How to Live in the Land of Enough – Space

One word that often comes to mind when talking about minimalism is space. With space, we can direct our energy and focus on what means the most. Space is not just an empty room, but it is what surrounds us, everywhere we are. Let’s be honest. It is tough to appreciate your space in an airport or an amusement park. Why? Because you don’t have any! That being said, creating space is an art, and you can create that art anywhere if you are mindful.

This is the fourth post in a series that started with this guest post I wrote for Joshua Becker’s Blog, Becoming MinimalistLiving in the Land of Enough.

Make Space

Clear out some space in your house. You don’t need to take on big purging projects during this time to make space. Simplify one room (or even just the corner of one room) and keep it as clean and clutter free as possible.

Even if the rest of your house is cluttered, this area can be a great reminder of how you might feel living with less.

That was the recommendation for a short hiatus in the Land of Enough. For a longer stay, like a lifetime, you will need to think about all the spaces that you spend your time.

Ask questions like:

  • How do I feel when I am in an empty room?
  • Is my work space conducive to doing good work?
  • Is my bedroom set up for a peaceful night of sleep?
  • Do my living areas promote stress or calmness?
  • When I travel, do I protect my space?

One of the biggest benefits of living with less, is that you can quickly create space. More space will help you calm down and focus on what is important. The spaces that you spend most of your time really reflect who you are. They don’t always demonstrate who you want to be or how you want to live your life, but if you want a good indication of how things are today, look around.

How to Make Space

Closet– Start here and build momentum for uncluttering the rest of your home. Consider your closet to be anywhere you store clothes. Here is the process I recommend:

Start making piles of clothes and be ruthless.

  • Pile One: I love these items. They fit me well and I wear them frequently: Keep
  • Pile Two: I want to keep this but I don’t know why
  • Pile Three: These items don’t fit me or my style: donate.
  • Pile Four: These items aren’t in good condition: trash.


  • Take Pile Four to the trash.
  • Box up Pile Three and put in your car before you have time to re-think.
  • Put the items from Pile One back in your closet.
  • Box up all items from Pile Two and put the box in the back of your closet for 30 days.
  • If you didn’t miss the box after 30 days, DO NOT OPEN IT, donate it.

After you make some progress, if you love that feeling of empty space in your closet, join hundreds of us in minimalist fashion Project 333.

Bedroom – While I don’t recommend TV in any room of the house, it should absolutely be off limits in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be for only two things: sleeping and sex. You might do other things like read, or get dressed in the morning, but create the space for the first two things I mentioned. Your bedroom is your sanctuary.

If you have piles of bills, a computer, or TV in there, the energy changes, the space changes and you change with it.

Kitchen– The kitchen is for eating and cooking, but it is often the place where your family gathers during other times of the day. I notice whenever we have guests, we always end up in the kitchen.

Store like Ikea and Target can make it almost irresistible not to fill your kitchen with matching gadgets and tools. Resist! Seriously, how many sets of measuring cups, wine glasses, mixing bowls or wooden spoons can you use at one time.

Imagine baking bread without having to move fifty things off the counter or inviting friends over to share a bottle of wine without having to spend an hour “picking up”.

Office – Regardless of where you do your work, set your space up free of distraction so you can focus on the task of hand. I know a stack of papers or a post-it note can’t literally speak to you, but we both know, they will call you away from your work. Keep your desk clear and your desktop clearer.

If your only workspace is your computer, be sensitive to all the things that can fill your space. Turn off email and other distractions and do great things.

Car – Take care of this space so all focus can be on getting safely from point a to point b. For starters, turn your phone off every time you buckle up. Put the stuff you need to travel with in the backseat or trunk. Keep a small bag in the car for trash so apple cores or water bottles aren’t rolling around while you drive.

Instead of using the time and space you have in your car to get things done, focus on driving or enjoying the ride. I know you want to make those phone calls, or take notes as you think of important things you have to do. I used to do it all the time. I stopped. Please stop too.

Travel–I wrote this post from a hotel in Denver, and know that it can be challenging to create space on a trip. Airports, airplanes, shuttle buses, hotel rooms and restaurants are all a struggle. There are ways to create space, but if you can’t, just focus on protecting your own space.

Instead of mashing up in line at the airport, sit in a less crowded section and board the plane last. Carry less, so you don’t have to worry about finding space for your stuff. Take food back to your hotel room instead of eating out and stretch out. Visit a museum or yoga studio when you travel to appreciate the open space.

Mind – You can free up space in your brain and mind by doing less. When you work and live with an overloaded mind, you don’t sleep well, you don’t think clearly and decisions are made out of frustration and fear instead of facts and inspiration. Slow down, let the unimportant go, and literally open your mind.

As you make space, remember that less is not none. Some minimalists live in empty rooms with white walls and furniture. While I appreciate that aesthetic, my walls are colorful and display simple photography and vibrant paintings. It’s a great reminder that minimalism doesn’t come in a can. It’s a lifestyle and that looks different for every life.

With a dog, two cats and a teenager, I don’t pretend to live in a museum. There aren’t a lot of “things” around,  but when you walk into my home, it feels like me.

Where do you want to create more space?


  1. says

    I love this post! You’ve taken a topic that many have written on and included extra items that are very helpful to me. One of them is about the mind. I think my mind is calm but the moment I lay my tired body down to sleep, my mind starts racing and sleep slips away.
    I need to follow your ideas to get information out of my head so there’s space there :)

    I love the travel tips as well. I usually am in crowded lines to get on the plane..and would rather board later and travel more lightly.

    Thank you.

  2. says

    Another wonderful post. I have places, especially in my home office/studio that I need to address soon. When I find myself bringing my computer into another room in order to work, I know I’ve let the clutter and chaos go to far!

  3. says

    Great series Courtney. I like your real approach to minimalism on your own terms. I would emphasize that the space in your head is really the most imoortant, as all else proceeds from inside the mind. We create our reality, as we see it. Truly. XO

      • A. says

        I would offer the thought that it’s a two way street. Clearly once you’ve achieved a spacious mind it certainly flows more easily into a spacious life — but you don’t have to start here first — the process of freeing up your life will increase your awareness of your mind which is a solid start to desiring to calm it and the process of doing so. Not so long into either process you’ll find the other one starting with a “mind of it’s own” so to speak. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
        I recommend Stuart Wilde’s mini books — Silence, sorry can’t remember the whole title, is a great introduction & one I return to again and again. It’s hard for me to focus on anything if I’m talking.
        Stuart will proba beyond what you’ve considered in terms of a simple and calm mind but you don’t have to go there with him if it’s too new age for ‘ya. The principles are solid and practical, take ’em and run with it.
        PS If you want to gauge your process or take on a challenge travel to Asia with a 12 pound pack, visit the busiest stinkiest part of your city — Ram Dass said roughly, it’s definitely easier to maintain one’s equanimity in a buddhist temple; go to a stressed out, crowded and dirty city to meditate — see how that works to get a feel for where you’re at.
        I’ve had to consider this seriously as I live with an artist whose capacity for living in creative chaos and multiples of possessions is unbelievable. I’ve hung out with my fair share of monks in several countries and his soul, spirit and mind are right up there with that level of compassion and inner peace. Go figure. I however being a much less advanced soul (with a head injury in my past) simply can not deal with it — peacefully. Who he is comes out, his art and our living space are incredible, and after 18 years we have separate closets and cabinets that house the hundreds of beautiful objects we live with.
        Personality, temperament, & your past (hard to argue with a head injury) all influence you and so influence the whole process and it’s optimal outcome for you.
        Guideline’s are just that, guidelines. Everyone’s different.

  4. says

    I’m currently working on making more space in my office. It seems to be the landing area for all kinds of stuff, and is the center of piling papers and books, making it tricky to work in there. Since my boyfriend and I share it, we have two people’s worth of things. I am trying to clear my half of the desk so it can still be somewhat of a santuary, and have been clearing out old papers and things, but it is a slow and steady process.

  5. says

    Oh yeah…I can so relate to this post…I started a 21 day purge two weeks ago and I’m almost done…woo hoo! It’s been a lot of work…mainly because I’ve just kept putting off what needed to be done…that is MAKING A DECISION…lol
    Thanks for some more tips, fondly, Roberta

    • Courtney Carver says

      Roberta, I love that you recognize that making a choice is how it all starts. You can choose to change anytime!

  6. says

    Nice article. I’m just struggling with the following question

    “How do I feel when I am in an empty room?”

    Sounds more like a mental health test question. Didn’t get the clue about it yet …

    And how often do you are in empty rooms (beside when you move in/out).

    • Courtney Carver says

      Hmmmm….I was actually thinking about walking into a home before you move in, or a big yoga studio when I wrote the question. Maybe it is a bit of a mental health question although that wasn’t my intention. I think what I like about being in an empty room is that there is room to take a deep breath and think about possibility. What about you? Do you like empty space or not? Just curious…not a test!!

      • says

        I was never in a yoga studio. But I think it isn’t totally empty. At least there will be yoga mats somewhere. Or people exercising (so not empty, too).

        I find empty rooms kinda depressing. It has to be something in – even in museums is “stuff”, not much, even just a sculpture, but something giving a reason going into this room.

        A room needs to have a reason, to be that usually there’s something in – which don’t need to be much. If you go into a new home before you move in you have a reason: checking the room, have in your mind how what you can do with it, maybe what kind of stuff you put at which part. But going into an empty room which hasn’t any purpose… nah…

        • Layla says

          Oh, I love empty rooms – they hold so much potential!! :)

          Maybe because my attick has been too overcrowded, slowly working on getting it to look better & less cluttered, lol! I have a few glimpses that I’m proud of already, but still a long way to go! :)

          Cleaned the desk yesterday, it seems ‘small things at a time’ works best for me indeed!

      • A. says

        Not empty spaces but peaceful ones —
        After organizing the main level (open floor plan) of our home I felt my blood pressure drop when I came into it.
        After reducing the objects in a small bathroom and changing the color scheme to white, some taupe and a touch of green I wanted to live there. It also didn’t feel “like me” — I was ruthless and created a space I hadn’t grown into yet.
        As for empty spaces – studios make me want to dance & all of them are calming and I breathe more deeply without having to try.

        • A. says

          ps I used to dislike white, find it unsettling and glaring. I’m not going only white and I consider a white carpet a mild form of insanity. My intention is to start there & in basic colors in a wardrobe and build. My use of color was all over the board. And being Italian I’m not going to live without it, but it was out of control – in the clothing too.

  7. says

    I really enjoyed this post. When I read some people’s ideas of minimalism where all walls are white and there is no color anywhere I cringe. I love color and couldn’t live life without it. I can live without clutter everywhere and that’s where minimalism fits in for me.
    My kids and I have also started walking to get places instead of taking the car every time. We live in Colorado so that’s not going to be possible all the time through the winter, but my goal is to bundle up and walk as many places I can.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Paula, I can imagine. I was just in CO and being car free in some of the rural areas would be a challenge. I think an all white home looks beautiful in pictures but I am so inspired by color that it will always be part of my life.

  8. says

    Your process is very similar to the one we are working through now with our Big Purge. We started in the closet, then moved to the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. Next will either be the office or my daughter’s room. We also recently removed our TV from our bedroom. We sold our living room TV and moved the bedroom TV into the living room. I think you’re right on the energy of the room being different. It feels more peaceful in there now.

    • Courtney Carver says

      I love this! One room at a time works. You don’t have to overhaul your life in a day. Slow, deliberate change sticks. Congrats on your peaceful bedroom!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Bernice, I read this on twitter today: “Make a point to not take anything personally for a whole day, and see how you feel” or something like that. I think it’s a great suggestion to help with the mental clutter.

  9. says

    I love this post and I love the way you are approaching simplifying your life. I like that color is important to you. Being a fellow artist I can relate to that. I think even as I work at minimizing things with the goal of living bigger with less, I don’t envision ever not having art on my walls or artsy things around, but I am working on having less of them and less clutter. You are inspirational. Thank you.

  10. Courtney Carver says

    Thanks Diane. I’m glad you can relate. The cool thing is that when all the “stuff” is gone, art comes to life and takes center stage. It’s the first thing I see when I walk in the door, and usually the last thing I see before I fall asleep.

  11. Layla says

    Okay, overall: very inspiring. Great blog & I love the idea!

    However: These items aren’t in good condition: trash. No no no!!!

    Check if there’s a fabric bank where you live, or if there’s a creative re:style project nearby or such… Some kids groups or workshops or ‘special needs’ places or such might be happy to get any materials for free creative reuse too!!

    It’s just soo wasteful to just ‘throw things away’ – these are materials and resources that could become something beautiful again!! (either as ‘surface’ or as ‘filling’ or as spill mops or doggie bed or whatever!!)
    Consider where in your community this could be put to good use, offer on Freecycle or on Etsy… Awesome things are being done from old fabrics!! (Or have a workshop with kiddies yourself? :))

  12. Layla says

    Oops, sorry the italics overload, forgot to add the /i!

    (Just shows how passionate I am about this lol!)

    As people we are creating way too much trash and for me, the minimalist lifestyle is closely connected to the zero waste lifestyle, aspiring to them both! (Still learning and struggling and figuring things out as I go along sometimes too, lol!)

    Anyway, thanks for the great inspirational blog!

  13. Layla says

    Oh, and in the car – you can have a small ‘bin’ or reusable container with a lid, maybe eg old ice cream/margarine tub or nice box or such for any ‘leftovers’ or compostables – hope you compost those apple cores and such! :)
    (When I go for trips car-free, with friends/car-sharing, I usually bring my own Tupperware-like container in my rucksack, with food, and afterwards put any compostables there too.. been guilty of an occasional bag too, but ideally it’s the reusables – I mean, who wants to wash a yucky bag, let’s be honest??)

    For water bottles you can have a box too, maybe carton box or fruit box, whatever fits… Maybe even a bag, okay, as long as it’s reused many times! :) (check that it doesn’t get moldy tho, close the lids of any juices/sodas or such and rinse at home and put into recycling) I hope you’re not drinking too many sodas anyway, not good for the health! Could also just bring reusable bottle? hmm? (= more minimalist-?) :)

    Being greener can also be more minimalist, often! :)

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  16. ScT says

    Don’t take box # 3 to the trash! Find a program that will recycle clothing fibers! The humane society will take rags to line cages, H&M will take used clothes and either donate them to be sold via charity or be recycled, etc. DON’T trash them!!!!

  17. says

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  18. barbara says

    Hi, I am a minimalist, have been for years .. but the 33 in the closet has been a bigger challenge than I imagined. I cannot seem to get down below 45. So I just bought the micro-course and am taking on the challenge … Step one, print this page and go! Any suggestions welcome!!

  19. Candace says

    I just performed the 4-clothes pile purge and was astonished at how many items of clothes I was hanging on to-out of style clothes from the ’90’s and clothes that no longer fit. I threw out clothes that were washed a million times and looked it as we’ll as worn-out shoes. I feel liberated!

  20. uti says

    just wanted to point out that clothing that is NOT in good condition should NOT be put in the trash. i just learned this myself. I used to trash clothes with holes or stains too. apparently the fabric can be re-used but only 20% of used fabric is recycled. most of it is trashed. call your local goodwill and they will usually take this old clothing- you can label it ‘rags’ – for re-use/recycling (such as in upholstery, carpets, etc.). thanks!

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  22. says

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  1. […] which led me to Project 333‘s goal of only putting 33 items in your wardrobe to be space saving, simplifying, and provide piece of mind. Another inspiring story is Sonya Phillip’s 100 […]

  2. […] 3 more items.  Over the weekend, I dived full into my closet purge. I planned on following the how to make space method, but abandoned it pretty early on as my closet wasn’t as overwhelmed as I originally thought […]

  3. […] 3 more items.  Over the weekend, I dived full into my closet purge. I planned on following the how to make space method, but abandoned it pretty early on as my closet wasn’t as overwhelmed as I originally thought […]