One of today's most influential minimalist advocates takes us on a decluttering tour of our own houses and apartments, showing us how to decide what to get rid of and what to keep. He both offers practical guidelines for simplifying our lifestyle at home and addresses underlying issues that contribute to over-accumulation in the first place. The purpose is not just to create a more inviting living space. It's also to turn our life's HQ--our home--into a launching pad for a more fulfilling and productive life in the world.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1, Minimalism Makeover.
I grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where author L. Frank Baum lived for a while in his adulthood. Because of living there, I learned from an early age about Baum’s most famous work, The Wizard of Oz. I’d be surprised if you don’t know the story as well. The book was a bestseller from the time its first edition came out at the beginning of the twentieth century. The 1939 film version, starring Judy Garland, is today the third most-viewed movie of all time around the world (behind Titanic and E.T.). And what’s the most famous line from the movie? Click your heels together and say it with me: “There’s no place like home.”
I know not everyone has positive associations with home. For some, home has been a place where they aren’t safe or where they feel cut down instead of being encouraged to grow. Some are ashamed of or hostile toward their home. Sadly, some don’t have a home at all.
Despite all this, the concept of home as an ideal of comfort and safety, of acceptance and belonging, is one that resonates with almost everyone. It inspires longing within us, regardless of how closely or distantly our actual homes have aligned with that ideal. We yearn to make our homes better places than they have been before, both for ourselves and for the other members of our household. There really is no place like home. It is the foremost place on earth, our life’s HQ.
Of course, the most important part of a home is the people within it, including the interplay of their relationships, how they spend their time in the home, and the dreams they nurture. But it’s also true that a house and its contents can affect the family’s quality of life either positively or negatively. And so transforming the place can transform the people.
Make Over the Concept of Home Makeover
I shake my head at those home makeover shows that are so popular on TV. You know, a couple who are discontented with their home invite a design expert to come in and evaluate the situation. The couple nervously agree to stretch their budget as far as possible to make as much of a change as they can. Then a renovation team takes over, carrying out repairs and upgrades (there’s always an obstacle that arises and creates drama), and after that the designer stages the house with new furniture, store-bought decorations, and this year’s color scheme. Finally the homeowners come back for the big reveal and get teary-eyed at their house’s new look.
I shake my head because, even though their house may look nicer, the homeowners typically wind up with just as much stuff as they had before, maybe even more. That’s all stuff that may be getting in the way of how they want to spend their days more than it’s contributing to the pursuit of their goals. I wonder, after the initial dopamine zap from the redecoration, are their lives really any different? Is their home more personal and life giving to them now, or is it just more pleasing to the eye? Or, even worse, will their renovated home require more time and money and energy for upkeep than in its previous form?
Very few of us get picked to be on TV’s home makeover shows, yet most of us who have a house or apartment go through something similar with our own homes. We’re disappointed in our living space. We’ve spent a lot of money buying stuff for our home—and a lot of time organizing, cleaning, and maintaining that stuff. And nevertheless, in the rare times we have left to simply enjoy the home, it doesn’t feel like the place we really want to live. What do we do then? If we don’t just give up hope, we most likely double down, continuing to look in all the wrong places for help. We pay attention to commercials and visit showrooms and scroll through shopping sites online, and we decide that we need more stuff or better stuff, with a different organizing and decorating plan. And when we take our best shot at making our living space better, it’s…well, it’s somewhat better in some ways, but it still doesn’t give fundamental satisfaction or kick off any lasting life change.
What if the problem isn’t that we don’t own enough stuff or aren’t managing our stuff well enough? What if the problem is that we’re living in the homes that advertisers and retailers want us to have instead of the homes that deep down we really want and need?
I’d like to suggest that what the huge majority of people in my own country—the United States—and other countries need if we are going to be content with our homes and start living more fulfilled lives is a minimalist makeover of our homes. Are you willing to come along with me and explore that idea for your home—that there is more joy to be found in owning less than we can ever find in accumulating more? I hope you will, because I know from years of experience that by getting rid of the excess stuff in every room, you can transform your home so that you feel not only free from the stress of so much clutter around you but also free to live a life focused on what you want to do with your limited years on this planet.
Consider the benefits of a minimalist makeover of your home:
You don’t have to have an interior designer to do this.
You don’t need a demo-reno team or real estate agent on your side.
You don’t need a big budget (or any budget, really), and the investment of time you make up front is something you will recoup many times over in years to come.
You just need determination—and some advice to guide you on the way!
Over the first decade of their marriage, Shannan and her husband moved several times. But there was one constant: everywhere they went, they accumulated more and more stuff, and it was never long before a new home began to feel crowded and messy. Shannan didn’t like this situation and felt guilty but didn’t know what to do about it. She could sense a growing resentment from her husband over the clutter situation too. When company was coming over, she would move things around to give an illusion of neatness, but of course such maneuvers didn’t address the root problem that they simply owned too much stuff.
Not much changed until Shannan and her husband went on a trip from their home in the Midwest to Tennessee, where they stayed in a cabin. “With only what we packed for the week, the cabin seemed spacious and comfortable, though it wasn’t really that large,” she said. “Once we got home from the trip, I wanted that for our home—room to breathe and enjoy ourselves without things in the way.”
This was Shannan’s Aha! moment. Her trigger. Her tipping point.
I have noticed that, for most people, there is one moment when something causes them to undertake a minimalist makeover. I tell in my previous book, The More of Less, about my own trigger moment in 2008, when I was frustrated while cleaning out my garage on a Saturday and a neighbor pointed out that I didn’t need to own all that stuff.
Have you had your own minimalism Aha! moment yet? Something that has opened your eyes to the clutter issues you face at home and has pushed you to do something about them? If not, I hope this book will be that friendly shove for you.
Shannan’s cabin epiphany inspired her to finally take action on what I would call her “stuff problem.” As soon as she got home, she signed up for my online course Uncluttered and quickly began making progress on her home. She would take out ten or twelve boxes each week. Her husband got in the spirit as well, clearing out machinery and tools from his garage workshop. Their minimalist home makeover was under way.
Eventually the couple got down to some decisions about what to keep and what to toss that were tougher to make. These are the kinds of decisions that cause some people to quit decluttering before they get the full benefit (and they are some of the decisions I’m going to help you make in this book). Their progress slowed for a while, but they kept going and in the end transformed every part of their home through minimizing.
Shannan said, “Our home is now a place where my husband can come home and feel free to pursue his hobbies and for us to be the couple I know we are without fear of resentment or stress from the outside world. A sanctuary of sorts.”
But what’s remarkable is not just how minimizing has changed how they feel about their house. It’s how differently they feel about themselves. (Though I’m really not surprised.)
“To me, it’s so not about the stuff anymore,” Shannan said. “My husband has changed too. We’re bike riding now and spending more time together.”
And it goes even deeper than that. “Aside from my relationship with my husband becoming more loving,” Shannan added, “I’ve gone from being a homebody who was afraid of people and what they thought of me to being someone who wants to be a part of things. I’m consciously making efforts to stand among a group of people talking or offering help to a stranger. Looking people in the eyes when I pass them by, connecting. This is really not who I’ve been my whole life, and I feel more included in life now that I’m letting others in. How can getting rid of stuff do this? It’s really amazing.”
That’s right—how can mere minimalism change lives in a fundamental way? It seems like too much to expect. Yet I’ve seen it happen over and over. Owning less creates an opportunity to live more.
I’ve been writing my blog (Becoming Minimalist), teaching minimalism, and speaking about the joys of owning less with folks at conferences around the world for a decade now. And I’ve seen repeatedly, more times than I can recall, that there is an almost magical effect when people right-size the quantity of their possessions—in the process, the people themselves are changed in positive ways.
So although this book is about doing a minimalist makeover of your home, I’m warning you now that it may also mean making over yourself in a thousand unforeseeable, positive ways.
Means to a Better Life for All
I want to mention something before I go any further because, you see, there’s something I hate when the term minimalism crops up in conversation. What I hate is the misperception that so many people have about minimalism. Many people think of minimalism as a style of home, on a par with Colonial homes, Victorian homes, or Southwest adobe homes. A minimalist home, to them, is a boxy white house with almost nothing in it, and if you do happen to find a chair or sofa somewhere, it’s going to be really expensive—and good luck feeling comfortable sitting on it! A minimalist home, in this sense, is for people who don’t care much about coziness or comfort and definitely don’t have kids or pets or hobbies. Such a house might look good in a magazine photo spread, but who wants to live there?
Creating a minimalist home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your favorite design style—or even your “no-design style” or “frugal living style”—to accomplish it. In my home, for example, we still use my wife’s grandparents’ old bedroom set. It’s anything but modern in design, but it works for us. My wife, Kim, our two kids, and I got rid of a lot of things when we were transforming our home, but we didn’t get rid of everything, and we didn’t feel every room needed a different look or style than before.
What’s widely known as minimalism in architecture and interior decoration today is fine as a design style, if you happen to like it, but that’s not at all what I’m talking about here. I’m promoting an approach to owning less that you can take regardless of the style of your home. It’s not about making an artistic statement or glorifying emptiness. Instead, it’s about transforming your home so that you can transform your life.
Minimalism, as I’m referring to it, is not about taking something away from you; it’s about giving something to you. My definition of minimalism is “the intentional promotion of things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.” As I sometimes like to say, minimizing is actually optimizing—reducing the number of your possessions until you get to the best possible level for you and your family. It’s individual, freeing, and life promoting. It’s a makeover that you can do on your own, in your current house, just by getting rid of stuff.
In battling against misperceptions about minimalism, I sometimes feel like Henry Ford when he was trying to convince the masses that automobiles didn’t have to be just for the rich. Except what’s available to everybody now—in our affluent age when it is sometimes said we’ve reached “peak stuff”—is a radical and amazing home makeover courtesy of minimalism. This is an idea whose time has come. Minimalism isn’t just for the few who happen to have some spartan quirk in their personalities; it’s for everyone. Homes everywhere would benefit from a thoughtful and deliberate reduction of their possessions load.
So that’s how I’ve written The Minimalist Home—with everybody in mind.
This book is for you if you’re single or married.
It’s for you if you are childless, have one or more kids at home, or have an empty nest where your kids and grandkids come back to visit you from time to time.
It’s for you if you have an apartment, condo, town house, duplex, detached single-family dwelling, cottage, trailer home, cabin, farmhouse, houseboat, or mobile home.
It’s for you if you live in the United States, Australia, England, Japan, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, or anyplace else, if your home is overcrowded with stuff.
I’m not trying to make you into someone you’re not or turn you into some kind of doing-without extremist. You don’t have to live in a tiny home or wander the world living out of a backpack. (My family and I don’t.) This book is about doing a makeover to your home, wherever that home may be and whatever it may be like. Now, after minimizing, you may want to downsize to a smaller place, but you certainly don’t have to move in order to enjoy the benefits of home minimalism. You can change your environment and change your life right where you are.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great tips. Joshua seems to address what everyone struggles with and solidly makes you face some hard questions. It is a much breath of fresh air to see that you don't have to live like "society says."
This book was the perfect guide and accompaniment to my moving/downsizing journey at the end of 2018, and I was grateful to be part of the launch team which meant I received this book in exchange for my honest review. Each chapter of The Minimalist Home details a room in your home and lays out the potential for clutter in every corner. Things I hadn't even considered were introduced and addressed. Throughout each chapter were testimonials of other real life people who had put this advice to work and decluttered their home. As much as the author's perspective resonated with me, I also learned a lot from the perspectives of those who shared their stories. Each home and each life varies from the others, and each are filled with different themes. This cuts through the differences and addresses the similarities and how to effectively declutter. Though this book didn't include a section on cleaning a sewing room, I was able to use the principles for each of the other rooms and attack my sewing room with a cleaning fervor that I hadn't had before. I would definitely recommend this book to those who have desired to declutter their home, but haven't had a game plan. This book is that step-by-step plan that you've been looking for!
I've seen a variety of decluttering programs on HGTV and I've read several books regarding living minimally. And while I understand the idea behind it, the less "stuff" the less of a burden, it just isn't that easy to simply let go. The last book I'd read on the topic instructed me to hold each object and ask myself if it brought me joy. Let's just say that some ideas in my home may not bring me joy, but they are necessary to get my work done or help others in need. So I failed on that attempt to declutter and minimize. That is until I started The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker. I think he gets it, the difficulty with simply tossing things out. His words of encouragement and understanding help give the reader the power to keep trying. He breaks it down first by explaining the idea of living minimally. Then by covering each area in a home, room by room. Finally, the last section includes a maintenance guide, which is what I really need. Because when I get lazy, the organization goes out the window (or on the floor). For small victories to get any of us started, he recommends the car. I have to agree on that idea. The car is probably the easiest place to declutter, clean and organize. And it feels so good once it's done, almost like getting a new car. While I'm still in the process of decluttering, Joshua's book has helped me immensely. I've gone through my living room and kitchen so far. I've found items that I'd been looking for a long time! The stack to donate gets larger, but my sense of well being, the feeling of being burdened, is getting lighter. I even took the time to apply his idea to my Christmas decorations. As I packed them up for another year, I took an extra hard look at each box to see what I hadn't used in years. Where I keep my decorations has never looked so organized. And I got rid of cardboard boxes, so everything is packed in sturdy plastic containers for better storage. If you've been overwhelmed by the massive amount of things collected over the years and have no idea how to start (or where), pick up a copy of The Minimalist Home. Could this be a New Year's resolution I can actually keep? Here's hoping, because the more I "downsize", the most lost things I find. It's awesome! I received a complimentary copy of The Minimalist Home from WaterBrook & through their launch program. The honest opinions in this review are my own.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Waterbrook and Multnomah, and Joshua Becker for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. Joshua Becker has been in the “minimal” business for about 10 years. He has a website where you can get lots of tips and advice, including a newsletter sent to your inbox every so often. He has written other books but this one is sort of the culmination of his life’s work. He has been on TV, speaks all over and I have been following him for the past couple of years. In today’s world of massive consumerism, we can all use a dose of paring down and keeping things simple. We all have too much stuff. We are promoted, advertised, propagandized into thinking that it’s all stuff we need, what we have isn’t the right stuff and that the more stuff we have the happier we will be. This has been going on for years, I mean George Carlin had a bit about “Stuff” in the early 80’s. So I was excited to read what Becker had to say on what he promotes as a step by step, comprehensive room-by-room guide to decluttering your home and your life. Ugh - what an awful read. First I felt like his tone was so condescending. I couldn’t take it. Obviously I have a lot of stuff - that’s why I’m reading this book. He would repeat himself, ad nauseam, throughout the whole book. There wasn’t any comprehensive guide - again, he would repeat the same thing over and over for each room, literally the same steps - for each room! Why bother going through each room, listing all of the possible things you might have accumulated, telling me “get rid of what you don’t use or don’t need”. Obviously I knew that much! I don’t need a book for that. I was hoping for some insight, maybe some ideas that I hadn’t thought of to help declutter, some instructions. There was no real guidance other than “don’t do it” for lasting change. Then, don’t tell me how my life is going to change, I will become richer, have a fabulous job, help the poor, have more time, blah blah blah, just because you told me to get rid of some stuff. I didn’t buy any of it. I have decluttered before and none of those things have happened to me. The “real life” examples were ridiculous, laughable. Look, I believe in keeping a home without a lot of junk. Nobody needs piles of clothes, lots of knick knacks, and yes, you should keep those things that mean something to you. You shouldn’t get sucked into marketing ideas of having the latest, greatest and best thing out there, which will go out of date and then you need something new. I also happen to live with a (mild case) hoarder, who believes every rock, piece of junk, paper, etc. is extremely important and sentimental and will not throw out anything. So according to Becker, those are the things to keep. Not helpful. But without something new or real to add to the discussion, don’t fill up a book with one idea. My advice is don’t add one more book to your bookshelf with this one.
It's been five years since I first encountered Joshua Becker and the concept of minimalism. It has been a slow process and a life-changing experience for me. What I love about this book is that is answers so many of the questions I too have answered over the years in a methodical and practical way. The difficult thing to convey about minimalism is that it looks entirely different for each family and for each person in a family. But Joshua Becker does a great job explaining the philosophy without trying to dictate how specifically a person (or family) will determine what to keep and what to let go. Room by room, the reader is asked leading questions about what they want for their lives and how the style of their home reflects their personal values. Minimalism is more a journey of knowing ourselves and expressing that knowledge than it is about whittling down to a certain number of possessions and Mr. Becker does a wonderful job capturing that vision in this book. It is definitely one I will recommend to people who are seeking a different way of living than the 'American Dream' the advertisers want us to accept. Thanks to NetGalley for a free copy in return for unbiased review
I gave this 4 stars - but I need to preface this with saying - it is a 4 star after page 40. This book seems to have a 40 page introduction that is unnecessary. If you skip through that 1st part, the rest of the book is great. It is very helpful & informative. There are steps and lists - which are very helpful for people like me that are new to cutting back. Joshua Becker is a blogger and author so you may also do a search for some of his other works for help, as well. *Waterbrook Multnomah Partner
"The goal of minimalism is not just to own less stuff. The goal is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more." This is a quote by Joshua Becker in The Minimalist Home. Minimalism in your home and life simplifies every aspect of living. The author offers room-by-room examples to streamline possessions and furniture. Objects that are not necessary can be relocated, sold, donated or recycled. This book is not for hoarders: minimalism could apply to most of our homes. Joshua Becker guides through the process to make life simpler and allow more time to do things that really matter. The Minimalist Home is well-explained and provides easy-to-follow suggestions on how to proceed. This is definitely an example of less is more. A useful tool. Thank you to Waterbrook & Multnomah and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I have been a reader of Joshua Becker’s blog, Becoming Minimalist, for a number of years. This blog as well as several previous books, give Becker’s take on the reasons why to simplify or minimize your life and possessions. This new book, The Minimalist Home, is a “how to” on minimizing your possessions. Chapters proceed room by room and include chapters on decluttering your living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kids’ rooms, the garage and more. Each chapter has a discussion of why you might want to declutter this room as well a suggested way of proceeding. The book also includes many quotes from people who have already simplified their homes, and a checklist of what to do for each chapter. The general purpose of the book is well exemplified by this quote from it. “Getting rid of unnecessary objects enables the objects that you do keep to gain in significance.” For many people, including myself, who have read Becker’s books and blog on a regular basis and have implemented his suggestions already, The Minimalist Home may not be a necessary book. Conversely, for those who want to declutter and simplify their houses and have not yet, this book would be an excellent guide for them. Becker has a clear and organized writing style and has actually completed the process he is recommending for himself and his family. I received a complementary review copy of this book from the publisher.
DECLUTTER YOUR HOME = DECLUTTER YOUR LIFE! Joshua Becker, author of The More of Less has brought a new guidebook for everyone who is desiring to desperately change their way of living. The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life is a step by step tool to radically change your living space from chaos to calm. In the process, you will discover it will change you as a person as well. I am blessed to have a home that has more than enough space. However, after living here for 25 years and rearing two children, operating a home based business, having multiple surgeries, taking care of aging and ill elderly parents, and just being involved with daily living causes us to accumulate CLUTTER. Everyone comes in and dumps their stuff in the same places every day. Only they LEAVE IT THERE & the CLUTTER starts to build. Becker offers hope for people like me. He provides a wonderful, clear cut plan that does not cause me to be overwhelmed! His basic, simple instructions also have a checklist for each room/area of my home. The best part of this is by following the instructions, I feel accomplishments all along the way and that encourages me to keep going! Becker has provided me with the necessary means to finally get my home under control instead of my home controlling me. I like feeling free. “Today is the day to rid yourself of anything that distracts from your best life.” #minimalisthome I was provided an ARC of this book by WaterbrookMultnomah. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence. #RPHpartner @WaterbrookPress #Partner
Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Publication Date is December 18, 2018. I really enjoyed this. I’ve been a fan of minimalism ever since I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I feel like Joshua has a similar message but with an American feel. I really liked how each area of the house was it’s own chapter and how he covered pets, hobbies, storage spaces, and the garage; I feel these are areas I certainly needed the encouragement to pursue. Overall the book gave me a big motivational push to go even further than I have gone before. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone and everyone and I will most definitely be revisiting it in the future.
For the past several years, I have been following Joshua Becker's blog. I have also read all of his books through this one. His new book, The Minimalist Home is full of great information for anyone wanting to declutter and re-focus their life. When I read Becker's first books, we were getting ready to move and I knew I needed to get rid of stuff. His encouraging books and blogs helped us pare down and make that move. What we didn't know then was that we would make 3 more moves in a short time span. Each time, we pared down a little more. We have now been in this house for three years. . .and we were starting to pick up some clutter again after family members passed away. We knew we needed to once again declutter, which is why I wanted to read The Minimalist Home. Becker is so encouraging and clear in his method of walking you through decluttering your house that I think he makes the process enjoyable. Besides his how-to information, at the end of each chapter, Becker has a checklist to work through. Besides his own minimizing story, each chapter also includes a lot of testimonials from other people who have decluttered. I find it especially encouraging to read stories of others who have done this successfully and how much more joy their life has since doing it. I enjoyed The Minimalist Home so much. Becker is conversational in his writing in that I can almost feel him coaching me on. I find the methods easy to follow. I worked through much of the book and just have my office and the basement to finish decluttering after Christmas. I would encourage anyone who wants to live a simpler life with less stuff to give The Minimalist Home a try. It may seem overwhelming but when decluttering is broken down into the chunks that Becker suggests, it is so much more doable. I highly recommend it, not just to eliminate the excess stuff. . .but to head towards the life that you were created to live with time to do more activities that you want to do.
I think yes.