Minimalism: Are We Doing it Wrong?
I’ve concluded this: Small apartment living will turn your relationship to a Seinfeld spin-off; normalcy punctuated with moments of conflicting comedic relief on varying subjects of non-importance.
We live in a rectangular box that hovers five stories off the ground. The 800 square feet we pay a hefty premium for is divided into six small spaces: kitchen, living room, bedroom, walk-in closet, bathroom, and a bonus room. The apartment has plenty of positive attributes. It is sleek and modern with tall ceilings, natural light, exposed duct work– all the shiny amenities those seemingly miserable couples on House Hunters want: Open floor plan. Granite countertops. Stainless steel appliances. BOOYA, am I right?
For the most part, yes. Booya. We’re lucky to afford these amenities, and we’ve enjoyed ourselves here. We’ve enjoyed it as much as two people living on top of each other can enjoy themselves.
The disappearing Ray Bans. Stolen blankets, hijacked pillows. The walk-in closet we can’t walk in. Our war with fruit flies and spilled white wine. The perpetually dirty black granite countertops. Weekends when we only talk in southern accents. When she wants to sleep and he tap dances out of bed at 6am in a song and dance. The lone high heel outside the bathroom on a Saturday night, waiting to put a 6’3″ man on his back. A rearranged apartment upon returning from a business trip. Melt down. Forgiveness. Dinner cross-legged on the floor. Laughter. Sex. Love. Deep, deep love.
Small spaces prove our opposites do in fact, attract, and in return we accept that our stuff makes life more colorful and loud than dull and reserved.
I often think about what these pictures look like to the person who hasn’t visited our apartment. After they appeared on The Every Girl, I began to see our home on Pinterest. The captions that accompanied each pin told me what people took away from our space. Modern and clean. A mix of masculine and feminine. Eclectic. To some, minimal. Yes, I think it could be considered all these things. Yet, for as happy as I am with our home, I won’t remember this space because of the way it is photographed in this post. I’ll remember the process. The time it took to understand what we each need to live comfortably, my partner’s concerns before my personal preferences, when to give and when to stand your ground.
To call minimalism an aesthetic threatens to leave us with nothing but a thin shell of veneer. If you only have style in mind, you’ll bleach away the true essence of what minimalism reveals: purity and purpose. When we first moved into this space, I wanted it to be something completely different than what is has become. SUPER clean. Lots of empty space. I had a pin-worthy picture in my mind. But what I got was more than I bargained for. That image in my mind didn’t reflect who we are as a couple. We had to let style follow function, and what we needed was a place to live together as equals. We created an expression of our life together that is all our own. The process is everything. It is where the learning is had. Everything else is extra.
Maybe we strive for reduction and restraint in our lives to deal with chaos and uncertainty. Maybe it’s easier to sell a minimalist facade than it is to need fewer things emotionally. Even when we achieve it, nothing is ever perfectly manicured for long. There’s always something new to process.
Minimalism means a lot of things to me. Right now, it is finding the harmony between two imperfect people so they can move independently and effortlessly together. Minimalism is a clear head. Minimalism is the short list of things I need to stay healthy. Minimalism is a home designed with meaning and intention, not praise or applause. Minimalism is not an idea to sell. Minimalism will never be the end result, for it is the process I admire more than the aesthetic.
August 29th we close on our first house. This process will start all over again on a much larger scale. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes us.
Photos by Melissa Oholendt