The other day at Ikea, I was really tempted by a little trestle bench which was placed at the end of a bed in one of the model bedrooms. It looked just like all the minimalist bedroom inspiration photos I'd been drooling over on Pinterest! I could buy that bench, and my bedroom would look just like the photos!!!!!!
But accustomed as I am to questioning my purchases (even if I do make most of them anyway), I had to ask myself…
What would the bench enable me to do that I can't currently do?
What would be the point?
I couldn't think of anything. And I began to wonder:
Why in the world do all these Pinterest minimalist bedrooms have an end-of-bed bench??!
Isn't minimalist lifestyle and decorating all about eliminating the unnecessary? And these bedrooms are usually very large and open, with nothing in them except a bed with relentlessly white sheets; a simple nightstand or maybe just a standing lamp; and the ubiquitous bench. No desk or chair or TV or bookcase or any of the other hundreds of things listed under "bedroom" in The Sims. So why, why the bench? In a world where functionality is vital and nothing is there just-because, what is it for?
Is it for storage? No, if you wanted storage, you'd use a trunk, and it's never a trunk. It used to be a trunk, but now it's a bench. Sometimes it will be a "storage ottoman bench," with a top that opens into about a six-by-eighteen inch little narrow storage area, and sometimes it will have shelves just big enough for a pair of shoes or a little basket, but these halfhearted storage efforts always seems like a compromise. The pure form of the "look" is the unadulterated bench, ostentatiously screaming "Look at me! I don't store ANYTHING! Because you have nothing to store, do you, you sexy minimalist?"
Is it for sitting? I guess? But you could just sit on the bed? What are you doing sitting there all the time anyway? Putting on your shoes? But it makes more sense to put on your shoes by the door, especially if you have clean, white floors.
Is it for putting things on? I'm inclined to say that this is the closest thing to a function in evidence in this type of photo. While the bench is frequently bare, it is just as often strewn with what I call "minimalist clutter."
Minimalists aren't meant to have any clutter, but it seems like maybe people who set-dress magazine photos aren't entirely comfortable with nothingness, so they'll dot surfaces with a tastefully sparse assortment of items chosen from the following:
- A white mug filled with hot coffee
- One or more lit candles
- A potted succulent
- A stack of books
- A guitar
- A fancy camera
- A vase of fresh cut flowers
- A magnifying glass
- An ancient map
- An iPhone
- A leather backpack
- A safety razor
- A Macbook Air
- A lantern
And the thing is that I can't think of an assortment of items LESS suitable for placement by your feet while you sleep. Don't they know how the Great Chicago Fire started?
I'm beginning to feel that the function of the bench is the same as the function of that list of items: set dressers feel the room looks too empty, so they throw in something that has no function but fills space. Which is no way to choose your furniture if an uncluttered, minimalist home is your goal.
So I didn't buy the bench. I did buy a potted succulent, but that's just good sense. I mean, Pinterest shows them in every room of the house. They're just so versatile!