The Curse of The Minimalist Aesthetic

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  1. It’s been about two years now since my spouse agreed to go minimalist with me. I had done it before, but I wanted to give him a chance to seek out the lifestyle for himself. Our struggle has been the minimalist “look” or “vibe” that you’re seemingly supposed to have. (Ironically, it often comes across as modern Scandinavian decor.) People who aren’t truly minimalists — who aren’t in it for the philosophy or ideal behind it, and may actually own quite a few unnecessary things — will decorate that way for the “vibe” of the house: everything’s black and white, and maybe silver, with Ikea lamps, lots of plants, etc. Many legitimate minimalists opt for that style, as well. It’s often a very beautiful design and I’m glad it works for so many people! But it can make other minimalists feel like we aren’t really “in the club” if we don’t follow that style. For instance, my husband and I use floor pillows around a palette, instead of a couch, and we have more color in our home than most minimalists would. We have very few actual things (and what we have, we need!) but the look is so different. It’s a shame that people will often judge the quality of your minimalism based on the style of your home. Everyone has different tastes — even minimalists. And although we want to own only those things which bring value and fill a need, we also want to feel at home, and express who we are. And we aren’t all Ikea shoppers, right?

  2. Hi,
    Ive been reading alot of articles on becoming a minimalist and Ive read alot of people going through the same thing. I think you are getting caught up on the label of “minimalist”. There is nothing you get from being considered a textbook minimalist so why strive for the label? Why not adopt the minimalist ways into your life as much as suits you? Think of the minimalist ways as advice on how to help you live a more intentional life. If some of those things dont suit your lifestyle just skip them. Not that I encourage it, but this is how many people treat their religion. They participate in the stuff they want and drop the rest of it. I dont think thats right when it comes to religion but minimalism isnt a religion. We have to remember that minimalism is something people begin to make their lives better. If it isnt working than do what makes you happy. Its okay to live your life alla carte.

  3. I really loved this post. I have been struggling with the idea that I wasn’t a minimalist because I own cute farm animal figures, stuffies, fun blaketts, and posters on my wall, but what this post has helped me see, is that I love All my stuffies and my few small figurines. I love fun colours and patters on bedding, so why should I feel pressure to trash everything I own. The reality is everytime I look at all the things on my wall and all (7) of my figurines, it brings me joy. I use my colourful wolf blanket every night, and my stuffies can help bring me out of a panic attack. My point is that I use and LOVE everything I own. So even if my space doesn’t “look like minimalism” I have gotten rid of so much and my space is tidy and full of things I use and love. Thank you so so much for helping me realise this! Sorry for the very long comment

    1. Hi Ace, thank you for sharing your story and for taking the time to comment. Love your version of a minimalist space—that what it should be like. It is personalised to what’s important to you, not bound by the standards of the internet.

  4. What a relatable post. I agree that we are all different and shouldn’t compare ourselves with others. I don’t aim to have the perfect aesthetic that a lot of minimalists “sell” out there… I do the best I can according to my personal values and interests. Thanks for sharing this article!

  5. I purchased your book this morning. I look forward to listening to it. I think that minimalism means something different to esch person. For me, it really means less STUFF that I have to tend to and it means open SPACE in my home, my car, my backpack, etc. All of this results in an overall calm feeling for me. Great article.

  6. Dear Masa,
    thank you for this post! I am not a minimalist, in the sense that I did not make a vow to become one, but I’ve always been curious about the subject, as I don’t own too much stuff. Just few days ago I made a research on the Internet to have a look to minimalists’ houses and I was struck by what I saw. They all looked like as if they lived in an Ikea catalogue, I felt a sense of coldness and fake. I could never live in a place where it seems there is lacking of real life. I surely appreciate order and cleanliness but still there must be evidences of life in one’s home!
    What you say reassure me about the honesty of your journey in this minimalist adventure and make me feel more “normal” about the visual of my house, that is very old and will never look like what I saw on the web.
    I would like to thank you for your posts that are very inspiring for me and helped me get rid of stuff I didn’t deserve anymore. That made me feel better and with more space, outside but most of all, inside.
    Warm greetings from Italy!

    1. I love how you added that there must be evidence of life in one’s home! That’s so true. I do find myself sometimes trying to make it looks a display home more than a home that has been and is lived in. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this Simona and glad to hear that you’re making these positive changes 🙂

  7. Great post! I am in a very similar mindset – I could never sleep if there were dishes in the sink or the house wasn’t tidy. It caused great anxiety in me! I have since converted my life into a pursuit of hygge, which is less minimalism and more intent with my home in order to minimalise my anxiety and be content in my home. But I find myself constantly desiring to clean in an almost OCD way to keep that peace.

  8. After reading this, I’m struck by how much energy we all seem to invest in measuring ourselves and measuring others — and judging, judging, judging! Seems like way too much focus on whether or not we’re failing. Why not focus on our successes on the path of life, little or big? Minimalism is a journey and not a destination. My version of minimalism is making a daily effort to choose everything in my life by my own standard of it’s value in my life. There’s no emphasis on “white space,” a count of the items I own, a measure of how often I use something, what someone else will think. Since I’m on a path to become live more of my life like a “digital nomad,” my measure is “will I want to take it with me” when I move to my next home?

    1. Thanks for your insight Linda. It’s such a tricky thing this judging business. We all know well to tell others not to do it or to be kinder to themselves, but should really be listening to our own advice. Good on you! Best of luck on your journey 🙂

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I, too, have often felt like I wasn’t minimalist enough after a Pinterest overload. Your words have helped re-inspire me to continue the journey and appreciate what I am doing.

  10. Thanks for the post Masa.
    It seems that people today confuse minimalism as the end instead of the means. On Pinterest and other social media you will hear about how you can’t own more than 500 items or other ridiculous objective standards if you are a ‘real’ minimalist. Instead we should focus on how minimalism is the means to reach the end of living intentionality, which will always be different for everyone.

    You could also take this concept and apply it to veganism. Again, veganism is not the end, but instead the means. The end is to eliminate or at least reduce the suffering in this world.

    Anytime you feel enormous pressure to meet a certain standard ask yourself if this ideal is being treated as the end when it should be the means to a more important end.

  11. Great post thanks. I am very new to this and have not really started my Minimalist journey. I have purchased your book and will read this when I get it and start putting things into action. I am looking forward to tweaking my lifestyle to be less materialistic. I live in the country and have cows, sheep, horses, pigs, chickens and dogs (all Vegan) so I will not be aspiring to the look at other’s homes but will have it to suit our environment and life. Thanks again for writing this and I really appreciate that you write these blogs etc.