Minimalism is a Style; Not a Lifestyle

I’m always out of style

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

I thought I was something of a minimalist simply because I use it up, wear it out, recycle it and don’t buy anything new unless I must. My house is 100 years old and not without scars caused by use or age, but it is usable and livable, so we’d never think of building a new one.

Most of the furniture in it isn’t quite 100 years old, but it’s showing it’s age. I recently had to buy a replacement for a broken sofa, and I bought a used piece. No sense encouraging the high prices we see today on home furnishings. I love my slightly worn sofa. I have another sofa in my writing room. It’s leather, an investment we made 23 years ago, and it shows every bit of its life as a beloved sofa in a big household. I thought not replacing it with a new, sleeker, sofa, was being a minimalist. After all, it fills our needs.

Our car is almost paid for, thank God. But it still runs fine and gets us where we’re going, so we aren’t going to trade it off for a shiny new model just because we could. It’s good transportation and that is all we expect of it. If stuff serves its purpose it’s ok with me.

Going stylistically minimalist is expensive.

I find it almost humorous, although worrisome in terms of our planet, to behold all the “minimalist” young people getting rid of all their old clunky furniture and rushing out to buy the pricey contemporary stuff in order to “go minimalist.”

The dishes must go. They have — gasp — designs on them. They must be plain. Out goes the old and in comes the latest thing from a “minimalist” designer. Tablecloths! Oh, we cannot have lace or printed. Only plain ones will do, preferably in nondescript gray. They get rid of all their sheets and buy plain white ones. Only white sheets and towels will do, doncha’ know?

Oh, and they must repaint the house. It can only be white on the outside.

All the walls must be gray, maybe with a little white. Somewhere a special and bright (expensive) turquoise or red vase must be found, to be the “accent of color” or some such popular phrase to describe a bright spot in a dull, cold, hard-edged, and surely uncomfortable room that looks a lot like a bus station.

I’m almost sure I’m a bit of a minimalist in mindset. But to me that means I only buy what I need with few baubles and doodads. I don’t like ruffles on my clothes. I don’t like the idea that I have more than I need while many have nothing. I don’t like it when people go on buying sprees just because they can and to show everyone how rich they are. I don’t have fresh flowers brought to my house every day…but wait, some “minimalists” need a fresh bouquet of real flowers to add that little something to their minimalist — read plain — households. A bare table isn’t minimalist enough. It needs a minimalist bouquet and the walls need minimalist artwork. Lights and lines. That’s all. Get rid of the rest.

No curtains — buy expensive shutters!

Windows need expensive wood shutters or wooden blinds. No curtains!

I don’t own movies or pay to watch them and we don’t have a home theater. I don’t buy jewelry as long as my watch runs and my wedding ring holds up. I don’t have that thing that lets you boss your house around remotely. I just turn stuff on and off with a switch. To me, a raspberry pie is still a baked good. My headphones still have wires. Oh, I’m hopelessly out of it. An old lady with no sense of style. That’s me.

I’m not the kind of minimalist people mean to be nowadays. They seem to want to be minimalistic only in design. The old clothing has to go. Now it must have straight lines and hard edges. So, they throw out the old and bring in the new “minimalist” stuff. They buy new rugs to match the new style. My worn and almost threadbare linens are NOT minimalist. They’re more along the lines of po’ white trash. In fact, my decorator style is best designed as “Nouveau Old Woman.” I still have lace doilies made by the late and beloved mother of my best friend. They aren’t minimalist, even if they are covering the scratches on the old side tables.

I thought minimalism was having just enough plates, cups, spoons, forks, and knives for the family, and maybe even one or two extra, but no new sets of silver. Mine is best described as, well, as Walmart three for a dollar. Having a good bed and one good set of sheets, and one big bath towel each, I thought, was pretty damn minimalistic. Just not buying so damn much stuff is minimalist to me. I thought it was being aware of the difference between what I might want and what I need and sticking mostly to what I need.

I thought it meant reigning in my materialism to help save the planet.

I thought it meant not buying a Hummer when a little bitty hybrid four-door would get me there just as well.

My house is filled with “stuff.” But I won’t be buying so much stuff, and I’ll not be filling dumpsters with the stuff I already have and replacing it with newer “stuff” either. I’ll buy only what we need.

I thought that was being minimalist, but it looks like I’m wrong about that.

Ok, maybe I will still have to look to see what the hipsters threw into their swank apartment complex’s dumpster while they were converting to minimalist decor. I’ll just look. Really I will.

And if they want to trade…

Unless there’s something in there I can use to avoid buying a new one. And I have to admit that’s where I found our coffee table…an ornate thing with glass insets and fancy legs. Oh yeah, it was a nice one. Nothing minimalist looking about it, though. And if they want to trade their ornate and stately bookshelves for boards and concrete blocks painted white, it’s none of my business. But I’ll sure take the spoils.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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