An aesthetic minimalist is a person who prefers to have their possessions and surroundings arranged in a minimalist way. The classic thought that comes to mind is a sparsely-furnished, all-white room, but there are many more facets to this type of minimalism. We’ll go into more depth in this post.
This post is the first in a series about the different types of minimalism. But before we get started, I want to say that you don’t have to be one type of minimalist, nor do you have to follow all the tenets of a minimalist lifestyle to consider yourself minimalist. Heck, don’t even use the word “minimalist” if you don’t want to. This is a guide to help you pick and choose ideas that work for you. Don’t worry about whether you’re “doing it right” or not. We are humans, not archetypes.
Features of the aesthetic minimalist
Here are some common themes of the aesthetic minimalist lifestyle.
Preference of neutral colors, or a monochrome palette (such as the all-white room i mentioned above)
In the home, minimal furniture, art, etc. Pieces are in simple, modern styles with very little or no adornments; smooth surfaces, no fine details. Artwork might be line drawings or abstract works, or no decoration at all. This person may eschew things like tablecloths, vases of flowers, area rugs, etc.
Aesthetic minimalists abhor clutter. They want as much as possible tucked out of sight. No matter how much the like to cook, they are not the types to have six different appliances sitting out on their countertops. These will instead have a home in a cabinet or closet so you can’t see them.
Along with lack of clutter, they prefer neatness. Their homes will often be clean and things will be in order. They might be the types that prefer to clear off their desk before they leave work for the day, and never have any trash or random items laying about their car.
In personal appearance, they may also choose simplicity. This could be seen as a sleek haircut and a well-edited wardrobe. They might often wear a single color (like black) in clothes without logos, graphics, or patterns. Make-up, jewelry, accessories, and nail polish are neutral or absent.
Behind the scenes of an aesthetic minimalist
This person cares about the appearance of minimalism. They feel at home in a space that is orderly and clean, and has very few visual distractions. They find this style calming and pleasing to the eye.
They may also find clutter or mess irritating or even discover it’s difficult to concentrate knowing there is something out of place. Examples could be the need to wash the dishes before going to sleep instead of waiting until the morning, or constantly wanting to rearrange their drawers to make them more organized.
Please know that I am not saying these things to criticize at all. I consider myself to have aesthetic minimalist tendencies. I enjoy continuous cycles of editing my possessions and keeping them ordered. I hate going to bed with dishes still in the sink, and while my clothes are not all monochromatic, they tend toward solid colors and there are very few of them.
The minimalist aesthetic does not necessarily factor in cost, number of possessions, or decluttering other parts of one’s life. For example, when someone decides to incorporate this look, they might buy all-new pieces of furniture so everything matches, and re-paint all their walls to be the same color. They might create a new wardrobe and get rid of all their old clothes.
They might still have those six appliances in the cabinet, plus a brand-new set of dishes in all-white. You just can’t see them because they’re tucked out of sight. Maybe they even have a storage unit or basement full of their old stuff, just in case they change their mind.
Meanwhile, they might still have very busy schedules. Their minimalist-looking homes could be sleek, modern mansions; they might have four cars for two people (so long as they are kept immaculately and hidden away in a garage). In this way, someone who has a minimalist aesthetic but does not have any other minimalist tendencies is not really practicing a minimalist lifestyle, but rather a minimalist appearance. And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just their preference.
Ways to incorporate aesthetic minimalism into your life
If facets of this lifestyle appeal to you, why not pick and choose the ones that would benefit you and ease them in to your lifestyle.
Find ways to simplify your surroundings and make them more visually appealing to you. If you’re holding on to pieces of furniture, clothing, or other possessions that don’t suit your tastes or make you feel good, give them a new home.
Make an effort to arrange the items you choose to keep in a way that makes sense to you and brings joy when you see them. For example, I love opening my kitchen cabinet where the dishes are, and seeing them all stacked neatly in a way that makes it as easy as possible to take them out or put them away.
While other types of minimalists (to be discussed later), would get rid of things, an aesthetic minimalist might buy some cute containers to organize them. They might love to spend hours in a place like The Container Store or Organized Living, selecting matching sets of baskets for crafts, or color-coordinated office supply holders.
If you’re short on cash but want a more unified look, you can update what you already have. Use paint and fabric to convert mismatched pieces into items that look like they belong together. Check out thrift stores, garage sales, and websites like Craigslist for free or low-cost items if you need to round out your space.
The goal with minimalist aesthetics is to create a visual effect within your home, office, or closet that makes you feel soothed, happy, and comfortable. Keep away from trends, doing things that create more stress, or taking up an idea that feels boring or unsettling to you, just because you feel like you have to.
If decluttering is essential to your goal of becoming more minimalist in your aesthetics, here are some resources that may help.
Courtney Carver’s Capsule Wardrobe Microcourse (affiliate link), which gives you all the tips to get started over an easy 7 days and is very affordable. Courtney’s tips are what I used to create my own capsule wardrobe, as discussed in my post about My Minimalist Closet.
Pinterest and YouTube are also good resources for upgrading items you already have—just make sure you don’t get lost down the black hole of pictures and videos!