November 20, 2011

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November 20, 2011

sunday’s small space.

Images from: Dwell Magazine

An article in Dwell magazine focused on the 600 SF living arrangement of architect Michelle Linden of atelier a+d. It was a renovation project with a budget of $25,000. The space is laid out really well and the interior exhibits many minimalist design concepts including:

  • Compact living space. The small footprint of the home is a big plus in minimalist design. Having a smaller space means less room for clutter, less energy to run off of, and more room for creative multi-purpose areas.
  • Natural elements. The brick accent wall is an amazing natural feature within the space. Bare construction materials such as brick, concrete, steel add character to a minimalist home without adding paint and wall art.
  • Open kitchen and living design. The less walls there are the larger the space can feel. Instead of walls, use furniture or other practical items to distinguish spaces… in this case using a simple multi-purpose table as the room divider between these two spaces keeps the space multi-functional and open.

Some design suggestions I have for making the space even more minimal:

  • The living room sofa is visually heavy, even though it is technically a small loveseat, they are many more options out there that would appear lighter and have a more “open-air” design so that they do not make the space appear even smaller than it truly it.
  • The dark floors can also make the space seem smaller. I am lover of dark wood floors though as well, so I could definitely see myself foregoing the light color on this particular aspect as well. But just keep that in mind that dark colors make tiny spaces feel even tinier!
  • The visible clutter pros and cons… while there are alot of belongings on display within this space, there is an argument for their being exposed and it is that they provide the space with practical accent pieces. For example the dishes stored on the open shelf above the stove is an elegant feature that says, we live here. Alot of minimalist design can appear unlivable, but doing things like this can make the space feel more lived in. Minimzing the amount on display would make cleaning easily and the space feel more minimal though. The hallway closet on the other hand could easily be concealed with a modern built in cabinet.
  • Not a fan of the bathroom. Looks slightly institutional with those wall tiles and the long fluorescent light fixture… I would have taken it a very different direction but to each there own!

Would you enjoy living in this space? Does it have too much going on for your taste or does it simply look like a “livable” minimalist home?

November 19, 2011

declutter your life – first step to a minimalist design.

Image courtesy of: puuikibeach

So you’ve decided you want to try this minimalism thing out, huh? First things first then: Game plan for getting rid of your junk. For me, this was the exciting part. Going through my cramped 600 square foot apartment and throwing stuff away was quite liberating. The outcome was even more liberating when I realized just how perfect living in 600 square feet can be without all the useless stuff laying around, clogging up my closet, drawers, and counter space. So where do you start?

1. One room at a time. Focus on one area of your home or apartment and attack it. Seriously, attack it. You need to approach this decluttering step with ruthlessness. Your job is to throw out anything that you do not need on a day to day basis or a month to month basis (depending on how minimalist you are venturing).

2. What to keep and where to put it. Keep things that are purposeful but keep them out of site. One thing many people love about minimalist design is the clean, polished look that a minimalist space has. You don’t see contact cases and saline solution sitting on the bathroom counter in all those lovely minimalist home pictures, do you? Putting belongings away in a designated drawer when you are not using them is essential to keeping a space in tip top minimalist condition. This includes the kitchen. No one wants to see your George Foreman grill and blender sitting on your counter. Store it somewhere else. Don’t have room in any cabinets? There will be room once this decluttering step is over, don’t worry.

3. What to throw away. Anything and everything that you have not used consistently within the past month. In terms of your wardrobe, throw away anything you have not worn in 6 months… no keeping those skinny jeans or those prom dresses for reminiscing. If you get skinny enough to wear those jeans at some point in the future, then you can just treat yourself to a new pair. There’s no point in cluttering up your home with things that are not practical. Trust me, your dreams of a designer minimalist home will thank me.

4. What to minimize. Sometimes we just have too many practical or daily use items. Determine where you can minimize your supply whether its clothes, beauty products, kitchen utensils and dishware, electronics, etc. Set them aside and determine whether to give, sell, or donate.

5. Give it away. Have a friend that would love some of your shoes? Give them to her. It’s a kind gesture that will mean the world to her, and will mean less stuff for you. Clearing out your non-essential, but worthwhile belongings such as clothes, shoes, and your DVD collection can be easily done in a generous manner by inviting your friends over to pillage through while having a good time with some beer and barbeque.

6. Sell your crap. Either on eBay, craigslist, or through a garage sale. Get rid of nonessential items and make some cash while doing so! Sell small, easily shippable items on eBay, and post listings for larger items such as furniture or exercise equipment on craigslist so that there is less hassle and people can just come and pick it up. will give you cash for electronics, but you may have better luck on eBay, you’ll just have to give it a whirl.

7. Donate. Clothes, furniture, accessories… donation centers will take almost anything. When I moved from Lubbock, Texas to Dallas, pre-minimalist, I had absolutely no desire to pack and haul my junk… so the day before I moved I had a big yard sale and basically gave almost everything away. Made a decent profit though! I guess if you are selling a whole house worth of stuff that’ll happen. Anything I did not sell by 2:00 in the afternoon was picked up by the American Foundation for the Blind. All in all it was a good day for starting me on the path to minimalism.

Hopefully this gives you a general idea of how to start minimizing your belongings and eliminating clutter.  Good luck and let me know how it goes!

November 19, 2011

types of minimalism.

The minimalist path you choose will have a significant impact on the design of your home or apartment.

An extreme minimalist will do just as the name implies… take the lifestyle to the extreme. Reducing their belongings to the bare minimum. This includes getting rid of furniture, accessories, and electronics that are deemed unnecessary such as bed frames, televisions, etc. The purpose of this extreme minimizing of belongings is to promote a more spontaneous, free lifestyle that is not tied down to inanimate objects, physically or financially. The saying is true that the more possessions we own, the more our possessions own us.

A practical or rational minimalist will implement the concepts of minimalism to a lesser degree than the extreme minimalist, but is still pursuing a more simple, focused life with less strain on their wallets and their wellbeing. As I stated previously, I fall into this category. I have no desire to have an unfurnished apartment and I don’t plan on moving without planning as I am a minimalist with pets… but I am content with minimizing my furniture and accessories down to what I would consider the essentials such as a bed, table/counter, desk, a few seating options, storage options that promote a zero-clutter space, and functional, precise accent pieces.

Whether you are an extreme or practical minimalist, there are many design options to consider that will fit your lifestyle and your budget. Many people assume minimalist design to be stark, impersonal, empty, but if done well a minimalist home can provide peace of mind, opportunities for personalization, and an efficiently maximized use of one’s space.

November 19, 2011

my minimalism defined.

There are many ways to define the concept of minimalism, but in general, it is a lifestyle that promotes living with less. Paring down your belongings to the essentials is a growing trend as people realize the frivolity of accumulating material possessions, especially in today’s economy. Minimalism means reducing the number of possessions, tackling debt, and learning what it means to be satisfied with a life of contentment verses wanting. The minimalist lifestyle focuses on the joy of less.

In terms of design, minimalism is the design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect. A minimalist design involves the concepts of simplicity, functionality, and efficiency within a given environment, in order to optimize the use of a space and have less visual clutter. There are many different styles of minimalist design based on the minimalist lifestyle level one adopts.

I believe myself to be a practical minimalist. Not to say that the extreme minimalists are not practical, but I do not plan to uproot my life at any given moment, nor count my possessions, nor live in a space with less than $100 worth of furniture that I gathered from a thift store. No, my minimalist life is practical in the sense that, any given person, at any given time, can mirror it. I am your typical recent college graduate with a significant amount of student loan debt who is simply seeking a way of life that allows me a greater level of control and contentment. I found that through minimalism. Now I want to combine my passion for design with my passion for minimalism and share just how easy it is to pursue a life of less while still maintaining a personal environment in which to love and grow.