Is a minimalist house a home?

  
‘It’s a bit bare, isn’t it?’ was the reaction from my sister to our newly minimised front room. She went on to tell me how I needed some more (unspecified) ‘stuff’ to make it ‘feel like home’.

It made me realise just how uncomfortable people are being in a space without things to distract them. I was just like my sister, if I saw an empty space then I had to fill it, it was an excuse to go shopping for something that I probably didn’t need and certainly wouldn’t add value to my life.

Now we’re taking a more considered approach to the items we decide to keep and display in our home. We are within touching distance of our front room being completed (it’s about 95% there) but it is far more empty than the living room in our previous home.

For reference, this is a picture of our old living room:

  
As you can see it’s crammed with books (we didn’t read), DVDs (we didn’t watch), and CDs (we didn’t listen to).

This is a picture of our old dining room:

  
This was home to my picture wall (of which I was stupidly proud), and my tea sets (which I collected despite not having enough space to display them).

As you can see, there was a silly amount of stuff crammed in, lots of visual noise, and an awful lot of dusting!

I’m very proud now to say that we have managed to reduce all those books etc in the old front room and the trinkets in the dining room to just this:

  
And all those pictures and clutter in the dining room have been culled to this:

  
The visual noise has been reduced dramatically and the new rooms feel light and airy despite the black walls (I will put up some proper pictures of them when the shutters are built). I feel far calmer in the new rooms than I ever did in the old ones where something always needed fixing, I was worried about something breaking, and even though it looked ‘homely’ in the traditional sense it was more of a burden than a home.

Finding the old pictures makes me realise just how far we’ve come and I’m giving ourselves a virtual pat on the back but with the knowledge that will still have some way to go.

And as for my sister’s question. My answer was: no!

I’d be really interested to hear what reactions you have had to your newly minimised homes. 

M

19 thoughts on “Is a minimalist house a home?

  1. I can’t honestly say that our home is minimal. It’s probably more like your before pictures now, but less cluttered than it was. I’m pretty happy with the number of things in our reception rooms. I’d still like to donate a few more books and some cds, but am waiting until I feel happy to let them go. There’s more work to do upstairs though, it’s a work in progress shall we say. Excuse my nosiness, but it will be interesting to see the after pictures of your rooms.

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    1. Not nosey at all Ann, I find it really interesting to see pictures of other people’s homes. I’ll post some proper pictures of the reception rooms when they’re done. It definitely a work in progress for us too – upstairs is key and so is the kitchen. M

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  2. There definitely are ways to make a room look inviting without the need for visual clutter. Remember one ornament loving relative reacting in a vaguely jawdropped way the first time she visited…

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  3. I also thought the first photo’s were after! My family resist me getting rid of our bookshelves in our living room – I could easily accommodate the books in my study – but it is their home too so I have compromised by keeping the shelves but having far less stuff on them. I love a picture wall! A lot of the pictures I have decluttered from the rest of my home have come together on a picture wall in my study. I don’t mind the slightly cluttered look in there – it actually stimulates me which is good a I am supposed to work in there! Looking forward to seeing the after shots! Another great post! Teresa.

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  4. ‘Is a minimalist house a home?’ you ask …. yes, of course it is …. in some ways more so than a cluttered one. Because each and every thing in that house is there for a reason, because the owners want it there instead of ‘stuff’ being piled here there and everywhere for the sake of it.

    There is more room to entertain your friends, more room to get down to whatever you want to get down too, dancing round the living room, cooking up a storm in the kitchen …. there is always space. Especially there is always space for friends to come and eat, drink and be merry ….. even if on occasion they have to bring their own glasses and plates.

    I love your ‘before’ pictures, you have less in them than my ‘after’ pictures, but we are all on a journey and no ones journey can be duplicated.

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  5. I can understand the de-cluttering. I don’t have any desire to do it, but then I’ve never really been into buying lots of stuff I don’t need. The pictures I own I love, they mean something to me. The books on the bookshelf are my collection, they’re the books that I’ve read and have shaped my thoughts. Why the black walls though, I’d find that terribly depressing?

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    1. Sounds like you’ve got the right level of stuff for you already wychdoctor, and brilliant that you’ve been so thoughtful in all your purchases. Wish I could say the same! Admittedly the black walls aren’t to everyone’s taste but they are surprisingly cosy and an antidote to the white walls of the rest of the house! If you’re in London, come round and take a look! M

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  6. I like the rainbow effect of the books in your before picture (which I too mistook for an after!). That arrangement appeals to me as it gives a synthesis to the books. I also love rainbows 😉

    It is strange to look back at photos of where we have come from and notice how far we’ve come. I’ve recently made photobook for my daughter and in the background of several shots is so much clutter! I want to do a collage of snapshots of the background clutter. I never realised how much background noise I was living with! C

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    1. Thanks! We don’t have enough books to do the rainbow effect now – I reckon we got rid of about 160+ books. Can’t beat a rainbow though! Digging those pictures out was a bit strange actually. You can’t see it in the pix, and I wish I had pix of it, but we had an under stairs cupboard that was so full of rubbish! Would love to see your collage of background shots. M

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  7. I like your style but I agree living rooms are calmer without books, CDs and DVDs. I think the nicest thing about your old dining room is the parquet floor not the stuff. Thanks for sharing these photos with us.

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    1. Thank you Claire! The parquet flooring was beautiful –
      Frank laid it himself (I was very impressed!). We sent all the DVDs and CDs to music magpie and got a couple of hundred quid for them – decluttering the home while building up the bank balance, perfect! M

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      1. I’ve used music magpie too – it’s slow but I like the fact they collect. At least you’ve got a photo of the beautiful parquet!

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