25 Jun 2009

Minimalist or maximalist?


I am always undecided whether I want to be a minimalist or a maximil-ist. I don’t think that is the right word in this context, but I guess you get the picture.

When I am having a minimalist moment at home I hide anything and everything away.

I remove all traces of personal memorabilia, photos, artefacts and knick-knacks from the furniture in my quest to achieve purity of design.

I tell myself that an uncluttered space will lead to an uncluttered mind and that this must be a good thing;

I will feel more peaceful within if I clear away the excess. This does not mean that I throw anything away – a clue that I am not a true minimalist – it just means that I can fool myself temporarily.

This is of course an unsustainable existence for someone like me who spends their life roaming around antique fairs and flea markets in the quest for the latest collectible; another clue that I am no minimalist.
Minimalism chez moi lasts for between 12 and 24 hours, sometimes not even that long, before the hidden treasure takes it’s rightful place.
At best it is a half hearted attempt to become one with the more contemporary interior and free myself from the constraints of old world decorating.
Although the packing away and the bringing out of objects will long continue on a regular basis, the truth is.
I really do prefer my clutter. xv

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I went through my 'minimalist' period a few years ago–putting things away, giving things away–but have recently discovered that the house lacks a certain warmth when there is not sign of being lived in. I think I'm moving toward a middle ground.

Happy to know I'm not alone in my confusion.


I am glad I am not the only one with this problem. I think I lean towards being a minimalist but then if presented with the opposite I start oohing and aahing. Very difficult if you ask me. I think you are maximalist in the most elegant way!



haha! i absolutely understand this problem. i go through the same thing all the time in my living space.

i try so hard to be a minimalist but then again love my "stuff."

My Carolina Kitchen

I would love to be a minimalist but I've inherited the "collecting" gene. I also can't throw anything away.
Could be because I'm the product of parents who were graduating from college at the height of the Great Depression.

When we moved to the islands to live in a tiny house, my husband told me to get rid of anything that wouldn't fit there. It was very painful to part with beautiful antiques and sets of china. I did it because I had to. Now that we're back in the US, I'm out there everyday buying back all of those goodies that I got rid of as fast as I can.

Olga Granda-Scott

I'm so glad that the collector always ends up winning in the end. I have this same dilemma all the time. Especially, with the small children, I convince myself that less will be more practical. But alas, I need "stuff". Stuff that reminds me of trips and people and special occasions. Even not so special occasions. They are our "personal histories" in a way. If we don't have any souvenirs from our past, how do we move towards the future? Thank you for your "confession", Vicki. It is nice to know that even though some magazine photos can look fabulous with clean spaces–we can't all live like that!
Olga ~dancing through paris


I love my stuff too. I really do want it all around me. I just want to learn how to arrange it in a minimalist way. I see some homes that have a ton of things and it doesn't look cluttered. I need to discover that knack. Hugs, Marty

My Notting Hill

Oh I prefer treasure clutter too. On the way home from work I happened by a yard sale and came home with a sweet sconce w/little birds, a tiny 2 level occasional table, a pair of Moroccan styled coffee tables and a House & Garden magazine on the White House from 1966. I'll just have to rotate some others things out to make room for these…

Linda Carswell

I know exactly where you are coming from, we are 'between' houses at the moment and all of my 'pretties' are packed away…I thought I wouldn't miss them, but I long for the day to unpack…(I take all my frustrations out on my 'petite maison')

Nadine @ BDG

I run those extremes too– one minute I'm going clean and spacious, the next I'm looking for cozy– charming objects, pillows, artwork, etc etc. What does this say about our decorating psyches? Complicated!

Alison Gibbs

Oh what a coincidence. Just before I snuck into the computer for a quick peek, I was pretending to be a minimalist because the dreaded mother in law is coming for the weekend. I do love my clutter but SHE does NOT so I pack lots away and when she goes home it comes out again!!

Joanna Jenkins

I'm of the mind that clutter is good, as long as it's dusted semi annually. I love roaming antique fairs and stores, and well, sometimes I just gotta bring more stuff into the house :-)


I share your lament! In, fact this was to be the topic of my next post! I love things and I want them, but I get so distracted and agitated by clutter. what's a girl to do. I have learned to hide things well when I do declutter, otherwise my hubby thinks it is free season to clean out permanently!!
I do love figs!!! We have such a short harvest time for them here that I can never get enough (I only like them fresh)!! They are beautiful! Enjoy! :) KIM

Alicia @ boylerpf

I am very much the same way. I look around and say too much clutter. Clean, put away and within 2 days, I am right where I was when I started. I think I just enjoy my worldly comforts that have become dear friends around me!

Renee Finberg

i identify with you deeply.
i am torn….i love the minimalist, and mid century styles, but here i am the same as you, drawn to antique fairs etc.
they are just so fascinating, the discoveries so fabulous.

i would have to abstain completely from even looking at antiques of any sort if my home were minimalist.
i would be tortured not to make a purchase….and you know that it never stops with 'one purchase'.

i like very much your new possession.


I could have written this, or something very much like it. I do like things neat and clean but the truth is, despite periodically "clearing the decks", I like my *stuff*.

Josephine Tale Peddler

I'm like a lot of creative people and I'm a right hoarder! I very much belong in the maximalist group! I'd love to be more organized in my disorder and I'm working towards it but I do love my clutter! I wrote a post on the much-loved Australian artist, Mirka Mora this week and she even has a book called Love and Clutter! I can admire minimalist houses but to me they lack a certain soul! As long as you love and value your 'clutter' then spread it around your home! Plenty of time for minimalism when you're lying in a coffin in my honest opinion! xx


I could have written this myself

I spend so much time hunting for treasure and the other half of my time trying to declutter it all

nice post


My favorite line, "This does not mean that I throw anything away – a clue that I am not a true minimalist – it just means that I can fool myself temporarily." That's me to the core! I "want" to be a minimalist–ha, ha–but can't for the life of me part with my treasures!

The Antiques Diva™

I can so relate to this post!!! I find I try to tuck things away, make my home more minimalist, but then memories,antiques and artifacts creep back into view… For me, wanting to be a minimalist is like wanting to like Woody Allen movies… I feel I should like them, but I never do!


I think your definition of clutter and mine may vary somewhat Vicki – That's not clutter !
Have a great weekend :)

mondo cherry

I have given in to my maximalist side – as my sister points out, with 5 kids and another on the way, how could I possibly be anything else! If I could just manage to be a tidy maximalist I think I would be happy…
Clare x


This post is spot on! I am the same way. And I am never sure what drives me, sometimes the weather, I think. When it is cold, I like all the comforts of being surrounded. When it is seething outside, I remove decorative items(and even furniture!)like clothing on a hot day! Great post!


I am somewhere in the middle, Vicki. I could never be a total minimalist because I like looking at pretty things too much! Have a wonderfully relaxing weekend! XO


I don't know that I love clutter, but I have tried to organize everything–especially my desk, my closets, the kitchen cabinets, the books shelves, etc., etc., etc. But the truth is that I can never find anything without the clutter–I know where everything is when it's messy, but can't find anything when it is minimal!! So I have solved the problem by having a minimal shop…but lately I have noticed that shoppers prefer non-minimalist shopping spaces. Now I am teaching myself to clutter up the shop! Hopefully, the minimalist half of me will transfer over to my home!? Thanks for shedding light on this creative person's quandry.

KC Mom

So true! I go back and forth between chaos and minimalist. I love the cleanliness sometimes and other times I just love having the things I love around me. And I LOVE collecting more stuff.

mimi charmante

I have decided that I love my treasures that I find, but dislike clutter. I try to find the balance and keep things simplified but still surround myself with the things I love.
I can be difficult, can't it?
Have a lovely weekend!


I am both but I love to accumulate ( I'm an antiques dealer ) Sometimes I'm fed up with things but it lasts 24 hours not more. To dress , I'm more minimalist , most of the time I think less is more

Fabulous Finds Gal

I can't get away from having the books, pictures and treasures around me. It just feels cold without them. I will never be a minimalist. Oh well… but I do appreciate it when done well. I just wouldn't want to live in it everyday.


I have an identity crisis when it comes to decorating and this is one way it manifests itself. There are days when I can't stand the sight of all the "stuff" then there are days when I want to be surrounded by everything. My current solution to this is to keep most of the house fairly minimal and go crazy in my studio where everything is displayed.

Susan Alcorn

No one would ever accuse me of being a minimalist–although I often bemoan the clutter. My husband, bless him, often reminds me that "a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind." Such is life!


RE-arrange, balance and air I can still keep all my favorite things and life is not bad.
Thank you for such wonderful site.luvlindac


I must say that I am the same… I love my flea markets and knick knacks from travels all over far too much to be minimalist, even though I appreciate minimalism.

Rebecca@Harmony and Home

Vicki, you pose the greatest questions! I vacillate between min and max myself. I detest clutter, yet, I seem to do everything to counter that! I have thousands of clippings from magazines, binders with my favorite pics, tons of stuff strewn around my office, etc, etc. While I'd love to keep things more bare, I find it a daily challenge! Hope your week is lovely!


Oh vicky…I guess You wrote MY mood!
Actually I am minimalist…but I can't help my self: i avoid empty spaces.
Thanks again for your post!


I have a love-hate relationship with clutter. I love a home that is freshly vacuumed, dusted and cleared of any superfluous clutter, but how quickly it re-instates itself in the places it likes to collect… it is a never-ending battle to keep it to a minimum, yes? Hx

K @ Blog Goggles

I'm so with you. I'm pretty minimalist in everything but clothing right now… though that might be circumstance (living in Hong Kong, trying to not accumulate too much before moving back to the States!). Interesting debate, though.

P.S. I'm hosting my first giveaway! Check it out if you get a chance :)

keli *

i am the same way! i have given up on the minimalist and opted for an eclectic vibe in my new apartment. so far, its working out marvelously :)

Di Overton

Can you imagine what it's like for me? I have minimalist moments then find some new stuff. I suppose I just live with what I am comfortable with at the time.


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