With homeowners favoring simplicity and clean lines in design, minimalism is a trend that has shown staying power over the last several years. In addition to a pleasing aesthetic, minimalism offers practical benefits, including improved organization and a calmer living environment. 

What is minimalism and what concepts should homeowners embrace to reap the benefits? Here is a guide to minimalist interior design. 

What is minimalist interior design? 

At its core, minimalist interior design promotes the beauty inherent in simplicity. Think uncluttered design, scaled back with minimal materials and no structural obtrusions or visual overwhelm. Colors are typically neutral or monochromatic. Wood, glass, concrete and steel are popular material choices, because of their ability to play a supporting role in design, while amplifying the overall sense of space.  

As an interior design movement, minimalism gained traction shortly after WWII, born in part out of pragmatism because of limited availability of some building materials. Architects and designers utilized what materials were available in their designs efficiently. The bare-bones approach focuses on openness in space and the flow of light and air.  

Hinging on the concept of “less is more”, many of the elements of minimalism are timeless and trendless, blending nicely into modern homeowner priorities, including promotion of health and wellness at home. 

What are some basic principles of minimalism? 

Living simply is the cornerstone of minimalist interior design. Size of the home does not matter, but a focus on function does, as does a priority for decorative restraint. It comes down to developing a design strategy that isn’t overwhelming to the eye, which in turn creates calm.  

One of the challenges with minimalist interior design is that it can be sterile or austere, but with strategic placement of items and a consciousness of how they blend to create balance and form in a space, warmth can be introduced to counter the sterility. 

“The epitome of minimalist design is simplicity and clean lines. You’ll often see monochromatic finishes and spaces that are free from clutter. Everything brought into space is intentional and serves a purpose,” says interior designer Molly Valdez of Molly Valdez Studio

·         At its basic level, minimalist interior design pares down to all but essentials.  

·         Color impressions are muted, with any variation in color introduced with accents.  

·         Rooms typically feature seamless sightlines with lots of hidden storage. This allows for what design elements are present to be more prominent. 

·         Design and décor elements must add value to the space, either functionally, aesthetically, or both.  

·         Typically, in a minimalist design, there is an open floor plan, with ample windows.  

·         Form is sculptural to add visual interest without interrupting the flow. For example, furniture or décor might be tubular, or curved. 

·         Walls are usually sparsely decorated, but what is present provides either pops of color or intentional focal points to divert the eye in certain directions. 

·         Floors tend to be bare, with features on the floor itself adding to the décor, such as wide wooden planks or textured or polished concrete. A modest throw rug might partially cover the floor, as an accent piece. 

Minimalist décor ideas for the kitchen 

For homeowners wishing to embrace minimalism, it makes sense to start with the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home, so it plays a key role in décor tone. Similarly, the kitchen is the most utilitarian space with lots of tools- so clutter can happen easily without proper planning.  

Valdez advises the clever use of paneling for “appliances and ventilation to match the cabinetry or concealing them within the cabinetry so they don’t distract the eye.” 

“If appliances will be visible, they should be installed flush with the cabinetry to maintain a sleek plane,” she says. 

Pay attention to selection of cabinetry door fronts and hardware choices. Although subtle, they can add unwanted detail into a minimalist scheme.  

“Cabinetry construction should be frameless so reveals between doors and drawers are minimal. Opt for touch-latch hardware on doors and drawers instead of knobs and pulls,” says Valdez. 

Slab or flat cabinet styles are sleek, so help promote sightlines. Plumbing and light fixtures should be simple and have monochromatic finishes.  

Internal cabinetry storage and organization is paramount, “so that everything has its place and countertops don’t become a collect-all,” says Valdez.  

Minimalist décor ideas for the bedroom 

Earthy neutrals are a good choice for wall colors in the bedroom. 

Using warmly colored bedding introduces warmth to the space, such taupe, muted greens or greys. 

Pick a single focal point. This could be a simple and sleek statement-making light fixture over the bed. Another idea is to have a custom headboard that catches the eye. A black-and-white simple pattern is trendy, or a wooden headboard, with reeding or a straight slab, a tufted headboard, or soft fabric, such as crushed velvet are all good choices for a minimalist bedroom. 

Minimalist décor ideas for the family room 

As a high-traffic and visible area, keeping clean lines in the family room hinges on smart storage and good furniture choices. 

Furniture shape and scale are important. An oversize sofa will fill the room disproportionately. It’s ok to mix and match furniture styles for visual variety. Have only as much furniture as is necessary to live comfortably. 

Take advantage of furniture that offers internal storage, such as a sofa with drawers underneath, or an ottoman or coffee table that lifts for storage. 

Keep artwork to a minimum. Consider mounting a smart T.V. on the wall, in a central location and have your T.V. double as artwork when not in use by uploading art or photos to display.  

Have a single, simple overhead fixture, or sculptural floor lamps for lighting. 

Leave windows bare or have minimal window treatments. 

Picking minimalist artwork and accents 

Art and accents play a particularly important role in minimalist interior design. They are the conduits for color in an otherwise neutral space, and also create much-needed focal points. 

Throw pillows or a simple accent rug are excellent ways to bring color or pattern into a minimalist design. 

Choosing artwork that is too busy (or introducing too much into the space) will break the calm of minimalism. When hanging artwork, select only a few pieces. Bare walls are ok. If you are hanging multiple pieces, ensure they are symmetrical, following clean lines and that the images displayed complement each other in form, style and color. 

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