Cozy Minimalism and Mental Health

Cluttered House, Cluttered Mind

I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. The “whole new YOU” mentality has never appealed to me. I am me; I don’t really see that changing just because it’s January. Last year I didn’t make any sort of resolutions, and I frankly felt annoyed by the world’s expectation that I change something. I was busy chasing a one-year-old, after all, and that felt like more than enough!

This year, however, I’m looking at it with new perspective. We moved to a more comfortable but slightly smaller house last year, so even though we pared down during the move, our closets/basement/garage are still overstuffed. My head feels overstuffed, too. Whenever I look around and see the clutter, I can feel myself getting more anxious and upset. So this year, I did decide to make a resolution: take back control of the house and my mental health.

In practice, this means that I’m asking myself, one closet or room at a time, if we really need what’s in there. For stuff we do need, I’m making sure the organization system in place actually makes sense. I started with my pantry and Liv’s room, and I’m already feeling better!

Cozy minimalist nursery

Ultimate Goal:

The big culmination of this project will be the basement. It’s unfinished but spacious, so my goal is to make it cozy and inspiring enough to function as live-in studio space for VanDuinen Studio. Right now, whenever inspiration hits, I have to go downstairs find and extract my materials from the perilous piles in which they’re hiding, and drag it all up to the couch. It works in a pinch, but I’m getting tired of a) having to dig to find anything useful and b) having my art supplies stashed in corners all over the living room because my daughter woke up and I needed to hide my paint brushes pronto.

Progress So Far:

Just before the holidays, I bought a big Ikea shelving unit, but it sat in its two boxes collecting dust while we celebrated Christmas and traveled for New Year’s. One day while I was idly browsing Pinterest (love that site), I stumbled across an OK Dani post about “cozy minimalism;” it kicked my imagination and drive into high gear. Last weekend I finally assembled those shelves, and I’m now working box by box through art supplies, knick-knacks, holiday decor, and everything else we stashed in the basement with an “I’ll deal with that later” sigh. For sentimental items, I used a tip from my cousin Steffani, owner of Fresh Coast Living: if you love it too much to get rid of it, keep it. If you feel some attachment or obligation but don’t really want it taking up space anymore, take a photo before you give it away, recycle, or toss it. That way, you’ll keep the memories without the clutter. (Genius lies in simplicity: I don’t know why taking a photo never occurred to me, but it’s been so helpful.)

Your Main Takeaway:

Living in a constant state of chaos can kill creativity. A messy house can feel like a neverending to-do list that’s too overwhelming to tackle. However, since I’m currently building a creative business, I simply can’t accept that chaos. That’s why I’ve started working in small chunks of space: one closet, one corner of the living room, one box at a time in the basement. Bit by bit, I’m creating a little more space in our lives, and in doing so, I’m putting myself in a more positive mental space for artistic inspiration to flow.

What was your resolution? Are you still working on it? What do you think of the “cozy minimalist” idea? As always, if you have any questions, ideas, or anything you’d like to share, send me a message on Facebook or email me. I would love to hear from you!


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