Take a look around. The room you are sitting in right now has a vibe—an intangible something about its condition and arrangement that creates a feeling in you. What is it? What is the vibe of the room you are sitting in right now?
What feeling does it create?
This is an important, often overlooked principle—but it is true about every physical space in our lives. If you close your eyes and place yourself inside your home’s most cluttered room, you can almost feel the weight of the clutter as it produces stress and anxiety on your shoulders. This is a truth that should not be overlooked any longer.
It is important to be aware of how a space makes you feel because every room in your home has a purpose—and the vibe or feeling of a room should match that purpose. This is a principle that applies to every room in your home… but is especially apparent when it comes to your bedroom.
Imagine your dream-come-true bedroom. What three words would you use to describe how it makes you feel?
Now, would you use those same words to describe your current bedroom?
If not, chances are that the problem has less to do with what you don’t have, and more to do with what you do have—and need to get rid of. If you want your bedroom to give you those dream-come-true feels, I have a word for you: minimalism.
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of our greatest values and the removal of anything that distracts us from them. It is about reducing the number of your possessions until you get to the best possible level for you and your family. It’s not about owning less than you need… it’s about owning exactly what you need.
Minimalism is individual, freeing, and life promoting.
So don’t worry. Converting your room into a minimalist bedroom does not mean sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor. It means you reduce distractions so you can optimize purpose.
To begin, think about the unique purpose for your bedroom. The master bedroom is probably mostly for rest and intimacy with your spouse, though you may also use it for such things as reading or study. If you have kids, they, too, need calming rooms to go back to for downtime, play, to do homework, and to sleep at night. Similarly, if you have a guest room, this is a place you can offer your overnight guests to relax in private and get a good night’s sleep while they’re away from home.
As you focus your attention on minimizing your bedroom, look at your possessions and ask of every item, Do we need this? Does it help the room accomplish its purpose? Does it contribute to the type of atmosphere necessary for those goals?
Clarifying the purpose of your bedroom doesn’t automatically remove the clutter, but it does provide an essential framework for your decision-making process.
For example, in the master bedroom, does the television on your dresser promote rest or intimacy, or does it detract from these goals? Is the pile of magazines or books in the corner helpful to you? Does that cluttered nightstand or dresser bring you calm and relaxation? When the answer to any of those questions is no, the item should go.
How to Minimize Your Bedroom
As you attack your bedroom’s clutter, be thoughtful, be methodical, and be confident you’ll get it done. Then use these steps to give your bedroom the makeover (and vibe) it deserves.
1. Relocate things that don’t belong.
Are there items in your bedroom that belong elsewhere? A pile of paperwork, books, old computer equipment, empty boxes, arts and craft supplies, dirty laundry? Put those items where they belong before focusing on what’s left in the bedroom.
2. Clear the floors.
Leave nothing on the floors except furniture (and I’m going to challenge you on that in a minute). Consider storage containers, book piles, exercise equipment, or items placed in your bedroom temporarily that have begun to make themselves at home long term. Which of these things can you throw out, donate, or sell?
3. Clear surfaces.
Minimize items on your dressers, nightstands, and any shelving. These might include souvenirs, decorations, crafts, plants, piles of paper, and photos. You don’t need to eliminate everything, of course, but too often a flat surface becomes a magnet for clutter, so don’t hold back in your removal process. Keep out your most treasured items—those items that help you relax or recall happy memories. Remove anything that distracts you or stirs up anxiety, regret, or guilt. Even items that are used regularly can detract from the purpose of the room—look for ways to store them out of sight.
4. Decide how to use closets and drawers.
I know some people who store all their clothes in the closet and have eliminated the need for a dresser. And I know others, without closet space, who choose to store clothes in dresser drawers. But one thing I have found to be consistently true—the fewer clothes you keep, the more options you have for storing them in an uncluttered manner. The same goes for anything you are trying to shove in closets, drawers, and dressers…
5. Pare down decorations.
Reject decorations that simply match the colors of a bedspread; choose instead to portray images with meaning that direct your attention toward things that matter. Your decorations should tell your unique story or serve a unique purpose.
6. Get rid of furniture.
After minimizing some of the possessions in your bedroom, maybe you have a piece of furniture—or more than one—you can remove. Nothing else will make as big an impact in minimizing a bedroom as getting rid of furniture. It frees up floor space, wall space, and mental space. If you have a closet, do you really need the dresser and the armoire? What about the two nightstands, the bookcase, and the storage trunk?
7. Make the best use of under-the-bed space.
The problem with most under-the-bed spaces is that they quickly become places for hoarding unnecessary things. Our closets are full, our drawers are full . . . and the next available space is under the bed.
Let’s be clear—that’s not what I’m talking about when I encourage you to use the under-the-bed space. I am talking about being intentional with the items you keep there.
I use the space under my bed for storing useful items I don’t want to leave out in the open. Under my side of the bed, I store the books I am currently reading (because I no longer use a nightstand). My wife keeps a few boxes of keepsakes under her side as well. We live in a house with no basement or attic, so using that space under the bed has been helpful to us.
A minimalist bedroom that serves its purpose is a beautiful thing. It’s less distracting and more calming, promoting more and better sleep. It’s less crowded and more comfortable, promoting intimacy and connection.
And isn’t that the way you want to feel about your bedroom? You don’t need a fancy interior designer or brand-new furniture to change your bedroom’s vibe. You can have the feel of a dreamier, minimalist bedroom without buying a thing.
My bedroom is my favorite room in my house. It is large with cathedral ceiling and a roof window which lets sunlight in on a winter day. A great place to read. My house is log so I have a few of my oil paintings hanging but most wall decorations don’t go with a log house and I am ok with that. I love my furniture which is beautiful oak and all matches. I cannot stand storing things under a bed and don’t. How can you vacuum under a bed with stuff under it? My house is 1728 sq. ft. with no attic or basement. No extra closets. Detached garage. I don’t store anything out in the garage. I have a cupboard for sheets, blankets and quilts instead of a linen closet. I have another cupboard for storing pantry foods, mixing bowls, because my kitchen is small by most standards. Everything has to fit in a closet, kitchen or bathroom cabinet, chest of drawers or cupboard. I keep getting rid of things. I shop for groceries every 6-8 weeks and pick up just a few things in between but I have even cut back on staying so stocked up on groceries. Also simplifying meals so they are easier prep.
Beautifully shared article. I’d love to read some more of those. For now, kind of have lots reading and will spare more time for this later. Weekend reading are usually my favorite of Joshua. xoox
elina perry says
Thanks! “keep sharing”#####
elina perry says
Thanks! “keep sharing”
elina perry says
Recently I did almost everything that was mentioned in this article in my bedroom. It is now my sanctuary of calmness and peacefulness. I love how I feel when I walk into it! It brings me JOY!
Joshua, I enjoy soaking up your writings of encouragement for each of us to live our best lives. Also, your readers are very positive and I appreciate reading their comments as well.
This reminded me how much I need to clear off my nightstand and reorganize our entire closet space. It’s getting ridiculous now. Thank you!
Byrdie O' Claggings says
We just moved to Hampshire in England and found a little cozy cottage with pretty nice size rooms for all of us to stay. I like to have a great detail and attention to it. The bedroom is usually my first focus point from the start early in the morning, then I would go around in each other room of the house to see if there is anything untidy. I would look into the closets, go to the kitchen, arrange books I mean you said it and done. It is hard to believe but I don’t even know how we did get to this point, with only 3 of us sharing, it shouldn’t be so hard. So yes, thanks for pointing out the delicate attention to this and I love all the comments btw.
For people who store things under your bed, what kind of bedding do you use that is long enough to cover all the way to the floor? Do you use a bed skirt/dust ruffle, or does your bedspread go all the way down? I love the idea of utilizing that space but don’t want to see anything under there when walking by… Thank you!
We bought a storage bed so that we wouldn’t see anything under the bed as that used to bother me too. I’d prefer nothing under the bed, though unfortunately we have minimal closets and so it’s where we store linens and out of season clothes.
I designed my bed just like the campers I have had in my life where I have a queen size bed made out of two by four frame with paneling on a sheet of plywood on top of that with hydraulic arms and my mattress is on top of that so I just list the top and put my stuff in side of the bed and put it back down on top of it and I don’t need to crawl underneath it and I don’t need bed skirts and nobody can see under it and I get no dust explanation
Ilona Friedemann says
thank you for this very good, step-by-step article. I realized that I have quite a few stacks of books in our bedroom that I don’t even read and other little items that just collect dust. Our massage chair hasn’t been used in a while since there are a few layers of clothes covering it. I am inspired.
Everyone has different desires and unique spaces. The point is, we don’t all need to buy all the things just because we are told to. We are a military family and move every 6 mos-3years. The last few years, with the exception of one child, we have chosen to sleep with our mattresses on the floor. So the master literally only has mattresses. It is easier for small children and we have closets in the master bath, although one is empty. My 9 year old uses a nightstand for her clothes and we keep it in the laundry room. My point is, do what works for you, and change it when you need to. Who cares if it is weird.