This article is written by Natalka Falcomer, VP, Corporate Development, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage.


A surge in demand for recreational property demand shows that Ontarians are applying a  Thoreau-ism to their lives. Like Thoreau, Ontarians are going “to the woods to live deliberately”. The goal of making such a move is to declutter their lives and minds in order to live a life of purpose. While escaping to the woods sounds inviting – especially when we’re overwhelmed by pings, calls and emails – this is not possible (or even desirable) for everyone. This is especially true for families tied to the urban setting due to job and school obligations. These families, however, are finding clarity through another philosophy – the philosophy of minimalism.


What is Minimalism?  




Minimalism, according to Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, leaders of the minimalist movement, is defined as:


“a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution”.


Essentially, the minimalism lifestyle extolls the virtues: of having less; of using every inch of your space with intention; and of living a life of purpose. This philosophy is exactly what families all over the world, and now Toronto, are embracing to make the best use of the small homes they can afford.


How to live in small spaces and with a family?


The first step is getting rid of what isn’t used or necessary. If you haven’t used it or worn it in the last three months, ditch it.  This includes sentimental items that you just “can’t” let go. A way to make this process less painful is to take a picture of the sentimental item, thank it and then let it go.


The next step is to make organization part of your very fibre. Put everything back in its place. Always. And be creative with storage solutions. For example, walls can be completely converted to cupboard storage. Closed cupboards are best to run along the lower section of the wall to hide toys and audio-visual equipment, while open bookshelves on the upper section of the wall can be used display books, dishware, pots and pans. Walls can also be used to hang more than just art – consider securing outdoor herb racks onto your wall to store clothes, dried herbs and dried food.



Furniture should never serve just one function. Bed frames could double as storage units, islands can convert to tables and children’s bunk beds can be furnished with rubber hooks to hang toys and clothes. The same goes for rooms. Bedrooms are shared by all family members and kitchens can be used for cooking, working and dinner parties.  


We all know that bright and light colours are a must to make a space feel open. What isn’t considered is painting walls with a glossy finish so that they can easily be cleaned following playtime with young ones. This is especially important for small spaces as there’s no such thing as rooms that are “off limits”.


Finally, when frustrated with close corners, remind yourself that “[m]nimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess infavour of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom”.

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