How We’re Learning to Live with Less

We’ve touched on the topic of minimalism briefly here on the blog, but we feel like this important subject deserves an entire blog post! We’re both really trying our hardest to only bring items into our homes that we absolutely love. Many of you have been vocal about your desire to do the same, so we wanted to open a discussion and share some of the things we’ve done to make this a reality in our spaces.

Embracing Minimalism

This minimalist style living room is the perfect balance of whites and grays. We’re certainly not experts on the topic, and you definitely won’t be seeing us moving into Tiny Homes with our capsule wardrobes anytime soon! But we both have eliminated plenty of the clutter from our lives, and by doing this have learned a lot about our style along the way! This has made us love our 1,100 square feet homes even more, and has made shopping for new items a heck of a lot easier.

The minimalistic decor in the hallway de-clutters the space. So let’s get into some of the things we’ve done to take this step, along with tips to make the most out of being more minimalistic.

Walk around your Home

Make a list of all the items in your house you no longer use or want. It may sound elementary, but it is crucial to walk around your home, room by room, and jot down items that you just don’t love. We all have those things that you walk by 10x a day and always think…I need to change that! It could be an accessory, a paint color, a piece of furniture. Whatever it is, write it down on your piece of paper and note WHY you don’t like it. Is it the color? Does it have no meaning to you? Does it take up crucial space? Whatever it is, put it on your piece of paper.

Purge Immediately

Take the time to go through all your belongings and wardrobe to purge yourself of unnecessary items. Now look at your list and get rid of any items that you can. We know that it may not be possible to get rid of some of the things on your list (getting rid of the couch you hate might not be an option right now!), but try to get rid of any small items that you really just don’t love. Why keep things in your home that don’t make you happy? Instead wouldn’t you rather get rid of them to make room for items that you do love? Items that are personal to you and help to tell your story!

We both went around and purged so many random accessories from our homes. So many items that we thought were “cute” at Target or were on super clearance, so we just had to bring them home. When buying those items we didn’t stop to think if they were “cute for us.” There are so many adorable home decor accessories out there that you might like, but they’re all not going to be right for you and your home.

Keep the very meaningful items and display them in some built-in shelves to save space. We also got rid of a lot of items that just didn’t really mean anything to us. We try to avoid buying generic decor whenever possible, and instead look to incorporate meaningful pieces that help personalize our homes. Some items we purged included books we never read (or planned to ever read), old picture frames, vases (you certainly don’t need 15!), and colorful accessories that don’t go well with our current decor. We were both pretty ruthless when it came to this step…and it felt so darn good to get rid of items that we never really even liked that much.

Make a List of What you NEED

We all know the feeling of going to Target for a specific item, only to leave an hour later with a full cart and $200 missing from your checking account. #guilty

Keep a running list on your cell phone of items that you need so you don't forget. We did this quite often in the past, specifically because we would buy items not knowing if we really needed them or not. We suggest keeping a list of items on your phone that you need. It can be as large as furniture or rugs, or as small as specific accessories for your shelves. Walk around your home yet again (this time it should look a little lighter…) and make a list of items that you actually need and want to add to your home. Then when you go out shopping you can only buy items if they’re on the “need” list. This results in fewer impulse buys and more intentional purchases.You and your spouse of significant other will be much happier after learning to only purchase items you need.

Finn & I did this with our closets and it has been a dramatic change for us both. We purged our closets and made a list of the items we both actually needed. A quality white button down, a black belt, a pair of brown boots…just some of the items on our lists. We’ve slowly crossed off items on this list as we’ve added quality pieces to our wardrobes. But when we go to the stores and see a nice sweater that’s on sale, we don’t buy it unless it’s something we actually need (& it’s gotta be on the list!). Yes, it takes some willpower! But we promise that it’s much better for you and your bank account in the end!

Be Thoughtful and Intentional

Speaking of being intentional, that is the key word when it comes to shopping. No more buying just to buy! No more buying items just because they’re “so cute”! No more buying items only because they’re on sale! Being thoughtful with each and every purchase you make for your home will result in fewer items you don’t love coming into your home. This means less design regret and better purchases for your space.

Be thoughtful with the purchases you make for your home like this letter board that adds a lot to the space. We both hit up HomeGoods at least once, every 2 weeks. There’s a store A BLOCK away from Bridget’s house. No joke. Whenever we’re together at B’s house, we always take a blogging break and hit up HomeGoods to see what’s new in store. Often times we’re leaving empty-handed, or at most with 1 item that’s perfect for one of our homes. Of course, there are tons of items we want to scoop into our carts, but we only bring home items that we need, items that we love, and items that go with our personal brands.

Which brings us to…

Figure out your Personal Brand

This idea has been a game changer for us both. In the past, we used to try to box our home styles into random words like “boho”, “modern”, or “shabby chic.” But to be perfectly honest, those words don’t mean anything to us. In fact, we’re probably a little bit of everything! So instead of buying items that fit a specific style category, we only buy items that fit our personal brand.

So what’s a personal brand? Well, we have a four-part series that walks you through this process and provides exercises to help you identify yours! You can catch up on this popular series right here:

  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 1
  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 2
  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 3
  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 4

Going through that process and identifying our personal styles has been a total game changer when it comes to living with less. Identifying your personal brand and style is the first step towards understanding how to live with less.

Figuring out what we like and naturally gravitate towards took a bit of time, and keen observation out while shopping. But we now have a much better sense of our personal brands and this has been so much easier when it comes time to shop for clothes or home decor.When you have a better understanding of your personal style, you understand what you need and how to live with less.

As two girls living in homes that are about 1,200 square feet we know a thing or two about living with less. But we still have lots to learn and are excited to continue this journey towards minimalism. Okay, not super minimal. We still like our throw pillows, and blankets, and vases, and pictures frames, and…. <— see told you we still have a lot to learn!



The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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