THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO CREATING A MINIMALIST FAMILY HOME
Home is where the heart is. You want your home to reflect your family’s personality and be a space where you can relax, have fun and spend time in. But, if you’re looking to make your home simpler, calmer and much easier to look after as well, then read this simple guide on how to create a minimalist family home.
AN INTRODUCTION TO MINIMALISM
Before we look at how you can create a Minimalist family home, I thought it might be helpful to talk a little bit about what Minimalism is.
The truth is that Minimalism can be different for all of us. Some Minimalists live in tiny homes, some live with just what they can fit in a backpack. Others (like myself) use Minimalism as a guide to define our everyday choices, what we let in and what we prefer to keep out.
Minimalism is personal but the common thread is clearing clutter. Clutter can be the stuff in your home but it can also be negative thoughts, bad habits, difficult relationships and too many junk emails clogging up your inbox.
“What I know for sure is that when you declutter – whether it’s on your home, your head, or your heart – it is astounding what will flow into that space that will enrich you, your life, and your family.” (Peter Walsh)
As you read the following article, please bear in mind that Minimalism looks different to everyone. You can count the number of plates you own, or the pairs of heels sitting in your closet or you can prefer to listen to your heart and how you feel. Sometimes, just recognising how you feel about your life is a good indicator of when you need to pause, reflect and clear that clutter a little.
Clearing clutter is not about clearing your stuff per se. It’s about what that space will enable you to do going forward.
Minimalist homes look as different as the Minimalists who live in them! Depending on how you define your own Minimalist lifestyle (strict or with a little bit of leeway!) this will affect what your own home feels and looks like.
And, of course, it depends on your own household. If you have kids then your Minimalist home might look different to the Minimalist next door who’s young, single and relatively commitment-free.
Minimalist homes can have bare white walls and empty shelves but they don’t have to. Read more about the myths of minimalism.
Again, Minimalism is as unique as you are, but there are some common themes that Minimalist homes tend to share… and that’s what we’ll be exploring here.
If you’re looking at the following points as inspiration for your own home, choose what suits. If something doesn’t feel right or you don’t think it will work, skip it for now or try it for a while and move on.
10 STEPS TO CREATING A MINIMALIST FAMILY HOME
1. Declutter your home
This is probably the first step towards creating a minimalist home and is one of the most obvious things that you notice as soon as you walk in the door. Minimalist homes generally have far less stuff and clutter in them.
Spend some time going through each room and remove the things that you no longer love, appreciate, need or want. Keep the surfaces and floors clear as this will instantly make your home look tidier! Watch for clutter-hotspots like tables, the entrance way and kitchen counter and come up with some strategies to keep the clutter away from these areas.
2. Make sure everything has a place to live
One of the main reasons that stuff builds up, even if you’ve spent time sorting and decluttering, is that you haven’t made sure that everything has a home or a proper place to be kept or stored when you’re not using it.
Even if you have, maybe your family doesn’t know about it or you haven’t shown them to put things away if they’re not using them.
Some really common examples are things like post, keys, bags and shoes. They’re often dumped by the front door or in the hallway once you come home and stay there until they’re picked up to be used again on the way out. Instead of letting them stay in a mess on the floor, find a way of storing them. Can you put up some hooks for keys, some sort of filing system for post, a cupboard, box or hooks where bags can be put or hung up, a shoe rack or box for shoes?
3. Identify how you use each room and what to keep in there
You don’t keep kitchen utensils in the bathroom so why let make-up find its way into the kitchen, or random junk be stored in your wardrobe because you don’t know where else to put it? Your wardrobe should be for your clothes only!
Think about the different rooms or areas of your home and how you use each one. Make sure that you only have in each room what you actually use in that room.
- Where do you read?
- Do you work from home?
- Where do your kids play?
- If you have friends over, where do you sit and chat?
For example, I used to keep all our books in the living room, but I realised that I never actually read in there. If I was reading to my kids, it would generally be in their room, or if I was reading, it would mostly be in my bedroom (because it’s quieter and I often only read for pleasure in the evening before bed). So, I moved all my books into my room and the kids’ books into their room. It created a whole lot of space in my living room which I’m still deciding whether to fill, or just leave empty!
If you can’t separate out rooms by function, then try zoning your rooms. This often works in smaller homes where rooms have to be multi-functional.
For example, if your spare bedroom or even living room doubles up as a home office, try to keep all your office stuff in one corner or along one wall. Make sure it’s all tidy and organised and doesn’t creep into the rest of the room! It makes it easier on the eye and helps keeps things organised and you’ll mentally get used to the idea that one area is for work and the other is for rest and relaxation. Hopefully you’ll also find it easier to separate out the two!
4. Choose your colour palette carefully
Colour has quite a big impact on our emotions and you can read more about it if you do an internet search on the psychological effects of colour.
Minimalist homes tend to feature neutral tones, pale and soft colours and a similar colour palette throughout.
This is intentional because these colours tend to emphasise the feeling of space, openness and emphasise flow and continuity through the rooms.
Your eye and your mind aren’t confused with lots of different patterns and colours. If you’d like some inspiration, then Pinterest is a good place to get started.
5. Don’t lose your uniqueness and individuality
This point builds on the one before it because I want to emphasise that Minimalism isn’t about throwing everything away that’s special and unique to you, including how you decorate your home!
If you love bright colours, then find a way to incorporate them into your style but just be careful how you do it. Dark, bold or bright colours tend to excite the eye and the mind so if you love pattern and colour but still want a minimalist home, maybe just use pops of colour throughout the house. Try the odd cushion, photo or picture for example, but not for walls, floors or big pieces of furniture.
Please don’t think that a Minimalist home can’t be full of colour, expression, energy or uniqueness.
It’s your home so it should reflect you and your family’s personality, character and lifestyle. Just remember to really focus on the key things that are important to you and make them really shine out. Add too much and they won’t stand out any more.
6. Keep it calm
When you walk into a Minimalist home they often feel calm and relaxed. Not only is there less clutter to confuse and distract the eye and the mind, but there’s also some other tricks which I think help build upon what we’ve already mentioned.
- You could think about using more natural materials or a limited combination of them, rather than loads of different ones. Metal, concrete, wood and stone are popular not only for furniture, but any accessories you want to include such as lighting, candle holders etc.
- Use texture rather than colour to add interest and variety. An example could be all the cushions on your sofa. Try having cushions that are roughly the same colour but mix up different textures to make it more interesting.
- You could also include some plants in strategic places if you’ve got green enough fingers and no little kids who are going to pull at the leaves or play in the soil! Nature is really calming and is a fantastic source of inspiration for a Minimalist home.
7. Use space to your advantage
Don’t be afraid to have bare walls, floor or surfaces and don’t feel the need to fill up a spare space of floor, shelf or table top just because it’s empty!
White space on a page adds definition and allows the important points to stand out. The same is true of your home.
Work out which things you really want in that room, what do you use and what do you want to look at (or visitors to see) when you go into that room. By all means include them (see point 5 above!) but let them stand out, rather than be hidden by lots of other stuff in the room.
That being said, don’t go to the other extreme and make your home feel like a waiting room or hospital. You don’t want it to be so bare that it doesn’t feel like home.
Play around with it, don’t be tempted to change everything all at once and live with any changes you do make for a short while to see how they fit.
Many people forget about lighting or just don’t realise how important it is in setting the tone of the room. You can either opt for warm, cool or natural lighting and much of it is personal preference so see what suits you. You want your home to be open but warm and inviting so make sure you’ve got enough lighting in strategic spots.
9. Put things away after you’ve used them
This is a must and really should be higher up the list! If there’s more than just you living in the house, then it’s more than likely that you’re not the only one making the mess in the house.
There’s nothing wrong with your kids getting all their Lego out on the floor, or you using every pot and pan in the kitchen whilst you’re cooking dinner, as long as you all clear up and put everything away when you’ve finished!
Make sure that you all know where things live so nobody can use that as an excuse for leaving things out or piling them up in the corner of the room or table top.
That includes toys, paperwork, clothes and laundry and everything else!
Teach your kids to help as much as they can, share out housework and chores and it will make it much quicker and easier for you to keep on top of your home.
Further reading: How to spend less time cleaning – Minimalist cleaning routines
10. Remember, it’s your home
As I mentioned in the introduction to this article, Minimalism is not about getting rid of all your stuff or forcing you and your family to live with nothing.
Minimalism, despite its name, is actually about giving you more – time, space and freedom for the important things in life.
Your home is important, and it has to perform lots of different functions for every person who lives in it. Don’t make it into a space that you don’t want to spend time in, just because you think that’s what it means to be minimalist. That’s so not the case!
When you’re looking at your home and thinking of ways to make it more minimalist, remember that you’re not going minimalist just for the sake of it. Don’t force yourself to throw everything away or become bland and boring just because you think that’s what minimalism is all about.
GETTING STARTED WITH MINIMALISM
If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to know more about how a Minimalist lifestyle could help you and your family, here are some helpful resources:
- Myths of Minimalism – addressing the common misconceptions and encouraging a compassion, gentle Minimalist lifestyle instead
- A helpful guide to the Minimalist lifestyle – a comprehensive guide to Minimalism, what it means and why it matters
- How to become Minimalist – 7 easy ways to try it for yourself
- 10 tips for clutter-free living – how to make space for what matters
- Minimalism and shopping – how to have less stuff in your home by shopping more mindfully
- What to do if you’re the only Minimalist in the house – when you’re keen to try it but the rest of your family aren’t on board
- How less can be more – the benefits of simplifying life
- Minimalism and motherhood – Kids, chaos and how Minimalism helped me through!
- Simplify Your Life – my most popular short course to introduce you to what simplicity could mean for you and how to begin making some pretty powerful changes in small, realistic baby steps.