What is Essentialism For Your Home?
We’re a society that’s always wanting more. Which leads to doing more. More work, more activities, more responsibilities, more stuff. It can lead many of us to a life that feels constantly “on” and yet disconnected and unfulfilling.
About five years ago I was feeling the strain of doing more so I could have more. I had a big job, a big house and yet a longing for something more…meaningful. When I picked up the life-changing book Essentialism, by Greg McKeown, it changed the way I look at things. I work differently and behave differently in my whole life.
McKeown defines essentialism as the art of discerning between external noise and internal voice. “Our whole society has become consumed by the undisciplined pursuit of more,” he explains. “The only way to overcome this problem is to change the way we think—adopt the mindset of only doing the things that are essential—and do it now.”
Wow, permission to focus on only those things that are essential to our wellbeing and our highest dreams. Yes, I’m on board with that.
As I “essentialized” my life and my schedule, this mindset began spilling over into my life at home as well. I've always been organized, but I still had a lot of stuff for a single person in a home that was too big for me. On the other hand, I'm not a minimalist - I like the comforts of rugs, pillows, books and plants too much to join the true minimalist camp. I admire the principles of minimalism - to own less in order to gain the freedom to do more of the important things in life - but I think sometimes it can become an obsession in and of itself. Yet another thing to DO.
So instead, I’ve adopted essentialism at home.
Essentialism for your home is not about having only a certain number of things in your home or creating a capsule wardrobe.
It’s about filling your home with the things that will help you focus on and achieve your goals and eliminating those that don't. It's about intentionally designing a home that supports you and helps you thrive as an essentialist.
It's living by design, not by default.
Essentialism appeals to my sense of simplicity + comfort + functionality. Essentialism applied at home is the art of discerning between external (how your home looks) and internal (how your home makes you feel). Your home should always make you feel comforted and supported and at your best!
Essentialism and simplicity are what I teach in my courses and in my design coaching with clients. It can include everything from decluttering to making their homes and habits more efficient to surrounding themselves with things to help them thrive.
How to Create an Essentialist Home
Design it with your goal life in mind. Figure out the things you need help with - perhaps it's exercising regularly, socializing & entertaining more, or leaving work behind and unwinding at night. Then set your home up so that you can more easily do these things.
Perhaps that means getting rid of the spare bed in an underused bedroom in favour of creating an exercise space. Maybe it's rearranging your living room to encourage conversation, not TV watching. Or carving out a corner to set up a meditation and journalling spot that's all your own.
Design your home for function, ease and efficiency, then layer in comforts and beauty, and be careful not to add so much that it distracts you from your essential purpose and goals.
Practical ideas to get you started:
1. Get rid of any clutter laying around where it doesn't belong. Everything should have a home where you can easily find it. If it doesn't have a home, maybe you don't really need it.
2. Is there space in your home? On your walls? Don't fill up every single space. Allow room for flow. It will ease your mind and allow more space in there too!
3. Organize your rooms for how you use them. Put all the baking supplies together. Create a convenient smoothie station. Designate specific spots at your entry for keys, shoes, and coats. Turn the unused bedroom into a writing room or yoga room or photography space. Hang a valet hook in the bedroom to hang out your workout clothes so it's easier to get up for that run in the morning. Then, when you see what you actually use, get rid of anything that you don't.
4. Calm your bedroom. This room needs to be a relaxing oasis that encourages rest and rejuvenation. It's an essential for everyone. Clear off your nightstand so it contains only books, a good light, and a bowl or tray to corral your essentials like glasses and lipbalm (not your phone!).
5. Edit, edit and edit some more. I'm always taking things away from displays on shelving or tables and from groupings on the walls. Stand back and look at your vignettes with an essentialist perspective (pro tip: take a photo and look at it) and edit things down a little so only the most meaningful and inspirational sing to you.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on creating an essentialist home. What does (or would) yours look like?