To me, space is not unminimalist. It is not a thing, an object, a possession. Space is a pleasure, and a relief. I know that it is a privilege, too. Some people think that every minimalist lives in a “tiny home,” or even that they should. But that is not the case for everyone.
Why am I even bringing this up? Well, my husband and I are about to move from a tiny, cramped apartment into a large house. I have heard minimalists speak about the supposed absurdity of living in a space where certain rooms are used infrequently. But what if you want to have a guest over—or many guests? What if you want to actually have room to lay out your yoga mat and throw out your arms in either direction? These are luxuries that I do not currently have, but I’m about to. And it’s got me thinking about whether I can still be a minimalist in a bigger space.
While I am definitely looking forward to having more space, once concern I have is that having that space means it will get filled up with STUFF we don’t want or need. People have been pretty good about not giving us large things while we are in a small apartment, but the second we have more space, I can pretty much guarantee that the physically large (and small) gifts are going to pour in from every side. And, as a minimalist, that gives me anxiety.
We will also automatically need additional things that we don’t already have. We will have a dining room–pictured in the featured image–so (if we want to entertain, which is the whole point of moving somewhere bigger), we will need a dining room table. And chairs. We will have a guest room, which inevitably needs a bed, a nightstand, a lamp, extra sheets and towels…you can see where I’m going with this.
Of course I am super excited about moving, and not feeling so cramped all the time. But in the back of my mind is that lingering dread that all the progress I have made with minimalism is going to go out the window (while things come in through the front door…)
There is a second fear that goes along with this transition to a larger space: I worry that, in a place where I am able to fit more stuff, I will start to want more stuff. My concern is that I might go back to my old consumerist ways and start to desire more things that are completely unnecessary. Do I really need a pretty basket to hold extra blankets, or an ottoman that I only use to sit on while I’m getting ready in the morning? Of course not. But they sure would look nice…However, a significant part of the minimalist journey is letting go of the “need” for stuff, in order to focus more on the important things in life instead of mindlessly consuming what the advertisers tell us we need (or “should” want).
I want to make it clear that I am not passing judgment on people who like to have a lot of things around them, and get joy from having those things. This is a personal journey, one that, for me, has largely to do with my perfectionism and need for order in a world of chaos. Other people might handle this in a completely different way—perhaps even by adding even more comforting things to their space! But this tendency toward wanting to organize and declutter is the way I deal with that feeling of overwhelm caused by having too much going on around me, and more specifically being surrounded by too many things.
So how much space does a minimalist need? In my opinion, the answer is: however much he or she wants or needs to feel comfortable and content. It could be a little, or it could be a lot. But it’s a personal decision—there is no minimalist “rule” about it, as far as I’m concerned.
What do you think? How can you still practice minimalism in a bigger space?