I’m no stranger to awesome home goods. I test them out, write about them, and ogle over what I want in my own space. I believe in things that make the living space more convenient, organized, and artful – and that’s the philosophy behind every one of my purchases.
This doesn’t mean, though, that I advise cluttering your counters, end tables, bookshelves, and cabinets with a ton of unnecessary stuff or filling all the empty space in your home with things you rarely use. Because when it comes to outfitting the home, It’s important to strike a balance between too cluttered and too sparse. And I’ve been able to do it through the philosophy of minimalism.
Now, refining your home through minimalism doesn’t mean trashing everything you own so your space appears uninhabited, nor does it mean avoiding any new purchases – or renouncing material possessions altogether. What it does mean is that everything in your home should have a clear purpose and add to your life in a meaningful way, even if it's as small as organizing your books or making sure your wallet, keys, and change stay put. At its core, this isn’t an anti-materialist philosophy in the slightest. Minimalism – or, at least, my understanding of it – acknowledges that material possessions have the ability to make our lives easier and more meaningful, but encourages moderation and essentialism.
So what’s there to gain by adopting minimalism in your home? First of all, minimalism presents motivation to clear the home of unnecessary junk, organize, and make space for the future, which is something we all can appreciate. But more importantly, it urges you to strip your life down to the essentials and consider what’s truly important and valuable to you. So you have much more than a bunch of empty square footage to gain here.
I’ve found that the more minimal my space becomes, the more I use and appreciate what’s actually there. And if I notice a gap that needs filling, I find the absolute best for the job, be it organizing my desk, storing notes, keeping track of time, or just adding personality to a bare countertop. Plus, you’ll be surprised how much a clear space actually contributes to a clear head. Having less stuff is also friendly to your budget, which means that when you do need to pick up something new, you can spring for something that’ll serve you well a long, long time.
Onboard yet? Employing some minimalism in your home, no matter how strictly or loosely you adhere to it, starts with confronting your lesser-used possessions with a few important questions:
What purpose does this serve in my home?
Most of the time, this question is all it takes. If you find something in your home that you haven’t used in awhile, and the question of purpose makes you scratch your head, it’s probably time to throw it away. Example: I once kept a four-level Rubik's cube on the front corner of my desk. I’d never learned how to solve it, and I wasn’t even ever interested. So when I questioned its purpose, I could only come up with “to appear smarter to guests until they ask whether or not I can actually solve it.” Into the bin it went.
Is it successful in fulfilling that purpose, and does anything else I own serve that purpose just as well or better?
Once I’d become certain about an item’s purpose in my place, I’d question whether or not it actually served that purpose well, and whether or not I owned anything else that fulfilled the same purpose in the same part of my home. I owned a bulky but well-made copper lamp for my bedroom, but I almost always used my dimmable overhead light whenever I was in there. Sure, the lamp had a purpose and was capable of fulfilling it, but the job was already taken care of. I sold the thing as soon as I got the chance.
Do I use this often enough to justify the space it takes up?
Everything in your home takes up space, and if you live in a small apartment like I do, every square foot matters. So if something you own takes up a bunch of space, it needs to earn that space. Be it a footrest, a large speaker, or a tower wine rack, if you’re not using the damn thing often enough to justify the space you’re losing when you bring it into your home, it isn’t worth the sacrifice.
Does this contribute value to my life or make it easier in any way?
Considering that we buy home goods to make our lives easier and more convenient, or at least to add some sort of value that didn’t exist there before, it’s essential to remain conscious of the concrete benefits and affordances of everything you bring into your place. So if something you own doesn’t notably make your life easier or more pleasant, it’s time to get rid of it.
Applying that logic to your home and your mind will give you room to think clearly and decisively, better understand what’s truly fundamental in your life, and make room for more meaning, value, and ultimately, more happiness. Or, at least, that's the idea.