Define Minimalism

Nowadays, the popular concept of minimalism is most commonly shown as ultra-modern, super trendy design, and in furniture and decor with almost no resemblance to what most people would think of when they think of that thing. For example:

minimalist sink, posted to Reddit on May 7 2020 by u/SalvageET

While I was scrolling through social media, I came across this photo of a minimalist sink. While this image is visually amazing, most of the comments on the post agreed with me on one thing — this sink would be a nightmare to clean. And, beyond that, anything on this level is not likely to exist in anybody’s house, other than maybe a few big-name celebrities who can afford things that are this expensive to buy and then to maintain for years.

Long story short, this type of thing isn’t for everybody. Or anybody, for that matter.

Things like that sink, the oddly-shaped bold-design furniture, the empty white rooms that fill pages of magazines, and half of the spotless ‘after’ photos from any home renovation — all of these things may be beautiful, but they just aren’t representative of reality. Minimalism to me is not the same as minimalism to people who can afford the magazine lifestyle. As another example of things that may look nice but aren’t realistic, I recently saw a photo of a kitchen that stuck out to me as being strange. I’ll share my thoughts with you, but please let me know what your own thoughts are about this design!

Image found on, photo by Jack Lovel

This kitchen, with all black cabinets that are strangely short for the size of the room, and the kitchen island supported by bricks on either side — this is just not realistic to build or to maintain. The black cabinets just seem so dark and heavy, and the height difference just made the room look like it’s squatting down. But the thing that stuck out to me the most was the brick. I can’t imagine a kitchen island supported by bricks being useful in any way. It is an interesting design choice, and it could be done well. But, I can’t imagine the shape my legs would be in after stubbing my toes on brick and scraping my legs trying to walk past. Also, things spill in kitchens all the time, no matter how coordinated you are. If something spills onto the brick, good luck cleaning it up! I must not be their target audience, but I can’t imagine someone would be lucky enough to not have any scrapes or stubbed toes from this brick.

Design choices aside — minimalism to me is different, and I believe that it means something different to everyone. It isn’t common that I see an image tagged as minimalist unless it’s like something out of a magazine, with either the insanely ultra-modern sharp lines, contrast, and edges, or the dreaded smooth drywall archway and empty white rooms. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but I have yet to see too many photos of real people’s minimalist houses, which is just another unfortunate lack of real representation. It seems like there are so many real people who love the idea of minimalism, and really try to put effort into making their lives and their family’s lives better, but likely get so overwhelmed because they feel like their home will never look like the magazines. I think a lot of people would be discouraged because they feel like they would have to buy new things or replace their furniture to make their space seem more cohesive instead of working with the furniture and things they already own. Personally, I have mismatched furniture, hand-me-down clothes, and light fixtures that were bought years ago from Target. Minimalism doesn’t have to be beautiful, or expensive, or just empty rooms and spaces, and you don’t have to replace things just so that it looks more purposefully put together. Instead, I think minimalism is meant to be representative of the way anyone would normally live. By this, I mean that the goal of minimalism is not to stop using the things you’d use every day, but instead to make space for those things a well as space for something beautiful. If you have a drawer in your bathroom full of old makeup you haven’t used in ages, it would help to throw out the old ones so that you don’t have to rummage through to find the products you use every day.

Minimalism also means restraining yourself from buying more things. It’s very easy nowadays to just buy a ton of stuff because we think we’ll use it if we ever start up that hobby we’ve been meaning to try, or buy it because we don’t know if we’ll see something like it in the future. The way I restrain myself from buying things I don’t need is to stop and consider what I would do if I bought the thing, and if I can’t come up with a use for it, or a specific way I’d use it as decor, I won’t buy it. So far, I’ve never regretted not buying something.

My philosophy on minimalism is that it should be achievable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and energy into making their lives better. And, minimalism shouldn’t be defined by the magazines with unlimited budgets and set designers and whatnot, but instead should just be enough for each person to have what they need and space to breathe.

I hope this was helpful! I would love any feedback, so feel free to email, comment, any way you like!

-Anna <3

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