When I started decluttering, minimalism wasn’t quite in the picture.
I started collecting vintage 40’s and 50’s things for about 10 years( somewhere around 2002). That started with the Life magazines I bought at an estate sale. Originally, I planned to cut out ads for like cars, coke cola, etc and then sell those at flea markets. I did that off an on for a few years. I also sold lots of magazines on Ebay. At that time Life magazines were very collectible and I made a good amount of money.
I also started collecting lots of interesting things( to me). My love of Heywood Wakefield was born and a style that was minimal and scandinavian. But I also had collections of thing I loved like vintage buttons, pyrex, old fans, dishes and lots of other things .
I’m not sure what triggered the “aha” moment but it was around 2010. I had too much stuff for this small house. Recently, I found a few pictures of the front room and frankly, I was appalled at how it looked.
So I started selling and giving away tons of stuff.
But there are a few things that really helped me declutter and minimize:
1. There is only so much space in any given area and when that space is filled nothing else can go there. Such as books. When the shelf is filled with books and you have more books than shelves, you must get rid of some books as that is all the space there is. The same is true of drawers, kitchen cabinets, etc. This concept really rung true for me and to this day, is one I still use.
2. In the same vein, one in and one out is also very important to keep clutter from coming back. If I buy a new t-shirt ,for instance, one old one needs to go.
3. Visual clutter clearly affects how you feel in your home space. I think I didn’t realize this for a long time. And it wasn’t till I started clearly stuff out that I made the connection of having too much ‘stuff’ on display and feeling overwhelmed. Even today, when I start feeling overwhelmed, I look around at what needs to be either tidied up or removed from my space.
4. White space. I never knew about this concept in interior design but it fits with minimalism. Basically its space left open and clear. Instead of putting, let’s say a side table somewhere, you leave that space open. I think it reduces what’s in a space but also visually it allows your eyes to not get ‘stuck’ looking over a room.
5. And of course, there’s KonMari. That really came way later in my journey of minimalism but I still went thru each category and did declutter another layer of things that did not spark joy. I think her method is good, but I would definitely recommend starting small like cleaning out drawers, or duplicates of things in rooms, or items you know you haven’t used in a year. Ithink it’s important to think about the why too. For me, I just didn’t want the clutter and wanted my house to look simple and streamlined.
I still have a ways to go and often think about getting rid of even more things but for now it’s a good balance of what we’re using and purposeful and minimal.