MMHP #2: The two approaches to minimalism, and my early prep

I still remember the pain of moving, so even although cladding work on the building means a move is likely a year or so away, my plan is to be fully prepared ahead of time. That means having everything I want for my new home, and not having anything I don’t want.

There are two fundamentally different approaches to preparing for minimalism, and I’m taking the second of these …

Decluttering vs Blank slate

The approach many take is decluttering. Here, you go through your existing stuff, and decide what you can do without. This approach costs little to nothing, but it’s not generally very effective. Most people agonise over what to discard, and typically only end up achieving a 10-20% reduction in their possessions.

The alternative is to start with a blank slate. Here, you imagine an empty home, and then decide what you need and want in it. This approach is much more effective – but it can mean buying new things, because what you would choose now is not always what you already have.

When it comes to buying new things, the good news is that you’re by definition not going to be buying many things.

But, for me, minimalism isn’t just about having few things; it’s also about having the right things. William Morris said “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I extend that principle somewhat, and aim to have the useful things be beautiful too. So the right things can be relatively expensive. But I refer back to the good news; the two balance out.

Easy categories

Most people find some categories are relatively easy. You know what you need, you have a good sense of what you want, and either you have a lot of it already, or starting from scratch is not difficult. That was the case for crockery, for example. I bought the La Boule set, two sets of mugs, and a set of small bowls. Alongside the glass coffee cups I already have, that’s me done.

That pretty much extends to kitchen and dining as a whole. The type of apartments I’m looking at will come with built-in major appliances, and agreement has already been reached on the countertop ones. My cooking needs are much simpler than Steph’s, so I’m expecting divvying up the cookware to be simple too.

I’m also expecting clothes to be an easy one. I’m a fan of the capsule wardrobe concept. If you’re not familiar, the idea is to have relatively few items of high-quality clothing which can be mixed-and-matched into a range of different looks. If you keep your core clothing to neutral colour tones (like black, blue and grey), then pretty much anything will go with anything – and you can throw in almost any colour accent. For a man, this is basically colourful belts and scarves. To get to a micro-home compatible capsule wardrobe will simply require some pruning – and perhaps a couple of extra belts.

Tougher categories

Books are not hard, actually, I just need to let them go! I have about 1500, but almost all my reading these days is on my Kindle – and if I take the ‘blank slate’ approach to a micro-home, then I would go the Kindle-only route for sure.

Wine is trickier. I currently have around 90 bottles across three wine-racks. In theory, it’s easy: just buy fewer bottles at a time. But much harder in practice: many good wines sell out quickly, which is why – when I find one I love – I immediately buy a number of cases of it. I think this one I have to leave until I’ve found my new home, and can see what is feasible. Plan B will be inviting you lot round to drink a lot of wine, very quickly.

Technology is, of course, a tough one. But I’m paying attention to the tech I actually use, and again taking a blank slate approach of deciding what I actually need and want.

Audio. I own more speakers than I can use in our current flat, let alone a micro-home one! But many are no longer sold, so I’m loathe to let them go. My solution so far has been to lend unused ones to friends, and I plan to expand that approach.

Bags. I admit it: I’m a bagaholic. This is definitely one area where I have to ignore what I have and think about what I need. But, as with books, there will be a certain amount of pain involved!

So, that’s my task; watch this space!

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