For the past few years, small spaces have been gaining major ground in the design and real estate world. Part of the phenomenon has to do with people moving away from the suburbs and back into the cities, where square footage is a premium. Another reason is that homeowners are becoming more environmentally conscious and aware of their carbon footprints. Plus, there are the Swedes and the Danish who are able to make the art of living minimally both stylish and cozy.

But how is the regular Joe-homeowner supposed to navigate this minimalist landscape? Even if you don’t live in a tiny house, these philosophies of finding balance and living with only what you need can be put into practice in your own life. Below we give you eight simple steps to begin your new life as a minimalist. We would have given you ten, but we’re trying to work on simplifying…

  1. Find a reason. Before you start any lifestyle-changing routine, you need to ask yourself why you are doing it. In the case of minimalism, are you doing it to simplify your life? To have less clutter around the house? Downsizing? To find ways to cut back in certain areas of your life to save for others? You’re the only one who can find the reason for you—once you’ve answered that, it’s time to move on to step two.
  2. Scrap the duplicates. Have you ever wondered why you need three sets of measuring cups (assuming you aren’t a professional baker)? Or why you have twelve pairs of sunglasses or six bottles of unopened hand soap under the bathroom sink? Don’t worry: you aren’t the only one prone to stocking up on life’s “necessities.” In your new life as a minimalist, however, you’ll soon realize that you can only use one set of measuring cups at a time, so maybe it’s time to let the others go. Once you’ve gone through your house sorting out all the duplicates—“tech-y” stuff like HDMI cables included—you’ll be one step closer to a minimalist lifestyle. P.S. If you come across something during your duplicate cleanse that is broken, this is a time when you can tell yourself “If it’s broke; don’t fix it.” If this thing has been sitting around your house unused and broken, chances are you don’t need it.
  3. Quality over quantity. This is something you can apply to everything from home furnishings to your own wardrobe. While at first, you may not love the idea of investing more than you had planned on a mixer, for example, one that comes with all the attachments and lasts years is better than cluttering up your kitchen with a bunch of mismatched knickknacks.
  4. Create a clutter-free zone. Often one of the most difficult challenges of tackling a minimalist lifestyle is where to put all the stuff ? That’s why we recommend declaring one zone in your house “Clutter Free.” It could be as simple as the kitchen countertops or a corner of the living room for beginners. Once it becomes a habit, the “clutter-free mantra” begins to seep into other areas of the home.
  5. Catagorize. The idea is simple (disclaimer: we borrowed it from Marie Kondo)—by categorizing the items in your home, it’s easier to de-clutter and keeps everything in its place.
  6. One in; one out. If you have children, you may have practiced this following an extravagant Christmas or birthday—for every new toy that comes into the house, an old one needs to go. This idea can be applied to other areas of your life as well: clothing, kitchen gadgets, technology (please don’t keep archaic iPhones in the home!)…the list goes on.
  7. Go paperless. Not only is it good for the environment; it’s good for your soul. Raise your hand if you don’t pay bills online in the 21st See? Most of us already use automatic payments for things like utilities and credit card bills, so you probably don’t need that stuffed envelope arriving in the mail each month to remind you to pay Austin Energy. SEED tip: even though they aren’t destroying trees, you might want to go ahead and click “Unsubscribe” to the dozens of newsletters that clog up your inbox every day. It’s just good practice on your way to leading a life less cluttered.
  8. Simplify mealtime. Now that we’ve all survived Y2K, you can throw out the notion of stockpiling canned goods and other non-perishables. Meals in the 21st century are fresher and more localized than they were in the 1980s. Embrace your inner pioneer spirit by making smaller meals, using leftovers and shopping for a few days worth of food vs. a few weeks. You can even use delivery services like Instacart or PrimeNow if you hate trekking up and down the aisles of a grocery store.

A great time to tackle a new minimalist lifestyle is after moving into a new home. If you’re in the market, reach out to us at SEED to find the place that’s just right.