Support Minimalism with Multi-Function Objects

by Nov 15, 2021

Civilization is a limitless muliplication of unnecessary necessities. 

Mark Twain

Choose Items with Multiple Uses

One-item. Many Functions.

When you are on a quest to live with less and reduce how much stuff you have in your house, items that serve multiple purposes can be a great advantage.  Often you can replace several pieces with a single versatile item, saving space and money. There are opportunities all around the house to streamline with items that do double duty and help you pare down on the clutter.

Choose Versatile Dishes

Cut down on the number of different items of tableware that you need by selecting pieces that can serve more than one role.  For example, do you need to have a place setting with a dinner plate, a side plate, and a bread plate?  Instead, select one or two sizes suitable for many options.  Similarly, replace multiple sizes of bowls with one bowl that you can use for anything from soup to cereal to pasta.  Or perhaps choose one plate and a wide shallow bowl that can hold anything from soup to salad to steak.  While you are at it, try to pare down how many mugs, cups and glasses you use.  Start with cutting down on teacups and coffee mugs.  Replace them with a few mugs that you love that are suitable for tea, coffee – or any beverage.

Replace Single-Use Items

Instead of repeatedly purchasing paper towels, use sponges or reusable wash clothes/  Sponges can be reused for months and can be safe and hygienic by microwaving them for a few seconds.  Cleaning clothes can be thrown in the washing machine or hand washed for long use.  Wash clothes can be used around the house for many cleaning jobs so you can replace some other cleaning products. You can make your own cleaning cloths or Swiffer-style mop covers by cutting down old towels.  Also, consider donating or discarding any specialty item that you don’t use all the time if you can do the job with something already on hand with other applications.

Reduce Electronics

Phones continue to offer more options and tools and features.  We rely on them for connection to others so we rarely are without our phones meaning we have many tools at hand.  Depending on your priorities and lifestyle, you might be able to use your phone to replace other electronics like alarm clocks, e-readers, cameras, and  tablets.

Simplify Cleaning Routines

Many of us have a dizzying array of cleaning supplies, both for household and personal care.  Household items are often marketed for specific purposes and frequently contain harsh chemical ingredients.  Cut down the supplies with multipurpose products and more natural ingredients.  I prefer vinegar and baking soda for most surface cleaning in kitchens and bathrooms.  They can replace a variety of sprays and detergents.  I also like biodegradable laundry soaps in non-plastic packaging – my favourite is Tru Earth,  dissolvable environmentally safe laundry strips that come in compostable cardboard.

For personal care, choose minimal ingredients for a simplified beauty routine that is easier on your skin – and your budget. Try combined soap and shampoo bars or shaving soap instead of aerosol cans.   Find soaps that you like with fewer ingredients and less packaging for space-saving and environmental benefits.

Use Stove-to-Table Containers

Heat-resistant containers like Pyrex or Corning can replace a range of cookware.  They can nest within each other for storage to reduce space requirements even more.  These can be used for cooking in the oven or on the stovetop, reheating in the microwave, preserving in the fridge or freezer, or for packing in lunchboxes. 

Make the Most of Mason Jars

My personal favourite multi-use item is probably mason jars.  I do a lot of canning so there are always extra jars from 125 ml to 1 L which offers a lot of flexibility.  They are great drinking glasses in the house or on the deck because they are break-resistant. We use them in the pantry for storing dehydrated foods, dried goods, cereals and more. They are great in the office or studio for holding pens, paintbrushes, paper clips, pins, threads (I use one for a sewing kit that I made a pin-cushion lid for when I am doing mending while watching TV or in the car).  And they are fun for packaging gifts like craft supplies or dried goods for baking cookies or brownies (52 Mason Jar Cookie Recipes Mixes).  How is that for multi-function?


Choose Multi-Function Furniture

When you are trying to simplify your life and make the most of space, furniture is an important part of the process. Reducing the number and type of furniture items, it can make a noticeable different more quickly than many other choices.  Items that can be adapted for multiple purposes, or can be stashed away when not in use make a lot of sense, especially in a small space.  A single table can be used for dining, a desk, and design space.  Sectional sofas allow many variations.  Choices like Murphy beds and folding shelves can be a practical solution as they allow things to be hidden when not needed.  Fold-out coaches or futons serve different functions as required.  Other pieces can be combined to maximize space such as using a cube shelf for a TV stand that offers spots for toy storage or multimedia.  Find lots more ideas in this article 27 Awesome Multi-Purpose Furniture Pieces.

Take Action

These are several of many ways you can reduce with household and personal care items through the use of multipurpose items.  Find tools and methods that fit with your lifestyle and always be aware of ways that you might reduce supplies and implements.  You don’t have to rush out to buy new multi-function objects but you might want to consider it when you need to replace something that you have.  First, get rid of duplicates and single-use items that can be replaced by something that serves multiple roles.  Experiment, research and ask your friends for suggestions.  But remember – what works for someone else may not simplify your life.  Also, keep in mind that not all items promoted as multi-purpose are created equal.  Sometimes purpose-built tools do serve a valuable function.  As always, remember to look for quality and to think about YOUR lifestyle and priorities.  Through trial and error, you’ll soon be saving space, time, and money with multi-function.

Challenge Questions for Day 15

How have you made use of multi-function tools in your home?  Identify 5 things that you eliminate with a multi-function item.  What changes will you make?

Do you have only as much furniture as you want?  If not, what one piece of furniture can you donate, repurpose or upcycle – or replace with a multi-function piece?  What action can you take today to reduce furniture floor space in your home?

Declutter Challenge for Day 15

Digital Declutter 2 – Your Phone

Clear all apps that you are not using.  Clear duplicate or unclear photos and be very selective about how many you keep from any one event.
Bonus challenge: Think about an electronic device that you no longer use because of your phone – or could replace with a quality app – and donate or safely recycle it.

Banner photo by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay 

Cookie mix in Mason Jar from via

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This