Simple living

Minimalist rules I don’t follow

When starting to read about minimalism as a lifestyle, it’s easy to get caught up in all the minimalist rules and guidelines set up to help you live life as a “true minimalist”, as it were. But do we really need to follow them all in order to call ourselves minimalists?

I actually went ahead and googled ‘minimalist rules worth breaking’ when researching this topic, but all I found were articles and blog posts about what minimalist rules to follow and not one word on which minimalist rules one could do well to break.

Since I believe that minimalism looks different to everyone and that everyone needs to apply their own take on minimalism to suit their own life, below are some tongue-in-cheek observations on a few minimalist guidelines that I have chosen to disregard in my pursuit of a minimalist life.

1) All white interior

It needs to be said – choosing a minimalist lifestyle does not equal being doomed to live in a cold, white box of an apartment! Admittedly, white walls and sparse furniture can be quite alluring, and scrolling through photos of well planned, typical minimalist interior spaces can be very satisfying. And I should probably caveat this by saying that all-white interiors aren’t necessarily cold or uninviting, not by a long shot. But – opting out of the whole white interior trend does not make you less of a minimalist.

When renovating our flat, Chris and I painted two of our living room walls in a greyish blue color, one wall in our hall way in a dark, almost black color, and our bedroom in a dark blueish green color with a mint green contrast wall. We couldn’t be happier with how the color scheme in our apartment has tied the interior together, making the rooms seems more harmonic. I like sparse decor and tidy surfaces as much as the next guy (who’s this next guy everyone talks about, anyway?), but in our current apartment dark wall colors gives the flat an extra dimension in terms of roominess.

2) The lack of throw pillows

As noted by many of the minimalist Facebook groups I frequently visit, many minimalists seem to consider throw pillows on the living room couch as superfluous clutter that needs to be minimized and thrown out. With the evolving of the ‘hygge’ trend in minimalism, though, I expect that these kinds of objects might start to become more favorable. I, for one, am keeping my throw pillows, thank you very much! They make my sofa seem more inviting and I love using them for additional support when relaxing on the sofa, so I do not consider them pointless nor as meaningless clutter.

3) Empty shelves

A minimalist trend seems to suggest that shelves are decorative in themselves and that keeping stuff on them clutter their visual appearance. My shelves are used for the storing of books and other valued objects that I want displayed, and if I don’t need a shelf for storage… Well, I’d rather remove the shelf altogether.

Empty walls, on the other hand… Let’s just say I don’t fill an empty wall just because it’s empty. And I’ve come to grow fond of a large empty space on one of our living room walls. I do try to practice a tad bit of ‘intentionalism’, as it were, to my interior décor.

4) Definite number of belongings

I don’t count my belongings. I don’t live by a specific number that I let dictate how many clothes I have in my closet, how many pieces of furniture I have in my living room or how many, or how many forks I have in my kitchen drawers (it reminds me; I only have four forks and sometimes I am painfully aware that four forks are too few…).

Ok. So, most of the minimalist bloggers or influencers I follow do not mention a particular number of items that are the ‘maximum’ number of belongings you’re allowed to have, I must caveat. But – when people are starting out to adopt a minimalist life style, many are concerned and frequently ask “How many ‘such and such items’ should I keep?” If I am to answer, the answer would be that there’s not a definite number. Minimalism is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of lifestyle, after all. What works for me might not work for you.

If you happen to be into numbers and all that jazz anyway and think a number could help you on your minimalist journey, do check out Courtney Craver’s Project 333 over at I’m hearing good things.

5) The sentimental value of things

I know there’s a general idea within the minimalist movement that you should not place sentimental value in things. The idea is that memories reside within you and not within inanimate objects.

While there might be a shame in clinging to the notions of sentimental value if it keeps you from decluttering and minimizing your belongings, I believe that the few things you do choose to hold on to might as well be objects that have some sort of sentimental value to you. In form of being a gift from a loved one or an item that remind you of a special trip you took, for instance.

Minimalism is about letting go of the clutter in order to let you value the things you do care about, is it not? Not detaching yourself from every piece of object you own. Just know to be able to detach yourself should you ever lose any of your sentimental objects. They are only things, after all.

What do you think? What’s the one minimalist “rule” you’re least likely to follow? I’d love to hear about it!



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