How to Pare Stuff Down to Achieve a Minimalist Design

I like to think that I’m pretty open to interior design trends. With most trends I try to suspend my initial thoughts until I’ve internalized exactly what it’s all about. I can’t say the same for maximalist decor. It gives me anxiety seeing so much. I need white space to give my eyes and brain some peace. With that said, on the opposite side of the spectrum, I can appreciate thoughtful, well-designed minimalist spaces. There’s something about being able to have the visual space to appreciate the form of a piece.  

While you may not want to strip your space down to its bare form, moving in a more minimalist design direction may be right for you. Part of this process is being selective about your possessions and paring down your stuff. For some, this can be a really challenging process. I love to get rid of stuff, so let me be your guide. 

 

Why Paring Down is Needed 

There are two primary reasons that I see that drive people to want to pare down their stuff: stress and preference. When it comes to stress, having more stuff generally means that you have a lot more to manage which can be stressful. Sometimes we think that more stuff equates to more happiness. For some of us, having more stuff is just a recipe for stress. Add a family member or two to the mix and now you have to accommodate for their possessions too. It should be no surprise that simply having so much stuff floating around can cause stress. So in moving toward a minimalist design aesthetic, having less stuff equates to less to manage, which I truly believe translates to less stress. 

The second reason is simply preference. Like myself, the clean lines and “breathing room” of a minimalist design is really exciting to me. There isn’t a lot competing for visual attention, which personally helps to quiet my mind. As woo-woo as it sounds, minimalist design is akin to a quiet meditation to me. It’s peaceful and simple.  

 

What’s the Process?

Like most processes, there are layers. It isn’t going to happen overnight. As much as you may want to have a massive purge day where you just haul everything into trash bags, it realistically will require more deliberation.  

In the beginning stages of pruning, I like to ask “Is it functional? Is it sentimental?” What is the sense in holding on to items that are not functional or sentimental? If it’s neither functional nor sentimental toss it!! The only reason why I would consider keeping a non-functional item is because of the sentimental value that it may have. It’s probably best to put your non-functional yet sentimental items on the side to evaluate later.  

The majority of your possessions are most likely functional, but not necessarily sentimental. When reducing functional, non-sentimental stuff, consider the frequency of usage. I personally like to toss non-seasonal items that I haven’t thought about or used for 6 months. Using the 6-month usage as a guide, you’d most likely get rid of a lot of stuff. If 6 months is a little anxiety-inducing to you, determine your timeline. Remember this is all about you and how much you’re willing to prune to get down to a more manageable, minimalist design

 

Listen to Your Environment

When I’m noticing that a particular thing is causing me stress, it’s a sign to me that I need to make some changes. For example, the one thing that seems to never feel managed in my home is clothes. We just seem to acquire more and more and don’t donate enough. There are piles of clean clothes and piles of dirty ones. It’s a clear sign to me that it’s time to start getting rid of some of them. 

What’s causing your stress in your home? Perhaps it’s a surplus of unopened mail or maybe a house full of kid’s toys? Whatever is causing you stress is a sign that it’s time to reduce. One thing that my sister does to ensure that she doesn’t horde stuff is to engage in a practice giving up something to make room for something else. You don’t have to go to this extreme to reduce your possessions, but rather do what feels good for your space. Stress does not feel good. Let that shit go.

 

Next Steps

If the purpose of paring down is to reduce stress, keeping things organized after paring down will greatly help with this. I’m at a point where I can describe a particular article of clothing and the location to Joachim over the phone and he can find it in 15 seconds. I’m not like this with everything, but most of the stuff in our home has a designated space. It’s made life soooooo much easier. We don’t waste time looking for stuff because we know exactly where everything is. This may seem impossible to maintain but it’s actually the opposite. Here’s more guidance for decluttering to help achieve a minimalist design. 

 

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