The Accidental Minimalist

October 21, 2010

Simple living has been top of mind for the past couple years. I love the concept of living a stuff-free spartan life but I also love my stuff. And when I became close with Liz, a minimalist with stuff, I became inspired. Liz is a regular around here – at times we even joked about renaming the blog Kathleen & Liz, Fabulous Friends Great Taste. You guys seem to like her too, so while guest posts aren’t a thing I typically do around these parts I wanted Liz to share her philosophy on being a minimalist of sorts.

P.S. I’m only featuring images of her newest place in Durham, NC. Because I want to show you how she can even make a rental beautiful. But for more pictures please visit her Flickr.
P.P.S. I’m leaving in the parts where she makes notes to me, because I love it.

From Liz:

Afternoon Light

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Living Room Sneak Peek Vignette

Some time in the last year or two I got the distinct reputation of being a “minimalist.” Someone who could throw away her yearbooks without a second thought, and always seemed to have a bag of clothes that needed to be driven to Goodwill. Whenever Kathleen posts pictures of my home (thanks for the free fame, ladyfriend!), she always gets comments about how spartan it appears, which crack me up, because I have crap like everyone else. Stuff. And you know what? I love it. I. Love. Stuff.

Toilet Hand

It comes down to this, though: quality, over quantity. I simply only want to surround myself with stuff that I think is awesome. Also, cleaning/organizing is my knee-jerk response to any sort of anxiety or stress, so it’s easy to throw a thing away when really you’re actually trying to avoid conflict or figure out some Big Life Thing.


Plus, I’ve moved every year for the last 4 or 5 years, and nothing will make you re-evaluate what’s important more brutally than having to move it from home to home. Those infamous yearbooks? Were all in a box that I had packed them into when I graduated from college. Three and a half years ago. I hadn’t even looked at them, or thought about them, in years. And for a while, I struggled with getting rid of them, because I love looking at my parent’s yearbooks, and how will my future children develop emotionally without seeing awkward pictures of me with braces?! But it came down to the fact that I measure value differently. Like homeboy’s quote up there, which sums up my feelings on the subject far more articulately than I can, because I use words like homeboy to describe one of the forefathers of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Bedroom Sneak

It’s a process, though. It took a few rounds before I worked up the yearbooks. It’s easier to start with clothes you’ve owned for years but only worn once because they fit you weird. Why would you own clothes that you don’t wear?! What?! Why would you want a wardrobe filled with things that make you feel anything less than awesome? (Also, please feel free to substitute in another, less juvenile adjective whenever I use the word “awesome.” It’s my go-to, but I promise I only keep it around because I know it to be useful and believe it to be beautiful.

Right Sill

You just have to keep asking yourself what makes something worth keeping, and let go of anything that doesn’t make your heart sing with it’s awesomeness. For me, a lot of my stuff just didn’t live up to the standards I decided on. So I recycled/donated/trashed it. And didn’t look back. Which is the other benefit of getting rid of crap- you realize what little value it ever held, and you start to apply the Awesome Test (yeah, that’s what I call it) to other areas of your life. Priorities, friends, life goals. Or at least I did. Or at least, I hope I am. Ask my hopefully emotionally-developed children in fifty years.

They’ll probably be packrats.

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