A Minimal Minute / Finding Minimalism

29th January 2016

'A Minimal Minute' blog series about minimal living

Well, if I’ve done nothing else this week, it’s introduce new series and I’m really excited about this one, ‘A Minimal Minute’, as I’ve started it in collaboration with my good friend Ilaria Fatone. We met in Munich during the book launch last September (Ilaria’s home is also featured) and we hit it off, discovering our common ground in minimalism and slow living and although we live miles apart (Ilaria is in France) we try and make the effort to catch up over Skype every couple of weeks. In fact, we’re speaking together at The Hive conference in Dublin this April about our own experiences of minimalism and slow living, beyond interior style and aspirational Instagram photos, but actually in terms of how we live around it, how we practice it and how we want to inspire others to do the same. So we thought it’d be a great exercise to use this topic and share some of our insights on our blogs together, posting once a month. You can find out how you can get involved with us at the end of the post. It’s a long one today-I’m not known for my shorts posts now, am I?

So, starting at the beginning, this month’s ‘A Minimal Minute’ is really an introduction to how we both found our way to minimalism…

Minimal pegboard moodboard with rose quartz, grey and black

Although I love the minimal aesthetic, I don’t think I truly grasped the positive effect it can have on your state of mind until we moved in here from our much smaller home three years ago. It was a like a rabbit hutch, we’d outgrown it and, as I started packing I realised just how much “stuff” we had hiding away that we’d forgotten about. I won’t go into it but the three boxes of back issues of Vogue magazine, seven years worth of old bank statements and random bits of broke jewellery were the tip of the iceberg! It made complete sense to have a really good purge before we moved into the new place and again as we unpacked and were really glad of it.

Moving In, Clearing Out

Suddenly we went from having no space and loads of “stuff” to more space and, in comparison, very few things. Our initial reaction was to make plans to fill up the space again – because that makes the most sense, right? But after spending a few months just enjoying the sense of space, the lack of furniture everywhere and shelving crammed full of things, we decided to continue living only with what we absolutely loved and made use of regularly. The impact it has on our daily lives, particularly as we both work from home has been enormous, to know that we have that physical and mental space, even though we struggle to stay on top of the ever-expanding number of toys the children have to play with. I think you just have to be realistic about how far you’re willing to go with it. As much as the pristine, spacious Scandinavian style houses with barely a thing in each room are incredibly seductive for me, we are a family, so we’re never going to be spotless. I need to make a creative mess whilst I’m working on client briefs too and usually that means piles of magazines and books on and around my desk, paper cuttings stuck to the walls in my office and if I’m shooting at home then entire rooms get turned upside down for a day or so in the interests of getting the job done. Everything returns to how it was eventually though, it’s important to be able to feel that I can start a new project afresh.

Rose pink, rose quartz, blush pegboard moodboard

Minimal Budget

Out of necessity, as a family minimalism extends far beyond how we use our space and into how and where we spend our money. The daily grind as freelancers means we need to be more creative with our income – we don’t go on holidays very often so we use our weekends to focus on quality family time on local days out, we buy only what we need and don’t have debts to contend with which in itself is liberating. I just don’t feel comfortable being a full-on “consumer” anymore in the way that I was in my student days where I would sign up for any card going. Wow. At the very least I need to know where what I’m buying has come from and if I’m supporting an industry in a positive way. At its very core, it’s a stripped back way of life, focused more on finding meaning in every day experiences and we want our children to grow up with that understanding too.

Gosh, I make it all sound very serious, but honestly, it’s not! I wasn’t always a minimalist (you’d laugh if you saw how I used to be) I’m certainly not obsessively tidy (I don’t plan to read Marie Kondo’s book either-who actually does that with their socks?) but I’m very glad of the perspective it has given us in moving here.

Join Us

How does minimalism make you feel? Are you considering exploring it further or perhaps already are? We’d love for you to get involved with our topic which you’ll find out more about below. Make sure you hop over to read more about Ilaria’s perspective too…

Instagram Hashtag: ‘A Minimal Minute’ is about sharing honest moments of minimalism in our every day lives and we’d really like to extend this series out to you. If you’re on Instagram and you find a moment at home or out and about during your day and find a quiet, minimal space, piece of design or a moment, tag it with #aminimalminute and we’ll share our favourites on our blogs, picking the most inspiring to feature during our talk at The Hive. 

Find us: @curatedisplay @un23ilaria 

Photography & Styling © Tiffany Grant-Riley 

Lovely idea for a new series, I look forward to reading more! I could definitely do with introducing more minimalism. I’m a bit of a hoarder at heart, but am trying to declutter, as I’m now feeling that ‘less is more.’

Really interesting post and one that resonates with me even though I’ve never consciously described myself as a minimalist. We moved from a smaller flat to a larger house and have done tons of decluttering on the way. Whilst I have lots of “stuff”, I’m highly aware of not wanting to live in a cluttered home. Everything has its place. I’m not setting out to be a minimalist in the purest sense (all white surfaces, hardly any decorative items on show) but am very conscious of what I buy (or rather not nowadays) and whether I truly love something. That probably still doesn’t make me a minimalist, but it works for me 😉 xo

Oh I’m really interested to see where this series goes. I’m interested in minimalism but I really couldnt see it working as my husband and kids have so much stuff!

Lovely will be glad to join in very busy decluttering our lives right now

Oh dear you’ve reminded me of my stash of back issues of Vogue ? I keep meaning to do something about. Can’t wait to get involved with this hashtag xxx

I LOVE this concept Tiff. And your images are just pure perfection. I have a real need to know exactly what is in my home and that means an element of minimalism, but with intention. I feel mentally so much clearer and lighter when my living space is not on top of me. I shall enjoy watching this series evolve x

ps. What colour is that dark teal-y Valspar chip?

What a truly inspiring subject! I have been living a minimal lifestyle for years whitout realising it. Your post made me see how rewarding this can be. It’s sometimes hard not to feel like the weird one when most people around you don’t live the same lifestyle.

Am pondering how I join the hashtag on IG – will definitely keep it in mind but it’s weird – I kinda moved beyond the minimalism thing when I realised that I really love my stuff! It’s not clutter to me and it makes me smile. I realised that the space & peace I was looking for had nothing to do with stuff but more with the weight of the clutter I used to have (both physical & mental). I have done a lot of work in the last 5 years with Nat (when we were working on Apartment Diet) & have let a lot of things, projects, to do lists, people & expectations go & I couldn’t recommend it more. I live very light these days in my house full of stuff! Not bought to keep up with trends or to find happiness in but simply because I like them in my home (if I can use them too then even better!). It’s a great journey to be on and I’m so pleased to see more and more people going on it. ?

I *love* this new series Tiff and cannot wait to see how it develops. So wonderful to read your story – I’m so inspired to throw so much excess stuff out right now!! xx

Brilliant idea. I am an aspiring minimalist and by that I mean perpetually. As an aside to storing of back issues of mags, I had started a subscription of athe country edition of an American magazine when it first came out. I collected all issues save 4 during the ten odd years that they were publishing. Around then we were moving house and on the spirit of de-cluttering I gave away the whole pile. One month after we moved, the magazine wound up. All I am left with now is one solitary issue. Talk about timing.

Hi Esdee, I did the same with Vogue magazine for years. Piles of them just sitting in the loft in the hopes that one day they might be worth something. In the end I got rid of them all. Felt good though. Keep it up!