If you’ve ever packed up your possessions and moved to a new place, you know an undeniable truth: you have too much stuff. Fortunately for your ego, it’s not just you: the average U.S. home has 300,000 things. It makes moving stressful, but it also makes life day in and day out a pain. With so much stuff weighing us down, it’s no surprise that the biggest trend in home decor these days is not just a piece of decor, but a lifestyle change: the minimalist home.
There’s no definitive way to embrace minimalist living, but getting your home organized, decluttered, and minimized–in short, making it a minimalist home–is a great start. This can be daunting, even in a one-bedroom apartment, so instead of trying to do it all at once, we’ve broken the process down into a room-by-room guide to turn your house into a minimalist home. Follow these tips, and you’ll find yourself living happily with less in no time:
Start Your Minimalist Home in the Living Room
Start your transition to a minimalist home with the room you visit most often–and that accumulates the most clutter. Start transitioning your living room to a minimalist style by first cleaning up the space and clearing off all the extra stuff you have lying around–on the coffee table, end tables, window ledges, and entertainment center. As you clean, don’t just stick the random items in storage or reorganize them on the shelf. Dump your knick-knacks and magazines, and place loose papers where they belong (which might just be in the recycle bin).
Once you’ve cleared off your surfaces, you can focus on the furniture and statement pieces. Think about what you use in this space, and how you use it. Is your accent chair just a decorative piece? Does that end table just serve as a stand for a lamp you never use? When was the last time you lit the collection of candles sitting on the end table? If it’s not functional, donate it. From here, you’ll have to decide if you want to keep your current furniture or move to a more minimalist set of new furniture, like a sectional and coffee table instead of countless couches, chairs, and end tables.
With furniture figured out, there’s one major piece of the living room remaining: decor. Any throw pillows and blankets you don’t regularly use should be disposed of (you know you don’t regularly use four throw pillows, so be brutal). While you’re in the purging mood, nix any rugs. They’re not entirely necessary decor, and getting rid of them will also allow you to get rid of any rug-cleaning products you have stashed away in the bathroom (but we’ll get to that later).
Finally, it’s time to look at the walls. Endless collections of framed family photos are cute in theory, but cluttered in reality. Opt to keep your walls minimalist by having two to three larger pieces of art on the walls, and keep one wall bare to balance the room. If you simply can’t part with your photos and frames, at least rearrange them to form a gallery wall.
Go Minimalist in the Kitchen
Thinking logically, your kitchen is one of the most practical spaces in the home, so therefore, shouldn’t it be the most inherently minimalist? While it’s a nice idea, the truth is that most of our kitchens are weighed down with duplicate tools, overloaded pantries, and covered counters. You didn’t pay for those nice marble countertops to hide them beneath cereal boxes, so if you’re committed to minimalist living, the minimalist home has to include your kitchen.
Begin your transition to a minimalist kitchen by emptying out every cabinet and putting their contents on the counter and table (and if you really need space, the floor). Spot unnecessary duplicates? Expired pantry basics? Things you’ve forgotten you kept in the house? Donate them or throw them away.
With the first pass out of the way, it’s time to get granular, starting with your kitchen utensils. Ditch duplicates of measuring cups, spoons, and other cooking utensils. And any utensils that are falling apart should go, too, but make a note to get new ones for yourself.
Which bring up an important point for establishing a permanent minimalist home, in your kitchen or elsewhere: buy quality items that will last in the long-term. Investing in quality kitchen utensils and supplies, like knives and cutting boards, will mean you need to buy less backups and duplicates, keeping your kitchen minimalist far beyond this first transition.
Once you’ve removed duplicates and beaten down items, it’s time to consider the design of your kitchen. Open shelving or glass cabinetry lends itself well to stylish pieces and matching flatware sets. If you’re lucky enough to have this in your kitchen, consider these exposed spaces a “functional display” area, and keep them minimally stocked. Doing so will also force you to purge more to make room in your other cabinets.
Next up, kitchen appliances. We all accumulate small appliances over time, from toasters to food processors to that blender from the year you were determined to drink smoothies more (we’ve all been there). Many of these are actually worth keeping in your kitchen (though if you’ve given up on smoothies, it’s time to give up on the blender), but small appliances don’t belong on your counter. You can keep one or two small appliances out–and make them the most used, like your coffee maker or toaster–but the rest should be stored away in closets or cabinets to be brought out when you need to use them (bonus: this will help you clear out more space, and force you to keep your appliances clean).
Which leads into the final, golden rule of maintaining a minimalist home in your kitchen: keep the counters clear. You don’t need decorative salt shakers, knick knacks, or anything else cluttering them up. Think of your kitchen as a workspace, and minimalist design will come easily.
Minimalist Design Means Maximum Relaxation in Bedrooms
Let’s talk about the space that should be the most minimalist, but probably is far from it: your bedroom. Minimalism in your bedroom can help keep you relaxed and create a haven from the day’s work and activities. To make your bedroom space your more minimalist, follow one golden rule throughout, here more than anywhere else in the home: no excess anything.
Let’s start with one of the least minimal parts of your bedroom: your wardrobe. While developing a pared-down capsule wardrobe is a great step towards minimizing your wardrobe permanently, short-term minimizing can be done with a basic clothing purge. Once you’ve gotten rid of clothing you no longer wear, no longer like, or that no longer fits, all clothing belongs in your closet. Hang some of it, put a small wardrobe inside the closet it you have to, or stack it on the shelves. The point is, your clothing should be out of sight and stored all in one place so you’re less inclined to leave it lying out across the room.
After you’ve tackled your closet, it’s time to take some rules you learned when clearing out your living room and apply it to your bedroom, starting with pillows and blankets. If you have pillows and blankets on your bed that you don’t use every day, get rid of them.
The same goes for all your bedroom decor. A lamp on your nightstand is fine if you use it, but a collection of framed family photos on your dresser is a no-go. Here, your decor should be functional or relaxing to fit the space’s intention. Think candles, diffusers, and maybe a few favorite books–so long as it’s not cluttered.
Bring the Minimalist Home to Your Bathroom
If you thought the room you visit to get clean would be inherently minimalist, you’d be wrong. The good news about minimizing your bathroom is that it’s perhaps the easiest room to make minimal.
Decluttering your bathroom comes down to one thing that you probably have a lot of: products you no longer use. That half-empty bottle of color shampoo from when you had bleached hair. The moisturizer that didn’t work out that well. The backup mascara for when your backup mascara runs out. Throw out any product you don’t regularly use. Once you’ve winnowed down your product collection, winnow it down further in your shower to only products you use in the shower regularly (meaning at least every other day). Just like in the kitchen, store your items out of sight to appreciate your countertops and keep them clear.
Finally, there’s bathroom decor to handle. If you guessed that such a high-function room should be devoid of decor, you’re (mostly) right. A simple shower curtain (read: a single, muted color), a bath mat, and a trash bin are all you need to keep this room beautiful and functional.
Kiss Clutter Goodbye in Your Office
For those lucky enough to have an office space at home, you might have found it’s both a blessing and a curse. As your “working” area at home, most of the things you don’t want to deal with–bills, paperwork–end up there, making it cluttered and far from minimalist before you even get to your job-related items. Before you’re ready to make your office the next room in your minimalist home, take some time to go through the unofficial “inbox” pile on your desk and deal with everything there.
Once that’s done, it’s time to find a permanent solution to the endless paperwork problem. A big file cabinet can be bulky and difficult to keep organized, so if you’re willing to work digitally, buy a combination scanner/printer. These aren’t much more expensive than basic printers, and will save you in the long run from mountains of clutter. Scan bills and other documents you want to hold onto, store them on your computer or an external hard drive, and toss out the paper copies.
Office supplies are another large source of clutter that make it difficult to maintain a minimalist home office. While it’s tempting to buy these in bulk, most at-home offices don’t require 1,000 packs of pencils or enough pen varieties to stock a small business. You probably own too much office supplies, so purge out the office supplies you don’t use regularly (and the unnecessary backups).
You might notice that this leaves your desk cabinets and drawers feeling empty. This is a great place to put small things you can’t scan or purge–a pile that is hopefully small at this point. If you don’t have much you need to store, opt for a simpler desk without cabinets or storage. The few supplies you do need to keep can be put in a stylish desk organizer on top of the desk as a reminder to yourself not to buy things you don’t have space for.
Converting to a minimalist home is a big change, but not one that you have to do without help. Whether you’re taking care of the clutter, dragging your old couch to the dump, or bringing home some functional furniture, Dolly is here to help. We’ll connect you to local pickup truck drivers who are ready to help take care of the heavy lifting, moving, and delivery for you. With Dolly by your side, you’ll be decluttered and on your way to a minimalist home in no time.
Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.