By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

More is not necessarily better… even in interior design.

Our culture would like us to believe that…

  • More is better than less.
  • Bigger is better than small.

So we buy bigger houses and fill them with more stuff.

As beautiful as that all might sound, just ask yourself this question

“When is enough just enough?”

As a designer for over 35 years, I’ve lived in a world with a lot of beautiful stuff. Four years ago, I downsized from my big beautiful designer home filled with well-curated designer items to my tiny jewel box apartment where I now live on 5 % of what I once owned. After downsizing, I realized how much happier I am living with less because it has led me to a much richer, more abundant life where I appreciate what I have more.

I now have more time, money, and energy to pursue other things that matter to me. What I personally discovered and what I now share in my book,Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time, Money, and Freedom is that living with less allows you to live more, in other words, it allows you to have more life.


How You Can Experiment With Lean Design Yourself


1. Pick one room in your home that you wish was simpler, less cluttered, and more peaceful

This room might be a room that is not working for you and you may not understand why.

An example may be your home office. Imagine this room to be a room that you will love, a room that’s peaceful, and makes you happy just to be in it. It is a room that when you are in it, you are highly productive.


2. Identify the purpose you want for that room.

  • How do you want it to function or work for you?
  • What do you want it to look like?
  • How you want to feel when you are in that room?

Examples might be your master bedroom, your home office, or your guest room.

3. Decipher what’s working and what’s not working about that room right now.

Look closely at each area of that room… the furniture, the space plan, the color palette, the natural lighting and the ambient lighting. Ask yourself, what is working? what’s not working? how does this room make you feel when you are using it?


4. Choose to keep only what you love in that room.

Select only items that you value, that matter to you and make you happy.

(i.e. particular photos, a piece of artwork, a funny pillow, or a unique area rug.)

This is a different take on decluttering. We are often more concerned about what to get rid of when we should actually be more concerned with what to keep.

When you surround yourself with only the things you love… the room then reflects who you are and what matters most to you.


5. Next, edit the remaining things in the room.

Edit any remaining items that don’t matter to you. By removing things that don’t matter and keeping things that do matter, you are now planning a room that is not only highly functional but it also makes you happy, it invites calm, serenity, and productivity.

That is the essence of what lean design is.

  • It’s pairing down to only the thing that matter to you.
  • It’s intentional design.
  • It creates a pathway to designing the life you really want and one that works for you.
  • It’s getting rid of what you don’t want so you can make room for what you do want.
  • It helps you let go, to live a simpler, less cluttered life, so you just have just enough one room at a time.

Try this exercise at home. Let me know what difference it makes in creating rooms that you love.

If you need help in decluttering, I offer a “6-Week Decluttering” course, click here.

Grab a copy of my book that is available at Amazon, click here.

Lean design is…

having a clear vision and purpose for each room.

knowing what you want, need, and wish for in that room.

editing what you don’t want out of the room.

This will allow you to focus your attention on what matters most to you and what you value.

I’d love to hear from you!

Comment in the comment section below.