“Less is more” – Mies Van Der Rohe, architect.
When the world (and our lives) feel chaotic, our homes can be a soothing antidote. And while some create joy in their homes through stimulating the senses, others tend towards finding happiness in simplicity and restfulness. This is minimalism.
Minimalism is a fine art, however. Getting the balance right between calming and cold isn’t as easy as it sounds – uncluttered can feel unfinished and simplicity can feel boring. So how do you create a beautiful minimalist space?
what is minimalism?
Minimalism is more than just an interior style - it’s a philosophy for life. It means focusing on the essentials, and only having the stuff you need in your life. It’s a rejection of consumerism.
When it comes to interiors, a minimalist style is all about creating a calming place away from the hustle and bustle of the world. A soothing space that’s timeless, pared back and functional.
It means clean lines, no clutter and a monochromatic, neutral palette.
a brief history of minimalism.
Like lots of design styles, minimalism emerged after a period of the opposite style. For minimalism, it was the Victorians – industrious and adventurous, they loved pattern and showing off their wealth through art and collections (the forerunners of maximalism). In reaction to this, an artistic expression style known as De Stijl was founded around 1917. Considered the beginnings of minimalism, this movement championed purity in colour and simple, geometric shapes (think: Mondrian’s yellow, blue, red and white squares and rectangles).
Minimalism’s roots can also be found in Japanese Zen Buddhism and scandi design – both simple, and focused on function and creating a calming atmosphere. Think of the focus on natural light and functionality.
It really came into its own in the 60’s as a design style, with lots of art, theatre, fashion and film all subscribing to the idea of less is more. Everyday objects began being designed in this way too, with radios, calculators and more getting a simplicity overhaul.
The 80's brought bold excess back to the fore with consumerism and advertising gone wild, so in the 90's, minimalism came back with force – it was super stark to the point of coldness.
Today, minimalism has a softer touch, with monochromatic palettes warmed up with some elements of colour and texture.
how to create a minimalist home.
Focus on the function of your space
First and foremost, minimalism is about creating functional spaces that soothe. So whether you’re planning on a minimalist bedroom or living room, think about how you use your space and how it can serve those functions. For a bedroom, you might think about a comfortable bed to sleep on, lamps for reading, storage for clothing and a place to do your ablutions.
Once you know how you use your space, think about what you can eliminate from it. Decluttering is a necessary step when creating a minimalist space as this is not just about aesthetics, it’s a philosophy for living your life too.
Try the KonMari method of decluttering, where you decide to keep items based on whether they bring you joy. Go through your space by category, starting with things like clothes and books, and ending with miscellaneous and sentimental items.
Edit your furniture too, once you’ve decluttered some of your belongings. Is that dresser being filled up with stuff just because it exists to be filled up? Do you really use that extra chair or has become a dumping ground?
Use a neutral palette
Now you’ve edited down your space to be functional, now comes time to make it beautiful. When you think of minimalist spaces, more often than not you’ll think of white on white on white. That can get pretty cold looking pretty fast. Instead, opt for pale neutrals in two or three different shades.
If you can’t go without colour, keep it small and subtle. Touches of black, dark green and navy blue will work to ground your space, whereas warm, muted shades like clay, peach and golden brown will prevent the space from looking cold.
Another way to add texture and subtle colour to your minimalist space is through natural materials. Think unstained and unpainted wood furniture, green plants, and jute rugs. Don’t be afraid to have items with personality either – vintage furniture, artisanal accessories and homemade treasures are all welcome (just keep it in your colour palette and don’t go overboard).
Invest in quality over quantity
With a minimalist interior you’re creating a timeless space that soothes, so there’s no need to be constantly buying or updating it. Look for classic pieces that will last a lifetime, instead of something that you’ll need to change out in a years’ time. From furniture to textiles, this rule applies to everything!
A minimalist is a master in storage. Those clear surfaces and tidy rooms don’t mean that you’re not allowed any stuff, it just means that you have to be clever in how you tuck it away out of sight. In theory, you’ll have decluttered, so you should have less stuff to store, and a place for everything.
If you don’t have a place for something, ask yourself – do you really need it? Can you get rid of something else to fit it in?
You are allowed art, decor and textiles, but just like colour, it need to be simple and subtle. There are no gallery walls or piles of cushions here. Instead, clean lines rule the day. No patterns allowed! Some texture is though. Think boucle cushions that match your sofa, abstract art work that focuses the mind and organic shaped vases. Know when to stop – you do not want anything even resembling a cluttered space.