Minimalism is defined by MoneyUnder30.com as "getting rid of excess stuff and living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions". A quick Google Images or Youtube Search of this term is met with white-walled homes with wooden decor, single pieces of furniture in the main living space, and the occasional accent piece to allow a bit of colour. But is it really an option for most people? I don't think so. I just dont believe having a completely empty home is satisfying. A home is meant to be warm, inviting and feel lived in. It's your place of refuge after work, where you celebrate holidays and use door frames as growth charts. Additionally, not everyone values "experiences" in the same way as others. What you should be doing is decluttering at a moderate level, utilizing storage hacks and living within your means. Here are some ways to practice "realistic minimalism."
Check surfaces for overcrowding. I say this as I look at my fireplace mantle, where there is no less than 20 items scrunched up together. It's not a good look for being the centre of my living room, but it tends to be the holder for everything we don't want our kids to touch. This can be remedied by finding a place for everything that is there for no reason. I have everything from hand sanitizer to piggy banks, to fly spray and fish food containers mixed in with my decoration items. If I take out all the junk items, I'm left with a light up sign, essential oil diffuser with refills, vintage olive oil container and candles. By freeing up space, it looks organized and easier to clean.
My next easy tip is to avoid overconsumption. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip in reducing overcrowding. Before purchasing an item "just because", consider whether you have a place for this item. If your answer is anything other than "yes", ("yes, but..." is not an acceptable answer!) you should reconsider your purchase. This can also help to prevent overspending. I know no one is going out with the intention of blowing their budget, especially in current events and the economy, but it happens to the best of us.
If you find yourself blessed with cash you otherwise wouldn't have, you are certainly entitled to take advantage of it, especially if it has been a while since you treated yourself. For many low-income families, putting your family or home maintenance before yourself is a reality and certainly deserves to be rewarded. However, for someone who is not struggling month-to-month, wasting money on unnecessary things to fulfill one's love for material items can become an issue. Try to put away some of your unused funds for something helpful - put a dent in your debt, invest in a company, donate it to a cause dear to you, or stash it away for an emergency fund.
Another option that has been discussed countless times is a yearly check of the items you have. To this I would say it's a good idea, but there is no need to be so hard on yourself in doing so. Don't automatically throw an item out if you haven't used it in a while; I don't agree with the "rip the band aid off" method. Determine the item's purpose, consider if it's something you might make use of, if it could help someone you're close to, or if it can be traded/sold to be put toward something you urgently need.
Exempt from this idea, in my opinion, are sentimental items. It's okay if something has no real use to you, but you can't part with it. Display your pictures around your house, use items from late relatives as accent pieces in your home decor, or keep them in private storage. Having these items as a connection to a memory is good for you.
Another way to prevent clutter from building up is to buy items as you need them, in the correct quantity. Don't buy in bulk and meal prep just to keep up with a trend. By day 4 most of the food loses its taste anyway, and there's only so many times in a row you can eat the same thing without getting sick of it. When it comes to home and lifestyle trends, I would suggest that you avoid comparing yourself to what you see on social media. Companies pump out new products hoping they'll go viral, and they want you to keep up on the latest trends so they can make a profit off of your timeline. Everyone has their own life situation and style, and as we all know, many influencers stage their photos to appear more innovative.
You can also get creative with storage. If your home doesn't have a lot of closet, counter or cupboard space, you can buy or create your own storage containers. When I lived in my first apartment, everything seemed constantly cluttered despite not owning very much; simply because there wasn't much room in the living space to begin with. You can buy long containers that can be rolled under beds and store your linen in it. These are probably the most bulky items that take up more space than necessary in a typical bathroom closet. Another option is to create sofas/benches with pull out drawers underneath, to hide children's' toys, books, footwear or seasonal decor items.
These are just a few ideas I have relating to materialism and minimalism. I believe a moderate approach that meets in the middle of both concepts is key to ensuring balance in the home.