Cooper Klein is an entrepreneur with a degree in Marketing. He’s interested in real estate and home decor. In order to spend more time with his family, Cooper decided to take a break, and he’s currently working from home as a blogger for Smooth Decorator and several other sites. You can find him on Twitter.

Our homes are the best representation of our personal style, or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. However, we all know too well just how easy it is to over-stuff your home with unnecessary trinkets you don’t actually need. This can become quite a problem over time, especially if you live in a small apartment. Sure, a good thorough cleaning every once in a while will temporarily help you rid your home of unwanted items, but there’s a solution that works even better.

Since downsizing and going minimal in every possible sense is all the rage nowadays, here are some useful tricks that will help you simplify your home’s style and stick to it in the long run.

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Deal with clutter before anything else

This is the most important and usually the most commonly overlooked step. Before you get down to any actual work, you first need to declutter the entire place, so you can have a clear picture of the space you are actually working with.

Think of this as a sort of an initial purge, where you should throw or give away all the items that are basically junk to you. If done right, this should significantly reduce the amount of unnecessary stuff. Once this is done, it will be much easier for you to decide which decorative pieces you want to keep (because you’ll finally be able to diversify them from the pieces that only created clutter) and if maybe some of them would work better in some other room.

Get the look:

Rethink your current style

Thanks to the decor magazines and various TV shows, you’ve probably made some purchases and implemented some elements into your interior decor you’re not quite happy with. You’ve read somewhere that florals are an evergreen staple of home decor, so you’ve decided to flower up your room, but you honestly don’t like, or understand, their appeal.

If that’s the case, you need to take a step back and determine what you actually like and want to include in your home design and get rid of all the other pieces that don’t bode well with that particular style. Here, it would be best to focus on basic elements of home decor such as colors, materials, finishes and fabrics, rather than specific decor pieces.

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Focus on statement pieces

Every room of the house has a single piece of furniture that should be made into the focal point of the room. To clarify, instead of trying to create a focal point, use the furniture piece that’s already the staple piece of a said room and base your design around it.

In the kitchen, this focal point should be your kitchen island; in the bedroom, your bed is the it piece, so adjust the rest of the design accordingly; in the bathroom, a fancy freestanding bath is already a statement on its own, so you should just accentuate it even further with smart lighting placement; and finally, make your sofa the focal point of your living room with some statement throw pillows.

Keep it simple (and sassy!) with a black and white print:

Go minimal all the way

In a true minimal interior, there really is no room for anything that looks too stuffy or crowded. This means that if, for example, you are a passionate book lover, you’ll need to either relocate your book collection or get rid of it entirely, because even though you love your books, you need to understand that they create visual clutter. Further, instead of over-stuffing your walls with decorative pieces, you need to choose one or two pieces that will best show your personal style and get rid of everything else.

Do know that minimal doesn’t necessarily have to mean all white and sterile. However, it does mean cutting down on everything excessive, which can even include patterns. Therefore, try to get rid of item/pattern at the time, until you are completely satisfied with the result. As you might have noticed, minimalism doesn’t focus on buying new items, but rather on making the best of what you already have.

Fully embracing minimalism is not something that happens overnight and the sooner you understand that the easier the entire reduction process will be. Also, the fact that you’ve managed to minimize your interior doesn’t mean that it will stay like that forever. Therefore, you’ll need to declutter regularly and become very conscious of your new preferred living style in order to be able to maintain everything at the desired level.