Minimalism and Mess

I’d say the thing that has surprised me the most about minimalism is that a minimalist home doesn’t equal a tidy home.

I’d also say this was probably the most disappointing realisation!

I’ve talked before about how I can easily maintain my home in times of stress, as it becomes an area of control and peace.

However, when I’m feeling more relaxed the mess creeps up on me.

And lately our home has been quite untidy! We have been carrying on with our seemingly endless renovations and DIY tasks. This has involved ripping out flooring and overhauling the garden. We’ve had to move furniture, pile objects onto tables and invest in new tools and equipment as we develop our green fingers.

Ironically, I find mess really stressful. So I constantly find myself in a vicious circle of being stressed and tidy, then relaxed and messy, which then causes stress…. and so on.

And when the mess started to build up again over the last few weeks, my initial thoughts were:

‘I’ve let the clutter build up again.’

‘Where has all this stuff come from?’

‘We need another big clear out!’

But I found that when I searched through the house, there wasn’t really anything else to get rid of. It’s not that we have too much stuff, it’s just that we’re not keeping it tidy.

After all, even if you only have 5 things – if you leave all of those things scattered on the floor or the dining table, your house will still be messy.

So unfortunately for me, minimalist doesn’t equal mess free. You will still need to tidy up. So¬†here are my tips for keeping your minimalist home clean and tidy!

Regular Decluttering

I still declutter every week. Sometimes I only find 1 thing, other times I can fill a small box.

Even with the best intentions we still manage to bring new possessions into the house frequently. Whether it’s simply junk mail, stationary from the office or a tool that someone has lent us for our latest project. Doing a quick run through of your house can keep you from holding onto the new items of clutter than you collect.

I have also found that things I initially held onto and are making their way out of the door – slowly but steadily.

Keeping clutter to a minimum is a sure fire way to help keep things tidy and manageable.

Everything in its place

This is the most important tidying rule in my opinion. Everything you own should have a home within your home!

If your items don’t have a place to go when your done using them then it’s no wonder your house gets messy! I love a clear surface and having anything on the sides feels messy to me. I have to reach compromises with J who likes having some things out, but anything we’ve agreed doesn’t have to stay out gets put away into drawers, cupboards or onto shelves.

But without a designated home, those drawers, cupboards and shelves will soon become unmanageable. To give items a home, you just need to use some common sense. So any stationery goes in our spare room/study, kitchen utensils and cookbooks stay in the kitchen, shoes and coats live in the cupboard under the stairs and so.

To me a tidy house has clear floors, tables, windowsills and countertops. Everything needs a home to make this happen!

Spend time every day

To keep it tidy you’ll need to spend some time picking up after yourself everyday.

Sadly, we need to use things to get by. I wish it wasn’t the case but it’s unavoidable. From the mug and spoon you use for your morning brew, to your toothbrush, the book your reading or the TV remote. Everyday we take things out of their homes and use them.

Now, when I’m being messy, I just put them down after using them. And that’s where it all goes wrong!!! You must return things to their rightful home, ideally when you finish using them, but you could also do it at the end of each day. Which brings us onto…

Bedtime pick up

Even if you’re the type of person that puts things away straight after using them, it’s still worth building in a fifteen minute slot each day before bed where you flit through each room setting things in order. This might include putting things away, taking out the rubbish, straightening cushions or giving the sink a wipe down. Just make the time to do what’s needed to reset your home and have it nice and tidy for when you wake up.




5 Truths of Minimalism

Truth #1 – You’ll still buy things

Yep. Minimalism won’t stop you from buying things. In fact, you’ll probably be more likely to go on full blown shopping sprees rather than just buying bits here and there. For the simple reason that you won’t shop often and you’ll only shop for a purpose. I recently found myself gearing up to go shopping with the intention of buying a new crockery set, new towels, a pair of sandals, a scented candle, some denim dungarees and several new items for my makeup collection. (That counts as a shopping spree right?!)

The crockery had been on the cards for a while since our set was damaged and wasn’t suitable for our lifestyle (guilty secret – we often microwave things and the square plates J bought just didn’t fit!)

I lusted for some new towels after reading this post by Miss Minimalist. I didn’t get a full set, just two bath robes to test them out and I can confirm I am onboard. So I will probably invest in a few more and clear out of mountain of old bulky towels once I do.

My sandals, which I must have owned for at least 10 years, finally bit the dust. I replaced them with a pair that ended being uncomfortable so I have since returned them. And I haven’t felt the need to replace them since finding I could wear the pair I wore to my brother’s wedding in their place. Such a great result since I didn’t buy these myself so hadn’t imagined I would get any use out of them. Plus my brother and his wife love seeing me wearing them – happy memories!

I still like to keep a stash of scented candles around the home. I find candles so calming and peaceful and take real joy in lighting them each evening, these are an item I will also buy and keep because they bring me joy.

The dungarees evaded me. But I still really want a pair. I have been trying to define my style more and more as I have reduced my wardrobe, banning certain items from ever re-entering and developing some wardrobes rules to live by. And dungarees feature! I’ll probably share more about my wardrobe rules once I have 100% decided.

Make up. I have never had a great stash of makeup. I’m not particularly good at applying it so I stick to the basics, and these run out occasionally! So they get replaced when they do.

Truth #2 – White paint can get dirty – fast

More and more rooms in my home keep giving in to the white paint revolution. I love how much brighter and bigger they make the space feel. However, since painting our kitchen white I have noticed that it doesn’t hold up particularly well when you are sloppy with your tea bags! We seem to get an inordinate amount of splashes and sprays onto the walls when we prep drinks or meals. Luckily, pure white paint is a colour that’s easy to find for touch ups! But it does mean we have to keep a tub handy for this.

Truth #3 – People will have an opinion

I have been working towards a minimal lifestyle for almost a year now but people still find it amusing, or refer to it as a phase or a crazy idea I’ve had. It can be really frustrating but I have learnt to brush it off. You get a mixture of views from…

‘You can’t have anything left to get rid of!’

‘What’s next – the dog!?’

‘I thought you were a minimalist – you can’t do that.’

‘You’re not a minimalist, look at all this stuff.’

For some reason it just seems to be a type of lifestyle that people must have an opinion on, and that opinion must be shared loudly and repeatedly.

Personally, I think it’s a defensive mechanism, I think people feel insecure that you might be judging them for being materialistic, wasting money or may see their belongings as mess or junk. I don’t think of it this way and have found the best way to get through to people is just to never make comment on their lifestyle. I will talk about my minimalist choices and experiences and will answer questions, but I never offer advice or suggestions if I haven’t been asked. And I have found this works in getting people to soften and open up. Once they know you aren’t trying to force your choices on them, they seem much more eager to find out more. And it’s even been rubbing off, with my trinket loving mother even asking me to help her minimise and expressing a desire to have more space and empty surfaces. And once help has been requested, I am more than happy to dive in!

Truth #4 – It takes time

I have been moving towards a more minimal lifestyle for almost a year and I am still no where near ‘done’. I don’t think there ever will be a time when I am ‘done’. It’s a lifestyle choice after all… Clutter can creep back up on you if you don’t regularly evaluate your belongings, but minimalism isn’t just about clutter.

For me it’s about making more time for the things I love and spending less time merely existing. But I still get caught in TV traps, or get sucked into a marketing campaign. I will still scroll social media for far too long and run out of time to start that new book or work on my crochet projects. I can still find myself prioritising things over people. But I accept that it takes time, and effort!

Truth #5 – It’s not just about clutter

See above!

So many people see minimalism as an absence of things, but I think once you’ve done the typical step one of becoming a minimalist (AKA a huge declutter), that is when you make the choice between pursuing the lifestyle or simply being glad that you’ve tidied and organised.

For me, it goes beyond the decluttering. It’s about making time and space for more meaningful pursuits, and reducing the brain space I assign to material objects and meaningless activity.

What truths have you discovered on your minimalist journey?