Sarah Anne Hayes

let's keep it simple

Minimalism 101: The Bedroom

Minimalism 101Sarah Anne HayesComment

Of all the spaces in your home, the bedroom is the space that should cause you the least amount of stress. After all, at its core, the purpose of a bedroom is for you to rest. That's it.

Unfortunately, our bedrooms, like the rest of our homes, often end up being magnets for clutter and mess that make spending any time in that space the complete opposite of restful. Whether you're a neat freak or not, decluttering your bedroom is one of the easiest ways to keep things calm so your bedroom can actually be the place of rest its designed to be, instead of a space that makes you want to rip your hair out.

Remember the Purpose

Perhaps the biggest reason the bedroom becomes a place of stress instead of rest is because we allow items into the space that don't fit the purpose of the room.

In case there's any confusion, the purpose of your bedroom is simple: for you to rest.

Not only is it the place where you actually sleep, but it should also be a place that makes you feel calm and relaxed when you are winding down for the day or hanging out in the middle of the afternoon. This means that, as much as possible, anything that distracts or detracts from that primary purpose should be removed.

Beyond the bed itself, there really isn't anything else that needs to go in your bedroom.

Most of us, obviously, have more than a bed in our bedroom, but the question you need to ask yourself as you go through the space is do I have this in my bedroom because it helps me rest, or just because? If you look at everything in the room through that lens, it makes getting rid of the excess a whole lot easier.

Aside from perhaps a dresser and closet, any additional piece of furniture or large item in the bedroom should enhance the restful and relaxing sensation a bedroom is intended to provide. That's going to look different for every person, but it's important to be honest about the things in your room that are actually restful and the things in your room that are there because of convenience or habit.

Pare It Down

Like any other room in the house, the key to decluttering your bedroom is to go through the items one by one and determine what should stay and what should go. If your bedroom has been functioning as more than a bedroom for a long time, you might not get rid of the item completely, but rather put it back in the space it should've been in all along.

Of all the rooms in your home, I believe the bedroom is the one with the most space to breathe. This means getting rid of those extra pieces of furniture that serve no purpose and opening up the space as much as possible. This could look like removing a storage bench from the foot of the bed you only put there because it "fit the space," or the reading chair that serves as an alternate laundry basket more than it does a place for reading and relaxation. Hopefully you've already decluttered your closet, but if not, this would be a great time to do so.

Beyond clothing, bedding, and lighting, any other item stored in the room should be intensely scrutinized to consider whether it truly aids in your own rest and relaxation.

My bedroom has five pieces of furniture in it — my bed, two nightstands, a dresser, and a narrow bookshelf. And even those five items are intentionally chosen to keep things simple and limit the amount of clutter.

I specifically chose a nightstand with an extremely small drawer and a little shelf instead of one with multiple large drawers. This means I'm a lot more particular about the items I store in that small drawer, and I have a place right next to my bed for my journal, Bible, and books I'm currently reading, which are all part of my evening routine. The dresser is the smallest I've ever owned and I did that purposely so I could keep my clothing items limited to that physical space. The bookshelf is narrow instead of wide because it requires me to be more particular about the books and other items that go on that shelf.

In addition to keeping the furniture itself relatively limited in a bedroom, I also recommend keeping the other items like decor limited as well. Don't feel pressure to put decor somewhere just because it's there. Just like there are margins in the pages of books and white space in any well-designed piece, so too should there be margin and white space in a well-designed home. Be just as intentional about adding decor as you would be about buying the furniture that decor sits on.

My room has a bit more decor than some standard minimalist rooms, but every item is intentionally chosen for one of two reasons — I find it to be useful or beautiful. But even then, I keep the amount of items pared down because an overstuffed dresser or nightstand can easily cause just as much stress as an extra piece of furniture.

Section the Space

Now, I understand that, as much as you'd like it to be that way, sometimes you can't avoid putting non-restful items in your bedroom.

There was a time in my life where, because of who I lived with and the space we lived in, my bedroom space functioned as a bedroom, living/music room, and home office. It wasn't exactly the ideal situation and I hope to never be in that position again, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

If this is the stage of life you're in, don't worry. If your bedroom doubles are your home office, that doesn't mean you're doomed to a stressful, unrestful sleeping space. The best way I've found to keep things from feeling super stressful in that situation is to section your space.

Think of your bedroom like a studio apartment — the best way to keep that kind of space from feeling crowded and stressful is to group like items together and have designated spaces for each activity.

When I had a multi-function bedroom, I kept my dresser, bed, and nightstand in the section closest to my closet, while my bookshelf, reading chair, and keyboard were grouped together in another area. And finally, my desk and other office supplies were grouped together on a single wall as well. 

So instead of putting your desk right by your bed, consider putting it on the opposite side of the room. You could even use a shelving unit or some other piece of furniture to make a visual divider or barrier for the space, whatever works for the room and helps limit the stress of having multiple functions for one space.

Additional Resources

Ideally, your bedroom should be one of the easiest spaces for you to declutter because it has one of the most defined purposes of any room in the house. If you're looking for more ideas to pare down your space but also want some inspiration for keeping the space beautiful and cozy, these are a few of the resources I continually return to for ideas:

  • The Nester — Myquillyn Smith, aka the Nester, is one of the first home decor bloggers I ever followed and her book, The Nesting Place, inspired me to redecorate my whole room shortly before I began my minimalist journey. You'll notice her pop up as a recommended resource for basically any room in the house, but today I'm linking specifically to her posts about bedrooms
  • Apartment Therapy — The AT blog is one of my favorite spots to go when I just want to look at pretty things or I'm looking for a bit of inspiration to spruce or change up a space in my home. Like The Nester, the AT blog will continue to pop up in the weeks to come, but if you're dealing with a bedroom that's more than a bedroom and can't quite make the switch yet, their house tours of studio apartments and ideas for small spaces are wonderful.

I hope today's recommendations have given you a good starting place for removing the excess and turning your bedroom back into a place of rest and relaxation. Next week, we'll start tackling a slightly more intimidating space — the living room. See you then!

Minimalism 101: Your Closet

Minimalism 101Sarah Anne HayesComment

If you're anything like me, you have at least one Pinterest board dedicated to all the gorgeous outfits you absolutely love but feel like you'll never actually achieve. 

Deep down, I think we all love the idea of being that effortlessly stylish woman who looks put together no matter what and is ready for whatever life throws her way. And while we may have a few go to outfits that make us feel amazing, a lot of our closet makes us feel pretty 'meh.'

This is the spot I was in two years ago when I first discovered minimalism. After reading Jen Hatmaker's book 7, I started doing all the reading I could on minimalism, but it was a few months before I actually took the plunge and started decluttering. The first place I tackled? My closet.

There are all sorts of arguments for starting in various places when it comes to decluttering, but one of the most common places to start is with your wardrobe. I think this is for a variety of reasons.

One, the physical space is relatively contained, so it can feel less overwhelming than a larger room. Clothing is also something we have to deal with every single day, so even though there will be moments of "I still have this?!" as you sort through everything, those moments will likely be fewer and farther between than when tackling other areas of your home like rooms with cabinets and deep drawers.

For me personally, I found that decluttering my closet sparked an immediate change. Having a more limited wardrobe increased my creativity, boosted my confidence, and made me excited to continue decluttering the rest of my life.

Getting Started

Like any decluttering task, the biggest hurdle for minimizing your wardrobe is just getting started.

There are a whole lot of different options and ways to approach minimizing your wardrobe and just choosing the approach you want to take can be a little bit overwhelming. Without a doubt, the most popular and common one out there is the capsule wardrobe.

If you're not familiar with it, a capsule wardrobe is a wardrobe comprised of a limited number of pieces (the actual number varies from person to person) that you absolutely love. Most often, you create a capsule for each season, rotating pieces out once every three months. Because of the limited number, most capsule wardrobes are also comprised of high quality pieces that will last for a long time, and versatile ones you can mix and match in a variety of different ways.

The capsule wardrobe is based on the thought process that most people, women in particular, only wear 20-30% of their wardrobe on a regular basis. If you think about it, you probably have a few outfits that are you go-tos for the mornings when you're running late, you don't know what to wear, or you feel gross but still want to look amazing. A capsule wardrobe takes all of those outfits and uses them to comprise the entire wardrobe, eliminating the excess pieces that you feel meh, neutral, or negative about.

Contrary to popular belief, the capsule wardrobe is not the only type of option available for a minimized wardrobe. Though I started my minimal wardrobe journey with a capsule wardrobe in mind, I quickly learned that based on where I live, a capsule wardrobe is not the best option. So I toyed around with a couple of different ideas and, after some trial and error, developed my own minimal wardrobe solution that meshes well with my personal style and the climate I live in (more on that in a future post).

If you're not sure if the capsule wardrobe is right for you or if some other minimal wardrobe option would be better, don't let that deter you from getting started on the decluttering process.

Minimalism at its core isn't about a specific way of doing thing. It's about removing excess from your life to determine what matters most. What works for you might not work for me and vice versa. The important thing is to just get the process going and determine, through experimentation and some trial and error, the form of minimalism that works best for you.

The Decluttering Process

So you've decided today's the day. You're going to declutter your closet. Where do you begin?

Start by pulling all of your clothing (yes, all of it) out of your closet, dresser, and any other storage and putting it on your bed. I recommend putting it on the bed because this will hopefully motivate you to finish the task before the day is done — otherwise you have to push everything onto the floor!

Divide Things Up

Once you've got everything piled up onto your bed (it might be a little overwhelming...that's okay), start by designating a spot for three different piles. You can do this by grabbing three boxes or bins, writing categories on an index card, or just making a mental note of which pile is which. You're only going to make three piles, but you're going to divide your clothing into four categories — Love, Maybe, Nope, and Seasonal.

The Love pile isn't actually a pile and these items are going to be fairly obvious. They're the ones you thought of earlier when I mentioned your go-to outifts, those pieces that make you feel amazing no matter what. When you come across one of these items, put it back in the closet. Don't worry yet about the quality, its versatility, or anything like that. The analysis of your total wardrobe will come later, but if you spend too much time on it now, you'll never make it through everything.

The Maybe pile is next. These are the clothing items that you're tempted to keep and you probably like, but there's just something that keeps you back from absolutely loving them. Maybe it's a shirt you used to love but it doesn't fit quite right anymore. Maybe it's a dress you bought for a party that one time and you do love it and look amazing in it, but because of your lifestyle, you hardly ever wear it. Maybe it's a piece you bought years ago and have never really worn (it might even still have tags on it), because once you got it home you realized it doesn't go with anything else you own...but you can't bear to get rid of it because it was expensive. If it doesn't scream "love!", toss it on the Maybe pile.

The Nope pile comes after this. Similar to the Love pile, these items should be fairly obvious. They're those pieces you've been meaning to get rid of forever because you can't even remember why you ever thought it looked good. Or those pieces that are clearly falling apart and will never be put back together again. Or the ones that make you cringe every time you put them on. Whatever the reason, you look at the piece and immediately think, "Nope!"

The Seasonal pile is the last one. If you're doing this in the middle of winter, hold off on sorting through your spring/summer clothes until that season rolls around. Or, if you're doing this in the middle of summer, hold off on decluttering those boots and sweaters until the weather's turned cold again. This can be particularly helpful if, like I mentioned, you're intending to do a seasonal capsule wardrobe. It's also helpful if you're in the process of getting into better shape or losing weight and the items will fit differently in a few months when that new season arrives.

Once you've finished dividing everything up, there's still a bit more work to be done. Start by taking your Seasonal pieces, boxing them up, and tucking them away. You can put them under the bed, up in your closet, or in another room — wherever works best for you. Leave those pieces in the box until their season rolls around, and when it does, do the same love/maybe/nope analysis that you did with your other items.

For the Nope pile, divide these up a bit further by determining which items are still in good condition and could potentially be sold or donated, and which items need to be recycled instead. And finally, for the Maybe pile, have a box at the ready to pack them up and store away like your Seasonal pile, but not just yet.

Do Some Analysis

Now that you've divided all of your clothing into those different piles, you can start to analyze things a little bit.

Start with your Love items and your Nope items and search for some commonalities. It could be the cut, the color, the fabric, the specific type of items (skirt, shirt, etc.), but chances are there are some commonalities between the items you love that make you feel amazing and the items you didn't hesitate to get rid of.

It's been a long time since I did my initial closet declutter, but for me, I noticed that I gravitated toward shades of green and burgundy/red, I have a serious love for a-line pieces that have a defined waist, and I also lean toward pretty classic silhouettes and pieces. Oh, and I have a serious obsession with scarves and cardigan sweaters.

The common theme was they were all pieces that emphasized my natural features like my eye and hair color, and they also made me feel elegant and feminine without feeling super young. Whatever the commonalities are for you, take a minute to jot those down to keep in mind in the future as you begin to more intentionally curate your wardrobe.

Give It Some Time

Depending on your specific approach to the wardrobe and the number of items you wound up with in your Love pile, you may want to supplement with a few items in your Maybe pile. It's also possible that you may need or want to weed your Love pile down a little bit more than you already have.

Unless you've decided you're going to do a capsule wardrobe and have a set number of items you're aiming for, this is where I recommend stopping for now. Don't buy anything new just yet. Store your Seasonal and Maybe pieces away. Sell, donate, or recycle your Nope pieces, and give the rest of your closet space to just breathe for a bit. 

Choose a set amount of time -- it could be a couple of weeks or a couple of months — to get yourself used to the idea of a smaller wardrobe. If you had a hard time figuring out commonalities in your favorite pieces right off the bat, use this time to help you discover those things. As you spend more time with your minimized wardrobe, you'll start to notice the pieces you still lean toward all the time, as well as the ones you wish were in your closet.

When you find yourself wishing you had a certain piece, make a note of it, but don't go out and buy it right away. If it's a piece that you keep wishing you had, chances are it would be a good fit in the rest of your wardrobe and is something to invest in.

From here, there's a lot of different ways you can go. If you're doing the capsule wardrobe thing, in a few months time, you'll want to go through and reshuffle your wardrobe. If not, still think through your ideal wardrobe and examine potential pieces for their versatility and quality.


The Miscellaneous Pieces

Now you might've been reading this whole post and thinking, "What about workout wear? What about undergarments? What about my jewelry? What do I do with all of those?"

There are two ways to approach all the miscellaneous items in your wardrobe — you can include them in this initial declutter, or you can tackle them one at a time.

When I first started, I did only my main wardrobe which included tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, and outerwear. I left my workout/loungewear, undergarments, purses, and jewelry for another day. Since that initial purge, I've done a couple other major purges and some smaller ones that were specific to some of those miscellaneous categories.

When it comes to accessories like jewelry and purses, it can be especially helpful to wait before deciding to declutter. As you get a better feel for the kind of clothing you're curating, it'll be easier to determine not only the kinds of accessories that will complement your clothing, but also the kinds of accessories that are practical for your lifestyle. My recommendation is to wait (unless, of course, there are some pieces that are a definite "nope") until you've spent a bit more time with minimized clothing before you determine what stays and what goes.

For some people, minimal accessories pairs well with minimal clothing. Others go extremely minimal on the clothing, but have a higher number of accessories so they can still mix things up. You might fall somewhere in the middle. It's all about experimentation and taking time to figure out what works best for you.

Tips for Future Curation

After this initial purge is complete, it might still seem like you have a long way to go before you have the wardrobe of your dreams, and that's totally okay! It's been nearly two years since my initial closet purge, and I'm still in the process of curating my wardrobe. It's not quite where I want it to be yet, but through patience and a lot of experimentation, I'm much closer than I used to be!

I'll get into some more specifics about this in future posts on curating a minimized wardrobe, but here are a few tips to consider when you're starting to put together a wish list of pieces to add to your wardrobe.

Set the Rules

One of the best things I ever did for my wardrobe was come up with some rules for it. In addition to being carefully considered (no impulse purchases!), every single item that comes into my closet has to be fit the following rules:

  1. Comfortable — In its fabric and cut, the piece must be comfortable. There can be no poking or prodding, and it can't be a piece that I will constantly feel the need to adjust, fix, or watch.
  2. Versatile — It must be an item that can be paired with multiple pieces throughout the wardrobe based on its silhouette and color, and must be able to be styled a variety of different ways.
  3. Quality — All items must be made from quality fabrics with good stitching and construction, and whenever possible, they should be ethically and sustainably sourced.
  4. Confident — Whatever the piece is, it must make me look and feel absolutely amazing. No exceptions.

Setting up these four rules for my wardrobe means that sometimes it's hard to find pieces and I might be looking for a certain item for a long time (I've been on the hunt for the perfect navy blue cardigan for almost two years), but it also means that the purchases I regret are incredibly few and far between.

Develop a Wish List

I've mentioned this a couple of times already, but developing a wish list is one of the best ways you can begin to intentionally curate a wardrobe. 

Think through the items you've always wanted, the ones that pop up most often on that Pinterest board of yours, and the items you're constantly thinking, "Ugh. I wish I had X."

One of the items I had on my wish list for a while was a cross body bag. I've been a big purse/tote girl for a long time, but I had a lot of situations over the last year or so where I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a bag that wasn't so giant, but was just big enough to fit my wallet, keys, phone, and chapstick.

After some research, I found a high quality bag from a small business based in the U.S. I only ordered it a couple of weeks ago, and they're handmade so it hasn't arrived yet, but I already know it's something I will use a ton because of the number of times I've wished I had it.

Determine a Color Pallet

One of the things that can help most with versatility (an essential component of a minimized wardrobe) is a cohesive color pallet.

You might think that all minimalist wardrobes are filled only with neutrals and if you love color then you have no hope of having a similar wardrobe. This is simply not the case. Yes, neutrals make it a lot easier because, by nature, they're designed to be versatile, but you can still add color into a wardrobe and keep it versatile.

When I determined the color pallet for my wardrobe, I thought through the colors I wore most often. I tend to gravitate toward jewel tones or brighter colors, but stay away from pastels because I'm relatively pale. Because of my coloring, those jewel tones and brighter colors tend to be shades of green, burgundy/pinks, and the occasional teals, purples, and oranges.

Neutrals do comprise a lot of my wardrobe because I happen to really love them, but you'll notice that all the colors in my wardrobe are some shade of green or burgundy/pink, with the occasional teal and purple. I chose those colors partially because I look and feel great in them, and partially because they also happen to mesh well together, which means even my colors can be mixed and matched.

additional resources

If you're looking for additional inspiration or ideas, below you'll find some of the resources I've found most helpful in my own wardrobe curation journey. And if the capsule wardrobe isn't the solution for you, don't worry! I have a post coming soon where I'll give you all the deets on my non-capsule minimal wardrobe!

  • Unfancy — Where I began my minimal wardrobe journey. Caroline's blog is where I got the idea of the four different categories and one of the places I continually go back to for inspiration and ideas on all sorts of things related to a minimal wardrobe.
  • Project 333 — Courtney Carver's capsule wardrobe experiment is probably one of the best known out there. Though this wasn't the approach I took when I started curating my wardrobe, it could be particularly helpful if you're working on the experimentation process and trying to figure out what works best for you.
  • My Green Closet — Erin's YouTube channel is one of my current favorite resources, particularly as I've begun the shift toward higher quality items and more ethical and sustainable fashion. Her voices is super calming and she has all sorts of great advice for not only curating a versatile wardrobe, but she has tons of resources if you're looking to add more sustainable and ethical items to your wardrobe as well.

Intentionally curating anything — a wardrobe, a home, or a life — takes time, effort, and a fair amount of self-reflection. I know today's post was a lot of information, but I hope it gives you a good place to start in curating the wardrobe of your dreams.


(Yes, all the photos are of my actual closet and accessory collections!)

Minimalism 101: An Introduction

Minimalism 101Sarah Anne HayesComment

When you've decided to begin something new, the biggest and often scariest part is just getting started. Particularly with something like decluttering or simplifying your home and life, it can feel a little overwhelming because there are so many options and places you could start.

On top of that, each area of your home or life serves a unique purpose, so the same guidelines that work for decluttering your bedroom might not work for decluttering your kitchen or bathroom. 

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Though I definitely did a heck of a lot of reading when I began my minimalism journey, a lot of it was through trial and error. It's for that reason that several areas of my home got an initial declutter and then, months later, I went back and decluttered the space even further. My closet, for example, has gone through four decent-sized purges and I had another realization about it recently that will result in another purge in the near future.

Unfortunately, finding advice for decluttering all areas of your home and life in one place, or even just two or three, can be rather difficult. Minimalist fashion blogs abound, but they're not going to help give you advice on decluttering your office. You can find tips on decluttering your digital spaces, but what about your diet or schedule?

I am by no means an expert on simplifying everything, and I'm still on this journey just as much as the next person (hence the upcoming fifth purge of my closet), but I've learned a lot about simplifying all aspects of your life from the physical space you live in and your digital or online homes to your schedule and the ingredients in the products you use. Most of what I've learned has been through a whole lot of trial and error and a whole lot of scouring the internet for any advice or tips I could find on whatever area of my life I was trying to simplify next.

I don't want you to have to do that. If you're aiming to begin simplifying your life, there are already so many elements working against you that make it easy to give up. It's against the cultural norm, it can be overwhelming, it's time consuming, and it's emotional. If you have to search for fourteen different blogs or resources to get it done on top of all that? Well, you're far more likely to quit.

Toward that end, we're beginning a new series — Minimalism 101.

Over the next several weeks, we'll be tackling all the major areas of life from the individual rooms in your home to your schedule, inbox, diet, and wardrobe.

With each week and each new topic, I'll share with you the tips I've found most helpful in getting started simplifying that particular location in your home or area of your life. These won't be exhaustive resources, but rather a broad brush that will give you an easy way to get started simplifying all the individual areas of your life.

We'll be tackling how to declutter and simplify all of the following areas: 

  • Your Makeup
  • Your Inbox
  • Your Digital Spaces
  • Your Schedule
  • Your Diet
  • Your Exercise Habits

In addition to my general tips for getting started on the decluttering and simplification process for each of the above physical spaces or areas of your life, I'll provide specific action steps for you to do each week, along with additional resources I've discovered (like those minimalist fashion blogs) if you want more ideas or inspiration.

If there's anything I don't have covered on this list that you'd like to see tackled in a Minimalism 101 post, please leave a comment or send me an email and let me know.

Next week, we'll be kicking it off with the first area I decluttered and the place I recommend everyone start: your closet. See you then!