One of the areas of the home that should be filled with the most calm very often winds up a dumping ground for all sorts of odds and ends. Yes, I'm talking about the bedroom.
There was a time in my life where my bedroom made it seem like I lived in a studio apartment. Because of spacial constraints and the preferences of my roommates, my bedroom functioned not only as a sleeping area, but as an office, a music room, and a reading room. As you might expect, it led to many nights where I was up far later than I should've been doing work or something else because the space where I was supposed to rest was not designed for resting.
REMEMBER THE PURPOSE
If you're like most people, your bedroom has probably ended up like mine. Maybe it hasn't turned into what could arguably be called a studio apartment, but chances are it's turned into something it was never intended to be. Perhaps it's a dumping ground for the random clutter throughout the house, a second family room, or an extension of the laundry room. Whatever it is, the first step to simplifying your bedroom is to reset it with one goal in mind — rest.
Unlike some other rooms in the house, where the purpose of the space can feel a little muddy at times, the purpose of your bedroom is simple — it is a space designed to help you rest and everything that you allow to stay in the space should help you toward that goal.
When simplifying your room, start by taking as much as possible out of the room — clothing, knick knacks, even furniture if you find it necessary. The Nester calls this process quieting the room and it's always the first step I recommend when you're taking on a new space and seeking to simplify it.
Of course, in order to do this, you'll need a staging area of sorts to put the clutter, so you'll have to be okay with some other area of your home dealing with a little extra clutter for a short period of time. But if your bedroom has become a holding space for a lot of things it was never meant to hold, part of quieting the room may be returning those items back to their rightful place like an office, family room, or laundry room.
If possible, leave the room quieted for 48 hours, but I recommend 24 at the very least. This allows you to take the time to breathe in the space and more clearly evaluate what you want to bring back in.
RESET FOR REST
After you've quieted the space and let it sit for a day or two, you can start bringing items back into the space.
Since your bedroom has a clearly defined goal — to help you rest — anything that you bring back into the space, with the exception of your clothing to put in a closet or dresser, should help you reach that goal. Don't be afraid to be ruthless and, just like with the items in your closet, if it's not an absolute yes, then don't bring it into the space.
It's worth noting that what helps someone rest is going to vary for each individual and each couple. If you're married, it would be helpful to have a conversation with your spouse and discuss what helps both of you rest so you're not unwittingly making rest harder for your spouse by returning a particular item into the bedroom.
Another thing to be careful of is allowing wishful thinking to get the better of you. Your fantasy self might find a particular item or activity particularly restful because you feel like it should be, but in reality, that may not be the case. For example, reading is something I find particularly restful, while for others it's the exact opposite. But even with my own self, I have to be careful because while certain books are quite restful for me to read and the perfect bedtime companion, others will wind me up and have the opposite effect (suspenseful thrillers anyone?).
When I finally had the opportunity for my bedroom to just be a bedroom, I limited not only the kinds of items I allowed in the room, but the furniture as well.
I kept a bed, two nightstands (with table lamps), a dresser, a bookshelf, and a floor lamp. Other than that, nothing else came into the room. I carefully chose the books that went on the shelf, the pictures that went on the walls, and I even tried to be careful about keeping my laptop out of the room. If I brought my cell phone in, I would put it in the nightstand drawer so it wasn't a distraction or the first thing I reached for when I woke up in the morning. Everything in the space — from the items I kept to the place I put those items aided in helping me rest.
AIM FOR COMFORT
When you start talking about minimalism or simplifying, there's often a general assumption that you must get rid of all "unnecessary" things like throw pillows on a bed, but the bedroom is one area where I tend to disagree with that logic.
Yes, if the pillow or whatever is truly unnecessary, then by all means, get rid of it. Particularly if having it in the bedroom distracts from your goal of rest. But part of resting well for most people is comfort and sometimes comfort doesn't look especially minimal.
I'm one of those people who loves to burrow into their bed, which means I always have at least four pillows on the bed, but my preference is six — and that doesn't include throw pillows. I also keep an extra blanket on there at all times, even in the summer, because it helps with my level of comfort, which helps me rest more effectively when I'm in the space.
Instead of having your room be the place you avoid, make it into a lovely retreat, a place that you are so excited to retire to at the end of the day because it's calming, relaxing, restful, and wonderful. You can even ((gasp)) add some things to it like pillows or candles that help aid you in making it a relaxing space focused on the simple goal of helping you rest. Just don't go overboard and let it turn into a clutter magnet again!
That's really all there is to it. When I first started decluttering and simplifying my life, the bedroom was one of the easiest places for me to start because, again, its purpose is so clear. I personally think your bedroom should be one of your favorite places to go in your home, so take this weekend and make it just that!
We'll be back next week with an area of the home with a purpose that's a little less clear — your common spaces!