When minimalism becomes a lifestyle

Minimalism is more than just how you furnish your home, according to experts. — dpa

White walls, light-coloured furniture and very few accessories: That’s certainly the cliche when it comes to minimalism. Indeed, if you search the Internet for images of minimalism, you will usually find pictures of sparsely furnished rooms.

But for Stefanie Adam, minimalism is about much more than this. “Minimalism is a lifestyle, an attitude, ” says the former interior designer, who now uses the principle for her work as a life coach.

“Minimalism is about reducing things to the essentials – in your mind and in your surroundings, ” Adam says. “It creates clarity and opens up space for the things that really matter: family, partner and friends.”

Author Anne Weiss used to have a lot of stuff – until she realised that shopping was not making her happy.

“I didn’t need all these things and to make things worse, they had often been made under questionable conditions and their production had damaged the environment, ” she says. “I suddenly realised that the shopping frenzy was not good for me or for other people.”

A return to the essentials usually includes reducing the number of things we own – in other words, sorting and clearing out. “Outside and inside are mutually dependent, ” says Adam. She recommends proceeding systematically room by room and working in a clockwise direction. Her tip: go through each piece of furniture individually, sorting drawer after drawer.

Weiss has tried out various concepts. However, approaches such as having to get by with a certain number of items of clothing or only being allowed to own a predetermined number of items were too schematic for her.

“It was important for me to find my own way – what do I feel comfortable with, what is good for me?”

Weiss finally hit upon her own method: what she calls backwards shopping. “Walking through my apartment with a basket as if it were a department store – and filling it up and then selling, giving away, donating or disposing of anything that I can do without, ” she explains.

But no matter how you clean out and create free space, life coach Adam believes that a completely empty apartment is not desirable. On the contrary – that kind of living space would lack personality. Adam understands the home as a personal place of power, where you recharge energy. In her opinion, personal things like photos and emotional mementos are absolutely necessary to feel good.

But they can be deliberately chosen and given a special place in the room. “Especially on sideboards or window sills, these eye-catchers for the soul contribute to a feeling of well-being, ” she says.

Using fewer colours can help to create a calm feeling. Adam recommends a maximum of two to three accent colours to avoid unease in a room. Uniform materials and utensils, for example a set of identical glasses, ensure order and structure. But she adds: “There are no rules in minimalism, because every person is different and has different needs.”

For Weiss, minimalism means not only reducing to the essentials, but also conscious consumption. “A new polyester dress made in Bangladesh; owning a car – which, because I live in a city, meant I was only stuck in traffic anyway; long-distance travel to take a break after all the stress of work. All cognitive dissonance, ” she says. “It feels good to stop acting against my conscience all the time.”

She doesn’t see her lifestyle as a painful renunciation – after all, she can borrow or buy what she needs secondhand. “If living like this really had disadvantages, I wouldn’t do it, ” she says. – dpa/Melanie Oehlenbach

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