Now that we have an idea of what Minimalist Homes are all about, and having looked at some examples, it’s time to put it into practice.
There is no right or wrong way
You have to understand that there is no right or wrong way.
You can decide to just make your room look exactly like one of the pictures you see in a magazine that appeals to you, or you can decide to make an effort to keep the kitchen table clear, and to stop shopping at yard sales to bring home knick knack decorations.
But if in the event you are still unsure about what to do, here are steps to help you on your way to achieving the sought after Minimalist Look.
The 12 Steps to Achieving a Minimalist Look
Do not Try to do every Single Room at once.
You are going to bite off more than you can chew, and it’s just asking for trouble.
Actually, it’s technically impossible unless you get Clean Sweep to come to your home and move everything out on the lawn on neat little blankets, with a horde of helpers the show pays for.
You just can’t do the entire house at once all by your lonesome. So don’t try.
Take it one room at a time, focus on it, get it to where you want it to be, and then move on to the next.
Do not try to Work on every Single Detail in the Room.
If you start in the kitchen, don’t start trying to take the junk drawer unless you have a whole day set aside for it. (Read: Saturday Project: Clean out your Junk Drawer). You will exhaust yourself, stress yourself out, and want to give up on this whole ordeal.
Once a Room is Finished, it’s Off Limits to any Additions.
Don’t start shifting clutter from one room to another. If one room looks incredible, and you start on the second room, but then shift a little tiny end table, or three, to spoil the look of the first room, you are just fighting against your own efforts and will exhaust yourself.
Make it a rule: Once a room is finished, it’s off limits to any additions.
How about Starting with the Outside first?
Sometimes the easiest thing to do, is to wet your feet. So head outside, and start by raking the leaves, or fixing up the soil bed and patting the flowers back into place, and making it look clean and tidy on the outside.
You’ll probably get a surge of energy from your accomplishment, and decide to head inside to do the first room in your home.
Start by Moving the Big Stuff.
Like furniture. Take a look at your room, survey what you need and don’t need in that room, and start hauling things out to the garage for your next big garage sale.
Keep some pieces of plain, simple furniture, and keep the colours simple and neutral.
No heavy, wild crazy patterns here, unless it’s the ONLY one of its kind in the room.
Let’s say you’re in the living room.
Do you really need 4 end tables and a coffee table?
Can you get rid of the end tables and just keep the coffee table? Or vice versa? Think about where you can put that furniture (or sell it!) after you move it out of the room.
Maybe another room needs an end table and you were just about to splash some cash on a new one.
Even if you JUST move a couple of pieces of furniture out, and re-arrange what you’ve got left, it might shape up to look pretty decent just the way it is.
Clear the room and Add until Satisfied.
Clear the room completely, then add back the essentials (arranged of course), until you are satisfied with the room.
It may just be adding the couch and two side tables back into the room, but the rest has to go somewhere else. Preferably, out of your home.
If you really feel like the room is too bare, and not functional enough, you can add back in a piece or two. But remember to STOP before it gets back to the way it was before.
Maybe a Simple De-cluttering is enough.
It could be that you just need to clear the floors, surfaces and walls.
Move all the stuff of the floors. All those stacked books, DVDs, CDs, stuffed toys. Whatever.
Clear off the flat surfaces and file away your papers.
Leave only one single vase with a bloom in it for decoration (or none at all. I personally hate vases because I’m very clumsy.)
Take down all the stuff hanging on your walls except one or two pieces of artwork.
Keep it Simple.
Simple artwork is the best, either a painting, drawing or photo, framed with a solid colour.
Don’t forget to leave some walls bare, or else it won’t be very minimalist.
Simple decorations is also recommended. One or two is enough.
You don’t need an army of decorations for people to know that you enjoy decorating.
Keep it Out of Sight.
Maybe you CAN’T get rid of all the papers. I’d suggest tucking them into file folders, and neatly filing them into drawers or cabinets.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Just make sure you know where to find them again.
My sister used to keep her receipts in a kitchen drawer. She would come back, and stuff ALL of her receipts in the drawer.
I was at the house the other day, I opened the drawer, and I shrieked in fright. She came in and explained her filing system.
The next day, we bought a filing box and I forced her to put everything in there.
Plain is the Name of the Game.
Window treatments, wall papers, walls, floors, rugs, and fabric on furniture.
All of these items should have neutral colours.
It might seem boring, but if you enjoyed looking at those pictures of neutral, clean looking spaces, neutral plain colours are the way to go.
If you have anything busy or bright, it’s visual clutter. You will look at that crazy patterned chair you took from Aunt Mae and get an immediate headache.
Alternatively, you can also keep pops of patterns and colours in a SINGLE piece of furniture in the room. Maybe an armchair.
Don’t go crazy. You want colours that soothe the eye. Beiges, dark browns, deep blues and deep greens are my favourites.
Re-visit and Eliminate.
After a room is done, give yourself a pat on the back and a celebratory glass of wine.
Wait a couple of days, and then look at the room again with a renewed sense of elimination.
You may decide to store your magazines out of sight in a covered box, or get rid of that footstool by the couch.
You may even decide to simplify even more, and get rid of more pieces of furniture you thought you needed, but really don’t use at all.
Whatever it is, give your rooms a once-over ever so often. It also helps keep you in check.
A Logical Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place.
Pots, stay in the kitchen. I know it sounds strange to be saying that, but I’ve seen homes where the kitchen supplies were stored in the living room.
What the heck!?
If you must, label your kitchen cupboards with little stickers (or tape, my mom is a fan of masking tape) to let you know where your pots go, your plates, your cups, your deep fryer and your wine.
Now that you’re finished, survey your best efforts, congratulate yourself on embarking on this minimalist adventure and smile with happiness when people come in and ooh and ahh over your home.
Here’s an example of a green NYC apartment that is absolutely perfect. The wall of leaves are real plants to provide oxygen and the place is eco-friendlied to the max.