How to Bring Minimalism to Your Kitchen

10 Simple Ways to Declutter the Appearance of Your Kitchen.

I have a minimal kitchen and I love it more than ever. When the afternoon light comes through our bay window and hits just right, I'm staggered. I'm amazed at the simple beauty that shadows and light can play with one another.

It also reminds me that I've made my kitchen a respite. 

So if I want to go out for a cup of coffee, I can. But most of the time, I don't want to go out for coffee unless I'm out running errands. 

Why would I want to go out when I could stay here and look at this minimal happiness thing of beauty?

Instead, I want to stay right here, pour myself a cup of joe (heavy on the cream), and sit back and relax while I stare out the window watching the hummingbirds flit back and forth.

Here's the thing: Even though I've been minimalist since 2017, my kitchen didn't look as minimal as this just a year ago. I was hung up on a few things.

Here's what I did to change my kitchen to exactly how I wanted it and why it works perfectly now.

Eliminated a coffee machine.

For ten years - ten years!- I had both a regular coffee machine and a Keurig machine sitting on our counters. One takes up space, and the other takes up space.  But the both of them together take out a chunk of our counter and it's been silently driving me crazy. After all, all four of us in my household use both machines. How could we survive without them?

Well, we didn't have to go that far. I moved the Keurig to a kitchen cabinet that has an electrical outlet in the wall. The shelf rolls in and out and with it plugged in, it's now an invisible part of our kitchen that works well. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it, oh say, ten years ago.

Took all but one plant out of the bay window.

I love plants. But, the amount that was accumulating in the kitchen was choking my freedom. I moved most of my plants to other rooms with adequate light and left one. It looks beautiful still.

Minimized the utensil bouquet.

As useful as those bouquets are, I didn't use half of the items in there. I sorted through it, kept what I used, discarded some, donated some, and put other items in drawers. It looks far less cluttered now. and is pleasant on the eyes.

Moved the napkin holder.

It's convenient to have the napkin holder out, but it took up precious counter space. I moved the napkin holder into a drawer just below where we used to keep it on the counter. Just as easy to use, and now hidden from view.

Decluttered the curio cabinet.

I have one cabinet, out of all of my kitchen cabinets, that has glass windows. I hold a vase and pottery bowl collection in it. But, it was far too crowded. I went through it, donated a few I didn't like, put some in the house in places that could use a bowl, and sold a few through my Etsy shop. Easy enough.

Took the key catch-all bowl off the counter.

This catch-all bowl we use daily to collect our loose change, keys, and the like. But it was on the counter. I moved it to a little side table adjacent to the kitchen counter instead, freeing up more space. The problem is solved and the counter is cleared.

Took the thermometer off the counter.

This too is something I love. Having a thermometer reader that tells me the inside and outside temperature. But, it was again just one more thing on the counter. I moved it also to the little side table next to the kitchen counter and it sits like it always should've been there.

Put fruit in a bowl on the table.

For the fruit we buy, instead of putting the bananas or apples on the counter, I use a bowl and place it on the kitchen table. It's off the counter and doubles as a pleasant centerpiece.

Put the butter back in the fridge.

We leave the butter on the counter to keep it softened throughout the year. But, it also clutters our kitchen. I've returned to putting it in the refrigerator and if necessary, leave it out only a few hours at a time for a meal or two I'm prepping.

Paper towels are off the counter.

This one is easy to displace counter space. But, they're just as easily removed and put under the kitchen sink cupboard, or for our kitchen, we installed a holder underneath one of our upper cabinets. The towels are off the counter, but still accessible.

Most everything on our counters has an equally simple place to live inside our cabinets and drawers. If you're looking for a streamlined and less cluttered kitchen, it's all about simply finding new places to put the things you use.

If this is too rigid for you, keep a few things on the counter. If it's still too busy for you, find cabinets and drawers that can house all of your things, but still remain convenient to get to. Minimal living is about living with less but also about living with what works for you.

If you're looking for more resources for decluttering your kitchen, minimalist Joshua Becker has a great book called, The Minimalist Home which goes over every room of the house, the kitchen included. I highly recommend it. It helped me pare down what I had and come to terms with what I truly used and what I didn't.

You might think that after this list I have nothing left on the counters. It's not true. We still have our coffee maker, we have our phone charger, our utensil bouquet is still there, and so are our water glasses. (There is a spot for each of us to have a water glass on the counter that we reuse throughout the day, then wash when the day is done - this cuts down on waste and is very convenient.)

So, it's not spartan, but it is sparse. And it's exactly the way I want it as a minimalist who loves drinking her coffee in her beautiful minimalist kitchen.

The Power of Ten for Your Minimal Wardrobe

How the Number Ten is my Go To Number for the Clothes in my Closet

In a previous post, I talked about the minimalist wardrobe strategy created by Courtney Carver called Project 333. She has a stellar book, of the same name, to go with it. I loved the book and it helped me focus on keeping what I wore (and eliminating what I wasn't) and getting rid of the excess.

A Painting Number 10

Project 333 is an incredible concept that allows (maybe forces) us to get to the root of what we love and hone in on just that: eradicating the excess to live a simple and joyful life.

Having a minimalist closet is enjoyable, beautiful, and effortlessly simple but mostly, it's a way to take stress off our shoulders that was never intended to be there. 

The truth is, we don't need as many choices as we think we do.

But this Herculean effort at a Spartan closet isn't for me. While I am a minimalist,  I can't do Project 333 because I need more than what it offers as a limit.

33 items for every three months sounds like torture. This isn't to say the concept isn't beautiful. I understand the creation and why it has tremendous appeal. Downsizing to bare bones is overwhelmingly freeing.

But, for me as a clothes lover, 33 items sounds horrendous.

And minimalism isn't intended to be torturous. It's supposed to be helpful! 

Since we all do minimalism at varying degrees, which is how it should be - we're all different -  I've found that to have a minimal but happy closet I need a little bit more. And it turns out that "a little bit more" comes in tens.

My closet is separated into sections of tens. Meaning, I have ten pairs of jeans, ten heavy long-sleeve tops, ten lightweight long-sleeve tops, ten short sleeves, ten dresses, ten jackets, etc.

Here's why ten works for me and why it may be just what you need for your closet too.

Ten Gives Me Freedom

Sometimes, I only wear one pair of jeans (out of the ten) once a week. And I wear the rest way more often. But being able to keep that lesser-worn pair allows me to feel like I'm not giving up something I love. I don't have to sacrifice those jeans because they get worn the least. Clothing is necessary, but it should also make us feel amazing. I love and wear all ten pairs of my jeans even if some get a little more worn than others. 

Ten Gives Me Options

While I could easily only wear seven short sleeves this summer - one for every day of the week - what if I could have a few more? What if I could add a few more options ("toptions," if you will) to add to my repertoire? That's what ten short-sleeved tops are for. I have an extra one for more formal days, and I have a couple more for variety. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Why not have fun with your options? Ten allows me to keep things pared down but also have a little fun.

Ten Gives Me Flexibility 

While the goal of minimalism is to get rid of the things that never get worn, sometimes, I feel like owning an item or two allows me the flexibility that a spartan closet doesn't offer. I have a few sweaters that are for winter and I have a few sweaters that are lighter weight and great for spring and fall. Even though I tend to not wear the latter as often as the former, I like the flexibility I have with its availability. 

If it's cold in the morning, but I know it will warm up later, I don't want to bring the heavy-duty wool sweater that I'd only wear in winter. I'd rather bring the lightweight cardigan I can shed when it gets warm, and then put it back on when the cold returns. That's the flexibility I wouldn't have available if I'd gotten rid of them because I don't wear them much.

While I tout ten items for each category of clothing, there are a few outliers to this plan. I only have five skirts. I don't need ten, and probably won't, so it's going to stay at five.

I have five pairs of (non-denim) pants or trousers. It will probably stay in that range, as well. Denim is my daily wear, so that's where the bulk of my pants lie.

My shoes are in the sky-high 25-27 range. I love shoes like I love coffee and I can tell you with certainty that I will always own that many. I used to have over 60 pairs of shoes (yeah, I love shoes), so paring down to 25 has been a challenge, but a great challenge.

No, the 25 pairs don't fit into the Power of 10 section, but I don't care. This is what works for me, I've minimized my shoes, and I'm calling it good. As for accessories, keep what you love and wear, and donate the rest. I love belts and most of them are vintage. I own about 20 belts, but I wear them all, so I don't feel bad holding onto them. Plus, I love wearing them. 

So the main theme of my closet is the Power of Ten, but outliers happen.

Maybe your closet is the power of seven? I actually thought that's where I was headed. The number seven is a perfect number after all. But, as I pared down to what I love over the years, I'm finding ten is my magic number and one that gives me flexibility, freedom, and options.

It also keeps my love for clothing both attainable and in check. 

Minimalism is an individual endeavor. What works for one, may not work for another. And it's alright! The goal is to minimize what you don't use or wear, get rid of the excess, and only keep what you love.

For my closet, ten items per clothing category is a perfect ten.

Not Everything I Get is For Me │ Simply Minimally


Just because something comes to me, doesn't mean it's always for me.

As someone who works with vintage clothing (the buying and selling of it) and someone who loves to wear it as well (half of my closet is vintage - sourcing for vintage can be the biggest job hazard in the world), I've found conflicting concepts are part and parcel to what I do.

Many times, vintage items I find are to be sold. 

Many times, vintage items I find are to be mine.

But a big one that has really made an impact on me the last few years is this one: many times, vintage items I find -- even ones that I thought would be mine -- are not always for me.

This sounds counterintuitive. Why not keep something you love? What's inherently wrong with that?

Well, nothing. There's nothing wrong with keeping something I love and can wear or use. But the moment there's a feeling of unease about the item, I know it's not for me.

What do I mean by unease? I'm talking about zero peace.

I can try to get this peace artificially and say to myself  "Oh yeah, this is for me. I mean it fits, it looks right, and I've been looking for this for years..." I can have all the reasons, excuses, and validation hallmarks to keep the item. It's for me, it has to be for me!

And yet, the moment I walk away from the item and come back to it, there's a glaring red light coming from it that no one else but I can see.

This red light is the absence of peace. And when I don't have that peace, I know the item isn't for me.

This happens in other areas of my life and covers new (not just vintage) things too. I'm talking about the trip to Target or picking up extra things at Costco.

I'm also talking about things people give to me randomly, or even gifts. Sometimes, I know the gift is to keep. Other times, I hesitate if it's supposed to be mine.

Have you ever gotten something and immediately thought of someone else who could use it or use it better than you ever could? I'm not talking about gifts you don't like. 

I'm talking about great gifts like a jacket, or bottle of wine. Or the random bookshelf someone gave you. Random stuff.

And even though you could keep these items, for reasons you can't explain, you second guess keeping it.

Here are a few questions I ask myself and how I assess that feeling of giving to others what isn't for me and why it's all a part of the minimal living movement. 

Is this something I need right now? If it is, that's great. It means I don't have to worry I've just acquired something I can't use and I'm not feeling weird about it. No red light glaring at me. Perfect. But sometimes I ask...

Is this something someone else needs right now? This is hard because some items I get I think are for me. But, if my first thought is "This should go to so-and-so," then the item isn't for me to keep. And sometimes I ask both ...

Is this something I could use, but also something someone else needs? Is this replaceable if I let it go? This is the confusing one. But the one to listen to. Often I think the item is for me (and have someone else in mind for it) but I know I'll find another one or be gifted another one sometime in the future. This happens to me all the time.

It's sacrificial giving, but I find it to be the best kind of giving.

The more minimalist I've become, I realize I can live well with less. And living well doesn't mean I need everything I think I need. Sometimes what I receive is meant to be returned to those around me

Of course, there are times when the item I find is for me and it's perfect and it's what I've been looking for. Some days I get what I both need and want. It's not about giving up everything. 

And other times, it is about letting go. Right now, I have a purse that I'm going to give away, a mug that I know is not for me, and a sweater I thrifted that I thought I'd be keeping for myself. They're not for me, even though I thought they were.

This can happen with food, clothing, furniture, books, everything! Stuff is just stuff and I'd rather give someone something I can do without that they could use to make their life better.

It is better to get, and give away, than to receive and hold onto something that doesn't belong to me. 

If peace isn't a part of your surroundings, then part with it and pare down. Perhaps it is meant for someone else.

Has this happened to you before? Let me know in the comments.


Small House for a Big Result │ Why a Small House Might be your Best Choice

A view of a dining room and living room
Dining Room and Living Room
Have you ever watched the HGTV show Tiny House Hunters? 

My husband and I have seen a few episodes. They're always challenging to watch. We love the idea of living in a smaller home, but a total of a couple of hundred square feet seems too small. And yet over and over, we watch families (with kids!) move into spaces that are 200 or 300 square feet.

And they're happy.

While our next move won't be a trailer, a refurbished bus, or even a houseboat, we want fewer rooms. We know we can't do a few hundred square feet, but we also know we don't even use what we have now. So something needs to change.

We live in a 2400-square-foot home. It's about twice the size of our last home. And it works perfectly for two oversized teenage/ adult sons who are in transition, alongside us two. 

While we've lived here for nearly 11 years, there are two rooms we don't use: the dining room gets used twice a year, and the living room is used as a music room.

There's a piano and guitar, banjo, and a music stand in the living room as well as a couch and all the furniture that comes with a living room. The music stuff has nothing to do with "living room" notions, and all of the instruments could easily be in a bedroom, family room, or office.

The living room is our "entertaining room" but we never entertain there. Even when it's Christmas, we utilize the family room for most of the day. I grew up in a very large, very segmented home, where there were plenty of rooms and plenty of space that wasn't in use. But because I was used to it, I wanted that in my home.

My husband questioned this, knowing full well that we probably wouldn't use it, but I persisted. Turns out, he was right. As he generally is most of the time. He's logical. He grew up in a home without a formal dining room. He knew what he was talking about. And I thought I knew what I was talking about growing up with a formal dining room.

My parents wanted to entertain in the dining room though. For me today, and our home, we want to entertain where it feels right. And that changes all the time. Our formal dining room is usually a forgotten space.

We don't use it. It's wasted space. The idea of having a dining room for guests and entertaining space is wonderful, but those rooms never get used when we entertain. The kitchen, the family room, and the dine-in kitchen space are our preferred choices.

Here's why we plan on moving to a home that's 1800 to 2000 square feet (or less) when we retire.

1. We only want space that we use.

As mentioned above, what's the point of heating and cooling space that isn't used? We're over it. The next home needs the necessary bedrooms and bathrooms, but if there is no living space or dining room, that's fine. We know that the dine-in kitchen - big enough to house a large table for guests - and a family room capable of entertaining are all we really need. There's zero point in owning space we don't use. If it's only to say we have the space, that's ridiculous. And vain. Less is more.

2. We don't want to take care of any more space than we have to.

So, you want to know who the housekeeper is for our house? Moi. After having lived in our first starter home of 1000 square feet, and then our second and third homes (1600 square feet and 1300 square feet respectively), I can tell you a small home is easy and fast to clean. It takes twice as long to clean our current home (or longer) and by the time I clean it, I feel like I need to start all over again.

Retirement is for focusing on what matters, whether it's family or activities. I don't want to spend it cleaning. I've done that for decades now. I'm good if that chore is condensed for the rest of my days here on God's earth.

3. Everything costs less.

Heating and cooling in California is astronomical. I'm sure it's bad in other areas of the states too, but here, when gas costs more, rent and food costs more than the rest of the nation, having to pay more on everything gets old, frustrating, and downright angering. If we stay in California when we retire or not, we definitely want to reduce our costs. Having a smaller home will do that. I can't wait to save money. I can't wait to spend the money we're saving on people or experiences we want or need to spend it on.

While everyone varies on their "tiny home" requirements, watching the Tiny Home shows allows us a glimpse into what it looks like to sacrifice and what it looks like to sacrifice for a result that brings in more peace. I want more peace in everything I do. Slow living and intentional living look like a life that is intent on pursuing peace rather than pursuing empty goals that only, in the long run, leave us more broke, more in deficit, and more chaotic.

While a 200-square-foot home isn't quite on the radar for us, a home that only allows for what we need sounds like a future I can live with. While it'll be a smaller home, our result will be big in terms of peace and stability. And that's all I want.


Reference Book:

There is a great book (and a beautiful one) called Small Spaces, Big Appeal. It covers homes 1200 square feet or less, but it really gives an idea of what a smaller space can do for those of us who are interested in downsizing.

Here's another one, Cozy Cottage & Cabin Design. A beautiful compilation of cottage-style homes perfect for those who want to see what smaller spaces look like that pack a cozy and gorgeous punch.

Mini Book Review on Minimalism │ The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

The Year of Less Book Cover by Cait Flanders
Have you read this book? It's called The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store.

I didn't think I had read this book until one chapter in I noticed it sounded familiar. Not familiar in the "Oh, I remember reading this" but more along the lines of "This seems like I know it but I don't know why" kind of familiar.

I quickly checked my Goodreads app and sure enough, in July of 2018, I'd read it. Huh. Why didn't I remember that? In Cait Flander's biography on Amazon, it notes that this book "went on to become one of the most sold nonfiction books on Amazon in July 2018."

I bet it was. That's when I'd read it too.

So, why did I forget I had read it?

It wasn't because it wasn't a good book. This book felt far more comforting and attractive than other minimalist lifestyle books I'd read. It was honest, down-to-earth, and even ugly real sometimes. I could fully relate to her. 

But, maybe that's why I couldn't remember reading it. Because back when I had read it, I wasn't relating to her.

In 2018, though I'd been pursuing minimalism for about a year (albeit slowly) I was still learning about myself, and figuring out why I wanted minimalism in my life. I was also going through a heavy time of turmoil in various things from my marriage (we're fine) to shifting of friends, even to career choices.

Despite the heavy things, just like the heavy things Flanders covers in her book, I felt more in touch and aligned with what she had to say almost six years later - and re-reading it for the second time - than I did the first time around.

I didn't remember reading it because I wasn't ready to read it. That's my takeaway. I didn't jive with her book in the same way I did now because I was a different person six years ago. While things are great and wonderful today (amidst the moments of normal hardships) I felt very in tune with what she went through to get to her minimalistic lifestyle. Far more in tune in 2024 than in 2018.

Now, this re-reading of books thing isn't unusual for me. Twenty years after the first read-through of Tuesdays with Morrie (I wrote about it on my other blog) I read it again and loved it so much more. 

I think it's because experience does things to us that we can't anticipate. Books that I didn't necessarily like years ago are some of the best books I've ever read today. It's remarkable how time changes us. Experience alters our thoughts. Humility makes us see how much we don't know and how much we're all alike.

If you haven't read The Year of Less, I greatly recommend it. It's not a long book and her experiences pull you into her story from page one. She represents all of us: wounded, trying desperately to survive and thrive; she is a human being finally seeing that to do better and to be better, she needs to focus on the important things, like less stuff and smarter choices... which happens to be the opposite of what the world wants for us.

I fully relate. 

Minimalism isn't a popular thing (even though it's had - and currently has - its trending moments). In a consumeristic culture, to want less and be surrounded by less, and to desire more of the life God wants of us is counter-culture. People don't get it, don't like it, and don't want to understand it.

Slow living isn't for the faint of heart. 

But going against the grain means we've opened our eyes. And I'd rather live with my eyes wide open and alone than with fools who follow each other like sheep.

Read the book. It's worth it.