The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful, Clutter-Free Home

clean white minimalist kitchen

Google the phrase “minimalist house” and the vast majority of results will show you utterly modern, shiny, white box-like homes.

And that’s lovely.

But it’s such a misunderstanding of the idea of simple, minimalist homes to think that white, shiny boxes are what it’s all about.

Minimalism is not about the absence of personality. Or History. Or uniqueness.

And it doesn’t have to be about the absence of colour. Or mementos. Or quirkiness.

It’s not about stripping out everything that is unnecessary. (Because, strictly speaking, much of what we own is unnecessary. Taking all of that away would leave our homes very empty indeed.)

Now, if shiny, white boxes float your boat, then that’s fabulous. But me? I love a home that has warmth, personality and history. I simply don’t like clutter.

Today you’ll see that creating a beautiful, simple, clutter-free home does not mean creating a boring, sterile, style-less home.

Firstly, some inspiration to get your imagination firing:

Minimalist but Still Warm

So how do you create a personality-filled home without the clutter?

1. Start with White Space

If you don’t already, you need to learn to love white space.

And just so we’re on the same page – white space doesn’t actually have to be white. It needs to be clear, empty, blank, bare. Devoid of stuff. The colour doesn’t matter so much. In fact, as you can see above, colour is one of the most beautiful, simple ways to decorate.

The best way to find white space in the first place is to declutter. When you rid your home of things you don’t love, things you don’t need, things you don’t use – you will find your white space.

This super comprehensive post will help you find (and love) white space in your home.


2. Use What You Already Own.

Chances are you already own things that are beautiful and meaningful. So use them! Do them justice!

Look at things you own that have special memories or meaning attached:

  • a handmade quilt from your grandmother
  • a piece of art gifted to you on your 30th birthday
  • a beautiful piece of furniture that has been handed down to you – a cabinet, hallstand, lounge or table
  • a framed photo from your favourite holiday, your wedding day, your baby’s first birthday
  • a dining table made from recycled timber
  • a lamp you bought from an op-shop one beautiful weekend
  • newspaper clippings from your past
  • artwork from your kids, nieces or nephews

3. Set the Foundation and Highlight the Special

Now that you’ve found your white space and decided what beautiful things you’re going to highlight in your home, you need to strip the room back to its basics (in terms of furniture and decor) to create the foundation.

The foundation is everything that the room needs to function well. For example:

A lounge room requires a lounge, TV, entertainment unit, perhaps an armchair and bookshelves.

A bedroom requires a bed, storage for your clothes, somewhere to sit and perhaps a bedside table.

Once the foundation is in place, you can carefully choose what personal mementos, photos, belongings or keepsakes you want to highlight.

It’s really important to choose wisely. Your aim is that everything remaining is beautiful or useful.

If you follow these guidelines, you’re going to create a home packed with personality, but not packed with clutter. And that’s what we’re after.


10 Tips to Create a Stunning, Personality-Filled Minimalist Home

Using the images above (from top left) as inspiration, start to think about the various ways you can create a stunning, liveable, personality-filled home – without the clutter:

  1. Vibrant, handmade touches. By removing clutter and unnecessary decoration, a gorgeous, personality-filled quilt like this brings the bedroom alive while still allowing it to be the haven you need.
  2. Find beauty in utilitarian items. Just because an item is “useful” rather than “beautiful” does not mean it should be hidden out of sight. By surrounding the bench and hat/coat stand with plenty of white space, suddenly these items become beautiful in their own right.
  3. Make a colourful artwork the centrepiece of your room. You can consider making one yourself, or as a family project. Then it becomes not only simple and beautiful, but also meaningful and something to be proud of. If you’re fortunate enough to own a beautiful piece of artwork already, don’t be afraid to let it stand in its own beauty on an otherwise empty wall.
  4. Use light to decorate. A dramatic colour on the walls and a simple, yet beautiful wall-hung light fitting is all this room needs to pop with personality. And no clutter in sight. You can also use this idea with daylight as decoration. Consider removing your window coverings and let the outside world be your artwork.
  5. Don’t be afraid to use dark colours. When surrounded by plenty of white space, a dark piece of furniture, art or bedding looks refreshing rather than overwhelming. It gives the eye something interesting to rest on in an otherwise neutral room.
  6. Use colour on the walls as decor. Don’t be afraid to do something a little different with the colour on your walls. Adding a simple two-tone colour job plus neutral, utilitarian furniture is enough to make a room warm and inviting. And again, you don’t need to clutter the room with piles of sentimental items to communicate your style.
  7. Use furniture with a built-in past. Second-hand furniture brings warmth and history to a room, even if it’s not necessarily your history. But if you really balk at the idea of buying furniture second-hand, then consider purchasing a piece made from recycled timber. Not only is it a sustainable choice, it brings so much character to the space that additional decor is unnecessary.
  8. Decorate with texture. A simple lace curtain or a neutral coloured, textured blanket is often all you need to break up the sameness of a simply decorated room.
  9. Choose your favourite colour. Or the colour you find most calming, or meditative, or exciting. In a pale/neutral room, use this colour to provide the pop of personality you want. Think a gorgeous blanket in grassy green, or a chair spray-painted yellow. Surround it with white space and be reminded every time you enter the room that you chose that piece and that it is beautiful to you.
  10. Let the room speak for itself. If it is a dining room, then let it be a dining room. Don’t feel the need to fill every empty nook and cranny with stuff, just so the room looks lived-in or utilised. Keep the furniture to the minimum that is required, and simply enjoy using the space for what it’s designed for.


What are your favourite tips for creating a home with personality? Do you have any examples? Photos? Websites? Let us know in the comments. 

15 Responses to The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful, Clutter-Free Home

  1. Hello Brooke. Great photos here! Definitely inspiring. Very informative post. The tips you shared here are really useful. We’re planning to have our house renovated in few months or so. It will be a fresh start for us so I know that it will be a lot of work (with all the present clutter) but I think it will be really worth it. We bought this home already furnished a few years ago but we decided that it’s time to design it according to what we want. I’ll certainly keep this post in mind.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. My wife and I are just starting our journey down the path to simplicity by de-cluttering our home. We don’t want a home that lacks personality and character. We want a home that lacks the constant piles of items that weigh us down and stressing us out. Removing items we have no need or use for has been therapeutic and liberating! With every item it is like we are lifting a tiny weight off our chest. Each item itself isn’t weighing us down but the collective sum is nearly crushing!

    • Brian, that’s so exciting! Hats off to you and your wife for getting started down the road. My husband and I are a couple of years in, and the journey just keeps getting better. It’s incredible the changes we’ve been able to make by choosing a simpler life. You won’t regret it!!

  3. When I saw the first photo, I thought, “Ah, lovely. So serene. No one lives there.”

    Clutter-free does not mean stuff-free. Having a warm, comfortable home means being surrounded by things you love.

    When things get in the way of your being able to live comfortably, however, it’s time to look at decluttering.

    Thanks for the insightful post, Brooke.

    • Thank you for your comment, Marcie! And for the simplicity of this, “Clutter-free does not mean stuff-free.” totally!!

  4. Brooke, I’ve been reading your blog, off and on, all day today. You have my attention and you’ve inspired me to start my blog project on simple living.

    My family and I have recently taken some very drastic steps to simplify our live after having our taste of the “American Dream” – which we found out did not fit our lifestyle.

    You are nailing it with your guides on this blog.

    Thank you.

  5. Thrilled to have stumbled across your blog! Will be linking to this post on our Facebook page.. It is SO awesome.. I agree, you don’t need an all-white theme for a minimalist look.. Using what you have and applying the other tips you have can help to put together a clean and uncluttered look!!

  6. To have a minimalist house does not mean that you will have a space that is just on verge of being ‘empty’. I would also prefer to have a space that I would call my own, but still with less clutter. Living with two active kids, I have a lot of clutter in the house, but my wife and I have made it a point to have ample storage space for their clutter. These storage spaces are also child-friendly as well. I suggest that people who are planning on their living spaces, should consider the ideas here. Space and money-saving, too!

  7. I love these ideas and the pictures are wonderful. My husband and I live in a small one-bedroom apartment, between all of our stuff (there’s a lot) we have started de-cluttering our home, one storage box at a time. It is a very time-consuming project, but we have allocated a couple of hours every other weekend to finish this. And it’s all worth while. I’ve also found this article to be helpful: It is directed more toward home owners, however I found it to be also very helpful. We have had an ongoing problem (5 years now, but who’s counting?) with a leak in the bathroom. The landlord keeps doing these “band-aid fixes” and the problem is growing and growing. We finally hired a plumber who finally properly fixed the leak and we handed the bill to the owner.

  8. I love this article but, like so many others we who like the white stark minimalist love the PHOTO above good it’s gorgeous look leave things to the imagination, with actually a lot of style natural decor, are insulted, tired of hearing,and fed up with the insults of the white look if that’s what we like why can’t they just stop with the criticism, I don’t think it lack personality or character, I don’t think people get how artistic it really is it’s functional,classy,clean,sleek,etc, it is a style and people need to stop bashing it, sorry for the rant:)

    • I can understand the frustration there Avery, and I agree with you completely. My point was more to combat the assumption that minimalist homes needed to be stark. What you and I are talking about is not stark at all. And the photos I used to illustrate that point show just how beautiful a sparsely furnished//decorated home can be.

      I think that what we each need to do is work out what our version of that is – warmth, personality, memory, style – and then build our own slow homes around it. No need to apply a particular aesthetic to it.

      Thanks for your comment :)

  9. I liked that you pointed out that it would be smart to check what you already have and then go from there. It does seem like a good idea to know if you need to get more picture frames for photographs or kids artwork. Doing that might help you not waste time looking for things that you already have.