I will be leaving my 1,200 sf apartment at the end of October. Not sure where to yet, but I’m almost 100% sure I will end up living on my own. I have found some very nice, trendy lofts in the warehouse district but the problem is, they are New York sized. I’ve found one I really like and it is only 350 sf. I am a self proclaimed pack-rat and am very sentimental. What I am saying here, is that I need to pare down, and get rid of all my shit. I’ve been spending a ton of time on apartment therapy trying to learn more about minimalism and using spaces to their full potential, but I am still having quite a hard time. I’m also pretty worried that I will become claustrophobic and/or lonely (although I rarely spend more than a few hours at home a week). Anyone have any suggestions (mainly on the minimalism aspect)?

There’s two types of minimal in my mind: functionally minimal, which anybody can achieve, and aesthetically minimal, which requires functional minimalism to already be met in the space and takes a certain type of person to want to achieve.

Aesthetic minimalism to me is a small number of materials, simple construction, monochromatic surfaces and natural light. There’s too many interpretations of this to count, but it definitely requires functional minimalism to be successful. I’m not going to touch this here, since it’s not really what Ashley’s question is about and it’s not for everybody.

Functional minimalism is easy enough to say, but it’s hard to actually do. It’s been a slow and deliberate process for me. Having moved 4 times in the last year, I’ve learned that I hate carrying things I never actually use. I want my life to fit in boxes, because it’s easier to store and organize everything and if there’s a box for something I know that I have it for a reason.

Catch-all boxes, drawers, and bowls are your enemy. If something doesn’t have a place in your home, decide if it deserves one and if not then get rid of it. If you haven’t used it in the last month and won’t start using it this week, get rid of it. You’ll think you’ll miss it, but you won’t. Instead you’ll feel free when you realize two weeks later that this should have happened sooner and your back will thank you the next time you have to move.

Start out in your closet and look at everything that’s in there. Buy some plastic storage containers and pack away out-of-season clothes, buy a file folder container for financial documents, one for art supplies. Buy (or find a friend with) a document scanner. Use it to archive all those magazine articles and photos you have stashed to your hard drive. Once you see one part of your apartment organized and pared down to the comfortably essential, you’ll want to do the same for the rest of the space. Take it a bit at a time and don’t rush.