Mention minimalism and one of the first few things that comes to mind will be the aesthetics of it.
Many associate minimalism with lots of white, or perhaps monotone, Bose speakers, Apple products, and the list goes on.
So does minimalism equate a curation of luxurious products?
Yes and no.
I tend to think that if you focus on minimalism, the aesthetics will follow naturally.
And not because you go all out for a minimalist design, you are a minimalist. Because clutter will eventually find it’s way back in.
A few months ago, a commentary titled “Is a minimalist home the route to personal success?” was published by Channelnewsasia.
One of the lines caught me – “A clean, simple and uncluttered home leads to a clean, simple and successful life – or so the general message apparently implies.”
Generally, I agree with the first part, a clean, simple and uncluttered home leads to a clean and simple life.
Depends on your definition.
And in that article, there is a small implication that minimalism could be less to do with simplifying and clarifying one’s life, but more about displaying an aspiration image of luxury, prestige and success.
The author isn’t exactly wrong to say that.
But personally, I think the sequence is wrong.
The most innate message and reason why people would pursue minimalism is to pare down our stuff, and live with the essentials so that we pursue the things that we truly care about. And that itself, also allows us to simply our living space, declutter our lives and an effectual benefit is to be less caught up in consumerism, since every purchase is much more thoughtful.
And consequently, it is because of this idea, that we embrace quality (doesn’t mean that it must be expensive). For instance, we only need a pair of scissors, I will need that scissors to work and cut through any materials (so that I do not need to buy multiple pairs to cut fabric, paper, etc.) although I must admit that I do keep a separate pair of kitchen scissors mainly use to cut food. And if consequently, buying such a pair of “general purpose” scissors cost more, I am willing to pay for it because I would then not need so many pairs to perform a singular function. And that is the general argument why minimalists would prefer to buy “quality stuff” which could sometimes be more expensive.
Of course, one could also argue that if you need a good quality handbag, you do not need to pay a few thousand bucks for a Louis Vuitton or a Hermes. One could get pretty good quality ones at a fraction of that price. But some schools of minimalism advocates that since you pare down to the essentials, you just need to focus on the things you need and if it might be that Hermes handbag, why not? (as long as you can afford it and not stretching out your credit card debt just to pay for it)
Similarly, when we designed our home, to be honest, I did not quite visualise what the end effect would be like from the outset. In fact, when Dave and I were discussing on our home modelling project, a lot of things were circled around was “what we need” vs “what we do not need”.
Each item was carefully discussed and thought through before we decided to get it (which also explains why we did not have a sofa set at our place for those who were wondering).
Once we decided on a list of the items that we needed, we started to shop around. We did have a theme, and especially since I quite like the wood tone, I had hoped that most of the furniture will be either wooden or white (somewhat Muji like), which makes it easier to match.
And the subsequent result was our home.
Dave especially, is very good at preventing clutter from creeping back. He is extremely conscious over every item and purchase, questioning their purpose and asking if we do really need that.
Some might say that this is an extremely tiring way of living, having to assess even the most diminutive of things. However, we tend to think that this is conscious consumerism and a small effort on our part in protecting our environment. If you are not sure where our trash ends up sometimes, would highly recommend the award-winning documentary “A plastic ocean“. In fact, I would highly encourage everyone and anyone to watch it! It’s on Netflix by the way.
Anyway, back to the earlier point.
If one is only in pursue of the aesthetics of minimalism and not the true value of minimalism, clutter will manage to find it’s way back in.
And before your realise, your “minimalist home” turns out to be not so “minimalist” one sooner than you think.
At the same time, if your existing space does not have tall ceilings, white monotones or Muji-like colours, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be minimalistic.
Try this – just focus on the things you need, declutter the rest.
And you will realise that your existing space can be pretty cozy and minimal, even without the need to remodel it to those that you see in the home and decor magazines.
Minimalism does not mean that you need to spend a whole tonne of money just to curate the most beautiful stuff. It simply means just to pare down on the essentials.
This applies not just to your home, your personal space, your wardrobe, etc.
It is an innate application of one’s values towards the things around you.
And once you can embrace it, it will be easier than you can imagine.