A few months ago I came across a lovely new Instagram account @our_simplestory sharing the life of a minimalist family (formerly @minimalist_mindset). I was especially excited because the word ‘minimalist’ was used. Most families and people I come across who take an approach of ‘less is more’ to their life resist using the word. I suppose it may be resistance to trendy words, feelings that one isn’t minimalist enough, or just a general malaise with labels. That’s all fine. But part of my goal with these interviews is to explore all the different ways one can live through a minimal lens, just like there’s more than one way to be a woman, a mother, a teacher, a writer, there are many ways to be minimalist. In so many ways less is more.
Anna is a minimalist, design enthusiast, and homeschooling mother of three, and the woman behind @our_simplestory. I’m excited to share her perspective on and story of finding her passion for minimalism. I hope you enjoy the read, let me know what inspired you.
Anna, let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What’s your background?
I’m 32 and married to my college sweetheart. After finishing my degree in journalism and working in the field four years, our first daughter was born. That’s when my days at home raising our kids began. Today we have three young daughters. Our typical day consists of homeschooling, reading good books, going on nature walks, and creating. As a family we enjoy simple adventures. Camping at the lake and strolling the farmers market are among our favorites.
What part of the world do you live in?
The Midwest [USA].
How many children do you have and what are they like?
I have three amazing little girls. I can’t even begin to explain how different they are from one another, which makes it all the more fun. My oldest is an affectionate extrovert, my middle is an artsy introvert, and my youngest has a bit of everything going on. Being with them every day has been a blessing, and one I take for granted far too often.
I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you?
For me, minimalism is about having less. As a family of five in a small home with a tight budget, we have to be mindful with all of our purchases and what we bring into our home. We have discovered how much happier we are with less things. So, what is your story, how did you start on a path toward a minimalist lifestyle?
I have a very strong interest in design, particularly interior design and architecture. Clean lines and clutter free spaces have always drawn me in. We bought our first home five years ago, and have been designing and renovating since the day we moved in. Because our home is small, we chose to keep it open, airy, minimal, and bright. We have a lot of negative space to keep it from looking overly crowded. For example, our tiny eat-in kitchen (which also serves as our classroom) doesn’t have any upper cabinets or storage. We only have a small pantry, six drawers and a couple of base cabinets. People are surprised when they see our lack of storage, but it suits our needs so well. Living in a small space doesn’t mean you have to create more storage. It really forces you to think about what you bring in and what you hold on to.
So, after integrating minimalist design into our home, I began to analyze each and every little thing we had, and if it was necessary or not. That is the when I realized my passion for a minimalist lifestyle.
Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?
On the design side of things, Remodelista, Kinfolk, and Dwell are my go to sources. When it comes to minimizing possessions and wardrobe, The Minimalists and Un-Fancy have great ideas.
In what ways/areas do you struggle with keeping things minimal? What is your weakness?
Clothing and shoes have always been my weakness. However, I’ve recently downsized by creating a capsule wardrobe for each season. I currently have less than 40 items in my closet. I highly recommend this to everyone. You are faced with fewer decisions every time you get dressed, you only wear pieces that you love, and you put your money into high quality clothing that will last. Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?
Not really. My husband is a furniture and fixtures designer, so he’s all about minimalist design. I think that helps him understand the value of minimalist living. My kids have been great with it too. We are constantly purging their things. I try to keep their selection simple and thoughtful, keeping only what draws out their imaginations, talents, and interests. For the most part, they are involved in decisions on what stays and what goes. They understand that they don’t need a lot to be happy or to keep busy. What have been some unexpected experiences (positive or negative) you’ve had with minimalism?
When you’re a minimalist, you don’t leisure shop as much. Instead of spending time and money shopping for new things, you have more time to spend with your family, and of course it’s easier on the budget. I’d say that’s a definite positive!
What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?
You have to start small. Don’t feel pressured to give away everything you have. Just keep what you absolutely need. Start in one area of your home. The kitchen is always a good place to begin. Stuff can accumulate like crazy in all those drawers and cabinets!
Do you have any goals for this year or the next few that you want to share?
My husband and I have been dreaming about buying land somewhere in the country and building our forever, small space home. Lord willing, that day will come. In the meantime, we’ll keep looking for inspiration.
Thank you Anna! Readers you can find Anna on Instagram @our_simplestory
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