Friday, July 2, 2010

Less is more.

I love the spareness of Japanese design. Growing up in a house stuffed to bursting with overfull bookcases on every possible wall and cluttered floors, I long for simple lines, clear spaces, and bare walls. I adore any style which strips away the unnecessary and replaces it with perfect form/function balance.

I'm also a big believer in the idea that the best decoration is often no decoration at all. My boyfriend and I often get in tiffs over this philosophy - he's a collector of frivolous things, and I am a mercenary declutterer. It's tough, but we strike a balance.

I still love the occasional beautiful object, a single large glass bowl on a table for example, but the rule for me is that each object must give more than it takes. If it is beautiful, the beauty must outweigh the cost in money and care. Very few things are beautiful enough to pass this test.

To my mind, the most beautiful rooms contain the following elements:

  • Critical furniture (a bed, a desk, a couch, etc, according to the room's primary purpose)
  • One beautiful piece of art (a statement piece, to use the lingo - more than one, if they work in tandem or it's a very large room, but the rule prefers one)

And that's pretty much it. Don't get me wrong, I adore the grandeur of Versailles, but I'm happiest in a simple cottage in the French countryside. The right amount of less, is more.

I'm not a minimalist in the following aspects:

  • I like a very spare number of functional/loved objects (a couple of nicely hung and easily accessible pots in a kitchen, a shelf of best-loved family pictures in a living room)
  • I MUCH prefer several table lamps to a single ceiling light. In my mind nothing is uglier or more irritating to the psyche than the use of a central ceiling light. If it were up to me, they'd be banned everywhere but the dentist office. Aesthetics outweigh efficiency in this case.

Clearing the porch of some old furniture tomorrow (it's at least 75% covered in tables, chairs, and desks right now). I will do my best to take before and afters. Keep reading, keep writing, keep dejunking!


  1. Ick, I too hate that one baleful ceiling light. Very much a landlord/rental thing, I think.

    One thing I've heard the Japanese do, is that while they may only have one piece of art out at a time, say a beautiful vase on the mantel, they have others in storage and will rotate them out with the seasons. That way, though it's kept simple-looking and spare, it's not stagnant.

  2. Dear Thalia:

    I LOVE that idea! The Japanese are endlessly clever when it comes to decorating. It's sort of like the Smithsonian - one nice thing is beautiful, a million nice things together look like junk.

    Thank you so much for sharing!