias, and not all the information will be helpful for everyone. If you’re familiar with minimalism, you may find that some of the material is repetitive, basic, or even boring.
When reading the living room and bedroom chapters, I found myself skimming the discussion about entertainment centers, televisions, dressers and shelves full of knickknacks because our home is devoid of those already. Well, we do have one TV in the living room, but it sits on a coffee table, so there isn’t any clutter around it. Those concepts don’t apply to us anymore.
So if you’ve already started the process, some of what he addresses will not be applicable to you, or you may just find it’s not your style. I think the book does a good job of suggesting ideas without forcing them, but not everyone will agree.
As I said earlier, I don’t think that all duplicates have to go, and I’m not completely convinced that the living room is the best place in the house to start. But again, these are my opinions and they may not be yours!
The Complete Package
In my professional opinion, The Minimalist Home offers the aspiring, beginning or intermediate minimalist philosophical considerations, inspiring stories, and practical advice to take your journey from step one to done.
It’s the type of book that you can use as a textbook, and if you have the physical copy, mark it up (mine is!). Underline, circle, highlight, jot down notes, doodle. Use this book to dream, plan, motivate and take action.
You’ve just enrolled in the college of minimalism. I can guarantee that The Minimalist Home will challenge you. It will require that you reflect and dig deep into your heart.
You will absolutely be connecting the dots between your home and your heart as you go through the material! Question, reflect, respond and make changes. Your life will never be the same again!
Have you started decluttering your house? Let me know in the comments below what the most challenging place has been for you!
Related Minimalism Articles
- My Minimalism Journey || What Our Home Looks Like
- Why Minimalism? || The Story Behind Less Stuff, More Life
- What a Minimalist Kitchen Really Looks Like
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