Less is more


In the age of Amazon Prime, it’s easier than ever to fill a home with belongings.

With those cool new purchases comes the inevitable question: where am I going to put this?

The need to store possessions has given rise to a robust home organization industry, not to mention plenty of storage facilities.

But not everyone finds satisfaction with filling their homes with stuff. Perhaps inevitably, a new trend seeks to embrace the idea that less is more.

Minimalism is a concept that has been popularized in recent years thanks to writers like The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who run a website and have books and even a documentary on the topic.

Others have been inspired to contemplate their collection of possessions by books like Marie Kondo’s bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

That book is where Whitney Dudzic’s own journey towards a minimalist lifestyle began. Kondo’s book launched a thought process in Dudzic that has turned into a household effort.

“I call it a journey … it’s not something that happens overnight,” Dudzic said. She said she felt a disconnect, like she was always cleaning and overwhelmed with clutter.

Her family didn’t have an excessive amount of items, just the normal amount any family with kids may have. But she and her husband decided to try shedding many of their belongings, increasingly diving into a minimalist lifestyle.

That includes pulling up one of the big, metal storage bins sometimes used for renovations and purging about 50 per cent of their belongings.

“We have really, really decluttered our home,” Dudzic said. But they love it – clean up only takes a short 10 or 15 minute block, and she now thinks long and hard before purchasing anything.

If it’s something they do need, and will use, she often opts to get a high quality item that will last.

Her children might have fewer toys now, but the minimalist approach undertaken by the parents doesn’t seem to have left the kids wanting.

“I haven’t noticed a difference. My son actually says he’s bored less,” she said.

Now that she’s learned to purge, she can be overenthusiastic about it. It was tough to get started, but now if her husband goes looking for something and can’t find it, there’s a good chance she’s removed it from the house.

“I find now it’s just easy for me,” she said.

Their minimalist approach has extended to their social lives and other commitments, an attempt to give the family downtime.

“I’ve also learned to say no,” she said.

Not everyone approaches minimalism with the idea of applying it to their lifestyle in addition to their home organization approach. But there are also some out there who think minimalism means owning nearly nothing and sparse decor.

“Everyone can have their own version of [minimalism]. It does not mean getting rid of everything, or no furniture and blank walls,” said Rebecca Wulkan, a trained professional organizer and another minimalism enthusiast.

For instance, her family loves to read, so they haven’t gotten rid of every book in the house. Conversely, Wulkan has embraced the fact that she and her family are not craft people, and she’s scrapped many of her crafting supplies.

She and her husband have five kids, so it’s imperative to be organized – but minimalism helps gain them time and save money, too.

Minimalism is “going one step further than just making things look nice,” she said. There is a difference between organization and minimalism, she said. The latter is a lifestyle choice, and alters how you view your possessions and involves self-examination about your passions.

By shedding the items you don’t need and aren’t passionate about, you can focus on what you love, she said.

“In minimalism you do a little bit more learning about yourself, about what turns you on, about your joys, about the things that excite you and ignite you. And those are the things you are making a space for,” Wulkan said.

It’s a sentiment that Stephanie Cordova, another professional organizer, agrees with.

Cordova is an advocate of everything in moderation. Being a minimalist doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything you own, especially if it holds a place in your heart.

“Why would you get rid of something you love?” Cordova asked.

Cordova said she hasn’t seen as much pickup of the minimalism trend as she’d like.

“I wish the trend was more popular,” she said, adding she thinks it can be very freeing to let go of things.

A minimalism challenge involves getting rid of things every day for a month, with the twist being the number of things you get rid of is linked to the day. So on the 10th, you would get rid of 10 things. Cordova recently ran a minimalism challenge for some of her online followers.

But Cordova said a big purge can’t be a one and done solution. She suggests ongoing winnowing to maintain the effort.

“You can’t do one minimalist challenge and think you’re done,” she said.

Embracing organization and minimalism can help save you money, she said. It can be as easy as, like one of her clients, discovering you have three bottles of olive oil already when you tackle the pantry.

Brandy Fletcher has been a fan of the minimalist look for much of her life, and a trio of international moves have helped her family see how little they actually need.

All those big moves – they went from St. Albert to Germany, Germany to Australia and then Australia back to St. Albert – have led to a ruthless selection process when it comes time to pack. Only the things they truly loved could make the cut when considering such a long haul

“We’ve seen how we can do it without,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher, who also runs a home business focusing on decor and organization consulting, said this approach means she adores the space they live in. Only the things they really love are on display.

“Every time I walk into my home, I love it,” she said.

Fletcher said she lives in a minimalist fashion because she finds it serene.

“When I come home, I am keen to relax and I find that having less versus having more creates a serenity within the home that can flow from room to room,” she said.



About Author

Victoria Paterson is a Calgary-based freelance writer.