No sooner is the very concept of minimalism introduced in conversation, than misunderstandings are trotted out. How do we define minimalism? Some folk see it as the removal of anything decorative or comfortable. This is how the concept becomes misconstrued. Instead, if we “wrassle” the concept around a bit, we may say the it is removing the excess in your life to make room for what really matters. Well, that seems like something we could accept, as long as it is on our own terms. What you find that really matters is nothing like what I think really matters. OK, now we’re getting somewhere.

We likely are ready to concede that many of us live in environments that are choking on excess. That is fortunate and, at the same time, unfortunate. Excess is not attractive. Ironically, the trend to excess is a result of an effort to make our home spaces attractive. The absolute opposite has been the result.excess unsorted paper clutter on shelves in a small home officeThe concept of minimalism has been misunderstood, though, because past attempts to remedy the aesthetic disconnect that is excess in our homes has been approached in a harsh and unforgiving way. The love affair with the empty shelf is also unattractive, as is perfectionism. Viewing an empty shelf as something that is attractive could be construed as “compulsive de-cluttering”, perhaps. Our homes should be cozy refuges, rather than more work than they need to be. When there is excess, every extra object has needs. Along with excess comes “clutter blindness”. The excess is too much to deal with after a day or week of work, so it is not dealt with. Clutter creates stress, just as perfectionism does.cell phone clutter in a drawerA home with items out of place, or decor that is a little dated, can still be a very pleasant place to be. The way your home looks is far less important than the way you feel when you are in your home. Employing minimalism so that your home is not so overcrowded that you can’t breathe is all that is needed. Even if you desire to be at the cutting edge of interior design trends, you live in the home that you do. You have come as far as you are able, no matter what style trends tell you that you should have. Your bathroom may have a somewhat dated look, but if you’ve got practical storage elements, it at least does not look cluttered. pullout shampoo storage at end of bathtub surroundControlling all aspects of your life is not always possible. Getting rid of all of your possessions is actually destructive. Many objects in a cluttered home have immense sentimental meaning to some or all of the family members. Removing these items may decrease clutter but increase stress.

Many homes simply do not have many practical ways to store a family’s collection of quite necessary objects. Very often, adding even a small storage vehicle can make an enormous difference in the battle against clutter. If there is simply no place to store your shampoo bottle except on the nearest horizontal surface, there is no choice other than to be forced to look at  necessary objects as being clutter. These items have a place in any home, and they require somewhere to stand when not in active use.

Some people are handy at building things and many people have next to no construction skills at all. Many people simply cannot lift a tote filled with off-season clothing, so the tote remains on the bedroom floor until someone comes along who is willing and able to lift the tote up onto a storage shelf. When the season inevitably changes, the tote needs to be lifted down again. Often people are reluctant to ask for help lifting things they simply cannot lift. They cannot do it themselves, but do not want to inconvenience someone else. Why is that? It is not an enormous task for someone who is able to lift something of moderate weight and size. Many able bodied people do not want to be seen as interfering. If that tote needs to go onto a top shelf for the season, who is going to put it there? Is it a terrible inconvenience to someone able to lift a moderate weight to perform that task for a friend, neighbour, or family member? This is why conversation was invented. If that tote is not lifted up and down seasonally each season’s clothing is inaccessible to the owner. Such a small thing, and yet completely insolvable without conversation and caring. Removing those off season items from the home is not the solution at all. They are necessary items, that just need a bit of physical strength to place them where they should spend time off season. The person lacking physical strength may even purchase new items simply because, in an attempt to lessen clutter, and not to have to ask anyone to help, they solve the issue in the simplest, least needy sort of way. Their usable items are now inaccessible to them, because they cannot lift a tote down, which has previously been lifted up. Creative thinking may help to fix the storage issue. Rather than totes, perhaps dressers are more useful. There is no rule that your off season footwear cannot be stored in part of a dresser. Perhaps one family member’s footwear can be stored in an unused drawer of a more minimal family member. This may be an attractive looking solution to what was previously stressfully unsightly. navy small dresser with navy silk draperies and floral wallpaperIn addition, many people live in homes that are simply too small for them. Often, there is very little they can do about this without changing employment, schools or what have you. It is not inexpensive to make these large lifestyle changes. Hobbies such as art or sewing require supplies and material. Sports require equipment and a place to store it. Reflection and compromise are required in order to determine what is still necessary for a family member, and what can be donated or discarded. Some family members are able to live with clutter, and some are not. As well, it does not take many extra items to fill up a functional storage item. Some family members have more things than others, leaving some family members with no place to store their necessary items out of sight. Compromise and communication is required. Without that, few aspects of communal living remain pleasant.

clutter inside a closetclean and organized bedroom closet with shelving in white

A free-standing bathtub looks terrific in a beautifully designed and renovated bathroom. But where do you set your shampoo, towels, hairbrush, toothbrush, and other necessary items, especially when there are several family members using the bathroom?dramatic contemporary bathroom with free-standing tub and black stone wall, and black wood venetian blindAchieving some form of minimalism and de-cluttering is no guarantee of a peaceful ambiance in the home. Abrasive behaviour of some family members toward others in an attempt to achieve minimalism is destructive and does not result in a peaceful home atmosphere. The bathroom in the photo above is exceptionally pleasing to the eye of the beholder. In order for it to be functional, there needs to be nearby storage of shampoo, towels, and other items that will be used while bathing. These items will need to be put away after the bath, or this fabulous bathroom will look like any other cluttered bathroom. Does the task of putting things away fall to one overworked family member who wants the home to look good? Are there family members who are fabulous, but who cannot be tidied? Is your goal of minimalism perhaps misplaced?small child and happy dog messy from baking with flourSometimes we are lucky enough to have a wall of storage in a bedroom or a kitchen. Out of sight storage is a real bonus in a smaller home. Vital possessions stored out of sight have the effect of minimalism, since there is a serene face on their location. This method is quite functional because it presents a significant amount of storage, looks good as well as minimal, and once it is full, that is the indication that above and beyond that volume, something has to go. Unnecessary items can become buried in a large volume of storage. An annual inventory is the way to determine what can stay and what can go. It is not true that if you have not used it for a year it has to go. Some things are only useful for travel, some sports, some hobbies. We do not always have the opportunity to travel, play on teams, produce artistic masterpieces. Art supplies can be used for many years, but leisure time may not be available to simply sit and create art pieces. Life gets very busy at times, and we simply have no choice but to show up at work, do the tasks and go home. We may not have energy left over to produce an artistic masterpiece after a rough month at work. We may not be in a state of mind to produce a masterpiece if we are being bullied at school or work. Upscale white bedroom with storage wall and crystal chandelierIn a truly minimal home, will there be window coverings? Perhaps simple functional blinds, but no more? That’s fine for some folk, and just not for others. Is an area carpet allowed to add a bit of warmth on a frosty morning? Must the walls be flat? Is a touch of molding considered an over the top excess? Is any art allowed? A bouquet of flowers is certainly way over the top, as well as the floor plant. And yet, is this room excessive? On the contrary, it is almost stark. It is a beautiful and functional room. What makes it seem stark is only the lack of draperies on the windows. There is absolutely no functional reason for draperies. Privacy and light control have been achieved. Without the paneling, artwork, bouquet of flowers, and floor plant, yes, indeed, this would be a stark room. Even with the curving lines on the bed and lamp this is a room who’s decor is not excessive. Is there a good reason to take this pleasing, pretty minimal room from slightly embellished too stark?transitional style bedroom with both panel track window blind and roller shade in screen fabricSo this is how minimalism has become misconstrued. So often, the art of conversation could remedy the situation, or dramatically improve the overall ambiance of the home so that it suits all who live there. Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a consultation. We think about lots of stuff, all the time. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.

Full Décor Service                                                                  Flooring

Colour Consultations a Specialty                                         Space Planning

Window Coverings including Draperies and Blinds           Accessories and Wall Art