Social Question

KNOWITALL's avatar

Is it odd to prefer minimal decoration?

Asked by KNOWITALL (22758points) April 12th, 2019

People in my office, especially women, but even a few men, are commenting how weird it is that I haven’t decorated my new office and I’ve been in it for two weeks. Frankly I just don’t care to have ‘stuff’ around my work area.

Is it weird? Is it odd enough to make repeated comments on?

I ended up telling them to decorate themselves or get out of my office, in a funny way. Always being a minimalist myself, I see their personal clutter in the office as fussy and a distraction. I’m a clean desk kind of person, helps me think more clearly.

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27 Answers

Zaku's avatar

I don’t think it’s weird, but it sounds like there is some sort of cultural/decorational sameness being desired or its lack is making some of them uncomfortable for some reason.

If the workplace looks a certain way and then it’s a stark aesthetic shift in your office, that might be upsetting their aesthetic or social expectations in one way or another. Without knowing them or seeing the place, it’s hard to comment what it’s about.

I see you tagged “clutter” and “hoarders” – it might be that they have tons of knicknacks in their offices and are self-conscious and so projecting on you.

Just guessing.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I think it (the office, and specifically the personality of the office) has to grow on you. Sort of a personal feng shui that takes a little while to evolve and mature.

You’ll know when you want decoration.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Zaku Maybe they’re as uncomfortable with my stark decoration as I am with their ‘decorative’ clutter. But to each their own.

But my office is in the back of the building so there’s really no need to be in my office unless they have a question about their work. I just think it’s kind of rude to keep saying I need to decorate and one lady brought in a picture and put it up without even asking.

@elbanditoroso Yes, I absolutely want to bring in a small contained water feature as well as plants, just not in a big rush.

Zaku's avatar

Yeah, then my slightly-now-more-educated guess is it’s just that typical busybody commentary many people make about what other people choose to do, akin to:

“don’t you feel warm in that coat?”
“aren’t you cold? why don’t you put something on?”
“don’t you want more lights on?”
“you should be more social”
“your boyfriend isn’t outgoing enough for you”

I still think there may be an element coming from them having a bunch of personal knickknacks and either them feeling uncomfortable with you being so different, or projecting their need/desire/aesthetic onto you, or becoming self-conscious by the contrast, and/or worried you might not approve of their knickknacks…

What is “weird”?

If it’s defined by what everyone else does, then it depends on which group of “everyone else” counts, to the person making the assessment of weirdness.

There are certainly many people who crave sameness and definitions of what is “normal” or “weird” as if it were the truth. I find them weird, and am generally happy if they find me weird.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Zaku
To me, having always been a minimalist, it doesn’t feel or seem odd so all the recent comments about my private work space took me by surprise. I certainly wouldn’t consider telling them all their dust coated knick-knacks are unattractive, even though I very much feel that way.

Caravanfan's avatar

I have my office decorated with pictures of Dr. McCoy and Star Wars action figures.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Caravanfan Sounds fun! Maybe I need to find a middle ground between stark and cluttered.

What would make people want to visit in 5 minute increments?...lol
(That’s what I was hoping the water feature would accomplish!)

jca2's avatar

Maybe since they don’t know you, they’re just trying to make conversation. It’s just “small talk.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca2 Nah, I’ve been here 16 plus years, they know me and I’ve always been minimalist.

mazingerz88's avatar

Nothing odd about it these days but not sure if that’s the majority view where you are.

Since the 1990s I’ve been more of a minimalist than clutterist and it could be because I was influenced by my admiration of the ancient Japanese interior decoration style.

It suits my lack of interest in cleaning around the house. Most of the time I clean as I go.

flutherother's avatar

I’m a minimalist myself but I prefer some decoration to none at all.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Go to a pawn shop and get a big old neon beer sign and hang it where it can be seen by all.
Offer it as a gift to the first person who admires it.

No, it is not weird.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ve never put a lot of personal stuff in my offices.

My husband puts a bunch of stuff and I think it’s too much. Especially, since he is VP level.

In the South a lot of the women had religious stuff, which I really found odd at work, and sometimes those little saying like Live Live Laugh and family photos. That was mostly administrative level people.

I think most people have at least a photo. I don’t think I even had any photos. I don’t remember having any.

Edit: After reading @Caravanfan maybe my husband isn’t as unusual as I thought. My husband’s trinkets are car racing things, a photo, a model car, that sort of thing. Photos of us too.

I guess I never think of work as home at all. I’m not inclined to bring home to work. I don’t have lots of things around my house either. No wall of photos or anything like that.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Same here. Work is seperate.

What about walls, how can I cover big blank walls cheaply?

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL My husband has a set of the framed posters that say Attitude, another Teamwork, etc. here’s a link. https://www.successories.com/products/Posters-Art/Motivational-Posters/16/5972/P580974/Attitude-Boulder-Motivational-Poster?utm_source=google&utm_medium=pla&utm_campaign=product&adpos=1o1&scid=scplp732923&sc_intid=732923&gclid=EAIaIQobChMImszFhaPN4QIVDFmGCh0q6wvnEAQYASABEgI6Z_D_BwE

He takes those from office to office. I’m not much on that sort of thing, but a lot of people are. That link the poster isn’t very cheap, but my guess is they can be found cheaper. I just copied the first one that came up in google search.

I love a big framed poster of the US or the world. I hang one in my home office. You can buy those posters cheap and get a frame at a place like Michaels maybe?

Bed Bath and Beyond is about to close some stores. If one is by you, you might be able to get a great deal on some art for the wall.

I feel like I know you, but I have no idea the type of surroundings you like to work in, colorful or beige, or bright or low lights. Putting up stuff on the wall can be used to transform the space. Pick either something you love looking at, or something that will be interesting for others to see.

Or, put up nothing. I usually do nothing. In two offices I inherited cork boards, that was great! I put up frequently used phone numbers and some other quick info I needed. Not very decorative though. Neither of those offices had outside visitors come in much, it was all people who also worked at the company.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Great suggestions, @JLeslie!

I feel as you do, @KNOWITALL.

I also have been in other people’s offices where I felt uncomfortable about the amount of personal stuff they have cluttering a small space.
A mini terrarium might bring in some life, and be low maintenance.
I like your idea for a water feature. Those are pleasant, and don’t scream at people who come in.
I have seen small plants in wall pots, flat on one side and hang on the wall. That is color, life, and dimension. A succulent would work nice in it. Some stay whatever size their pot is. Baby toes is a cool looking one, and unusual, because without leaves, they still do photosynthesis with little solar panels.

Just please don’t put up that Friday’s Coming poster with the cat. The poor thing has been hanging from a branch for forty years.

Kardamom's avatar

It would be funny if you had a frame with the fake family photo that comes inside it when you buy a new frame at the store. It would puzzle them. And maybe just one red brick, to use as a paperweight.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie I like ivory with accents, in my home. Cool colors, quiet, soft.

@Patty Melt Yes, I love plants but kill them. Lol

@Kardamom Definately fake kids, since everyone know I dont have any.

Patty_Melt's avatar

All the more reason to try a succulent. If you kill them, they can usually be revived.
Also, terrariums rarely need attention. There are miniature bridges, wishing wells, stuff like that which can really dress up a terrarium. It makes it look like a tiny park.

seawulf575's avatar

I think it would be up to you. If you like things a certain way in your office and it works for you, then I would just brush it off. I had a supervisor one time that always had the neatest cubicle…everything was just so. One night, myself an another co-worker were sitting there (a common thing on our crew) and noticed how neat and orderly his cubicle was. The supervisor was not there at that time. So we started making small changes, just to see if he would notice. Reversed the position of two books on the shelf (swapped places with each other), moved the phone an inch or two, put one piece of paper a little off line with the others…we did 13 things in all. The supervisor came back in a few minutes later, sat down, and almost unconsciously corrected all 13 things in about 30 seconds. We were absolutely stunned. But that was how he was. His mind worked in an orderly way and it had to have things just a certain way. And he was a good supervisor, an intelligent guy, and was very personable. It was just how he was.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf Funny you say that. My elephant was turnef around and a trash can moved but I assumed it was the cleaning service. Hmmm…

I’ve only been in it two weeks, I am feeling it out still. To me, its odd anyone cares about my office decorations or lack thereof.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Oh! If you are new to the office, one or more persons might be trying to find out what you like so they can gift you.

Maybe when someone mentions it you could share a moment. “You know, I was looking at this wall, and it feels empty, what do you think?” or “I don’t like decorations on my desk because they always seem to be in my way, so I was thinking maybe a small three legged corner table there. I just haven’t decided what I want on it.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Patty Melt I’ll try that. I’ll also grab a few things while I’m on vaca this week. Appease these weirdos lol.

Brian1946's avatar

Given your minimal decoration needs, I’d say that your suite on the second floor of the mansion is already ready for you. ;-)

KNOWITALL's avatar

This spring cleaning is only half done. Four trash bins and one stuffed recycling bin. Letting my minimalist flag fly haha

kritiper's avatar

Not if you’re a Protestant. Their churches have next to no decorations.

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