A Minimal Approach to Seasonal Decorating
Ahh, fall. My most favorite season of the year — leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, and everyone is cozying up with cider and blankets and boots and all sorts of delightful goodness before the full craziness of the holiday season hits.
Though it often doesn't come out in full force until November or December, late September and early October is usually the start of a conundrum for many minimalists — seasonal decorating.
Even if you're not pulling out holiday specific decor for Halloween or Thanksgiving, what do you do with that desire to give your house a little refresh for the new season? What about that desire for fall colors or cozy blankets or throw pillows that would no doubt mar that all white, clutter free, minimal aesthetic?
I'm the first to admit I'm not what most people think of when they hear the word "minimalist," and that is partially due to the fact that "minimalist" can mean more than one thing — especially when it comes to decorating.
First, there is a minimal design aesthetic. This is where many of us get our pictures of all white or all neutral spaces, modern furniture with clean lines, and nary a cozy blanket or throw pillow in sight. Just like mid-century or modern, minimalism is a particular design and home decor aesthetic embraced by people all over the globe, many of whom wouldn't consider themselves minimalists in their day-to-day life.
Having a minimal approach to decorating is quite different than have a minimal aesthetic. You can still have color and throw pillows and candles and even seasonal decor while maintaining a minimal approach to decorating because, as with life, it's more about the purpose behind the things than the number or the things themselves.
There are certainly elements of the minimal design aesthetic I appreciate, but I lean more toward what The Nester has dubbed a "cozy minimalist," which is what I like to think of as minimalist decorating for the vast majority of people.
In my experience, most of us come into the minimalism thing not wanting to completely rid our house of all sentimentality or things that make it welcoming and wonderful, but rather we desire to reduce those to a manageable number of things so the clutter and stress of maintaining a home isn't so overwhelming.
That is what cozy minimalism is all about — having the right number of things to make a home feel welcoming and wonderful but not make you feel overwhelmed.
My house has and always will have art on the walls, pillows and blankets on the furniture, rugs on the floor, centerpieces on the tables, and books on the shelf. This is partially because I love beautiful things and one of my favorite ways to add beauty to my life is by putting them in my home, but also because those are the kinds of things that make me feel welcome and comfortable in someone else's home, and that's how I always want people to feel when they come into mine. I just choose to be intentional about how many of those items come into my home.
SEASONAL COZY MINIMALISM
There are obviously a lot of different approaches to this and every family or individual who decorates seasonally focuses their energy on different ones. I know some people who quite literally revamp their entire house from top to bottom each time the season changes and others who pull out all the stops for certain times of the year like Christmas, but keep things the same the rest of the time.
For me at least, neither of those approaches quite works.
When a new season rolls around, particularly if there is a major holiday like Christmas involved in it, I like to make things a little new and fresh and update them so they better fit with the vibe of the season. Maybe it's just a personal thing, but it feels weird to have my house decorated in bright, springy colors in the middle of fall and winter. At the same time, the thought of totally revamping my house for each season makes me want to go hide in the corner.
So how do you go about being a cozy minimalist, seasonally?
1. PICK YOUR SEASONS + HOLIDAYS
While there are obviously only four different seasons throughout the year, there are a lot of different holidays, and if you try to decorate for all of them, there are certain times of the year where you'll be swapping out your decorations left and right — plus you'll have a ton of extra stuff to store that only gets used for a few weeks out of the year.
That's why the first way to be more minimal in your seasonal decorating is to limit those holidays you decorate for or combine them with your seasonal decorating.
For example, rather than specifically decorating for Thanksgiving, make any decor for the entire fall season fit with that kind of vibe and color scheme and leave up any artwork or pillows the whole season long. After all, who says a reminder to give thanks only has to happen for a short time each year?
Personally, I make some adjustments to my decor for three of the four seasons and for Christmas. That's it. It's just enough that I'm switching up my decor every few months, which makes the house feel fresh and new, but not so often that I ever get overwhelmed.
2. LIMIT HOW MUCH DECOR YOU CHANGE
In addition to limiting the actual seasons and holidays you seasonally decorate for, limiting what you change up each season can be incredibly helpful in keeping things minimal because it limits the time you spend updating decor, along with the amount of space you need to store the off-season decorations.
For pretty much any season or holiday, you could go all out — swapping out pillows, blankets, curtains, wall and front door decor, and more. Or you could choose just a couple of things that you swap out each season or holiday and leave it at that.
I keep the general decor of most of my home neutral so I'm able to switch up the accent colors to best fit with the season because, again, it feels a little weird to me to have dark jewel tones in the summer or bright and cheery tones in the fall. The easiest way I've found to do this is with wall art, throw pillows, and blankets.
For each season, I chose a couple of colors to accent the neutral decor of my home, and when that new season rolls around, I swap out the throw pillows and blankets on my couches, and a few select pieces of wall art. Specifically, I have a gallery wall with a couple of canvases (from one of my favorite artists, Lindsay Letters). One of those canvases (the Doxology) sticks around throughout the entire year, and the other canvases rotate with a new color and new words for each season.
This is what I do for decorating in the fall, winter, and spring. Nothing else. During Christmas, I go a little more all out and swap out a few more prints throughout my home, put up all the lights, and of course deck out my Christmas tree. But the rest of the time, I keep it nice and simple.
3. CONSIDER THE KIND OF DECOR YOU CHANGE
Beyond limiting the amount of decor you change from season to season, it's also important to consider what kind of decor you change for one simple reason — space.
No matter how much you love something, do you really want to have to potentially pay for off-site storage for the entire year just to use those decor items for a few months (or weeks) out of it?
I already mentioned I swap out blankets, throw pillows, and wall art each season. This was an intentional choice for a few different reasons.
First, I feel like it gives the most "bang for my buck," so to speak. You can instantly transform the way a room looks or feels with a few new throw pillows or pieces of art on the walls. And while you could argue the same could happen with a piece of statement furniture, it's a whole lot easier and less expensive to swap out your pillows and wall art from season to season than it is to swap out your couch.
Second, throw pillows and wall art really don't take up that much space, which means it's super easy to store them during their off season. I know some people who will even store different photos or typography prints in the frames that they rotate in and out of from year to year, but even if not, you can easily store them in a small photo box or file folder where they're kept safe and sound and ready to be pulled out during the right season each year.
A similar approach can be taken to something like throw pillows by swapping out throw pillow covers rather than the pillows themselves. Many different pillows covers can be purchased without a pillow form, and then you're just storing a mostly flat piece of fabric during the off season. As for the blankets, I actually keep all the blankets out year round — I just swap out which ones get placed on the couch and which ones are tucked away in a basket in the corner.
All of these habits allow me to scratch that itch for seasonal decorating without taking up much time or space throughout the rest of the year and with a bit of planning and forethought, the same can happen for you too!