Minimalist Movement

Say goodbye to clutter

You’ve just purchased a new home. The movers have not yet arrived. You’re standing in your new living room. You take a deep breath and find yourself at peace for the first time since you started packing.

 In a few minutes, the hallways will be stacked with boxes. The corners will be overrun with…stuff.

 But for now, your new home is gloriously empty. You relish knowing you could turn cartwheels in the living room if the desire should arise.

 And then it hits you: maybe you could live like this. Minimalism is, after all, a popular design concept, right?

  You’re right, but…

 There’s a reason you feel more serene in a room free of clutter: Neuroscientists have found that clutter restricts your ability to focus and process information, which decreases your performance and increases your stress.

 So yeah, STUFF = STRESS.

 A move is a perfect time to start fresh and engage a more minimalist design in your living space.

 But don’t cancel the delivery of your boxes and furniture just yet.

A move is a perfect time to start fresh and engage a more minimalist design in your living space.

 Minimalist design is not about leaving a  room empty

 An empty room is a great place to start, but if you stopped there, it wouldn’t be minimalist design. It would be an empty room.

Some people incorrectly associate minimalist design with coldness, starkness, and sterility. And while, yes, there are those who will opt for a more austere version of minimalism, it can also be quite warm and inviting.

Harmony and restraint in interior design look much easier to achieve than you think. Hiring an interior designer knowledgeable about minimalism will likely give you a more polished and complete design.  But if you want to give it a shot on your own, we encourage you to do so.

First, browse the Internet for images that inspire you. A search for “minimalist interior design” will pull up hundreds, if not thousands, of images. Then, use these basic concepts in your pursuit of the simplicity, elegance, and serenity of minimalist design.

Quality over quantity

One supple Italian leather sofa has a greater impact in a room and more staying power than, say, a full living room set purchased at a discount furniture store.

 Tip: Before unpacking your boxes, try living for a while with just one of the larger pieces of furniture you already own.  If it doesn’t please you on its own, without a bunch of accessories or companion pieces, maybe it’s time for an upgrade that won’t need so many bells and whistles to appeal.


While the monochromatic color schemes often found in minimalist design may not seem to express enough of your personality, they will provide the background that will make your most special pieces of art or furniture shine.  Think about how amazing the saturated blues and pinks of the limited edition photograph you bought on would look in a room of soft grays.

 Tip: Choose one favorite piece of art or furniture you’d like to make a focal point in each room. Then let it occupy the room alone for a few days. When you’re ready, slowly add functional objects, taking care that every new addition allows the first piece to remain center stage.

Let everything breathe

The more space around an object or piece of furniture, the easier it is for the eye to find it, rest on it, and appreciate it.  This goes for furniture, as well as accessories.  Remember to keep the room paired down to its essentials. Cluttered and crowded both go against the principles of minimalist design.

 Tip: Start with clear surfaces on coffee tables, end tables, counters and dresser tops.  Add the functional, must-have accessories, like the bedside lamp. Then choose one special accessory – maybe the Russian nesting dolls your grandmother sent you from her trip around the world – per room. Play around with placement until you find the right spot. 

And one more thing 

Remember when you were packing to move and you said to yourself, “I had no idea I had this much stuff!?” Well, we’d venture a guess that most of it hadn’t seen the light of day for a long time. Guess what? That means you probably don’t need it.

 Before you go unpacking all those boxes and stashing the contents in closets and cabinets, try putting the still-full boxes away in the garage or an unused closet. Give yourself a month or two to forget about them if you can. Chances are, once you’ve learned how much lighter you feel living with less, it’ll be easier to let all that stuff go.

 That, sister, is worth turning cartwheels over.

Photography: Alan Weintraub/Arcaid/Corbis

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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