I tend to go off on tangents. What, you mean you haven’t noticed? I start typing and I just keep going. So on New Years Day I promised myself I wasn’t getting on the computer, wasn’t responding to any comments, and was taking a day off.
Ehh, well there was just one itsy bitsy little comment that maybe I had time for… next thing I know I’ve written almost a whole blog post as a reply! So I decided to turn that response into a post, make Regina wait 2 days for her big response, and put it up where more people could read it. I also wanted to open it up to other minimalists to share tips for Regina as well, so make sure to leave your ideas in the comments section!
Regina’s moving into her very first apartment (exciting times!) and she wants it to be minimalist. She’s got people around her who want to fill it up for her though. They’re talking dining tables she’s talking bare bones. What’s a girl to do? Ask the Minimalist Packrat of course! Here’s her question followed by my response.
I just discovered your blog through Miss Minimalist and I’m really enjoying it, especially the Holidays post. You mentioned that you don’t have a dining room table – what are your thoughts behind this? I’ll be minimally furnishing my first apartment pretty soon and am getting pressure from everyone it seems who wants to furnish it for me! Any tips on what you live without would be appreciated!
Thanks and keep up the awesome posts,
Glad you found me! You’ve got some good questions Regina. About the dining room table, hmmm. Even before I was minimalist I never had one. I grew up in a house with a big 10 person dining table and a 4 person kitchen table too. But after a certain age (around 7) no one required that I sit around the table to eat, so I grew up eating on the floor in front of the television. (How American!)
So when I moved out on my own a table to eat at wasn’t a priority. Then when my clutter accumulations got to be too much, it wasn’t even a possibility! I mean a dining table would have cut into the amount of stuff I could have!
The only time I’ve had a dining table was in our most recent house we were renting. (Funny, it was after going minimalist that I finally lived with a dining table!) It was a small little retro 2 person bistro table. We served nice dinners for 2 and Patrick had a place other than his lap to “laptop” on.
Before that (pre-dining table living) when we had company we’d often serve buffet style food instead of “sit-down dinners”. All our friends were always fine with sitting in chairs and eating. I’ve also done cushions around the coffee table (old-school Asian style dining) and that was fun too. I’ve never missed having a dining table and think it’s completely optional! It’s all about your preferences.
Back to your other questions about minimally furnishing an apartment, we only had a dining table in our last house because there was room for it. Space is the critical factor. I suggest you focus on what your needs and wants are and ignore all the noise from everyone else. Tell everyone you appreciate their interest but that you’re really excited to “design” your very own first apartment on your own. Then look at your activities and go from there. What we had in our most recent home (a 2 bedroom with a porch) was:
Living room: 1 couch, 2 footstools, 1 dresser, 1 dinette set, 1 dog bed
Bedroom: 1 bed, 2 nightstands, another dog bed
Office: 1 computer table, 3 chairs
I don’t have a lot of photos to show of our “whole space”. I was silly and took many pictures of little things like drawers and forgot to take room pictures before we moved! Here’s 2 shots I salvaged of our living room. They were designed for other posts so please ignore the clutter in the first shot (it was for a benefits of minimalism, you still have clutter but it’s less crazy post) and the cd’s in the second shot (for a music clutter post).
In this shot you see the dinette, the couch, the 2 footstools and the curtains.
In this shot you see more curtains, our dresser which functioned as a t.v. stand while storing our clothes and a peek of the big amethyst crystal I always talk about on the floor. Not shown in either shots is the dog bed and a vase on one windowsill. Those are the only other things that were in this room.
As far as other items that folks are probably telling you to stock up on here’s our list of some common quantities that we owned. No wall art except for 1 large mirror in the bedroom, a dry erase board in the office, and a tapestry on the bathroom door. Other items were:
Kitchen: 2 pots, 2 pans, 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 sets of utensils, some cooking utensils and dish towels, 1 fruit bowl, a few pieces of tupperware, a colander, a cutting board
Bathroom: 1 vase, 1 wooden box, some crystals, 2 towels, 2 wash cloths
Bedroom: a crystal, 1 set of sheets, 1 blanket, 1 comforter, 2 pillows, 1 jewelry box, laundry bag in closet
Other than that we also had a few personal items, cleaning supplies, some minimal document storage (an accordian file), some cd cases, a dvd player, pet supplies and 3 musical instruments. I’m sure I’m forgetting some things but that’s close to the whole list!
I’m a big fan of “less is more” when it comes to furniture. There are many shades of minimalism. The most important thing is for you to be comfortable with the level you choose. A minimalist lifestyle (for me) is about comfort and functionality.
When you really break it down all a person needs is a cozy place to lay their head and a comfy spot to sit. For your situation (starting with a clean slate, how exciting!) I recommend starting off with the least you can and seeing how it feels. Then add things after you’ve lived in the space a while and gotten a feel for what you want!
So you asked what furniture I live without? Here’s a post of 100 Things I’ve Learned to Live Without. Most recently we lived without table lamps, floor lamps, bookcases, a traditional t.v. stand, end tables, plant stands, plants, a coffee table, end tables, cd/dvd racks, a bakers rack, modular storage pieces, and “extra” seating in the living room. There is more of course (buffets, credenzas, blah-blah-blah) but this is a list of furniture that I used to own as a packrat and downsized from.
What I’ve found is the more “small stuff” I get rid of the less “big stuff” I need. All those furniture items well-meaning people think are neccessities can become obsolete when you own less! Like books. We got rid of all the books and no longer needed a bookcase. We got rid of the plants and no longer needed plant stands. We got rid of the knick-knacks and no longer needed weird little pieces of furniture to put them on.
If your “well-meaning” people are wanting to buy you things new (instead of tossing you hand-me-downs), try to have a hand in the decisions so you get stuff that matches your style instead of theirs. Choose the basics of what you want!
Here’s my take on a first-time minimalist apartment on a budget, and a sample shopping list even! It’s the $1,000 minimalist apartment. Think multi-functional. Get the wide Malm 6 drawer dresser from Ikea (under $200). Store clothes in it and use it as your t.v. stand in the living room. Add in 2 Poang chairs from Ikea (Under $100 each) and your living room is furnished! They’re comfy and very stream lined, taking up a minimum of space. Plus they can be disassembled if you move. Then blow your budget on a great quality mattress set and a gorgeous comforter that makes you smile every time you see it for the bedroom. Put two modular storage cubes (Target $20 each) on either side of the bed as nightstands, throw in some breezy curtains, a few larger decorative elements and your done!
I’ll leave you with a few inspiration shots from around the internet to get you salivating. I’ve shown more “realistic” shots rather than the $50,000 minimalist room photos that are out there (except for one or two that I slipped in):
Simple, quirky and fun living room zone…
A splash of color and (gasp) pattern in this living room/dining combo. Cute!
Wide open space and a comfy couch in this living zone…
An upscale but funky seating area… like it except for the animal rug!
Drum roll, a pricey dream room. Love how the color is pulled together. High drama!
A real life minimalist bedroom shot, less fancy than some others, but heading towards a bit of realism with it. Notice the Malm storage headboard from Ikea (researched it as a possibility a while back. Online reports are that the storage doors don’t roll smoothly. I tested it out at an Ikea store and found wobbly, top-heavy doors to be the truth!).
A minimalist lifestyle differs from the minimalist interior design movement. In real life it can be whatever you want including a girly pink room. Not my style but I included it for variety.
Airy and light. I love it except for the animal rug again!
And finally 2 fancy inspiration bedrooms. These are what I’d love to have. Gorgeous!
That’s the end of the shots! Regina, keep us posted on your progress. I’d love to see shots of your first minimalist apartment once you’ve moved in! Any other minimalists out there want to share some tips and ideas for Regina’s first apartment? Leave your comments and thoughts below!