I’ve spent the last couple of Saturdays going to vintage shops. This has taught me a lot about the unique skill of visual merchandising, but it also made me think about my conflicted relationship with minimalism.
There are a lot of retro shops where I live, and the best ones, I’ve noticed, have clutter-free minimal displays. They’ll put only one or two items on display in order to make them look their best. It’s actually much harder to take something away from a display than it is to add to more to it. I also noticed that the shops that display their wares in this way tend to charge more for fewer items.
I think you can learn a lot about styling your home by looking at how your favourite shops do it. Here’s some things I picked up:
- Use repetition: in shape, colour or material. A row of bowls the same shape, or a collection of objects of the same colour can look really effective.
- Negative space is a positive thing. Choose your best two or three objects and stash the rest in a cupboard.
- Consider the background. I think white ceramics look good contrasted against teak wood. And so I put my collection of teak bowls against the white wall to emphasise their lovely shapes.
- Change the display regularly. After a few days I stop looking at these shelves. Then I change the display, and then I notice my favourite pieces all over again…
Which is why I could never be a minimalist. In me there is a constant tension between the urge to buy things, and the urge to clear the clutter and chuck it all away! Do you feel the same? The idea of an empty space, free of the problems that all that stuff brings is a tempting one. But I also have a deep appreciation for beautiful handmade things, and well-crafted vintage treasures.
The amazing writers who blog about minimalism have inspired me to downsize my life and live more simply, and I’m so grateful to have discovered this alternative way of living. However, I don’t think these shelves are a display of conspicuous consumption, because most of these things were either gifts from good friends or picked up for a few dollars from junk shops.
I’d love to hear from you:
Are you a minimalist?