I used to be a maximalist. I had way too many clothes, way too many pieces of furniture, way too many holiday decorations, way too many books, way too many kitchen gadgets and on and on and on. And my appetite for stuff was insatiable. I wanted more, more, more!
Then, suddenly, one bright and sunny day, I became a minimalist. Well, actually, my transformation didn't happen in one day. It was less of an event and more of a journey. But, well... look, it's a long story. All I want to say for now is that my life, and my house, looks very, very different. And I'm happier.
So what are the three biggest changes I've made, the ones that have made the biggest impact on my day-to-day life? It's hard to pick just three, but, when I look around my house, I've got to say the three major categories of things I've gotten rid of are:
Like most people in America, I had way too many clothes. When I took a good hard look in my closet, I asked myself this question: How many of these clothes have I actually worn? And it turns out that a ton of my clothes I had never worn. Not once. Or, at least, I couldn't remember ever wearing them. So, I got rid of the clothes I never wore. Then, I got rid of the clothes I rarely wore.
I was left with the clothes that I actually wore frequently. I was left with the clothes that I actually wanted to wear. Now I have fewer clothes and more space. I can actually walk in my walk-in closet!
When I was a maximalist, I couldn't park in my garage. There was too much junk in it, and mostly, the junk consisted of holiday decorations. (When it comes to crowded garages, by the way, I wasn't alone. More and more people do not park their cars in their garages.)
I had giant paper cutouts, stuffed animals, wreaths, knick-knacks, wall-hangings, and junk for St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day. I even had a giant foam turkey for Thanksgiving. I was so crazy about decorating for holidays, I'm surprised I didn't have any decorations for Labor Day! It was hard emotionally, but, I got rid of 95% of my decorations.
I still celebrate holidays. I'm just less concerned with decorating, so now I have more time to actually enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
Oh, in regards to decorations, I want to mention one slight change I made that not many minimalists have heard of. I got a different Christmas tree. I used to have a super tall and super wide Christmas tree (artificial, of course). But then when I wanted to go all-out minimalist, I heard about slim Christmas trees. They are just as pretty as the big honkers, but they take up less space.
Let me get on my soapbox for a minute. There's no need to have a formal dining table with a centerpiece, a table runner, and a fancy light fixture dangling overhead! You probably won't eat at the fancy dining table anyway. Just have one table big enough to accommodate your family, and make that table utilitarian. End-tables are also pointless. Shelves, too, are often merely invitations to hoard more material goods.
Minimalism is all about paring down possessions to create the time and space needed to focus on things that are most important in life. If you want to delve deeper into the philosophy behind minimalism, read Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Or, take the easy route to minimalist bliss: get rid of the extra junk in your life and smile.