What it is: Minimalism translates to living with lesscolor, less frippery, less visual noise, less — well — material . It’s not about sensory deprivation or ruthlessly cleaning house; it’s more to do with choosing to concentrate on a handful of items you genuinely want and love instead of a glut of unnecessary objects.
Why it works: People tend either to crave minimalist style or despise it. If you are in the former camp, then it probably attracts you for its simplicity, its own restful air and its ease of care (read: less dusting). At a hectic, overstimulating world, it may be a treat to come home to a soothing oasis of tranquil.
You will enjoy it if… You would rather listen to a solo a cappella functionality than a complete chorus. You have a dozen variations of the little black dress. You are attracted to barren landscapes. You have mastered the art of the five-ingredient recipe. Nothing makes your heart beat faster than the idea of holding a garage sale.
Mark Newman Design
Style Secret: Clutter Control
Minimalism is about pruning back to the bare essentials, which begins with clearing away the mess. If the pared-down look appeals to you, you probably don’t have excess paraphernalia to begin with. But search for opportunities to scale down further. Sweep flotsam off tables, clean the mantel, roll up rugs and swap the gallery wall for one standout piece of art.
Softer side: It is perfectly acceptable — a few purists may even say desirable — to really have a minimalist space without a single superfluous object within it. An area that lacks so much like a book on the coffee table or even a painting on the wall, however, can feel cold and sterile. Consider adding only a few accents to give it some character: a bold-color menu topped with a slick vase, a single sculpture in the corner, a more stunning pendant chandelier or light.
John Maniscalco Architecture
Design Secret: sterile Furnishings
Furnishings drive a minimalist space and provide the majority of its visual appeal. Think of what’s vital in your area. Would you want three cocktail tables, a set of armoires and a hulking credenza? What is the minimum amount of furniture you should have to keep an optimum degree of livability? Once you decide what to keep and what to skip, look for seating, tables, case goods and other bits that have sleek, stripped-down profiles and deficiency ornamentation.
Softer side: Minimal doesn’t mean uncomfortable — there’s no requirement to perch on hard side seats without a place to prop your feet. Just make sure you keep cushioned furnishings tailored, for example tight-back sofas and chairs. And by all means add a slick ottoman or hassock that will make it possible for you and your guests to reunite effortlessly.
Webber + Studio, Architects
Style Secret: Limited Palettes
It is difficult to pull the minimalist look in an area that’s bursting with color, which produces a whole lot of visual activity in the absence of bric-a-brac. Rather, select controlled neutrals that are gentle on the eye. White is the quintessential minimalist color, but if it seems too stark or clinical to you, go for cream, beige and khaki, or barely-there greens, blues or lavenders. Ground the space with a bit of espresso or black brown.
Softer side: If you long for a more emphatic stroke of color, find a way to bring it in without bothering the area’s serene vibe — if you overdo it, then the distance will feel like it’s wearing too much makeup. Hang a single painting over the fireplace, or paint one skinny accent wall or narrow hallway with a saturated hue. Better still, infuse a hint of color through accents that are easy to alter if you tire of these: a few throw pillows, a bright menu, a handful of novels.
MusaDesign Interior Design
Style Secret: Storage and Organization
Repeat after me: a place for everything and everything in its place. Committing to the minimum look means committing to order, and it’s easiest to eliminate clutter when each thing has its own specified home. Whereas another kitchen may exhibit cooking utensils onto the countertop and dishware in the cabinets, this one tucks everything behind a solid wall of cabinetry to get a clean, uniform look. If you are really ambitious, you may also winnow down everything you’ve stashed in drawers and cabinets to get a house that’s minimalist to the core.
Softer side: You don’t need to hide open shelving behind doors and screens or leave it unfilled. Simply edit judiciously. Wrap a small stack of novels in white paper covers, eliminate all but one or 2 blown-glass boats from your collection and display a single family photo as opposed to a bunch of framed snapshots.
Sara Baldwin Design
Style Secret: Bare Windows
We hardly even need to say this, but fussy draperies and flouncy shades make a minimalist space feel way overdressed. Keep windows unadorned and let their simple architecture shine. If privacy is an issue, consider textured glass apply a translucent film to display inquisitive gazes.
Softer side: Can’t bear to leave your windows completely nude? If you must add a window treatment of some sort, make it as elemental as possible, such as matchstick blinds or even a sleek roller shade. If the rest of your space is quite compact, you may be able to pull plain curtain panels, but be certain they are created from a good fabric in a color that will not halt the attention.
Style Secret: Subtle Pattern
If you consider minimalism, you probably consider solids. If you decide to use pattern, keep it discreet. Even something as straightforward as a striped duvet or houndstooth throw may upset the carefully orchestrated balance of a minimalist space. Should you use pattern at all, it should be small scale and tone on tone.
Softer side: Here is an alternative: Pick for feel. This bedroom assembles a tactile base with hardly any feel at all. White-painted bricks, a rug with a deep pile, a matelassé coverlet plus a quilted blanket combine to make depth, anchored by the intense sleekness of the bed frame.
Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects
Style Secret: caliber
Layout is much like cooking: The simpler the dish, the greater integrity the components should have. By the identical token, a minimalist space has so few distractions that each thing in it will attract heightened attention. Invest in the highest quality of furniture and accessories that your budget can stand — and because you will not be buying in great quantity, you may have a little extra wiggle room to update.
Softer side: Classic, well-crafted pieces such as Shaker armoires, Windsor chairs and French campaign beds not only hold their own in quality, but their simple, ageless design means they will never fall from fashion. Furnishings such as these show that minimalism doesn’t necessarily translate to modernism; it’s a broad approach as opposed to a prescribed set of style rules.
Brian Watford Interiors
Design Secret: Open Space
Broad swaths of room and unobstructed sight lines give minimalist interiors their comfy appeal. If your architecture doesn’t follow this pattern, and if your budget and time permit, consider minor (or major) remodeling to enhance the flow of your space. Or you can fake it with a little sleight of hand: Paint all of the walls, ceilings and trim the same color to produce the feeling of openness, or search for opportunities to make visual echoes, such as a development of indistinguishable light fixtures or a trio of overscale, just framed black and white photographs.
Softer side: Open distance doesn’t need to feel hollow and lumpy. Heat it, if you like, by breaking up a few surfaces. In this corridor and living area, for instance, a neutral rug, a few artfully positioned furnishings, a mirror and pendant lights help to make the setting seem more romantic.
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