Minimalism as a design aesthetic is often accentuated by the use of neutral colorways, clean lines and smooth edges, open layouts and light spaces. For visual art and media, minimalism emerged as an offshoot of the geometric abstract art movement in the 1960s. For architecture and space, minimalism was a response to the harsh urban developments marred by over-sensations experienced in Japan during the 1980s. In interior design, to be minimalist means to focus on essential pieces in the home and to limit decoration and ornamentation in the space.
Sticking to the bare essentials can make for airy, bright, and uncluttered interiors, and allow for a calm headspace in juxtaposition with the abundance of visual cues in maximalist design and decor. A lot of people gravitate toward minimalist spaces because they crave elegant simplicity and a soothing atmosphere.
Of course – inverse of maximalism – there is the risk of underdoing it when designing minimalist spaces. Many are quick to translate the “less is more” way of thinking to function-centered design without considering form and craft. For interior designers, home decorators and organizers, and hobbyists, there has to be a deliberate attempt to make a minimalist space look clean and curated, yet still feel lived in, inviting, and interesting. Otherwise, a minimalist home – in its sophistication and sleekness – can easily portray a sparse and unfriendly image.
From going back to the basics to picking out multi-functional furniture and mindful decor, here’s a quick and simple guide to minimalist interior design to help you get started:
Focus on Bare Necessities and All That is Natural
Paring down to what is essential in a home and then organizing based on priority are the first steps to achieving the minimalist space of your dreams. A simplified space – usually in an open layout encased by clean lines and neutral color palettes – can create a sense of calm and ease that is unmatched visually and mentally. In a purely aesthetic logic, who will say no to a fresh and picture-perfect space?
Minimalist design is all about using the simplest elements, from colors to materials used. Typical in minimalist interiors is the use of a monochromatic color palette – neutral whites, bright beiges, and elegant grays. For materials, designers tend to prefer natural elements like wood and stone to emphasize harmony and the “back to basics” philosophy of minimalism.
A key aspect of minimalism in design is welcoming nature into the space, and using pure and natural materials to make a place feel warmer and more alive. Most minimalist spaces make great use of full windows and mirrors to receive and bounce natural light instead of clunky light fixtures, and introduce greenery as a useful-but-still-decorative aspect to the home (think planted herbs in the kitchen and air-purifying plants in the bathroom).
Invest in Quality and Functional Home Pieces
By paring down what lives in your space to only what is necessary, you will find that you have the added luxury of investing in quality home pieces with the resources you have from just using less stuff. High quality furniture and fixtures – those that are classic, are built to last, and get better with time – allow you to indulge in your home in a way that transcends functionality.
With minimalist interiors, choosing furniture that is purposeful yet pleasing to the eye is critical in making a space stunning in its simplicity. Minimalist decorators will tell you to invest in attractive storage solutions for the home – in doing so you can hide all the clutter that you cannot let go of but do not necessarily work with the space’s overall aesthetic.
Aside from quality materials, you should be looking at design elements that will harmoniously blend with the rest of your space. In a minimalist sense, think mid-century modern style when picking out your pieces of furniture and decorative items. Simple shapes and smooth edges make the minimalist aesthetic, so it is imperative that you veer away from extravagant detailing and superfluous features, especially in the bigger pieces in the space.
Curate Your Decor
While some may think that the minimalist style means bland colors and flat shapes, the opposite is true in effective minimalist interior design. What is great in neutral colorways, simple lines, and open layouts is that there is a big avenue to play around with decorating the space. The trick is to just not overwhelm the space with ornaments that have a visual weight to them.
Add warmth and dimension by incorporating visually interesting yet complementary shapes to the space. Opt for muted patterns and neutral tones but feel free to use a variety of textures – think knitted throws, woven storage baskets, and leather accents. Small decorative pieces are also a great way to introduce a bit of color to the home; just make sure to use colors that blend together without being too saturated. A good tip is to look at natural color palettes; if it works with Mother Nature then it must work for the home.
Uncluttered and functional do not have to be boring and lacking; in fact, composing minimalist interiors without sacrificing beauty is a challenge welcomed by many designers and home decorators. The seeming limitations of bare spaces can only make way for real creativity to shine through, whether it be by using subtle accents, playing with textures and light sources, or opting for non-traditional shapes for select furnitures in one’s home.
At the end of the day, what matters is that your home is a space you want to come back to everyday – a space that serves you and encapsulates your aesthetic and design preferences.
Myers, S., & Hall, D. (2019, May 17). Everything You Need to Know About Minimalist Design. ELLE Decor. https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interior-designers/a27471472/minimalist-interior-design-tips/