Housekeeping: 11 Lessons Minimalists Can Teach the Untidy

If your messy ways and tendency to hoard are getting out of control, take a minimalist’s advice on how to live well with less

By Joanna Simmons  / Courtesy of

cluttered home is a common phenomenon, but while our rooms may be full, our heads are often empty of ideas, motivation and inspiration for tackling and tidying them. If you suspect hoarding is bad for your home, health and happiness but need to hear how from someone well qualified, who better to ask than a minimalist? Living with less takes discipline and effort, but its rewards can be enormous. So here are some key lessons (and unexpected benefits) that every minimalist enjoys and every clutter bunny should know.

Reconnect with yourself
Minimalism is all about intentionally promoting the things you most value and clearing out everything else that distracts you from it. This will look different for each individual, but it always requires you to work out what you really love. 

In among all that clutter, your passions and interests could have become hidden and the true you is no longer being expressed. Clearing out all the ‘stuff’ that’s filling your home and life will help you reconnect with who you are and allow you to highlight this at home. Was there ever a better reason for decluttering?

Discover 10 shifts in attitude that will create a better home

Restrain your palette
A messy home is full of both physical and visual clutter. Existing within an untidy, cluttered room is challenging, but even simply looking at one can tax the eye and bring on an attack of the vapours. A minimalist aims to avoid both problems by limiting materials and paring down possessions. Fewer pieces, fewer materials, fewer colours – this is the recipe for a minimal, soothing space. Do try this at home!

Work on your storage
A minimal home may not belong to a minimalist. That’s to say, many homes that are airy and tidy also contain lots of stuff, it’s just that it’s artfully stored out of sight. So if you’ve been living surrounded by clutter, it could be down to a lack of storage, rather than a lack of effort. 

Built-in storage works beautifully, making the most of every inch of space and looking sleek and smart when not in use.

Work on your storage again!
Banks of sleek bespoke cupboards are a minimalist’s dream, but they are not the only solution to a calm, organised home. Any storage will help nudge a clutter bunny’s place towards something of which a minimalist would approve. 

So even if you’re not investing in built-in joinery, you can still create a clean vibe by rethinking the storage you have. Rationalise it, organise it and boost it with new baskets, folders or files for a smart, ordered look.

Check out more stylish and creative wall storage solutions

Adopt the one in, one out approach
Minimalists don’t deny themselves the pleasure of acquiring new things, but they are more strict about how much they add to their home’s content. A good option is to use the one in, one out approach. So for every new cushion or mug you acquire, you must give another one away or donate it to charity. This is about controlling our instinct to acquire more and more ‘stuff’ and keeping what we do own to a practical level.

Enjoy freeing-up funds
Here’s the good news about becoming more minimalist: while it won’t make you money (unless you manage to sell some items while decluttering), it will mean the money you have is available for other things. When you are no longer spending on objects and accessories for your home, you can invest instead in good technology or put the money towards experiences, such as eating out or going to the theatre, rather than ‘things’.

See your home through a lens
If you generally take the more is more approach to life, it can be hard to understand what minimalism is all about and how far you should go when you start to declutter. A truly minimalist home can look almost uninhabited, which is a look that is neither achievable nor desirable for most people. 

Instead, look at your home through a camera lens. Imagine it were being shot for a magazine. Stylists work hard to tidy and organise rooms before they can be photographed, stripping out any extraneous ‘stuff’ so the key items can shine. 

Alternatively, imagine your house is for sale and viewers are heading over. How will they see your place? Sometimes we are so close to our homes, it’s hard to view them objectively and really notice what needs tackling.

Remember it’s OK to accessorise
A decluttered space does not have to look harsh or spare. Minimalists would not frown on a few rugs or throws and you could also sprinkle in the odd cushion, too. Soften up all those clean, sleek surfaces and add some contrasting texture, but remember to follow the presiding colour palette and keep these extras to a minimum, too!

Display with discretion
Yes, you can still display favourite pieces, so long as you do it in a minimalist way. Stick to groups of three items and no more. Ideally, arrange your pieces according to material, style or colour for a more coherent look.

See how to colour theme your collections for a classy display

Make your bed every day
Beds take up a lot of room in all but the most spacious of bedrooms and a messy, unmade bed looks scruffy. So any minimalist will stress the importance of making the bed each morning – ideally with white sheets and a simple white duvet cover or blanket, of course!

Love your improved social life
Who knew minimalism could improve your social life? Think about it, though – when your home is always tidy and ordered, you are always ready to receive guests. Perhaps your cluttered space was an embarrassment before, or you simply lacked the time or energy to clean up before friends arrived. With a more minimal home, nothing stands in your way and when guests do arrive, you have space, both mentally and physically, to focus on them.

Do you have any great minimalist tips that would benefit the less tidy among us? Share them in the Comments below.