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Minimalism – What Should You Keep, and What Should You Throw Out?

Minimalism began as an artistic movement in the latter half of the 1960s to showcase artistic capabilities with cleaner designs and no flashy elements. The artistic movement caused a riot. It didn’t take long for people to shift their focus onto clean, simple, and straight-forward designs. 

De-cluttering and minimalism eventually found its’ way into design magazines and decorator catalogs. People took on minimalism as an aesthetic and began to reevaluate their living spaces. The first thing they had to ask themselves was, ‘what should I keep and what should I throw out?’

Understanding Minimalism

Modern interior with ceiling lamp

Credits: Renopedia, Fore Front interior

Several decades ago, designers and decorators focused on more – and then some more. The idea of free spaces was pretty foreign for the world before the late 1960s. Homes were decorated to be as flashy and flamboyant as possible.

This might’ve been, perhaps in part, because of the fact that flashier decor was considered equivalent to better aesthetics and home designs. Living spaces were crammed to their maximum capacity with big furniture pieces, layers upon layers of fabrics, and decorative items in every possible corner of the home. 

Eventually, people began to realize this was just a little too much – literally. Concurrently, minimalism found its way into design catalogs. The aesthetic was initially seen as a counter-aesthetic to the existing crammed designs. 

Minimalism eventually went on from becoming a counter-aesthetic into the next big thing. People began to recognize and appreciate the need for free space, function-focused furniture, and decluttered spaces. Manufacturers would eventually combine functionality with aesthetic details to further propagate the decorative style.

How to Live Minimally

Create a Focal Point and Work Around it

Luxury sphere glass gold accent side table

Shown in the Image: Vernay Luxury Sphere Glass Pendant Light

Contrary to popular belief, minimalist spaces aren’t completely devoid of accessories. Neither is it true that every accessory has to serve a function and can’t be used for purely decorative purposes. 

However, every accessory has to be in sync with one another and accentuating the focal point of the room – the central focus of it. For example, the focal point in the bedroom is, obviously, the bed. Table lamps in the room need to accentuate the bed. Alongside with the fact that they need to serve their purpose, illumination. 

For the living room, the central focus would be the sitting area (couches and ottomans). The coffee table needs to be in sync with the sitting area, as would the lamps, the paintings, and so forth. 

Basically, everything needs to have a purpose. That purpose surrounds the focal center of the room. The focal center, in turn, has to serve the rooms designated purpose. In this case, the bedroom needs to be where you sleep and the living room needs to be where you’re seated. 

De-clutter, De-clutter, and Then De-clutter Some More

Clutter free organized home interor

Credits: Renopedia, Todz’n Terier

Minimalism follows the motto, ‘if you want it, you’ll need to throw something else away to make room for it.’ De-cluttering is a necessity to live the minimalist lifestyle. 

Look around your living room, what do you feel is necessary to keep around and what isn’t? What serves a purpose and what doesn’t? What should you keep and what shouldn’t you?

Tables and spaces are technically clutter magnets. You tend to place stuff wherever you find space. Eventually, you’ll run out of space and end up with clutter. To truly embrace the minimalist lifestyle, you need to eliminate what you don’t need. 

Set up a priority checklist over what would constitute as being worthy of being kept and what wouldn’t. List everything under three categories:

  • What should be kept
  • What should be stored
  • What should be thrown away

Organize everything based on needs, wants, and then differentiate between the two based on priorities. Keep storage to a minimum. Be thorough in this process and go over each room every after a few months again with a fresh set of eyes. You’ll find that there are more ways that you can simplify every time.

Pick the Right Color Schemes and Textures

Soft color schemes with perfect layered light

Credits: Renopedia, Todz’n Terier

The right color tones and schemes can make or break your living space. Certain color themes go well with certain aesthetics. For example, contemporary designs and aesthetics tend to feature bold colors, rustic ones tend to have more earthy tones, and then minimalistic ones feature neutral and muted colors. 

The color range in minimalistic aesthetics go from beige to light grey. They’re fresh, muted, and clean. Muted and light colors also brighten up living spaces by allowing light to bounce from one corner of the room to the other. 

However, a room with only neutral tones can tend to feel bland. To counter this, decorators advise using variable textures in your living space. For example, knitted throw pillows, sheepskin rugs, and rustic wall-hangings.

Avoid Accumulating ‘Stuff’

Modern interior decor

Credits: Renopedia, Design Story

You’d be shocked to know that people store ‘stuff’ in kitchen drawers, storage boxes and cabinets throughout the years. If you were to analyze the things in those spaces today, you won’t be able to find use for any of them. 

The prime rule in living minimally is to balance what you bring in with what you throw out. Never let one overpower the other. Too much would lead to cluttering your space and too less would reduce functionality.

Colleen Madsen recommends the, ‘one in, one out’ rule to practice minimalism. For everything that you buy, search for something that you can forgo in its place. 


In conclusion, minimal aesthetics gained traction in the latter half of the 1960s when flashy aesthetics became too much to handle. It began as an artistic form of expression and later transformed into an interior decorating aesthetic. 

You can follow minimalism pretty easily, but it needs to be maintained. For everything you bring into your home, you need balance it with what you throw away. Divide everything into three broad categories; need, want, and store. 

For more information, visit Light Atelier.