Have you ever wondered if minimalists still have a lot of the common household items you find in most U.S. homes like coffee tables? Unless you’ve recently stayed clear of the internet or have been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed a fairly new craze that has swept over the western world.
Minimalism is the counterculture’s answer to excessive materialism and keeping up with the Joneses, and we’ve been asked several times to give our opinion on this meaningful way of living.
Coffee tables are a staple in many households across the U.S. and not only do they provide a handy surface to rest your coffee (the clues in the name), they help to keep things like books, magazines, remotes stored away and more organized.
Do minimalists keep hold of their coffee table? Do they use something else? Or do they not have anything at all and just have an empty living room? Let’s find out!
What is a Minimalist?
Before we jump in, it’s a good idea to define what a minimalist is. Minimalism aims to remove the excess clutter from life whether that’s physical items, emotional relationships, or mental clutter in an attempt to live a more meaningful life.
There are plenty of resources online to show you how it’s done, and in our research, we’ve seen minimalism improve the lives of individuals and families just by taking the time to get rid of excess waste that can be found all around us.
And if you’ve ever attempted something like a ‘30 day cleanse’ where you remove one item per day for 30 days or pack away everything you own as Ryan Nicodemus did from “The Minimalists” and only re-introduce items that were absolutely necessary, minimalism is not going to go away any time soon, in response to a culture that is obsessed with consumption.
Do Minimalists Have Coffee Tables?
Here’s the honest response to this question; there’s no straightforward answer as there are many different levels of minimalism that people follow.
Some minimalists follow a diet version of the movement whereby they only remove some of their clutter and keep a lot of items that many would consider junk, along with the other end of the spectrum where you will find hardcore minimalists that can fit all of the items they own into a small backpack. So it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer or solution.
Everybody is different, and whilst there is no universal answer, it’s going to be up to the personal individual whether they would like to include one or not.
Examples of Minimalism
Let’s have a look at some examples and why there’s no consensus on what minimalism can be defined as.
Let’s say you own a large house with lots of living space and follow the approach of minimalism. You decide against having a coffee table and want a wide-open plan with a minimal footprint. Maybe the use of the living room space is meant for activities with the kids or because you prefer guests to drink coffee at a large dining room table.
Same house, but a different family now that also follows minimalism. They want a coffee table to ‘fill the void’ of the emptiness. They decide the space would feel more comfortable by including one and therefore choose to own a coffee table because it makes practical sense.
Even though they have an extra ‘item’ and just because they wanted something for practical reasons does not make them any less of a minimalist. As you can see, the devil is in the details.
What about someone who lives in a small apartment with minimal living space where every inch of floor space is going to count? This person might decide that there’s no room for one, and so either chooses to not purchase one or go for something that can be used for multiple purposes, which we’ll come onto now.
Great Coffee Table Alternatives
We’ve established that not all minimalists are created equal, but what about minimalists who don’t own a coffee table? What do they use instead?
One convenient option is to use an Ottoman storage trunk. This hybrid choice means that extra items can be stored away without cluttering up living space and is ideal for storing books, magazines, coasters, remotes, blankets, and odd bits of paper. This can be doubled up as an extra seat if guests want to come over so they won’t have to bring their own chair.
Another option is a low single stool, which once again can be used as seating if you are expecting extra guests. This is a great alternative because you’ll be able to pick up a stool for cheaper, and there are plenty of budget-friendly options online that look stylish.
Many other great choices double as a coffee table, but these are two of the most popular options we could find.
Coffee table or no coffee table. TV or no TV. A small stack of books or a library of novels. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong, and we recommend that you make a decision based on your personal preference.
We know couples that have removed a coffee table because they wanted the space, as well as families who have doubled their use of a coffee table by purchasing one of the items we recommended above.
But we also know individuals that love their coffee table and couldn’t live without it. In fact, they don’t even own a dining table and prefer to eat their meals on the sofa. There is no right or wrong and every household will be set up differently.
We don’t write the rules here, but ultimately do what makes you happy. Minimalism can be a truly remarkable thing for those caught up in the rat race of materialism that needs an anchor to make them realize what’s truly important.
However, we have seen minimalism go wrong, and instead of making someone happy, it causes them to stress out, which ironically is exactly what they tried to avoid in the first place.
If you constantly worry that you’re not ‘minimalist enough’ or that Mrs. Jones next door doesn’t own a coffee table so you shouldn’t either, then guess what: you’ve just fallen into the keeping up with the Joneses trap, but instead of chasing materialistic possessions, you’re just chasing the opposite. As long as you are doing minimalism for the right reasons you can’t lose.