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An Imperfect Home

How minimalism is teaching me to be a better host

Untidy sofa
Photography by Dillon Shook

A few weeks ago, my brother was driving me home after dinner with our parents who were visiting from out of town. Before I got out of the car, he reminded me that I was always welcome to come for a visit at his place, and I told him the same.

At that moment, I realized that my brother and I rarely spend time at my apartment. When he moved nearby two years ago, I was thrilled at the prospect of having him visit. I imagined us ordering pizza, watching bad movies, and making fun of them mercilessly. And while we see each other regularly, I can’t remember the last time we had one of these movie nights. It wasn’t until that car ride home that I understood why.

I am passionate about minimalism. I love the feeling of letting go of things, so I spend a lot of time examining my life for anything I can live without. In my apartment, I prefer empty space and organization to clutter. But sometimes, I can be a little too focused on reaching a state of perfection within my home.

When I have people over, I know it must be difficult for them to relax. I’m often focused on organizing extra shoes neatly in the closet, straightening couch cushions, and recycling drink containers the moment they become empty. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve even reminded guests not to spill on the carpet… As if anyone were really planning on it!

I know that minimalism is not about being perfect, but for so long, I’ve viewed my perfectionism within my home as a part of my minimalist lifestyle and something to be proud of. But it isn’t serving me the way I thought it was. And if minimalism has taught me anything, it is that my relationships and experiences with people are more important than the state or number of my material possessions.

From now on, my minimalism is going to involve shoes in the hallway, messy couch cushions, and maybe even a spill on the carpet. The important thing is that my family and friends feel welcomed, relaxed, and at home.

After all, homes are for people, not perfection.

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