Photo from becomingminimalist.com
Everybody has the aha! moment that starts their journey to minimalism. For me, it was a basement full of stuff at my mom’s house after my first divorce. For some, it’s knowing there’s a pizza cutter somewhere in the kitchen but being absolutely unable to find it in all the chaos. For Joshua Becker, it was when a neighbor mentioned that people don’t actually have to have so much stuff when Joshua was mid-garage-cleanout.
Joshua is the mind behind the Becoming Minimalist blog and the author of Clutterfree with Kids; Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life; The More of Less; and the freshly published as of December 18 The Minimalist Home. I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. So here we go, my honest review of The Minimalist Home.
First, it’s similar to other minimalism and decluttering books. But everyone has their own spin on the approach. Where Marie Kondo suggests touching everything to check for joy, category by category, and Dana K. White outlines the way you can declutter whether you have five minutes or five hours, Joshua Becker has a blended approach. His decluttering method goes room by room and follows the same basic steps each time, but what I really found differentiating in his book was the checklist for each room that was based on questions to ask yourself that focus more on how the space feels vs. how it looks.
Here’s an example from the chapter on kitchens and dining areas:
- Is my kitchen easy to maintain and keep clean? Does it promote safety?
- Is this a space I enjoy cooking in?
- Are the tools I use most frequently easy to access?
- Have I removed visual clutter from counters and surfaces?
- Does my kitchen promote healthy eating habits?
- Does this space encourage optimistic attitudes in the morning?
- Does my dining room offer freedom to move about, rather than being cramped and cumbersome?
- Does my dining area offer opportunity for meals together as a family – a place where we can recap the day?
- Does my dining area encourage me to show hospitality to others?
Some of these questions are predictable and common sense (clean counters and surfaces, tools easy to access, etc.), but I was opened up to a new way of thinking about clutter when the questions became “is this a space I enjoy?” and “does the space promote optimistic attitudes?” and “does my dining area encourage hospitality?”
Suddenly the kitchen is no longer just another room to pass through on my way into the house after a long day, but the place I start a productive day with a healthy breakfast and the place that my partner and I feed each other and our friends. We actually enjoy hosting friends for dinner, and we’ve benefited from organizing our kitchen and the rest of our home in a way that makes the entire place feel more hospitable and welcoming.
Also throughout the book, Joshua includes stories from his readers and followers about the real-life ways minimalism has given them freedom. Freedom is a big theme of the book, whether it’s the freedom to travel, freedom of income when you stop spending so much on random stuff, freedom to whip up an impromptu scone because you know exactly where all the baking equipment is in your well organized kitchen. The combination of real life experience helps drive home the points that Joshua makes, because you can clearly see the tangible and intangible benefits of simplifying your space.
The chapter that made the biggest impact on me was about the home office. Having a simple and pleasant work space makes all the difference, whether you work from home or just need a place to pay the bills. I moved in with a partner about three months ago, and the whole house feels optimized… except the office. My desk has become a repository of stuff I haven’t dealt with yet. But I am an author and I work from home part-time for my day job, so I kind of NEED TO DEAL WITH IT. Joshua’s questions (“Does this space encourage me to focus on my work?” “Does this space invite me to enjoy the work I do?” “Is this space easy to maintain?”) forced me to acknowledge that I want to create a safe haven for my work so that I can feel better and more excited about sitting down to be creative. Thanks, Joshua.
After a room by room guide to minimizing, the book also includes a Minimalism Maintenance Guide, with tips on staying minimalist once you’ve pared down to a new baseline of simple living. This is often one of the hardest parts of minimalism, especially when you live with someone and must contend with other people’s possessions too.
Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Minimalist Home. It’s an easy read and very skimmable if you already know the basics and just need a refresher, but reading it closely will provide more context and a better feel for the why behind simplifying and de-owning possessions. The book is full of shareable bite-sized wisdom you can tweet or write down for later, such as “Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you have to fill it with stuff,” and it comes from a wonderfully approachable perspective. Anybody can start minimizing and creating their own minimalist home!
Keep up on where you can buy The Minimalist Home on Joshua Becker’s website. Many sellers are already out of stock!