About three years ago, I had a mon­u­men­tal game-changing expe­ri­ence that would later become the basis for this blog post.  Said event?  Pur­chas­ing my fixed gear bike.  Sure, scoff if you must — “Just another hip­ster with an over­priced two-wheeled acces­sory” might come to mind, but let me assure you that my bike is so much more than that.  My fixie taught me to not only love the anaer­o­bic induc­ing hills of down­town Seat­tle, but also that Uncle Mies was right when he said “Less is More”.

On a fate­ful day shortly after the Pista became a part of my life, I was scour­ing Flickr for images of the most lust­ful fix­ies in photodom, when I came across an image of a room with a fixie and a mat­tress.  What a state­ment — “All I need is my bike and a place to lay my head.”  Need­less to say, my hus­band had a bit of a sur­prise when he came home from work that day to find that this seem­ingly inno­cent pur­chase of a bicy­cle had set in motion, a cat­a­clysmic shift in the way that we would come to dwell, for the much much better.

All that being said, it has since come to my atten­tion that per­haps a silly bicy­cle can­not be the cause of such inspi­ra­tion for every­one else.  So in an effort to spread the fab­u­lous­ness that is the min­i­mal­ist lifestyle, I have devised a list of 10 other rea­sons to go minimalist.


image cour­tesy of butkaj.com via Flickr

1. Clean­li­ness is God­li­ness: You would not believe how often we sham­poo our car­pets, vac­uum, dust, etc. now that we do not have loads of crap cov­er­ing every avail­able hor­i­zon­tal sur­face.  With three dogs and two humans shar­ing 600 square feet our home can get un-tidy in a hurry, so the ease of clean­ing is cer­tainly high on my list of rea­sons that min­i­mal­ism rocks!  Think about it — when was the last time that sham­poo­ing your liv­ing room car­pets required the move­ment of just two chairs and a wheeled tea trol­ley?  Enough said.



image cour­tesy of spyk­ster via Flickr

2. Less Clut­ter to Bog You Down: Per­haps it is just my OCD show­ing again, but I find that I have a dif­fi­cult time men­tally unwind­ing when phys­i­cal clut­ter sur­rounds me.  Dis­or­der­li­ness seems to act as a man­i­fes­ta­tion of men­tal unrest, whereas if I find myself in a room devoid of clut­ter, my mind is free to wan­der to more cre­ative processes.  I don’t know about you, but I would pre­fer to spend my evening cog­i­tat­ing on how to insti­gate world peace rather than con­stantly glanc­ing around my apart­ment and telling myself that I should be dust­ing the knick­knacks.  Give your mind room to wander.

image cour­tesy of qisur via Flickr

3. Forced Inno­va­tion: After mak­ing the com­mit­ment to go min­i­mal­ist, there is the dif­fi­culty of real-world imple­men­ta­tion.  Life in a small stu­dio apart­ment is a very dif­fi­cult place to make imple­men­ta­tion a real­ity, because no mat­ter how much crap you cut, there are those things that you still require (espe­cially if you enjoy any hob­bies).  The inno­va­tion piece comes from find­ing ways to appear min­i­mal­ist, and still hang on to bicy­cles and tents and climb­ing gear.  Per­haps inno­va­tion is tak­ing a large enter­tain­ment unit down to a sin­gle shelf, or turn­ing a bicy­cle into a piece of func­tional art.  What­ever the case, you are mak­ing each piece of stuff serve more than its orig­i­nal pur­pose, and that’s never a bad thing.

image cour­tesy of 401k via Flickr

4. Con­sci­en­tious Con­sumer: You have to really want any­thing you buy.  After you have gone through all the work to get rid of  your excess stuff, you will find your­self ask­ing: “Do I really want that enough to re-arrange my clev­erly crafted min­i­mal­ist envi­ron­ment?”.  I find that this comes in handy when I’m say, at Williams-Sonoma.  The fact of the mat­ter is, if I want to main­tain my joy­fully unclut­tered counter top space, it is not prac­ti­cal to pur­chase that new set of knives, or the mini-loaf pan, or the spice rack, or those four cop­per pans that are a 60% off, or that man­ual cof­fee grinder, or the cute potato scrubby gloves.  As much as I really need this stuff to live a ful­fill­ing and pro­duc­tive life, I do not want it enough to spend an entire week­end art­fully shift­ing items around to accom­mo­date it.   This will ulti­mately save my mar­riage from col­laps­ing under a moun­tain of expen­sive and beau­ti­fully crafted kitchen ware, thus mak­ing Amer­ica a bet­ter place due to the decreased divorce rate.

image cour­tesy of jug­ger­nautco via Flickr

5. A Man­sion in 600 Square Feet: I have found that when liv­ing in a city where the aver­age cost of an apart­ment is $457/sq. ft., it behooves one to live in the small­est area pos­si­ble.  That being said, I do have a lot of hob­bies, most of which require power tools and the space to use them.  Rather than sac­ri­fice my hob­bies, (gasp!), I enjoy the open square footage allowed by min­i­mal­ism.  In fact, I spent the bet­ter part of two week­ends ana­lyz­ing the usable square footage in my apart­ment.  This exer­cise afforded an addi­tional 6 sq. ft. of usable space if I merely by re-arranged the fur­ni­ture.  Smirk you may, but my grey­hound is mighty appre­cia­tive of the extra square footage when turn­ing the liv­ing room into an impromptu race track.

image cour­tesy of laffy4k via Flickr

6. Bolder is Bet­ter! If you are at all famil­iar with my design aes­thetic, you are aware that I require a LOT of color.  And this isn’t just a touch here or there, I’m talk­ing hot pink entry­ways, a mono­lithic bright yel­low wall, or Swedish comic book inspired fab­ric for a set of 12′ tall by 25′ wide cur­tains.  This would not be pos­si­ble if the I bogged down the rest of my home with use­less items.  Clut­ter does not just take up phys­i­cal space, it uses up your lim­ited sup­ply of visual empha­sis too!  Now this is entirely up to you, but I would much rather have some­one com­ment on my brav­ery in paint­ing a 10′ wide union jack on my office wall than my delight­ful col­lec­tion of dust cov­ered porce­lain knick­knacks.  Like I said, totally up to you…

image cour­tesy of ^ W ^ via Flickr

7. What’s really impor­tant? When you men­tally weigh all of your stuff with the goal of sell­ing or giv­ing away as much as pos­si­ble, you learn really fast what is impor­tant to you.  At the risk of sound­ing sen­ti­men­tal, I sur­prised myself when I learned that the only piece of fur­ni­ture in my house that wasn’t expend­able was the mid-century chair that my hus­band brought with him when we got mar­ried.  That chair has been a con­stant in our life since we got together, and out of all the newer or nicer fur­ni­ture, it was the only piece that with­stood the great min­i­miza­tion of 2009.  For bet­ter or worse, min­i­mal­ism will force you to keep only that stuff that is really, really special.

image cour­tesy of doegx via Flickr

8. Manda­tory Orga­ni­za­tion: You can­not have unor­ga­nized min­i­mal­ism.  One of the best (and/or worst) things about a min­i­mal­ist lifestyle is that if even the mouse is out-of-place on your desk, it will show.  For me, this is an intrin­sic ben­e­fit, because every­thing must have a place and I can always find what I am look­ing for.  Since min­i­miz­ing my per­sonal belong­ings, the lost item coef­fi­cient in my home has dropped sig­nif­i­cantly.  You can­not lose some­thing if it has nowhere to hide!

image cour­tesy of Damian Hunt via Flickr

9. End­less Pos­si­bil­i­ties:  Min­i­mal­ism goes against the Amer­i­can cul­tural norm.  In the land of the Big Gulp and If One is Good, Two Must Be Bet­ter, a min­i­mal­ist is chal­leng­ing what is socially accepted.  Going min­i­mal­ist was a very lib­er­at­ing expe­ri­ence for me, because if every­one was already going to think me weird, how weird could I get?  I chal­lenged myself to dis­cover the dif­fer­ence between a social require­ment and a real neces­sity.  I went very extreme at first, try­ing to get as close as pos­si­ble to just a fixie and a bed, and in the process, learned what my actual neces­si­ties are.  When chal­leng­ing your­self to go against what is cul­tur­ally accepted as “nor­mal” you open your­self up to end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for bet­ter ways to live.

image cour­tesy of moon­light­bulb via Flickr

10. No Room For Excuses: My best and final rea­son to go min­i­mal­ist is that it forces one into a con­stant state of improve­ment.  Life hap­pens, and there will always be those inevitable trips to Williams-Sonoma after happy hour at the adja­cent wine bar when you just can’t quite talk your­self out of that new col­lec­tion of pink mix­ing bowls.  When you do acquire more stuff, it will force you into re-evaluation of what’s impor­tant.  In this fash­ion, you have to con­tin­u­ally cut the crap and fill your life with only the best things.  How many peo­ple do you know that have only awe­some­ness in their life?

I hope that there is suf­fi­cient evi­dence within this arti­cle to pro­vide you with the inspi­ra­tion nec­es­sary to imme­di­ately alter your lifestyle.  Fix­ies and min­i­mal­ists are sexy — so be the envy of all your friends!   Thanks for read­ing — please feel free to share or re-publish, but give me credit for my work when you do!