For the last four years, I have shared several different apartments, houses and rooms with someone who doesn’t live minimally. Not too long ago I received a lovely email from a blog reader asking if I could share some tips and lessons from living with someone who doesn’t practice a minimalist way of life.
I emailed her back with some advice, but also thought this could be something that others are interested in.
So here it goes, my take on living minimally with a partner / child / roommate who does not:
I live as a minimalist. I have removed the clutter and distractions from my day to day life. My rooms are filled with items which enrich my life but don’t give off a bad energy take time to clean, rearrange or take up space. I don’t spend money on materialistic goods for the home, but only the furnishings I need.
However I also share this space with my husband, a non-minimalist, who loves his material goodies and has a particular fondness for antique chests, coins, fossils and other intriguing collectables. He is also a collector of hobbies and therefore switches between pro-squash player, chess champion and keen whittler each week.
So how do we share a space?
We realise that in order to be happy we need to be able to fill our life with what is important to us.
Writing, photography, having time to myself and working digitally is important to me. Oh and getting my caffeine fix!
Tennis, other various hobbies, collecting things, gaming, films, eating good food, graphic design and being creative are important to him.
Together we both love our cats, reading, spending time with loved ones and travelling.
So our shared space and ways of experiencing and living life reflects all of the above. We have a minimalist-ish home. The bookshelves are still filled with reams of books, there’s a cabinet of curious items in the study, and there’s the odd Star Wars toy or Xbox game dotted about. However we both have agreed to not spend money on materialistic home items as our shared passion is travelling.
Therefore, by living with less we can see and experience a whole lot more.
The bits I would personally view as clutter, we have found inventive and decorate ways to store them which please us both. Chests for memories and sentimental items, cabinets for quirky curious collectables, and shelves for games and books.
There’s no set formula for living with someone who isn’t a minimalist. You need to ensure you can compromise and above all else you prioritise their happiness and uniqueness over the need for white space.
We work with a principle that if either of us think something in the home is:
- Enriching our life
It stays, end of discussion.
However below are some top tips for people who might be looking for a bit of advice for living with someone who isn’t a minimalist:
- Appreciate why they are not a minimalist, and ask them to do the same with you. If you love and respect them, and vice versa, you will be able to find a natural way to cohabit to meet both your needs.
- Use unique storage solutions to keep the sentimental and collectable items in the home. They are still there, they can still be on show, but they have a home and a place.
- Agree on how you both want to spend your money and ensure what you spend it on enriches your own lives and fulfils your priorities. So if you don’t want to spend £100 on new cushions to match the colour scheme, voice it, but appreciate that your partner might want to. You need to find even ground.
- Have a joint big declutter, and see how you can both work together to build a minimal but functional home.
- Appreciate what matters. Think about what you will remember when you are older, and then talk between you about what your dreams and priorities are.