thoughts on maintaining minimalism

I have been thinking a lot about minimalism this weekend as I’ve been moving things around in order to clear out our two other bedrooms in preparation for potentially opening our home to foster children. We’re still in the beginning stages of the process and there are plenty of things that could go wrong, but clearing out those bedrooms will not have been a waste of time no matter what ends up happening.

Now there was not much in either of those rooms in the first place. One previously functioned as an office (that I almost never used because I prefer to work at the kitchen table) and one as a guest room. The guest room has come in handy a few times as we’ve had family visit from out of town on more than one occasion. Still, there were a small number of things in each room that didn’t necessarily need to be in those rooms and could easily be moved elsewhere, and some things that really needed to be gotten rid of. I don’t let a lot of things pile up that need to be cleared out, but a box of sentimental items plus a small pileup of paperwork that I’m not sure is important to keep is still clutter that I need to deal with. This leads me to think about the time I spend maintaining my minimalist lifestyle.

As I spent about two hours taking photos of some of the sentimental stuff (schoolwork from my childhood) and then recycling it, I realized that that was the first time in a very long time that I’ve had to organize and sort anything. A few others examples came to mind, like the time a few weeks ago I straightened my collection of glass jars (that I use for bulk grocery shopping and food storage), but I mostly just…don’t. I don’t have to organize, and sort, and clear clutter every weekend. I don’t have to spend more than five minutes picking up the house on the weekend before being able to vacuum.

And that to me is the great benefit of minimalism–the sheer enormous amount of time I have at my disposal because of what I don’t have to do. And the most wonderful thing to me about getting those rooms cleared out (except for a few toys, since those will be for the children that may one day live here) is that no other part of the house feels cluttered. I made better use of the shelving in the laundry room, the miscellaneous drawer in the kitchen, the dining room closet, and the linen closet, and there is still enough space in each to keep them from feeling cluttered. I love space, especially in closets and on shelves. Because isn’t that what minimalism ultimately is–a celebration of space and time?

Minimal Bedroom

Now that I’ve shared how I apply minimalism to my life in general and specifically to my living area, I want to share how I apply it to the bedroom. The bedroom is one of the most important rooms in the house to keep clutter free and simple. Not only does it include the closet, which for many people is a cluttered, unorganized place, but it is the place that we rest, and it is much easier to rest in a simple, uncluttered area. Just as in the living area, the details of what is in the room and how it’s arranged are left to personal preferences, but there are several universals that can be applied.

The bed is the main purpose of the room.
This is the most important thing to me, personally. I take good care of my bed. It is centered in my room, has breathable cotton sheets on it, and just the right number of pillows for us to comfortably sleep plus one decorative pillow. The bed should not be covered in decorative pillows that have to be moved every night. While a few decorative pillows are fine if that’s your thing, too many will get exhausting to move on and off and typically will end up just being left on the floor, and this is the sort of clutter you want to avoid. I also have a good mattress that is breathable and firm. I do understand that not everyone can afford a new mattress, but when the time comes to replace your current one, consider looking into healthier, eco-friendly options. We keep our bed close to the ground on a low wooden frame that we made ourselves, but this is a personal preference of course. Having it close to the ground eliminates having to clean under it, but it also eliminates storage space. Thankfully we don’t need this storage space in our home.

Keep minimal furniture in the room.
All we have in our room other than the bed are two unpainted wooden crates turned on their ends as bedside tables. These hold a reading lamp on one side, a salt lamp on the other, and a few books on each. The only things I would consider adding are some houseplants. Some people will want a bench or chest at the end of the bed, or a rocking chair, or even a whole seating area depending on how large the bedroom is, and as long as these surfaces don’t become places for collecting clutter this is perfectly fine. As soon you find that you’re throwing your clothes and pocket knick-knacks onto the bench instead of putting them where they belong, however, you might want to reconsider that extra surface.

Keep a minimal, organized closet.
This is a huge one, and I write about my minimal closet in great detail here. Closets are set up in a huge variety of ways–different shapes and sizes, some walk-in and some not, some with shelves and racks and some not. I encourage you to make what you already have work before spending money on an organization system or a dresser. I don’t personally like dressers. I believe that clothes should be mostly hung on hangers (preferably wooden if you’re buying them, but whatever you already own otherwise) and smaller items like socks and underwear can go in baskets, bins, or crates on the shelf above or even set on the floor. My closet is not a walk-in, but it is very long and the previous homeowners installed a wire shelving and organization system that has a few drawers that we use instead of containers, but our last home did not have this and I found that using baskets worked very well and was very pretty. The simplest way to keep your closet clean is just to put stuff away. Don’t let clean laundry sit for days before you put it away and don’t throw clothes any which way when you change. Decide right away whether the clothes go back on the hanger or into the dirty laundry and put it there. It’s not a difficult habit to form and will keep your room and closet clutter-free.
Keeping your bedroom clear of clutter will make a quick dust and vacuum much easier and you’ll be encouraged to do it more often when it won’t take an hour to clear the clutter and put the clothes away first. Whatever your personal preferences, seek to create a peaceful bedroom and you’ll find that you’re more rested and less stressed in general.

My Minimal Closet

I have been working for some time on attaining a minimal closet, and I feel that I am happy now with the way my closet looks and works for me. I want to share it with you as well as list the important things I learned while working toward simplifying in this important area of my life.
This is a difficult one to make general statements about because everyone has their own personal style and likes different things. I encourage you to pursue your own style, no matter what that is! If you like rotating three or four simple colors throughout the week, then certainly do this. If you like patterns and prints, then enjoy these. I will apply the things I have learned to my own style here, but they can certainly be applied to any style. Here are some things to consider in building your minimal closet:

Find your own style.
You have to honestly and sincerely decide what YOU like without input from others. This can include colors, patterns, and whether you prefer skirts/dresses or pants/shorts.  I personally prefer solid colors, although I do keep a few shirts that are exceptions that I love as well. I have a few jeans, one pair of wine-colored pants, one pair of black pants, and one long grey skirt. The main thing that I strive for is making sure that everything matches with everything else. Jeans can be matched with almost everything I own and most of my shirts easily match with my wine-colored pants if I decide to go with my alternate color. I have a black jacket and a jean jacket, easily matched with any shirt. I have two pairs of Vans shoes (one high top, one not), a pair of running shoes, one pair of boots, and two pairs of sandals, one dressier and one more casual. I keep a couple dresses for dressier occasions at work or a wedding. I keep two winter coats (one dressier and one not), a rain jacket, a couple bathing suits, a pair of workout shorts, and a couple comfy sweatpants.

Find your silhouette.
I have found this one to be SO important for me personally. I was simply not comfortable in several shirts that I loved the look of and I could not figure out why. That’s when I stumbled across this idea of silhouette on a few minimalist fashion blogs and realized what I was missing. Your silhouette is the general shape of your clothing on your body. You may prefer wide pants and skirts with a more narrow or tighter top. You may prefer skinny jeans or shorts with a more baggy top. Most women pick this based on what they feel like their best assets are. My personal silhouette is tighter pants (shorts, skinny jeans) with a looser (and sometimes shorter) top. I believe that this style works best for me. Keep in mind that choosing to accent your best assets does not in any way have to be attention-seeking. It is simply dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable and pretty, and it is important to stay true to this.

In the interest of not spending exorbitant amounts of money on your closet, consider shopping at a thrift store. This is more ethical as well as much, much cheaper. All of my clothes have either been given to me as hand-me downs or purchased from thrift or consignment stores.

I have started paying attention to this more recently. When I started making my own deodorant, I researched fabric that is healthy for the body and allows it to breathe. I made the switch to cotton, loose-fitting shirts and find myself much more comfortable and cooler throughout the day. I made this switch gradually, as I found shirts I liked at the thrift store. There are still some pieces that are not 100% cotton, such as my dress for special occasions, and I intend to keep these. When I add new pieces to my closet, however, I choose cotton or at least 95% cotton.

Minimalism in underclothing is possible as well. It is important to apply the natural materials rule to underwear, as it is very important for women’s health to wear breathable underwear. I have seven pairs of cotton panties, all black to easily match my three black bras, and one set of nude-colored underwear and bra to wear with white and other light colors. This color palate might seem very boring to you and that’s okay. Choose the colors you like, but make sure it is very easy to match no matter what clothes you have clean at the time.

While your closet may not be this simplistic (and it is totally fine to own more clothes than this), don’t hold onto things “just in case.” If you find that you have not worn something in awhile, take it out of your closet and figure out why. Consider it in light of these criteria and consider donating it if you believe it is no longer in your style and you won’t wear it again. Whatever your style and silhouette, I encourage you to use these characteristics to build your own minimal wardrobe that works for you.

Cozy Minimalism

Cozy minimalism is a term that has come to mean a lot to me and has helped me gradually create the life I want. Now when I say gradually, I really do mean gradually! It has been (and continues to be) quite a process, and that’s coming from someone who didn’t own a whole lot in the beginning. I sort of stumbled across minimalism in my early twenties and have been at it for about three years now. By being at it, I mean being conscious of what I own and what I purchase and making sure I truly need something before I spend money on it.

The main differences in the terms “minimalism” and “cozy minimalism” are personal preferences. A minimalist in the strictest sense of the word may own very, very little. They may have a mostly empty home and love all that free space or they may travel and have all their belongings in a suitcase. But I would guess that this description does not apply to most people, and it certainly does not apply to me. I believe that I only own things that are beautiful to me and/or useful. My walls are not all plain and I do have a box of nostalgic items in my closet. However, my life is not overrun by clutter and things that I “may need one day.” I am a careful curator of the things I keep in my home, and I strive to surround myself with a home setting that I am fully at peace in. I love my jars of dried eucalyptus branches and my cactus paintings on the wall in the living room and my record player and records. (I wrote about my minimal living room here.) Are these things useful? No, they are not. But they bring me great joy, and therefore they fit into my life of cozy minimalism. I need the tools in my kitchen in order to prepare food and my cleaning supplies in order to keep an orderly home. Are all of these things beautiful? No, of course they are not, but they are extremely useful and so they fit into my life of cozy minimalism. If the situation is fully ideal, the useful objects are beautiful to me as well. For example, partially due to my choice to pursue a zero waste lifestyle and partially due to the sheer beauty, I have wood and metal kitchen and cooking utensils instead of plastic. Although I do not currently have open shelving in my kitchen, I would love to some day, and I am proud to say that I would be able to display almost all of the dishes, pots and pans, glasses, mugs, mixing bowls, etc, that I own. Not everyone is at this point in their minimalism journey, and some don’t want to be. For example, I have a cabinet shelf where I keep reusable plastic cups that we have had for years for situations where glass would not be as appropriate, such as a picnic or when kids are over. I don’t intend to get rid of these anytime soon, either, because I believe them to be useful in certain situations. But while I don’t find these things to be necessarily beautiful, I find them extremely useful and therefore they will stay. Each person’s journey toward minimalism is going to look different, and where they end up will look different also. Some people will keep a whole library full of books but par down kitchen equipment to the bare minimum. Some will keep twenty different kitchen appliances because they love to cook and do it constantly, and only keep a few books. Most people will be somewhere in between. Finding your peace is the important thing. Clutter should not surround you and drain your energy. Your home space should contain things you love and use and the rest should find a new home where they can make someone else happy. I will write soon about ethical reducing, and how to downsize without sending tons of stuff to the landfill.

Minimal Living Area

Hello from sunny Florida! It’s of course a very warm day here and a great day to discuss minimalism! Over the next several posts, I am going to introduce the concept of cozy minimalism and do something of a house tour as I share examples from my own home.

When it comes to a home, everything is going to be individual and unique. Everybody has different tastes–different favorite colors, different styles of decorating, different thoughts on how much stuff they want in their home. It is totally possible to make a cozy, happy home that is clutter-free while still taking all of these differences into account. My style is very much bohemian and yet still minimalistic. I like bright colors and houseplants and string of lights on the windows and walls but also open spaces and no more furniture than I need. Therefore I consider myself a minimalist but not a strict minimalist, perhaps. So let’s get started!

I’d first like to share before pictures with you. When we first moved in, this was how we had the living room set up.

It was very minimal and quite empty. I didn’t mind it much, it was so simple and easy to clean but when my husband said it felt like we were living in a model home, I knew it was time to change it up. I liked the minimal feel, but I agreed that some extra colors and a few more pieces of furniture would fill the room in nicely. I love this wall hanging that I found at a thrift store for $20. It’s pinned onto a dowel which is easily suspended from two nails in the wall. The string of lights across it was purchased at Ross with a birthday gift card. Lights like these are hard to find secondhand!

The couch is different now. We found this “new” couch on the side of the road waiting to be hauled to the dump and rescued it. The other one has served us well for a long time but the wood in the bottom was cracking and could not be repaired. It can still be sat on, but it is not as comfortable and switched it out once we found this gem. (That’s Tonio napping on the couch.) The TV is mounted to save room (we only live in about 1,000 square feet after all). The entertainment console was gifted to us when some friends replaced theirs and on it we have a record player, records, my husband’s Halo figurines, his Xbox, a picture frame of us (the only framed photo in our house), and a faux wood box with our few DVDs and CDs in it, as well as the bass component of our sound system. This corner felt empty, so I added this small side table (gifted to us by my parents, who are moving). My yoga mat is behind it and my yoga wheel is on the bottom shelf along with a few books and of course a Himalayan salt lamp and some dried eucalyptus. The feather frame was a recent addition. I thought it added nice color and I love the wood frame! A few cactus sketches in wood frames purchased with another birthday gift card from Hobby Lobby make the wall behind the front door look less bare and of course an essential oil diffuser and some more dried eucalyptus.The diffuser and eucalyptus sit on a wood tray shaped like a leaf that I picked up from a thrift store. The globe on the shelf is from a yard sale and some books take up the remaining space without looking too crowded.The last corner still has the large house plant (I’ve had it over a year now) plus a side table and an armchair both from my parents. The Bonsai tree was a birthday gift from my husband and the crocheted basket holds the remote controls. The throw blanket over the chair was thrifted, of course!That completes my cozy minimal living room tour. I like to change things around every so often, but I love it this way and intend to keep it like this for awhile. I think my husband was right about the model home look and it looks much better now.

Food Should Be Simple

As I sat in a coffee shop, sipping an Americano with extra cream and thinking about grocery shopping for the week ahead, a thought came to me–food should be simple.

One large part of minimalism is focusing on reducing decision fatigue (the constant pressure to decide things). A huge decision that we find ourselves making on a daily basis is “what are we having for dinner?” This is especially exhausting if you are trying to decide for more than one person. While we not picky by any means, we certainly have differences in tastes when it comes to food and we have had to find compromises. I love shrimp, scallops, fish, and pretty much any seafood I’ve ever tried while seafood is not his thing at all. He leans toward chicken as his meat of choice while I am much more of a beef person. We have found many common grounds, however–we both love hamburgers, homemade French fries, salads, scrambled eggs, pretty much all vegetables. Still, I find myself exhausted with the back and forth of “what are we having for dinner tonight/this week?” Simple living is meant to help with things like this that drain you, and and I have decided to eliminate meal planning as a source of stress in my life. The meals that we both love will be the meals we have every week. We by no means will be stuck doing the same thing every Monday and every Tuesday, but we will have ten or twelve meals that we love that we can cycle through that are made of simple, healthy ingredients. We like meats, vegetables (including potatoes for homemade French fries of course), rice and quinoa, fruits and nuts (including peanut butter), spices, olive and coconut oil, eggs, butter, and half and half. Some chicken or beef broth to make the occasional stew/soup pretty much rounds up our grocery list. I have also made an extra effort to introduce some vegetarian meals (I like to do at least two a week) in order to save money and limit our meat intake. We drink water (I like sparkling water as well), coffee, and tea. If we’re going to splurge, we eat chocolate and peanut butter ice cream.

After all, food should be simple. It is meant, not to simply fill our empty stomachs, but to nourish and heal us. Don’t just eat anything you find because you’re hungry and want to stop the feeling, but fuel your body with the nutrients it needs.


There is a lot of debate in the area of nutrition and what we should be eating. I am not here to give you a solid eating plan that will bring you perfect health, but to encourage you to simply be aware of what you eat and how it makes you feel. You will find that as your shopping list gets simpler, you will be less stressed about planning, your grocery bill will go down, and your health will improve. Simple living and saving money should go hand in hand to bring a better, healthier, more productive life.