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Welcome NYTimes Readers!

publikováno 24.1.2019 od New minimalism

The New Minimalism Book, click to purchase.

The New Minimalism Book, click to purchase.

Wow, oh wow. Cary was interviewed by THE NEW YORK TIMES for an article on digital decluttering.

This was the top of our dream list (besides being interviewed in person by Oprah or meeting any member of the Obama family). It seemed impossible when we began this blog in 2011. It seemed like a million miles away, when our book was just one long Google doc. But here we are! We’re incredibly grateful to Brian Chen for the interview and to all of you who’ve been cheering us on.

If you’re new, welcome!

To learn more about creating a beautiful, simple, streamlined life, read our bookNew Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living.” (Penguin Random-House 2018), or our read more here, on the blog.

To read an excerpt of the New York Times article, continue below.


With a new year and a new Netflix show that features the Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo on the art of “Tidying Up,” many of us are experimenting with how to simplify our lives by purging our homes of unwanted possessions.

But what about the stuff we don’t see?

Think about the digital junk we hoard, like the tens of thousands of photos bloating our smartphones or the backlog of files cluttering our computer drives, such as old work presentations, expense receipts and screenshots we have not opened in years.

In addition to the digital mess, tech hardware adds to the pile of junk that sparks no joy in our lives. Everyone has a drawer full of ancient cellphones, tangled-up wires and earphones that are never touched. And the things we do use every day, like charging cables strewn around the house, are an eyesore.

Why are people so terrible about tech hoarding? Cary Fortin, a professional organizer for the company New Minimalism, summed it up: “We don’t really think about the cost of holding on to things, but we think about the cost of needing it one day and not having it.”

Read More on NYTIMES.com

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Food Packaging: 4 Ways to Reduce Waste in the Kitchen

publikováno 10.1.2019 od New minimalism



At the start of the new year, it’s a perfect time to pause and take inventory. Acknowledge the ways in which you are crushing it in life, as well as examine the ways in which you are just gently squishing it…think weak hand holding a stress ball. From this quiet, retrospective place can you set bold goals for the year ahead.

Aside from my perpetual goal to “improve my Spanish and regularly meditate” (ambitions that have been on the list for years now…hmmm…), I had to think, what goal resonates with me this year? What is something that internally motivates me and I can actually put some mettle behind? The answer came easily when I looked in my trash can:

Strive for zero-waste in the kitchen.

When I examine our household “waste stream”, most of the culprits that are destined for the landfill are in the form of food packaging.

Do a quick audit for your own household waste. Yes, go to your trash can and dig around a little bit. Gross, yes, but remember, only you are to blame for just how gross your trash is.

Our itty, bitty trash bin.

Our itty, bitty trash bin.

Side note - Diligent composting of food scraps means that I can safely rummage through my trash without fear of encountering anything too disgusting. Add the fact that we don’t eat meat or dairy at home, and it’s pretty tame in that little, ol’ rubbish bin.

Our bin is the size of small planter pot. Using a strategically small bin reprograms the brain to what feels like an “appropriate” amount of trash. All of the sudden it becomes unreasonable to add one of those Barbara’s Cheese Puff bags and take up the whole bin (more on this later). In the photo, we are repurposing a plastic ice bag as the garbage bag. When we don’t have a plastic bag to repurpose, we use the compostable BioBag’s so we an send landfill-bound waste down the chute in our building.

When you add on the holiday hustle and the irregular grocery runs that accompany it, it is really easy for food packaging to creep back in and suddenly be a “thing” again. I proclaimed to my boyfriend after looking at our trash bin that we were officially re-instating the goal for zero-food-packaging-waste in the kitchen (thankfully, he hails from the mountains and adores Mother Earth and so is naturally on board).

There are the tried and true tips: buy from the bulk bins, use glass jars to store your food, and cook more at home. But, when I look at my own trash, I have some specific culprits. Below I’ve outline 4 of my personal weak spots and how I plan to fix them:

These bags instantly make our trash full. Not acceptable!

These bags instantly make our trash full. Not acceptable!

1. Where I get stuck: Snacks

We are not a huge snack household, but I definitely like to have something on-hand. Namely, Barbara’s Cheese Puffs. If you know, you know. They are painfully delicious. And today, I looked at a bag in the grocery store, took a picture of it, and WALKED AWAY. This is the #1 culprit to dashing my zero-waste dreams. So I resisted. Instead, I filled a brown paper bag with salty, crunchy plantain chips from the bulk bin. This will satisfy the snacking desire without the plastic bag. And in the meantime, I’m going to relentlessly submit anonymous comments to the makers of Barbara’s Cheese Puffs to request sustainable packaging.

Also on the snack list is finding a local restaurant where I can buy tortillas from using my own bag.

2. Where I get stuck: Recycling too many glass bottles (vinegars, olive oil, sauces).

It’s time to get to cut back on my consumption of vinegars, oils and sauces, even if they come in recyclable containers. The aim is to just keep stocked one primary vinegar at a time, master recipes using it, and move on to another vinegar for the next phase. Hot sauce, well it’s going to take a while to get through our now-hearty stash, but I’ll try my hardest (insert sweating emoji).

3. Where I get stuck: Caught at a store without bulk, when we “need” something like, tahini.

I think the biggest improvement here will come from creating a shopping routine. The challenge of a super flexible work schedule is that I go to a variety of stores, depending on where I am in the Bay Area and for different purposes. I need to create a routine and simplify this so that I don’t cave and buy a package of rice when I’m at a store that doesn’t sell it in bulk. By creating a routine of where/when to buy certain goods, this will remove the inevitable run-around and hopefully lead to overall feelings of sanity. We eat a lot of soba noodles, so finding that in bulk will be a top priority.

4. Where I get stuck: Recycling too many glass bottles (WINE).

Wine deserves its own category. When it comes down to it, this is what mostly fills the recycling bin. After a quick search, I found a local purveyor of wine who refills bottles: Tank 18. They have monthly BYOB refill events, and you can bring any empty wine of bottle and they will fill and re-cork it for you! Amazing! It’s on my calendar for later this month…in the meantime, dry January???

The thing about recycling


Yes, recycling is better than not recycling. But, recycling takes up a lot of energy: water and transportation costs, mainly. In case you didn’t hear, back in Jan. of 2018, China stopped importing plastic recycling (hmm, is it any wonder why? We were sending barges upon barges of dirty recyclables, much of which were contaminated so that they couldn’t even be recycled). Before this, China previously took about 50% of the world’s recycling. Which means recycling will become more expensive, and our solutions will have to be more localized. Like, deal with your own trash, people.

But, this is progress. China refusing our barges of recycling is progress. Feeling the constraints of our ecosystem and taking action (even if it is reactive) is progress.

More good news:

  1. The European Union banned an array of single-use plastics by 2020.

  2. Taiwan also banned plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic utensils by 2030 (too far away of a deadline, but at least it’s out there)

I recently had a (somewhat heated) debate with a young, educated (white male) from New York City who was humble-bragging that his friend was pioneering a new “superfood “ mushroom dust product thingy. I said offhand that I hoped his friend’s little packets would be made of compostable materials. This New Yorker was pretty adamant that this was a pointless pursuit and would have no impact on the environment. Obviously, I disagreed and said debate ensued.

It is this PRECISE, shrug-it-off, export-it-to-China, I-can’t-make-a-difference mindset that got us into this huge mess to begin with. Even more surprising, this New Yorker is a surfer, whose partner teaches mediation for a living…seemingly intentional people who like the outdoors, right?

So why the indifference? What is the disconnect to feeling like your actions don’t collectively have the power to make a difference?

I am not leading a 100% zero-waste life, but I am trying. And I hope that I am setting an example by sharing tips to continue to decrease my own food packaging consumption. Let’s be strive to be active participants in this equation! In the words of Lauren Singer of Package Free Shop,





  • http://www.grabco.co.uk/gardeners-compost-guide/

  • https://zerowastechef.com/

  • https://packagefreeshop.com

  • https://ecologfycenter.org/plastics/

  • http://www.tank18.com/byobdetails

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what if you're a minimalist who loves to give (and receive) gifts?

publikováno 16.12.2018 od New minimalism


Here is the truth: I love receiving and I love giving gifts.

I've spent the better part of a decade trying to ignore the anticipation and utter joy I feel when I have the perfect gift in mind for a loved one. Or the tingly happiness I feel when someone bestows upon me something that I absolutely adore. I’ve tried to chase these feelings away because I thought that they were in direct conflict with the life I wanted to live personally and, if we’re being really honest, with the life I espouse to live in public.

I’ve tried to chase these feelings away because I thought that they were in direct conflict with the life I wanted to live personally and, if we’re being really honest, with the life I espouse to live in public.

After the thousands of words I’ve personally written and read about how mindless consumerism is causing so many ills in our society… Well how could I look myself in the mirror as I wrapped up one more gift?

Then I tried on the same advice we offer up time and again to reader and client alike: there is no right way to be a New Minimalist.

It’s about living inside my unique combination of values and priorities. And for me, that means leaning into the love I have for giving and receiving gifts in a way that is slow, intentional, and as kind as possible to the environment.

Below are my personal guidelines for giving gifts.

If they work for you, please try them out. And if not, no worries. You keep doing you:)

My family’s holiday card this year. We really do wish you a happy everything!

My family’s holiday card this year. We really do wish you a happy everything!

1) Action and word before stuff.

The reason I feel so confident stepping into my gifting stockings this year is that I’ve taken the time to step back from and really consider the motivation behind my actions. When I was young, I gave as many gifts as my piggy bank would allow. I was so desperate to show how much I loved my family but unsure of how to express myself. So instead I decided that stuff equals love, as in: “the more stuff I give you, the more I love you and the more loved you will feel.”

My relationship to gift giving now is much more reflective, much more specific, more refined. What I hope is not to prove my love through stuff, but to echo in an object or experience what I try to embody in language and action throughout the year: “I see you. I love you. I’m paying attention.”

2) Scale matters.

Something I’ve been really careful with is not writing myself a gift-giving blank check simply because I’ve decided it’s important to me. Like what if I decided to gift Lark a gift every week because I love her and I love giving gifts? I could imagine that within the month that act of giving would feel exponentially less meaningful. And within two months I’d likely resent this unintended weekly chore I’d created for myself. Likewise, if my goal was to accurately represent how much I love Cam through stuff, I’d be overburdened (and very in debt) rushing around to acquire as many things as I could. My decade as a minimalist has taught me a beautiful lesson that often times it is the rarity of an occasion or object that makes it so special.

often times it is the rarity of an occasion or object that makes it so special.

3. Above all else, it is the thought that counts.

You know how people use the word “literally” to mean “figuratively” — it’s opposite?

Like, “There were no parking spots outside! I had to literally park a million miles away.”

To which I’d like to say, “Wow, you are a really fast walker to have circumnavigated the globe 40 times in the past 10 minutes!“ (Sorry. Done being snarky.)

But I bring this up because I think the same thing has happened over time to the expression, “It’s the thought that counts.” That phrase now means something like, “Even though I hate this object / have no use for it / have literally no idea why you got it for me because it in no way reflects my taste, needs or desires, at least you bought me something.”

I’d like to reclaim that phrase and use it as I believe it’s intended. Gift-giving is all about thought. Not about money. Not about quantity. Not at all about checking things off a list. It’s about taking the time to really consider a person’s sense of style or humor. It’s about paying attention to the little things they say over the course of a year about their crummy coffee grinder, noticing how they have to stand on their tip-toes to reach their favorite mug, remembering how they mentioned that smell of vetiver reminds them with deep pleasure of forest where they grew up. This level of thoughtfulness is what actually matters and what meaningfully connects the gift-giver and gift-received in a way that just buying stuff never could

4. Practice gratitude and grace.

My daughter is just entering a phase where nothing brings her more pleasure than to imitate my expressions or noises I make. I typically find this hilarious and precious. But on occasion I’ll look to see her grimacing at me and I panic. Is she sick? In pain? Have something caught in her throat? No, she’s showing me how poorly I’m masking my own anger at having to empty the dishwasher again.

What she’s shown me is that even words and deeds only matter so much; the spirit in which something is done is the most important of all. So sure, I could say, “Lark, be sure you savor your food and open your gifts thoughtfully!” But if I down my own dinner while standing over the sink or quickly start to clean up wrapping paper before really engaging in a gift? Well we can guess which example she’ll follow. So I want to be extra certain this year before exchanging gifts that I personally take the time to slow my mind, to be present, and to feel and express gratitude for not just the objects I receive but the abundance of health and love around me.

What about you? What are your plans for giving and receiving gifts this holiday season and in the future? What are your personal gift principles? What are gifting-strategies that you admire and would like to try out?

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How to declutter when someone you love has died

publikováno 20.11.2018 od New minimalism


There is a reason that the Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning made such a splash in American culture: a significant portion of us either receive or will leave a lifetime’s worth of possessions for someone else to sort out.

The main challenges of decluttering when someone you love has died are threefold. First, in the state of grief and loss, it’s really hard to untangle our desire to feel connection to that person with wanting to be surrounded by their stuff.

Second, it can be overwhelming for anyone to declutter their own lives. When you add another person’s stuff on top and it can feel impossible to know where to even begin.

Third, we know the stories of our own things and that can lead to us being attached. But with our loved one’s belongings sometimes we won’t know what things are or if our loved one valued them, so we will assign value and importance to everything.

If you or someone you care about is dealing with this now, please know we are sending you a big hug, that we are so sorry for your loss, and that we believe in your ability to both honor and cherish the memory of your loved one while living in a space that feels light, calm, and supportive to you.

I’ve been thinking over this subject a lot but it was a question that came in from a reader that inspired me to get this is all out. Below I’ve included a version of the question (removing any personal details for the sake of anonymity) we received and my letter in response.

The most important takeaways are these:

  1. Decide if you’re at a place in your mourning and grief where you are actually ready to begin decluttering. It’s ok if you aren’t. Be kind to yourself and take your time.

  2. Start with your own belongings. This really serves as a warm up. A chance to experience decluttering in a less emotionally challenging area.

  3. Choose a few of your favorite, most treasured items of your loved one. Give these items places of honor in your home and display them in a way that brings you joy and helps you feel connected to your loved one and their memory.

  4. Move into an easier category of your loved one’s belongings. This will ideally be quite small and not emotionally burdensome, like: athletic shoes, tupperware, or office supplies.

  5. Go at a pace and scale that feels right to you. It’s important to stay within the bounds of what feels safe and good to you, and to give yourself a break if you stumble upon something emotionally complicated when you’re not expecting it.

  6. Select an organization (or several) that were meaningful to your loved one or to you and donate their items there. Trying to sell belongings usually extends an already trying process and can feel invalidating when the financial value does not match our emotional experience of the object.

  7. Offer up a few belongings to any interested family members but don’t transfer the burden of decluttering to them or a future generation. This is one of the kindest things you can do for others.


My aunt lived with me for 15 years and she passed away last year. I haven't been able to go through her closet and donate her things because it makes me cry. I also have china, crystal, and silver plate things that my aunt had and also inherited more from her mother and aunt. I also have a lot of craft items, fabric, and various other collections my parents bought me (they’re gone, too). My problem is I don't want to just give away some of these things because they are valuable, but in speaking with an antique dealer, those items aren't wanted. I have no other family so I can't give anything to relatives. I feel so overwhelmed with all my stuff I don't know what to do or where to start. I would follow your directions and start with wardrobe, but I can't do my aunt's clothes yet. Any advice? Thank you in advance for your time and expertise.

Hi there,

First of all, I am so sorry for loss. It makes so much sense that sorting through your aunt’s belongings would be hard. So I guess I would start there, and just encourage you to be kind and gentle with yourself. What you're going through is incredibly challenging and unfortunately very common. We've worked with a lot of clients who've lost parents, spouses, and other family members and it is hands down one of the most challenging projects to undertake.

I'd love to offer up a few pieces of advice or thoughts to mull over. The first would be: do you feel ready to tackle your aunt’s belongings now? It's ok to take your time and to process your grief and return to this later. If, however, you're feeling like you're really ready to make a change and just overwhelmed trying to determine where to begin, read on.

To begin, I'd encourage you to start with your own possessions in a category that will be easy for you. This will be a place where you can get a few big wins, start to make a dent in the amount of stuff you have, and familiarize yourself with the process of letting go. For some people, this could be books (which could then be donated to the local library), while for others it might be kitchenware (which could be donated to an organization that helps to resettle refugees, houses those experiencing homelessness, or helps domestic abuse survivors). Feel free to start really small, like just with athletic shoes or scarves. 

Once you're feeling confident and starting to experience some benefits of letting go you can then make moves into more emotionally complex zones. Before touching any of your aunt's goods, I'd go through and select a few really prized items that you love and remind you of aunt in a happy way. Maybe you'll display a small collection of her necklaces, or a frame a beautiful scarf of hers, or bring four of her best china teacups into your cabinets to use each morning. This will help ensure that your aunt's presence is felt in your home and will give you space to release more items.

You could then move to a tiny category of your aunt's, like bracelets or slacks. Depending on how she liked to dress, those items could be donated to Dress for Success or a local Senior Center or Salvation Army. From there, you can expand into larger or more complex categories, always going at a pace and scale that feels safe and good to you. Usually decluttering gets easier and easier as you go along, but know that grief comes in waves and that you might stumble upon a really tender item when you’re not expecting it. Take the time to process your feelings and honor yourself if and when you need to take a break.

In terms of the items that the antique dealer told you there wasn't a market for, I'm afraid my advice might not be what you are hoping for: let them go. It can be so hard when we've invested money into belongings to simply donate them, but the energy and time and emotional space we take up by trying to sell things at a fraction of their perceived value is ultimately far harder and less rewarding. Instead, I'd select an recipient organization that is important to you or to your aunt and know that these items will be utterly treasured and beloved by people who've not been fortunate enough to have such beautiful things in their life before. Again, I'd suggest one of several organizations that work on housing and helping to create stable, meaningful lives for the vulnerable among us. It might feel really hard as you prepare yourself to let these items go, but once they're gone I think you might be surprised by how much lighter (physically, emotionally, spiritually) you feel in your home. 

We’re here if you have any other questions or would like to work with us directly; many hands can indeed make light work.

Wishing you the best,


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Can You Be a Minimalist in a Large Space?

publikováno 23.10.2018 od New minimalism

Image //  Dwell . Design //  Jessica Helgerson .

Image // Dwell. Design // Jessica Helgerson.

Hi friends, Cary here!

The question — can you live simply in a large home? — is something I've been mulling over since we moved into our first home two years ago.

Cam and I had lived, quite happily, in a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco for 6.5 years before our move to Boise. Our intention for purchasing a larger home was to have space to grow our own family –– babies both fur and human (see below) –– and for family and close friends to visit often and for as long as they’d like.

Truly, I love our home. I love our neighborhood: our kind and active neighbors, the dozens of miles of hiking trails right across the street and our fabulous public school down the block. I love our land: the fruit trees, the garden, the hillside and the bike path running past our backyard. But it was a really strange feeling going from an apartment with three closets (which felt down right luxurious at the time) to a home who seemed to invite us to have too much with a basement, a garage, a guest room, and nearly a dozen closets.


I'm not going to lie, I had a lot of anxiety about moving into a larger space.

I was worried that the clarity a smaller space enabled me to have would be lost and that I'd become the type of person who just fills up space in order to fill it. Backsliding into consumerism and mindlessly holding onto unwanted and unloved things seemed unavoidable.

And yet here we are, two years later, in a large and simple home.

How did this happen? By deciding before we moved, before we shopped, before we filled our space exactly how we wanted to feel in our home. It’s been our internal boundaries and clarity, rather than external forces, that have allowed us to create a home we love. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you stay the course of your version of minimalism.


5 Tips for Simple Living, No Matter the Size of Your House

My side of the closet in our S.F. apartment.

My side of the closet in our S.F. apartment.

1. Don't add storage.

When you have plenty of closets and other built-in storage space, don't bring in additional dressers or cabinets, drawers or shelves. Allow the built in storage to be enough. We, for example, have the same coffee table that we used in SF (a glorious Japanese tansu that was handed down to me). In San Francisco we used the spacious drawers to hold board games and candles and things we used when entertaining friends. Here in Boise, we ignore the drawers all together. The drawers are not the easiest to open, nor is opening them conducive to the layout of the space. So we treat the tansu like a solid cube and enjoy it’s surfaces without utilizing it’s storage.

2) Remove storage where you don't need it.

For us, this looked like removing an entire wall of upper and lower cabinets from our garage. While the millions of drawers and shelves might have been “organized” and labeled to each hold one item – camping sporks in this drawer, headlamps and lanterns on this shelf - we didn’t want a complicated system and didn’t need nearly the amount of storage provided. Instead we have two large open shelving units that hold a bin with all our small camping gear on a shelf alongside our tents, camping chairs and sleeping bags. This makes packing and unpacking for car camping a breeze (Step 1: place bin in car; Step 2: camp; Step 3: remove bin from car and place back on shelf). This smaller, open storage also prevents us from hoarding unwanted and unneeded items out of sight.

  Our old pantry in our S.F. apartment.

Our old pantry in our S.F. apartment.

3) Redefine “full”.

We have a laundry room. Yes, a whole entire room dedicated to the act of laundry. It's a small space but it nonetheless has a couple of cabinets and drawers. One cabinet houses our large bag of dog food. Another holds the laundry detergent and white vinegar we use for cleaning. Thats it. Each cabinet could easily hold 10x what it has, but there isn't anything else that belongs in there, so we just let them be.

Adapting to a different version of "full."  When we work with clients we are constantly helping them adjust their mindset to what “full” looks and feels like. For many of us, after years of overflowing drawers and cabinets that jussssst baaaarely close, it can feel strange to acknowledge that full is actually much less than capacity — it’s an amount that allows for ease and optimal functionality. In a large house we’ve taken this a step further even. “Full” in a linen closet might just be a spare pillow and seasonal throw or two. The idea is not to be austere, but to let my internal compass rather than my external storage tell me what is the right amount.


4) Go slowly.

When we moved we had neither the finances nor the desire to rush to fill-up our home with stuff. For example, in a bright extra bedroom that we hoped one day would become a nursery, we placed just one comfortable chair. A single chair was really all we needed to take work calls or sip coffee in this room’s morning sunlight. Now that it is a nursery I’m so glad we didn’t rush to furnish the room unnecessarily

The same goes for walls. We'd spent six years slowly decorating the three small rooms of our old San Francisco apartment. Here in Boise, I wanted to be just as thoughtful about adding decor rather than trying to rush around and appear “done” without getting to know the space and how we hope to feel in it. Two years in, we’re continuing to slowly add layers and textures and colors to our home as it feels right. I know some people won't be able to stand the feeling of being "incomplete" but I suggest moving forward with decorating as intentionally and mindfully as you can.


5) When in doubt, add plants and lighting.

For architectural or feng shui reasons, there are a couple of spaces in our home that feel awkward or unpleasant when empty. I cannot tell you how many times I thought about how if I'd built this house I would have removed a bizarre nook here or an extra few feet there. But instead of turning my back on these off-putting areas, we embraced them by slowly filling each with lovely greenery and lighting (luckily for me, Cam has quite the green thumb). Plants and light sources give purpose and interest to these spaces without adding the weight or expense of furnishings.

Decor doesn't have to be all furniture and artwork. If you don't need another place to sit, don't just stick a loveseat somewhere. Instead, use greenery and task lighting to make a space feel alive without filling it up for the sake of filling it. 

Image //  @urbanjungleblog

Image // @urbanjungleblog

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New Minimalism Events

publikováno 15.10.2018 od New minimalism

1 Book Cover Possibility BedsideTable.JPG

We are super excited to announce these upcoming events!!!

Professional’s Workshop

Tues. 10/23, 7pm Pacific time


Virtual! Anyone can join!

Kyle Quilici of New Minimalism and Shira Gill of Shira Gill Home will co-host a live, 1-hour workshop where we dig into the details of a creating your own successful decluttering and home organization business.  


Professional organizers, home decorators and stylists, zero-waste educators, minimalists or those aspiring to be any of the above. 


Image Via

Image Via

in-home Design Consultations

Brooklyn, NY

UPDATE: 1 spot LEFT on Fri 10/26

$195.00 for 1-hr consultation, plus PDF Design Recommendations

New Minimalism comes to Brooklyn! Kyle is booking design consultations for Brooklyn-based residents! The NM Design consultations have a focus on decluttering and utilize the simple updates that can make a huge impact on a space. Think: a change of a paint color, the replacement of a key piece of furniture, or investing in better lighting.


The person who is overwhelmed by their stuff or uninspired with their space. These consults will prioritize your to-do list and jumpstart your motivation to revamp your space!

Email Kyle directly at kyle [at] newminimalism.com to secure your spot!

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Moving In Together? These 6 Decluttering Tips Will Make It Painless

publikováno 20.9.2018 od New minimalism

Image: Studio Firma

Image: Studio Firma

This article first appeared on mindbodygreen

Deciding to move in together is an exciting step in any romantic relationship. But if I've learned one thing through my work as a professional declutterer, it's that when merging spaces, it's crucial to intentionally change the way you look at your home or apartment from a "me" to a "we" mentality. Here are six tips to help make your transition a little more seamless:

1. If one partner is moving into the other person's space, clear the slate first.

The person already living in the space should consider removing all personal items that adorn the home. Remove all the photos on the mantel, the mementos on the fridge, the family photos on the walls. Then, you can reassess those pieces with a more critical eye with your partner—does that wedding invite from seven years ago still need to be displayed on your fridge? In my studio apartment, I had hung one family portrait, and when my boyfriend KG moved in, he brought along his favorite family snapshot so that we could both have one cherished photo hanging on the tiny gallery wall.

2. Enact the "Bedside Equality Act."

Have you ever walked into a couple's bedroom to see that one side of the bed is pushed up against the wall? That position subtly says that one person gets priority access to all the luxuries: the bedside table, the lamp, the reading material, the mug of tea. Meanwhile, their bedmate is bereft on the far side of the bed, stuck between their lover and a wall!

Equal access to both sides of the bed instills fairness at a very basic level. No matter how small your bedroom is, I would argue that the most important thing is making it possible for both people to have walk-up access to their side of the bed, along with a light and bedside table.

If you have an extra-small room like ours, you can save space by wall-mounting a light and using the world's smallest bedside tables. What's even more freeing about this scenario: As the months pass, you have the flexibility to (gasp!) sleep on different sides of the bed.

3. Carve out solo spaces where possible.

In our apartment, we each have our own side of the closet and a small secretary desk for when we work from home. While this seems like no big deal, designating spaces (or even surfaces!) that are solely your own can help keep the peace, especially in smaller spaces.

4. Remember that teamwork makes the dream work.

Working on a fun project together can make a space feel like it belongs to both of you. Right when you move in, decide on a DIY so there's a design element in your home that you both had a part in creating. For us, it was as simple as printing a large image and attaching it to a piece of foam core to hang on the wall.

5. Talk, talk, and then talk some more.

After several discussions, KG and I came to understand what we both liked about our studio apartment, what we would change, and how we would implement these tweaks together. From these discussions, we prioritized what needed to happen: repaint accent walls, find a photo for the focal wall, find a desk solution, decide where to hang the surfboard, etc. Get these conversations out of the way early, so you're on the same page about the plan of action moving forward.

6. On move-in day, don't pressure your partner to declutter their stuff.

Set the example by leading your own decluttered lifestyle, and you may be surprised by how your partner responds. Giving them the space to pause, reflect, and come to decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of on their own is the only way that lasting change will happen.

Oh and here's one last fun idea: When all the hard decisions are made, celebrate with an emotionally cleansing bonfire (or metaphorical bonfire!) using those sentimental papers you're getting rid of as fodder. Best of luck in your pursuit of cohabitation bliss!

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Decluttering Vs. Organizing

publikováno 24.8.2018 od New minimalism

6 Kitchen After.jpg

While many aspects of the New Minimalism decluttering process developed over time and through practice, there is one condition that we knew from the very inception of New Minimalism: we are not home organizers.

In our process we first and foremost declutter, and we will tell you why this distinction matters.

A home organizer will take all your worldly possessions and perfectly organize, color-code, and alphabetize them. At New Minimalism, however, we have you question whether those items should even be there in the first place. A perfectly organized space does not automatically mean you lead an effortless, clutter-free life. In fact, the need for a complicated organizational system is usually indicative of too much stuff to begin with.

A beautiful, easy-to-maintain, organized home is simply one of many positive by-products of a thoughtfully curated and decluttered life.

When in pursuit of restoring order to your home, look not to the big-box home organizing stores and magazines for answers. Their solutions beckon with promises of order and free time. But in reality, most of those multicolored stacking plastic drawers are where your things go to die. Once you finally haul those drawers home and neatly tuck away all your doodads, those items are now out of sight, out of mind, and pretty much guaranteed to never be engaged with again. How sad!

Effortful and intricate organization systems are entirely against the greater point of having your things work for you. Complicated systems require time and money to obtain, effort to install, and constant energy to keep up.

Be wary of any system that requires a significant amount of your time to maintain. Do you really want to spend an hour of your precious Saturday afternoon maintaining your recipe archives or your tool shed? All for a system that is supposedly making things easier for you? We didn’t think so. And as such we always default to the simplest, easiest systems possible.

If you were looking for the can opener in Cary’s kitchen, it would be in the one drawer designated for kitchen tools. That’s it. No labeled slot the can opener must be returned to. It’s just in the drawer with the six or so other tools she uses all the time. Similarly, Kyle corrals her pajamas in a small basket in her closet. Sometimes the clothes are folded; sometimes they are floating free.

But what allows this version of contained chaos to work is the fact that there are few items in the basket to begin with.

This excerpt was taken from our book, New Minimalism - Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living

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Returning to Simple

publikováno 25.7.2018 od New minimalism

Image Via

Image Via

Early motherhood, for me, was a fog of overwhelming joy and stunning sleep deprivation.

That sleeplessness extended over half a year. For while my baby was a total joy, a ball of smiles and happiness all day, sleeping multiple hours at a time was, ummm, shall we say "not her strength."

This lack of sleep profoundly altered my life. Certainly in all of the predictable ways like drinking too much coffee, experiencing "heightened" emotional states (ask my husband about this...actually, don't), and craving every carbohydrate in the world. But being so soooo tired also dramatically reduced my willpower and focus to follow through on certain behaviors that had previously seemed effortless.

I knew in having a baby that things would change, some of my old standards would have to give... I was, however, surprised by how quickly older, more insidious habits came racing back.

I knew in having a baby that things would change, some of my old standards would have to give. The kitchen might not be totally tidy before bed each night. I would probably not do laundry until I was faced with the very last pair of underwear in my drawer. Maybe the dog wouldn't get his breakfast until mid-morning some days. 

I was, however, surprised by how quickly older, more insidious habits came racing back, e.g. online shopping.

To be clear: shopping online for the necessities of a newborn whose needs are urgent and continually evolving is something I can stand behind. If there was ever a time to stay in your jammies and let the stuff come to you, it's when you have a colicky infant in the middle of winter.

My little ball of joy.

My little ball of joy.

But once I got back into the habit of shopping, my definition of necessity started to slide. The one type of pacifier that will let your baby sleep in several hour stretches? Necessary. But what about the couple of extra cloth diapers to help you eek another day out your laundry? Or baby wash clothes (bamboo! organic!)? Or that amazing teether that everyone swears by?

It is SO easy to shop online. Case in point: "one-click" shopping. This is why, when I became a new minimalist, I gave it up almost entirely. If you don't have your defenses up, your blinders on, and your wits about you, you too might end up ordering an infant sized black robe, large bib necklace, and "I Dissent" pin in April. You know, just in case.

But you get how I fell for this, right? image //  via . 

But you get how I fell for this, right? image // via

The other thing I've found about being a new parent is that I am constantly humbled. My body grew an entire human and I also sometimes leave my car keys in the refrigerator. So I honor what I'm coming through, grant myself some grace, acknowledge that I was doing the best I could. 

My little sister taught me a while back that instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "It's not a priority." Because in reality we do have time for the very most important things. If, when you say, "it's not a priority" about something that statement feels bad and untrue? Well then it's time to make some adjustments.

For me, getting back to my simpler, slower, more mindful life is a priority. Both for me and to model for my daughter.

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Travel Light: 18 Days Abroad with A purse and 1 Carry-on

publikováno 10.7.2018 od New minimalism

Image via Cotopaxi

Image via Cotopaxi

Summer is HERE!  And for many of us, that means packing a bag to get the heck out of Dodge.  Since I recently did just that, I thought I'd share some things I learned along the way.

With my dear friends' wedding to be held on the southern coast of Spain this June, I decided to take advantage of the monstrously-long flight and prolong my European escapade into an 18-day, 3-country adventure.  I quickly determined I would spend 10 days prior to the wedding visiting two close friends who now live in Frankfurt and Paris. 

My goal was to pack super light, knowing that mobility between destinations was key. My color scheme was black, white and navy, and brown, all of which are interchangeable in my book. I only brought two everyday bottoms - navy silk trousers, and white culottes, as well as just two pairs of shoes (sandals and high quality leather loafers, yes even though I was going to a wedding).  I felt emboldened to bring less items knowing that I had the security blanket of staying with friends, and could rely on them to borrow something if necessary.

All packed up and ready to go!

All packed up and ready to go!

In Frankfurt, my first stop, I had to take advantage of this safety net and borrow my friend's jean jacket once some abnormally chilly weather hit.  It was so cold, in fact, that I even layered my yoga crops under my silk trousers, which worked like a charm. This double-layering allowed my ankles to still be bare, so it looked like a "summer" outfit, accept that hiding underneath my loose silk trousers was another warm layer.

In Paris it was hot, and I pretty much lived in my thrifted, white, flowy culottes. All the tops I brought could be worn with the white culottes.  I walked around a lot, and I was worried at first that I didn't bring the right footwear, but it turned out that interchanging each day between the sandals and loafers (with socks) ensured I was blister-free. I also ended up purchasing a third pair of slip-on's in Paris (more on that, below).

Once I got to the wedding in Spain, it was beach vibes all day. I was either in my bathing suit, or dressed up for wedding events.  Here, I converged with several more friends and had virtually no need for accessories or lipstick - they kept me flush with options!

My Detailed Packing List

I've included retrospective notes in parenthesis in order to understand what I really ended up using and what ended up being extra (hey, it's important to look back and evaluate from time to time, right?).



  • underwear x 6 (I use Lululemon quick-dry underwear that will air-dry overnight after washing)
  • no-show socks x 3 (I could have used 4 pairs, since I wore the pink loafers as often as I did.  I just washed the socks several times, and they typically dried overnight)
  • regular socks x 3 (thin wool, ankle length socks.  I only needed 1 pair; I used them as "slippers" around the house)
  • compression socks x 1 (for the flight, and they worked wonders!  Thanks, Lee From America for the tip)
  • pajamas x 1 (cotton shirt + cotton shorts)
  • bras x 4 (2 regular, and 2 athletic bras ... I could have gotten away with only 1 athletic bra)
  • shoes x 2 (open-toe sandals and pink loafers.  This number eventually turned into a 3, since I ended up purchasing slip-on loafers in Paris, the silver ones pictured below. I wanted something closed-toed, that was still breathable for the hot, Spanish weather and appeared more formal than the open-toed sandals)


  • long pair navy, loose silk pants x 1
  • cropped white culottes x 1
  • jumper x 1 (This I purchased at a vintage shop in Paris.  It is a teal jumper, pictured below, that could technically count as another pair of pants.  This was super comfortable to travel in, once in hotter weather.  When originally packing my bags, it felt risky not packing a pair of jeans, but I never missed them, not once!)


  • black/white tank tops x 2
  • black bodysuit x 1
  • short sleeved t shirts x 2 (1 navy/white striped and 1 gray.  I traveled in this, and could have gotten away with only one, and just washed it right away after getting settled in Frankfurt)
  • thin brown cashmere crew neck sweater x 1
  • super thin black windbreaker x 1 (this was an important layer that wasn't the hippest look, but it kept me warm late in the night and easily stuffed into my purse)


  • cotton baseball hat x 1 (shade is a priority for this fair-skinned lass)
  • small paper parasol x 1 (sounds like a luxury, but again, shade is a priority.  I called this my "personal shade device", which proved to be v. important. I packed this instead of a broad-brimmed hat, which I also discovered packs much more easily than a hat)
  • patterned cotton beach blanket x 1 (thin enough to fold small, and thick enough to be used as a blanket on the plane, or as a shawl for cold nights)
  • small silk scarf x 1 (could be used as a head wrap or around my neck; it added lots of warmth when needed at night)
  • bathing suit x 1
  • cheetah print bathing suit cover up x 1
  • sunglasses


  • casual green cotton dress, with short sleeves x 1 (this ended up being super convenient. It was great to throw on after a shower and wear around the house almost as a robe.  That, paired with the wooly socks and I could fall asleep standing up -- so cozy!)
  • yoga outfit (black, cropped leggings and cotton sleeveless shirt. Glad I had a dedicated yoga outfit because I went to 3 different yoga classes! Inside Yoga in Frankfurt is amazing, btw!)
  • dark green dress for wedding x 1 (I thought I might wear this once before the wedding but I refrained in order to keep it extra fresssh)
  • long black skirt & black crop top for rehearsal dinner x 1 (I wore these as separates after the rehearsal dinner when I wasn't as concerned about wrinkling, etc.)

Travel Tips

Invest in an amazing suitcase or bag! 

I used the Allpa 35L by Cotopaxi.  I was searching for something that was a backpack and a suitcase in one, and I found it here.  All the internal zippered compartments meant I didn't have to go overboard on  packing cubes.  I just used one cube for small loose items, and another cube for dirty laundry.  The backpack function made it  easy to go up and down stairs in the airport and subway stations (and the 6 flights up to the apartment I was staying in in Paris [enter sweat emoji] here). This bag is also super durable, even when I put extra stress on the zippers in order to bring home some edible souvenirs from Paris.  My one feedback is I wish it had little wheels and a small handle, because in the airport I didn't need to always carry the bag, and it would have been nice to roll it at times. Because it is a suitcase-shaped, I didn't feel super chic carrying a big, square backpack through the city streets, but I did zip past all my fellow travelers who were struggling with heavy suitcases up and down stairs.


seek out COSMETICS THAT serve double-duty

In the mornings, at home and while traveling, I use a high quality, non-toxic, all-in-one facial moisturizer, sunscreen and tinted makeup (Suntegrity).  Before bed (since I don't need sunscreen or makeup, obvs) I just used my body lotion on my face. I used my shampoo as my body wash and at times, also for laundry detergent (when I hand-washed items in the shower -- which actually works, btw!).

Mind the Little Luxuries 

On the flight I used my beach blanket as my sleeping blanket, I wore long compression socks for comfort and warmth and an eye mask to get proper sleep on the plane.  I also brought Yogi Berry Detox tea and my insulated Hydroflask thermos to have an unlimited supply of tea on the flight.  This way I stayed hydrated without having to buy water in plastic bottles.  I fasted on the plane to avoid the salty, processed foods and felt way better upon integrating into a different time zone.

Don't Forget Your reusable, Zero-Waste Arsenal

I packed a real metal fork from my kitchen and used it in the airport or whenever eating in transit.  I was constantly using the small canvas tote I tucked into my leather purse to carry additional groceries and such. I also brought a netted vegetable sack for produce, since I often buy produce when I'm traveling.  These little things all came in super handy and allowed me to say "no thank you" to plastics bags and single-use disposable items.  I even kindly asked the attendant at a small super market in Spain look in the back for an extra cardboard box when we made an impromptu stop at the grocery store.  The more I refuse plastic bags, the more easily it is becoming a non-negotiable for me, even in places where it might be considered "weird" to do so.

Off-set your carbon footprint

Cruising around on a jet plane really takes a toll on one's environmental goals.  While I eat a mostly vegan diet, which offsets my environmental impact in a big way, I wanted to do something about this extravagant flight to Europe, so I decided to donate to The Story of Stuff, an organization dedicated to "people-powered campaigns that reduce waste and spur innovation, like [their] efforts to defend public water and prevent plastic pollution." Their very first movie titled, The Story of Stuff, was a major inspiration for creating New Minimalism back in 2013.

I hope that these detailed notes help you when you sit down to pack for your next trip. Traveling is a great way to try out a capsule wardrobe and realize that you don't need all that much to be comfortable!

Happy traveling this summer!



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