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5 Ways to Ease into a Minimalist Lifestyle

Effortless ideas to embrace a minimalist lifestyle.

how to embrace a minimalist lifestyle

I never realized I was a minimalist. Honestly, I still feel like I have too much “stuff”, but I’m always purging, letting go of things that only clutter our home and minds.

When I envision minimalism, I think modern. Reflecting on comments I receive and how I feel when our home becomes too cluttered, I realized that you can live a minimalist lifestyle with traditional taste and apparently, I’ve been doing so all along.

“Clutter smothers. Simplicity breathes.” {Terry Guillemetes}

Some of our minimalism has sprouted out of need. My grandma always said “waste not, want not” and for years, it was an essential part of our lifestyle as Chris was in medical school and residency. We didn’t have money to spend on extras, like decor.

As years passed and we could, I found myself to be more thoughtful with my purchases. Rather than purchasing something to fill a space, we made a commitment to save and purchase what we truly loved, which means that three and a half years after purchasing our home, we’re still decorating.

Purging is also a constant. It’s how I begin each organization project. There’s a misconception that I don’t have messy closets/spaces. I just might take a photo of what our guest bedroom has become this winter. The difference is, I don’t let it spill over into other rooms {there’s an invisible caution tape over the door and the fear of me screaming “don’t go in there” running through the girls’ heads until I have time to tackle it}.

“Organization isn’t about perfection. It’s about efficiency, reducing stress & clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life.” {Christina Scalise}

If you want to embrace the less is more lifestyle, here are 5 ways to ease into a minimalist lifestyle:

  1. Designate a “safe” space for a little chaos. Nothing in our home is perfect. The basement is another example for that. You have to allow chaos to live somewhere when you have children. Or at least I do. The basement is that one place where kids can be kids, get creative, make a mess and I don’t have to repeat myself 9 times begging them to pick it up. In fact, I rarely ask them to. 5 minimalist ideas to embrace
  2. Get everyone involved. We try to make de-cluttering and organizing an adventure. Like “girls, you received so many great gifts at your birthday parties, wouldn’t it be fun to give some of our toys to kids who may not have very many?” They get excited to let go of their things. I assign each kiddo a task like “collect all the markers”, “see how fast you can fill this trash bag” or “all dress up clothes in this bin”.
  3. Take it one space at a time and ask yourself these questions: 
    1. Does it serve a purpose?
    2. Do you use it?
    3. Does it bring you joy?
      • if you answered no to any of these questions, let it go. Pare down to the things you really love and need. The rest is just “stuff”. ideas how to pare down with a less is more approach
  4. Assess how you use the space and how you can use it better. Our bookcases are valuable space that were under-utilized for some time. Rather than decorate them with trinkets, we added baskets which hold household items like batteries, our dvd’s, manuals, etc. The platters were just consuming space in a kitchen cabinet, but can be used when hosting get togethers. We frequently mix drinks at the bar cabinet as well! 
  5. When starting a project, consider how you can blend design and function. I always loved the way a wardrobe looked in a family room, but it consumes a significant amount of space, so it needs to be functional as well. We removed the coat closet in our foyer so in the winter it accommodates coats and in the summer, the same side is filled with throws we’re not using. The drawers hold games, candles, and pillow covers. Another example of this is the lead image – my most frequently used platters and bowls are stored in the hutch for easy access, but also serve as decor. Any time a piece serves multiple purposes, it’s a win in my book, er, home.5 ways to ease into a minimalist lifestyle

I hope you enjoyed these tips to ease into a minimalist lifestyle. My friend Christina recently sent me a list of questions and paired with reader questions, I have so much more to share! Please, if you have any questions or tips, leave them in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

My final tip to embrace a minimalist lifestyle is to realize less can be so much more.

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Originally published January 12, 2018.

entertaining expert and lifestyle blogger Julie Blanner



33 comments on “5 Ways to Ease into a Minimalist Lifestyle”

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this. i’m the same way and it’s a never ending thing I swear. There’s always something that needs to be re-done.

  2. This is such a lovely post! I’ve been trying to implement the less is more approach to my life and I’m actually happy with the results so far. But I still think it’s just a beginning of my journey so I loved all your tips. Since I live with my parents I can’t really get them to love the minimalism style as well 🙁 They take my suggestions as offensive and disrespectful (oh well). But I know it’s more than just about our rooms, houses or wardrobes. My ‘chaos space’ in my room (well for now it’s just my room) would be the drawers under my bed – they’re still organised but they keep all the pieces of stuff that I don’t want to display. But since the rest of my family isn’t really at the same page – I can make it anywhere else other than my room haha. Thank you for this lovely post!

    With kindness

    • I can only imagine how challenging that is, but nothing feels better than a space of your own to retreat to…and nothing is more important than family. Hope you’re having a beautiful weekend!

  3. Wonderful post! I look forward to your emails, just for the chance to see your lovely ways of doing, cooking and thinking. I find your blog calming and refreshing….and SO BEAUTIFUL! Thank you!

  4. Hello Julie…I just found you today on Instagram and am an immediate fan! I’m a designer/builder in Napa, CA and wondered if you would share what camera you use for your gorgeous photography of interiors? They look like you hired a pro but I can’t imagine you hire someone for the amount of great shots you post.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • Thanks, Leslie! Nice to “meet” you! I taught myself photography and am working to refine my skills. There are so many great tutorials online, tips, etc! I have the Canon 5D Mark IV (most were taken with the Mark iii) and several lenses, but for home I tend to use a 50mm 1.4

  5. One of the best gifts my Mother ever gave me, was telling me that I could get rid of anything. Not to confuse an item with a memory, and that if I got rid of something, I wasn’t “throwing away” the person it belonged to, or that gave it to me. I’m not saying I don’t value heirlooms… but it’s very freeing.

    • That’s brilliant! I finally let go of my mom’s makeup and lotions that have been tucked away and moved with us 5 times. Thanks for sharing, Shannon!

  6. Hi. Would you mind sharing the source for your kitchen pendant lights in your first photo? 😍

  7. Julie…I had to chuckle when you said you finally were able to get rid of your mom’s makeup and lotions. Ten years after my mom’s death, I still have a few things like that. I kept a couple of her old sweaters and  it is very hard to let go and it’s been 10 years for me since she passed away. Initially I kept them because they still smelled like her. Now, I wonder why I still have them. Throwing away memories is difficult. I have a questions regarding your pendants as well. What I would like to know, is how do you find the brightness of the lights on your workspace  when the bulbs point upwards? We are in the midst of a new home build and picking out lighting over the island and the dinette are giving me a headache. I like the “spotlight” style, but feel that if they are completely enclosed in a metal of some sort they will only shine light directly down and I don’t want that. I have open concept, so my next problem is finding a light for over a table (that I haven’t even picked out yet!). Does a person try to match the pendants completely, or just in material? I ave a painter that is breathing down my neck as well and I’m not doing well in that department either! Picking paint and lights has been a the most stressful part of the entire home build. 

    • It is and if you have a moment where you toss something, you can’t replace it! I’m glad I’m not the only one who keeps trivial items. I actually gave quite a bit of thought to our lighting because our pendants in our previous home really pushed the light down. I recommend finding something with exposed bulbs {like these lanterns}. I find that when they’re exposed, the light can radiate in all directions. I like mixing the lighting, but staying with the same finish. I hope that helps – let me know if you have any more questions!

  8. Hi Julie, I recently discovered you on Instagram & fell in love with your beautiful whites & cream decor with a minimalist style.  I do have a question 😊 I as well don’t like clutter & I am having a hard time decorating our cottage we built a few years ago.  How do I decorate with a minimalist style & not have the look of staged?  I’m on Instagram as OurCraftsmanCottage, if you wanted to take a looksee to see what I’m talking about.  I can’t figure out what to put in the shelves without looking cluttered.  P.S. love love Love your beautiful home.  Thanks bunches, Sonja.😊

    • Hi Sonja, I love your page. I find that if everything has a purpose, it doesn’t look or feel staged. I do see you have quite a few built ins, but love how you displayed your china in your dining room – I’d replicate that in other spaces displaying things that you need in that particular room.

  9. Hi Julie, 
    I found your blog via Instagram and find it to be very inspiring. We are in the process of house hunting and would be interested in hearing your philosophy on purchasing an older home and remodeling vs purchasing new. 

    • Thank you, Katherine! Nice to “meet” you! Gosh, I love the charm of an old home, but new sometimes feels great, too! If I could build a custom new home, I would, but I would fill it with high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, mouldings and timeless finishes like sand and stain hardwoods, brass, etc. There’s something special about taking any home and making it yours though, too! I’ve never had an OLD home – just 50’s and 60’s, which feels, meh.

  10. Hi Julie – I really enjoyed this post. I’m slowly getting rid of things too. It is a process, but so much better when it’s done. On another note, I tried your recipe for Wine Marinated Frozen Grapes. I used green grapes and Pinot Grigio. Everyone liked them! Next time I buy grapes I will get the red and try then with red wine. Love your posts!

  11. I absolutely BIG HEART ♥️ your style – the simplicity and elegance raise the bar!  When I get your emails the “oh goody!” happens.   So thank you for sharing peeks into your tidy world!  I would love to SEE more!  Like where you do hide all the “life stuff” and make such a minimalist-but-beautiful atmosphere?  I love keeping a tidy atmosphere, so gathering more ideas on “hiding” things we really do need in a house with 8 people (plus homeschooling) is the name of the game! 

    Thank you again for the refreshing inspiration!  It’s a blessing! 😊

    • I do have several posts hiding what we do have like our linen closet, linen cabinet, kids’ closets, living room cabinets, mudroom, etc, but there is so much more to come this fall on kitchen storage!

  12. Julie – I’m in love w/your home and minimalist style…I’m trying to pare down but always feel like my home is too bare and cold when I do. We have warmer wood floors, white walls and lots of reclaimed wood furniture, somewhat of a french country look going on. How do you keep the minimalist look but warm it up? When I take everything off tables it feels so bare – I can’t change my stainless steel to copper or do any major changes – I just feel stumped as to what to do. I also have the challenge in that my main living space is a great room w/living and dining combined. I bought so many french country cottage and vintage french antiques, and now find I don’t want to use them. More purging when I *thought* that was my style and wasn’t! I felt frustrated w/the TOO MUCH and can’t seem to find that peaceful in between in my home. I would love any thoughts!

    • Paint color plays a huge part of that. A warm white goes a long way. I also recommend using cozy layers this time of year like pillows and throws. Art / display of your collections is also another way to add warmth. If you’d like to send a photo via IG, I’m happy to take a look!

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