Real People Reveal How They Started Living More Minimally

published Mar 9, 2017
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

As I look around my apartment, full to the brim with colors, patterns, knick-knacks and throw pillows, the thought occurs to me that I don’t even know where to start living a more minimal lifestyle. Give away everything I own? Before I do something drastic, I’m going to listen to these people whose homes are beautiful and simple. They’ve shared how they started their journey of living minimally.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Robyn shares a Toronto home with her partner Sam and their two dogs Carl and Prune. She shares her advice on how and where to start living minimally:

As with anything in life, there isn’t one approach that will work for everyone. Gretchen Rubin has written about abstainers vs. moderators — are you all or nothing or do you need flexibility? Without question I’m definitely an abstainer. Once I’m committed to something, I’m all-in and the idea of moderation doesn’t work well for me. I’d say start by understanding what will work best for you and create an approach from there.

My other advice is less about where to start and more about where to focus. There’s the short-term aspect of having less stuff — get rid of one item every day, tackle one room at a time, put everything in boxes and only keep what you actually end up using, etc. Then there is the long-term side of minimalism — what is important to me, what are my goals, what makes me happy, is what I’m doing contributing to my long-term plan or my happiness?

The goal isn’t to end up at a set number of items or a space that looks a certain way; instead it’s a shift away from stuff. So long as the focus is tidy drawers and getting rid of a certain number of items, we haven’t moved away from the importance of stuff. Instead, ask yourself what matters most to you. Do the things you have in your life contribute to that or take away from whatever that is?

(Image credit: Adam Stewart)

Drew has been living a minimalist lifestyle for five years, which is on display in his Texas studio. Drew shares his tips for how to start on the road to living more minimally:

1. Be happy with what you own
2. Determine your true necessities
3. Get rid of items you no longer use
4. Take part in doing things that provide meaning, purpose, and happiness
5. Constantly reevaluate your approach

(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

Lisa and her husband recently moved from Sydney, Australia to a rental in Nashville, Tennessee. Her advice for how to start is visual:

As a photographer, I’m a very visual person and can get creatively overwhelmed, so I started with one inspiration photo per room. Pinterest was my ultimate resource, of course! This was also my first time decorating a house from scratch, and I knew I wanted it to feel comfortable and livable pretty quickly. Having a clear visual direction helped me avoid overthinking everything!

(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

More about minimalism: