Get That Calming, Minimalist Feel With Any Decor Style
Transform your home into a relaxing retreat no matter its architectural style or your decorating taste
As a professional home organizer, I work with many clients who are on a quest to pare down their possessions to create a tranquil home where they can relax and recharge. Often, we look together at inspirational photos of minimalistic homes with floor-to-ceiling windows, clean-lined furniture and muted color palettes.
But remodeling, or buying all new furniture, simply to achieve a minimalist look somehow seems to defeat the purpose of paring back in the first place. Here’s how to take the lessons of minimalism and apply them in your home, no matter its style.
The Essence of Minimalism
We’ve written about minimalism in the past and identified several key elements to getting this look, including clutter control, clean furnishings, limited palettes and bare windows. In a nutshell, minimalism in interior design means creating a sense of spaciousness in rooms (no matter their square footage) using a minimum of furniture and details. Though most of us associate minimalism with modern furniture that has clean, straight lines (as in the room shown here), minimalism truly can be achieved with any decor style.
A Practical Road Map
Take these basic steps to imbue your room with a minimalist feel.
1. Remove excess clutter. Removing clutter is the first step to creating a minimalistic home. If you do not truly love or need something, perhaps it is time to let it go. For most of us, this is easier said than done. To get you motivated, I recommend saving inspiring photos of beautiful and decluttered spaces in a Houzz ideabook, as well as reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The hardest part of this process is deciding what to keep and what to let go. If necessary, enlist the help of a friend or professional home organizer to assist you in achieving your goals.
2. Use a muted color palette.
White is a common paint choice in minimalism, as are muted tones of gray, cream and beige. Fresh paint is a relatively inexpensive way to change the look of a room, and I recommend considering a matte finish so that walls do not appear shiny.
If your budget allows for some redecorating, you may want to use similar colors for walls, window treatments, upholstery and flooring to give a room a cohesive, tranquil appearance. To give the room more depth, you can vary the textures and materials you choose. If replacing furniture and decor items does not fit your plans, consider simply toning down your palette by limiting colors and patterns. Paring down the number of items can also help infuse a more restful mood.
3. Add an intense pop of color. Although not necessary, a small touch of vivid color can look fantastic in an otherwise muted room. Consider limiting bright colors to a few pillows, small decor pieces or a small accent wall, all of which I recommend you keep in the same color.
4. Choose large wall decor. Consider limiting to one large picture or mirror to hang on the wall, instead of several smaller items grouped together. This will prevent the room from appearing too busy.
5. Avoid overcrowding. Blank walls and empty corners work well in the minimalist aesthetic, so don’t stuff your room too fully. Also avoid heavy-looking furniture, as well as too many small pieces. In fact, you don’t even need an area rug. Keep decorative pillows, throws and coffee table decor to a minimum.
6. Embrace the outdoors. If privacy is not a concern, consider going without window treatments to bring the outdoors in. If your budget allows, you might install solar shades to block out excess sun. Ideally, they’ll be barely noticeable while they protect your furniture and artwork from harmful rays.
How to Get the Benefits of Minimalism in Your Home
You do not have to purchase all new furniture to embrace minimalism — simply apply the ideas we’ve just explored to your existing furnishings, in your favorite decorating style.
Traditional. This living room, for example, has traditional furniture, but the artwork is sparse, the walls are painted white and the fireplace mantel is bare. The room is not packed with too much furniture, and the couches are not overwhelmed with too many pillows.
At first glance it might appear as though this room does not have a minimalist feeling — but take a closer look. It has a neutral base of whites, grays and blacks, and then splashes of vibrant pink on the sofa, throw pillow and artwork add energy.
The designer opted for one large art piece over the sofa instead several smaller works. The large window is not adorned with heavy drapes or window coverings, and the room is not overcrowded with furniture or decor. Although the furniture shapes are traditional, the room embodies many elements of minimalism.
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Rustic. This room also embodies minimalism, with its neutral color palette. In addition, the lack of window treatments brings the view of the outdoors into the home. The room is not overcrowded with furniture, decor or artwork, and it is devoid of clutter.
This rustic room features a neutral palette along with a single intense color, seen in the deep red couch and armchair. The red does not feel overwhelming, as the otherwise very muted palette balances it out. The room has large, uncovered windows that bring in the outdoors as well as eliminate the need for wall decor that might compete with the upholstery. This is a great example of how, despite a vivid furniture choice, a room can feel uncluttered and serene.
With its use of bold color and patterns, bohemian style
would seem to be the antithesis of minimalism. But this bedroom is a great example of how to get a bohemian feel without intense color and pattern. Instead, the designer uses various cream-colored materials and textures on the bedding, walls and accessories to create interest. The light woven bench and natural-colored baskets throughout the room add texture without making the room feel cluttered.
This tranquil living space limits bold bohemian patterns and colors to the wall hanging, large upholstered chair and throw blanket on the sofa. The macrame plant hangers and artwork over the sofa also nod to bohemian style. White paint relaxes the room, and the large windows, without heavy drapes, keep it light and airy.
Cottage. Often a country- or cottage-style home can become overrun with adornment and decor. If it is not in your budget to replace your country-style furniture, consider covering couches with neutral or white slipcovers and keeping decorative objects to a minimum. White walls can also tone down your country look.
The limited color palette in this cottage-style home imparts a restful feel. Unadorned windows and a French door allow a serene view of the outdoors, and the walls are not overwhelmed with artwork. If you live in a cottage-style home and your budget allows, think about ushering in a more neutral palette with slipcovers, pillows and a fresh coat of paint. If not, reducing the decorative contents of the room will introduce a more minimalistic effect.
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Industrial. Industrial style lends itself well to minimalism with its sleek lines and muted colors. But the key to a truly minimalistic kitchen, no matter your style, is to stow small appliances away and keep counters and tabletops free of clutter.
Large uncovered windows bring plenty of natural light into this industrial-style loft. The neutral palette and lack of overcrowding instills a calming, minimalistic impression.