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Devin VonderHaar on Mastering Minimalism

Megan Hill
A minimalist open-plan kitchen—designed by Devin VonderHaar
Devin sits cross legged on a pink tub chair. Background of white brick walls, fireplace an large plants with minimalist styling
Devin VonderHaar—founder of The Modern Minimalist

Devin VonderHaar is a Portland-based home organiser and creator of The Modern Minimalist—a KonMari certified consultancy specialising in holistic home organisation and minimalist styling.

Devin experienced the transformative benefits of minimalism and intentional possession first hand, and now she hopes to spread that joy.

Unexpected obstacles

"Honestly, COVID has been the most difficult thing to accommodate in my business, particularly when it comes to building relationships with clients."

Of the 3.5 years Devin has been in business, 2 have been in the pandemic, resulting in the rescheduling of a lot of appointments.

Reading energy

Other than check-in texts and emails, Devin conducts the bulk of her work with clients in-person.

"I find out everything I need to know organically by being in a client's home. I think seeing a client's family dynamics and lifestyle, along with the energy of the space, is really important in creating functional systems that are customised to the individual."

How does she know she's got the design just right? Simple—she listens to her client's feedback.

Analysing attachments

Devin often uses a system known as "joy checking"—a process that helps clients to understand their emotional attunement to an item and how to grow that awareness over time.

Devin helps her clients to recognise positive and negative attachments, whilst enabling them to make confident decisions from a place of joy instead of guilt, attachment, or scarcity.

A wooden desk ext to an open cupboard showing neatly organised white boxes. A chic but minimalist aesthetic
Desk space and organised storage—designed by Devin VonderHaar, styled by the client.

Many answers can be found in energy and instinct, but Devin also asks a lot of questions when first meeting with a client.

Given her holistic approach to organisation and design, we challenged Devin to hone in on what brings joy and calm to a client who often feels overwhelmed by their daily life—if she had just 5 questions to work with...

Devin would work through each item in a client's home and ask:

What... is the first thing that you feel when you hold this?

When... did you last use/wear it?

Why... do you like it?

Who... does this make you think of?

Where... do you use/wear it?

A place for everything and everything in it's place—a tidy kitchen drawer courtesy of Devin VonderHaar

Got a question for Devin? Head to her website or browse her soothing feed on Instagram.