9.06.2011

I'm Not a Minimalist, But...

There comes a time when people begin to find out what they like. I've decided that I like simplicity. Doesn't the word just make you want to smile and sigh contentedly? It causes me to envision clean lines and clear surfaces and neutral starting points.

Earlier this year (or perhaps it was even sometime last year) I got some flack for posting an article on Facebook that was written from a minimalist perspective. It wasn't so much that I wanted to jump on board the bandwagon of living with X number of items, as much as it was the idea of simplifying that appealed to me.


I feel like I'm fighting a constant battle of piles and paperwork and stuff coming into the house without finding a home. I'm tired of my tables being covered, of my house looking like a paperwork bomb exploded, of my closets being full and my dressers overflowing.

While I appreciate finding clothes that make me feel like me, I don't want to have so many that I'm still in a quandary about what I should wear. And since I found myself surrounded by clothing that I didn't love, I began to purge ruthlessly and now have a giant box of clothing to donate at my earliest convenience.

Simplify.

The same holds true for my decorating style. My goal is to have a home that is beautiful without being cluttered, that feels comfortable without looking sloppy. As you know, I have a fall fetish - but this year, September 1st came and went and I had yet to put out any fall accoutrements. {gasp} I just couldn't get into the cutsie wooden blocks, the overtly fall-themed pillows, or the plethora of pumpkin baskets and candle holders that I have acquired over the years.

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Instead of scarecrows and wicker pumpkins, I went with displays of natural elements - acorns and pine cones, real pumpkins and gourds - and used orange and brown accents instead of in-your-face autumn fabrics. I wanted it to look warm and inviting and cozy, all the aspects of fall that I love, without stepping over the tacky line. I've done tacky for years - it's time for a change.

Simplify.

Over the long weekend, we made a day trip to the closest Ikea mega store. We came home toting a new couch and bed frame, but one of my favorite parts of the day was going through the mock ups of real-life homes scattered throughout the showroom floor. Most of them were around 350 sq. feet and all of them were delightful examples of what can be done in a small space with a little ingenuity (and a whole lot of Ikea products), creative storage solutions, and minimal stuff.

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I'm not prepared to throw out all my stuff and go minimalist, but there were aspects of these small living spaces that seriously appealed to me. It caused me to come home and rethink my use of furniture and space. The purging bug bit me as I realized how much unused stuff was sitting around our home that required cleaning. I believe I have made clear in the past, I hate dusting and cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming, so the less I have to take care of, the better. That's a minimalist idea that I can totally get behind.

Simplify.

Tomorrow I'll show you what I did to decorate this year in a less-is-more kind of way. Of course, the new neutral couch helps that, but it also feels good to only put out things that make me really happy. Are you a minimalist in your decorating style? Do you dream of making do with less or do you enjoy having a house stuffed to the gills with things that make you smile? Are you attached to things or are the memories of them enough? I'd love to get your input on this, so leave me a note in the comments.

10 comments:

  1. Love this topic! :) When it comes to decorating, I am a minimalist in the fact that I am not emotionally attached to too many items. However, I tend to have a cluttered approach to decor, which isn't exactly simple. My current quest is to repurpose items I already own instead of buying new ones. I look forward to reading more about this topic, Carrie.

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  2. Ikea trips always make me tinker with my space! :)

    I really like to mark the seasons (I think it helps keep me in the moment when I am at home, so I remember to actually enjoy the current season) but my approach to decorating is based on writing advice that my high school English teacher told us: "Show, don't tell." In terms of decorating, this means I want to show that it's fall, not declare it by hanging a cutesy sign that actually says "IT'S FALL!!"

    I am a big fan of seasonal decorating with tid-bits of nature, though! We have a neutral couch and I generally just swap out seasonal-hued pillows and throws, and add in some gourds/pumpkins, pine cones, forsythia, whatever is in season.

    I am a recent reader and love your blog :)

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  3. PS - I should clarify that I decorate with tidbits of nature on the mantel, or in a vase on the coffeetable, etc. My comment makes it sound like I have gourds and pumpkins strewn on the couch with the pillows! ;)

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  4. I like to think that I decorate with "life". I don't do well with extra clutter, so I use what's already out and being used for other purposes to decorate for a new season. Mason jars are great (especially for decor in a log house!) for holding and displaying the collections my kids bring in each season - daisies and wildflowers in the summer, colorful leaves in the fall, or pine/fir cones and greenery in the winter.

    I collect (and read!) old books, so piles of antique books, themed according to the season or holiday, often appear on top of side tables, and an extra set of Scrabble letters that I use for simple greetings and messages around the house is sometimes used to mark holidays, birthdays, and seasonal changes.

    If a season (or holiday) is associated with a color or colors, I'll collect items that reflect that and use them as a display (like red apples in a blue bowl lined with a white cloth napkin for Independence Day, or I'll let my girls raid their button and bead collections and fill vases with pink, red, and white for Valentine's Day, or with shades of green for St. Patrick's).

    I LIKE this subject, Carrie! I feel a blog post of my own coming on...one of these days! :)

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  5. Great post, Carrie!
    I'm also a big fan of decorating with nature...but I have not yet begun even thinking about decorating at this point.

    I'm fully behind your thinking about simplifying everything and we have so much clutter around here that is just driving me nuts. I just need to make the time to get going on getting rid of things which is a huge challenge right now.

    But I tend to keep the deco as simple as possible just because our counters are already full of things that we actually use...and I hate having overly full counters.

    Letting go is never easy... :)

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  6. I think I err a little more towards the side of minimal. Ever since I lived in a college dorm room, I just can't handle clutter. Even now, our home is pretty small. I like things to look clean and organized. It just makes it seem more spacious!

    Anyways, I loved your post! What a fun topic!

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  7. I am much more of a minimalist than the hubby, so our house is kind of mix.
    "Instead of scarecrows and wicker pumpkins, I went with displays of natural elements - acorns and pine cones, real pumpkins and gourds - and used orange and brown accents instead of in-your-face autumn fabrics." This sounds like a fabulous change to me!!!
    I look forward to seeing even MORE pictures.

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  8. I love all the feedback - thanks everyone! It's great to know I'm not alone out there when it comes to simplifying and choosing simplicity over clutter.

    Karen - I hope to write more about this as I figure out more about how I can apply it to the rest of the house!

    Virginia - You already know that i loved your "show, don't tell" comment, so thanks for visiting! And for the record, I didn't think about the pumpkins being on the couch until you added your P.S. - and then I laughed a lot at that mental image. :-)

    Jamie - I look forward to reading your post when you write it! I love the idea of getting your kids involved in decorating. That's part of the reason that I enjoy holidays and seasons so much as an adult - my my always involved me.

    Tiffany - Overly full counters are a constant problem for me and something I'm trying to figure out how to fix. If you find a magic solution, please share! :-)

    Erika and Molly - perhaps I can someday be a minimalist like you two! ;-)

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  9. My house is usually a gourd palace come Autumn!

    I'm planning to embrace a bit of minimalism in style this fall, mainly due to suitcase restrictions. I'm no decorator, so that area of life is always a bit minimalist! ; ) I side of minimalism I most embrace is loving everything you own... a lot, not just a little bit. Clean lines are good but not essential and not for eveyone's personality.

    Oh, but I hear you on the bits of paper. Between my dad the academic, me, a family full of readers who can't get rid of things and four newspaper subcriptions... well...

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  10. "Are you attached to things or are the memories of them enough?" That's a question I need to start asking myself. Once again, you've inspired me here... I'm ready to do some purging myself. =)

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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