Downsizing: Functional Decor

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Decor is just one of those things that is difficult to downsize. Wall decor is easy to rationalize – particularly if it isn’t sentimental in nature, and can be left behind in a move. I’ve found myself making excuses for the stuff on my walls. I trimmed the top of my living room walls with twine and hung bundles of Hobby Lobby “grass” from the lines. It creates a clean, natural atmosphere for me. I strung a square fishing net from my ceiling, and filled the center of it with shells. These things make me happy to look at, and create a tone that relaxes me and puts my spirit at ease. The problem is that these things are also cheap and not in the way, so I pretend I don’t have to downsize them.

We often hear about functional decor in the context of jewelry-keeping sculptures or unique bookcases. Those things can be great additions to the minimalist lifestyle. But I’d like to play with a new idea.

What if we considered decor consumables? When we take stock of the possessions in our kitchens, we don’t count food, paper products, or cleaning supplies. Those things are use-and-replace type items, so we don’t consider them possessions. What if we thought the same way about our decor? I’ve been playing with some hypothetical guidelines for items that are strictly decorative, and here’s what I have so far:

1. If the item is only decorative, it must be free, or really, really cheap. No big-ticket purchases here. I’m talking $3, max. I can get items from thrift stores, make them myself, or beg, borrow, or steal from a friend. No (more) trips to Hobby Lobby, no shopping at Crate and Barrel (ouch), and no “browsing” (we all know what that word really means) through Pier One Imports.

2. If the item is truly functional, and secondarily decorative, rule one doesn’t necessarily apply. But even functional decor must be carefully selected and scrutinized. I have a gorgeous carved wooden box in my bathroom that holds our toiletries. The box is perfect to hold everything we need, but before deciding to keep it, I had to be absolutely sure that I needed every item it holds. I don’t want to trick myself into thinking that just because a box holds 30 items, I need all 30.

3. The decor must actively contribute to the atmosphere I want for my home. If a candle or a rug makes me feel peaceful, relaxed, and happy, it can stay. I will classify these types of items as “useful.” If I have a set of drapes or a throw pillow that doesn’t significantly affect me in a positive way, it’s just “stuff.”

I think these guidelines might evolve a little over time, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!


2 thoughts on “Downsizing: Functional Decor

  1. Umm… I would love to see your decorations they sound awesome!
    We have candles everywhere and a lava lamp I’ve had since 2002. Every night we turn off all of the lights and have peaceful candle-lit dinners and conversation/cuddle time. Tristan’s mom says our apartment is like a sanctuary.
    What do you do about family photos? I was tired of trying to find a space for every single framed picture so I took them all out of the frames and put them into a scrapbook.

  2. I think candlelight is an amazing atmosphere-setter!
    I have scanned and saved all of my pictures to my computer. Since I almost always have my laptop open, I made a slideshow of my favorite family pictures and made it my screensaver. I only have four printed photos on my wall. I’ll put up a quick post in a second so you can see what I did with them. 🙂

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