Why I will never be a minimalist (and that’s ok)

A minimalist bed for fancy, rich people

Disclaimer: This is not my bed.

Today’s buzzword is minimalism. There are websites dedicated to achieving it. There are movies to highlight it. Gurus and high achievers will all show you a clean desk with the white lines of their world in the background. Apple has built an empire on minimalism. Everyone agrees: minimalism is more than simplicity; it is enlightenment.

And then you have me: the clutter freak.

I love clutter. I have a cupboard full of mismatched mugs ON PURPOSE. I give away books with the same joy usually reserved for leaving a puppy at the shelter. My kitchen counter has so many appliances, I have to move them aside to make a salad. But here’s the thing: I use all each and every item I’ve just identified. Tea mugs are different than coffee mugs. Herbal teas require a different mug than an orange pekoe, otherwise they cross-flavour each other. Books. Lord. If I have to describe the pain of giving away books, I don’t think we can be friends. As for appliances, well, I have FOUR Instant Pots. I use all of them. Sometimes at once on a power bar. I have a food processor next to them, plus a kettle and a toaster. And a stand mixer. And a Magic Bullet. I use all of them, too, often daily.

In a minimalist world, all of those would be replaced with… well… nothing… and somehow my life would be better for it. (I’m not clear how minimalist people eat, but maybe that’s a post for another blog.) And yet, the more I read about minimalism, and the more I wonder what life would be like if I didn’t have so much clutter, the more dull it feels like life would be.

As it turns out, my mind completely shuts down when I am away from knickknacks and pretty, shiny things. I wear filigree jewelry and choose writing paper with floral borders. I like designs and colour and, well, frankly, clutter. I read “Where’s Waldo” to my daughter with complete shared joy when she was small. We didn’t care where Waldo was. We cared that there was so much to SEE.

Here is what is prompting all of this: it’s the move. As my life disappears into tote bins and out the door, the clutter, oh my PRECIOUS clutter, is going out with it. What’s left is an uncluttered, minimalist existence. And I’m not liking it. My home feels like a hotel. It doesn’t feel cozy.

When I travel, as anyone who has travelled with me can tell you, I bring a huge suitcase of things that transform a hotel room into something I can live in for the week or so that I am there. My work takes me to hotels a lot and I have become very adept at pulling out a Mary Poppins bag of mirrored martini shakers, books, placemats, and my smallest Instant Pot. I can only imagine what horror the housekeeper feels when she cracks open the door to my room and finds I’ve turned their nice hotel room into a cottage.

So my home. Right now, I am sitting on my couch with a roaring fire in the fireplace. Sounds cosy, right? It sort of it, except what should be in front of me is my bright red rug, a coffee table buried under a tea pot, my usual stack of books, and a plate no one has returned to the kitchen. Instead, I’m staring at a hardwood floor. It’s pretty and a bit stark.

I am giving up on pretending I will ever be a minimalist. I won’t be. I don’t want to be. I need my clutter to feel like I am at home. I need the world’s hard edges to be softened by stacks of non-functional organza table napkins edged in the same shade of gold that my beaded napkin rings bear. (They layer well with the roughly woven unbleached linen napkins. Just saying.) I like gilt and glitter and soft blankets and slippers that have seen better days.

I will never be a minimalist and I am really happy about that.

Not a minimalist background

A photo from Christmas 2016. Note the background is full of clutter: just the way I like it.