Friday, November 20, 2015

Minimalism and Decorating

interior by Nicole Franzen. Source.
This is minimalistic decor, as a style of decorating. Not what I'm talking about.

Can the two ever be compatible?

In March of 2014, I flexed my minimalist muscles and eliminated over 500 things from my home. (To be truthful, I am still in the process of eliminating them. There are books still in the garage.)

The next month, I spent a great deal of time--and money--buying stuff and transforming it for a makeover of my mother's bedroom.

Recently, it happened again. Everyday, Mom bagged up stuff to remove from the house--and as she was taking that out the back door, I was coming in the front with bags and bags of stuff to transform another room and decorate it.

Do I simply have contradictions in my personality? Are these two endeavours even remotely reconcilable?

It is cliche, but true: minimalism is about living with less. It's about decluttering, letting go, getting rid of stuff. At least to start. The goal, as I see it, is to live only with what is essential to your life whether that's a backpack and good shoes and lots of socks or a modest house, a yard, kids and a dog (and all that goes with that.) It's about buying only what's really necessary when it is really needed. (And then asking yourself, is it really necessary? Is it really needed?) You could say it is quite anti-consumerism. It's about being uber intentional.

Decorating, however, is not anti-consumerism. Not at all. Even in the world of DIY decorating (and maybe especially in the world of DIY decorating) one has to buy all kinds of stuff to make the room work. Line, shape, colour, texture, balance, unity, contrast. These are the tools to create harmony and beauty. A mirror, for example, can't be just any old thing one has on hand. It has to conform to specific dimensions. The frame needs to be a certain finish to either blend in or stand out from the other elements in the room. The shape should be just so.

The gorgeous Trumeau mirror my husband made for my Mom's dressing room during the Fall 2015 One Room Challenge. Most definitely, not minimalist mirror frame!

What brings the two together? Draw a venn diagram. Label on circle minimalism and the other decorating.The intersection? William Morris, of course.

It is quite OK if, for you, beauty is essential.

I believe it is--and, I'll take it even further.
I believe beauty is an essential component of being a minimalist. 

One perfect set of dishes, for example, eliminates many that may be just so-so. One perfect pair of jeans replaces five mediocre ones. A pair of perfect mirrors eliminates ten held onto "just in case." The best drill you can afford, the best couch makes so many other less satisfactory purchases unnecessary. (In fact, I read on a blog somewhere that someone's father had given her the advice to buy the best bed, table, and couch she could afford and all the rest would sort itself out. I wish I had had that advice!) This is one of those lessons you can learn after much trial and error (and money wasted) or you can embrace from the get-go. 

One doesn't need much, (that's the minimilaist part) but what one has--that can be beautiful (the "decor" part). 


Lisa @ Lisa Moves said...

I struggle with this concept so much! It is so hard to only have that which you think is the best and most beautiful version of something--I would kill for a pair (or multiple pairs) of chiang mai dragon curtains, but that's about $2500 for a one pair of curtains. Would I cherish them and love them forever? Yes, but there's SO MANY other more important things that I could spend $2500 on. On the other hand, I buy a lot of things that are "good enough", where if I went without for a while and saved my pennies I could have something better. (But probably still not $2500 curtains.)

Alana in Canada said...

I thought very seriously of making a roman shade for a very small window in my house from Ming Dragon. It is beautiful.

I think drapes would be too risky for you and all the moving you do--and all the different window sizes. A pillow, though, for the bed, or, when the kids get older, for the couch--that would be amazing.

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