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One question I’ve received multiple times from friends curious about the minimalist lifestyle is “How do you decorate? Are you even allowed to decorate?” Of course you can! You’re allowed to do whatever you want – as far as I can tell there are no set rules for minimalism. There’s this common misconception circling around that if you want to live a minimalistic life you have to cut out all the indulgences such as fashionable decor, miscellaneous furniture pieces, or artwork on the walls; you can only have what you need and nothing more. This isn’t true, not entirely. You also want to keep your happiness in mind, and most people are not happy with a room that is bare with perhaps only a cushion or table, and nothing more. In fact, these little fashionable items that bring us joy also help to brighten our daily lives.
I have a painting in my home that makes me smile every time I see it. It is a beautiful sunflower that a friend of mine hand painted, and I’ve hung proudly in my home. The vibrant yellows and deep browns swirl together, forming a piece that brings a buzz of excitement from looking at it. My friend spent hours creating the piece for me as a birthday gift because she knows how much I love sunflowers, and that lingers in my mind every time I look at the piece. To me, this piece may not be “needed” but it certainly brings me happiness.
The same can be said for you in your own home. Perhaps you have some pieces that fill you with happiness looking at them. Maybe a small pop of color in your otherwise white space helps to put a smile on your face. It’s not realistic to expect that every person must live the same way in order to be a minimalist.
The general rule of thumb for an item, in order to be kept, should fill one of three things: Is it necessary? Does it fill a need? Does it bring you happiness? A bed for example, may not be necessary but it does fill a need and it may bring you happiness. A sink is necessary and fills a need, but may not be beautiful or bring you happiness. A cherished piece of art may not be necessary or fill a need, but it is beautiful and brings you happiness.
When decorating your home, these are the questions you should keep in mind. An item that does not fill a need, is not necessary, or does not bring you happiness should not be kept in your home – there’s no reason to hold onto it. As you decorate your space you want to keep your happiness in mind, and not just your immediate happiness. Weigh the items carefully – will the item continue to bring you happiness for years to come, or is it a momentary happiness you feel? This is where people often get into trouble. They purchase an item thinking it will bring them happiness and then feel regret or guilt from the purchase later down the line. You know yourself better than anyone, so you’re the best judge when it comes to deciding whether an item will bring long term happiness or fill a need. In fact, before you buy anything remember how you feel now, while you’re decluttering, tossing away all those items you once felt were important to purchase – will this be another item you’ll end up decluttering in a few years?RSS feed to receive our updates regularly. Find us on Facebook or Twitter to connect with us and with others.
For tips on how to begin your decluttering journey, you can Start Here, or snag a copy of the 30 Day Challenge (our Minimalism and Decluttering eBook).