For the past few years I have bounced around between hostels, friends sofa, and temporary rooms. The last room rented in my name was 8 sqm (86 sqft) in a house shared with 9 people. Minimalism was easy, I had to be able to physically carry everything I owned to the next location. I stayed in one place anywhere from 10 days to 3 months, so if something wasn’t comfortable or quite right I was always able to tell myself it’s temporary. In 2014 I decided not to buy anything for a year, just to see if I could.
Now that things have changed I am rediscovering minimalism. I am in a 65 sqm (approx 700 sqft) apartment with an indefinite contract. If something isn’t comfortable I need to change it, because it’s not going away by itself! Minimalism is not a race to own the least stuff, it is a tool to help you own the right stuff to be as happy and successful as possible.
Suddenly the ‘right’ stuff for me includes a sofa, a bookshelf, bedsheets, fluffy towels, potted plants, and art on the walls. My new lifestyle means working from home in an office that serves my ergonomic needs, it means having the spare items so that friends and family visiting from halfway around the world feel welcome. I could keep this apartment spartan, but that would not be a home I love.
It’s was a difficult change. I remember a trip to Ikea where I came out in a panic because I had too much stuff to carry myself. I still don’t have a sofa (but I am looking!). I purchased a couple things and then regretted it. I missed my simple minimalism, where the only question that mattered was ‘Do I want to carry this?’
I decided to re-consume the materials that originally inspired me. Francine Jay’s wonderful Miss Minimalist, The Minimalists blog, podcast and books (Their documentary Minimalism has just become available in Europe on Netflix). Great YouTube channels like My Green Closet , Light by Coco and Jenny Mustard.
One of my biggest lessons was that my minimalism is not minimalist aesthetic but more of a functional minimalism. I want everything to work, I want my house to be easy to clean, but also comfortable and cozy. I want a great chair that gives me back support, because back pain makes me unhappy. I want potted plants to freshen the air and boost my mood. I want to use the space to explore new passions like cooking and growing my own vegetables, that weren’t really practical during my nomadic years.
Minimalism looks different for everyone, and minimalism can even look different for the same person whose circumstances have changed. The principal stays the same. Instead of asking myself ‘Can I carry this?’ I now ask myself ‘Is this instant gratification or does it support my long term happiness?’
By redefining what minimalism is to me, I was able to stop the shopping panic and regretted purchases, and now I am on track designing a home that I love.
(Home tour coming soon!)