Pretty Simple

Redefining minimalism to reflect your personal style

Words by Alicia Woodward

I have always been highly affected by my physical environment and drawn to tidy, organized spaces. When I first heard about minimalism, I studied the subject like it was my job. For a variety of reasons, I began to equate minimalism with a modern aesthetic featuring a neutral color palette. With this in mind, I examined my every possession and tossed, donated, sold and replaced almost everything I owned.

At first, I loved my sleek minimalist space. I could breathe more deeply and think more clearly. Eventually, though, I felt like a stranger in my own home. I longed to see a bouquet of flowers spilling out of a pretty blue pitcher, a stack of my favorite poetry books and my beloved collection of heart-shaped rocks.

After what seemed like an epic fail at minimalism, I regrouped and asked myself how I could embrace simplicity while staying true to my personal style. My answer turned out to be pretty simple.

Pretty—as in fairly or mostly and as in beautiful or lovely.
Simple—as in pared down to only those possessions necessary for my well-being and comfort.

A quote written by William Morris in the 1800s has inspired many minimalists. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or beautiful.” It’s a lovely sentiment, but because useful and beautiful are subjective, it requires us to make some personal decisions about what minimalism looks like for us.

To make minimalism work for me, I had to make a major shift in my thinking.

We can embrace the philosophy of minimalism regardless of our personal style. I like pretty things. Maybe your style is more glamourous, bohemian, sporty, contemporary, or vintage. Our possessions should make us happy. Decide what you really need, and let each thing reflect your own style.

Ironically, I made the mistake of complicating minimalism. I wasn’t seeking an avant-garde lifestyle. I was seeking simplicity. I just needed to make sure my home neatly contained only my favorite things I use and love.

For me, minimalism is pretty simple.

Alicia Woodward

Alicia is a retired teacher, an empty-nester, and a writer. She is an optimist who tries to keep life as simple and joyful as possible. She has degrees in journalism and secondary English education and taught middle school literature and language arts for 28 years. Along the way, she worked at several newspapers as a copywriter, reporter, and columnist. She co-authored the book Lessons in Loveliness with a dear co-worker with whom she wrote a blog by the same name. She and her husband, Mike, live a simple life on a quiet lake in Brown County, Indiana. They have four grown children and a six-year-old grandson. When they aren’t enjoying family or nature, Mike is cooking something spicy while Alicia is writing something cheery.


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Inside Minimalism is our series of exclusive essays on simple living. Each essay is written by our team of writers who are passionate about helping you craft a simpler life. Supported by their own personal experiences, we want to inspire and encourage you to clear the path of life’s stuff, so you can get to where you really want to be.

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