A minimalist home is about much more than just interior design. It needs you to make some active lifestyle choices, finds LAKSHMI KRUPA

When it comes to minimalism, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are the rock stars. The stories on their website theminimalists.com of journeying from debts and lost jobs during the recession to becoming world-famous by simply choosing to live minimally have inspired thousands. One hundred thousand, to be precise – that’s how many monthly readers the site boasts of.

So what is minimalism? At its core, it’s a way of living that relies on the principle that less is more. When you choose a minimalist lifestyle, the impact spills over to your home; and vice versa, for once you go minimalist in your home, there’s no going back.

Having a minimalist home comes with many benefits. Think, the fewer things in your home, the less of your precious weekend you spend cleaning and organising, and more time enjoying the things that truly matter. Minimalism is not just about white rooms and hidden cupboards. It borrows from a deeper Zen that seeps into a home and its inhabitants, and includes shunning mindless consumerism and hoarding.

Max the minimum

“The main objective in minimalist homes is to not go overboard with anything,” says Sumitra Vasudevan of Aprobuild, “To give a feel of largeness and openness, we suggest the use of colours that allow light to seep in.” The point is to only bring things you absolutely need and keep it that way. “It requires people to accustom themselves to think a certain way. If you have a shelf and want to keep one art object on it, go out and pick that one object. There’s no room for any more,” says Vasudevan.

At her office in Adyar, interior designer Lakshmi S.V. has gone fully minimalist. “We use this space as our office, for meetings, and for holding design classes.” The dominant colour scheme is white, giving the room an airy feel while colour pops up from different corners. “We strongly recommend against lofts,” says Lakshmi. When people know there are lofts, they tend to hoard and collect things they don’t really need. At the most, one loft is all you need. The same applies to storage spaces. “While designing a minimalist TV unit, we make space for every item including the remote control. After that, it’s up to the family to ensure they don’t burden it with more things, as it will go against what they have strived for,” says Lakshmi.

Lifestyle choice

Saritha Rao, city-based writer who strongly believes in minimalism, says, “I was a hoarder. I wanted my home to reflect that I was well-travelled and picked up trinkets wherever I went. It all changed when we had to pack and move to Mumbai to a much smaller home.” Rao was astounded by the number of things she had accumulated and the sheer effort it took to let them go. After spending an entire weekend just disposing, she decided to say no to ‘collecting’.

“It helps that I am married to a minimalist. Together, we now consciously avoid accumulating. We have, in fact, discovered that the more we free up our home, the more minimal we want to be.”

Saritha often ‘freecycles’ — gives away stuff she has outlived to people who might find a use for them or donates them to charities. She also requests friends to not give her ‘things’ as gifts.

Minimalists encourage you to gift people time rather than things — for instance, take them to a concert instead of buying them a vase they might or might not like. Saritha collected Rs. 5,000 from selling various gifts she had received over the last year and donated it to charity.

De-clutter help

If you are looking to de-clutter your home or make minimalism a habit, there are a few options online. The Moore Market page on Facebook lets you put up old and used home products for sale. Or try Freecycle Chennai, also on FB.

Here, you can give away for free goods you don't need or use anymore to someone who might make use of it. The page talks of how these goods would simply “rot in your house and occupy space (physical and mental)”.  Check out websites like becomingminimalist.com and blogs like MySimplerLife.

Even easier, hold a garage sale in your colony and get all the neighbours to participate. You can give away the proceeds to charity or use the money for a community project.

Finally, regularly spring-clean your home and get rid of everything you have collected — stuff that you might repair; stuff that you might need; stuff that might be valuable.

Going absolutely minimal is not for the faint-hearted, but even adopting a few of these ideas would be a great way to reduce some of your clutter. As psychologists say, removing clutter from around you helps clear up your mind as well.