Bring some minimalism in to your house or flat

Minimalist living room

A popular choice for many designer-like homes, the minimalist look is now becoming more widespread in houses and flats throughout the UK. It can bring simplicity and sophistication to your kitchen, living room, bathrooms or bedrooms. But how do you achieve it, and is this style right for you?....

Where did the concept of minimalism in interior design originate from?

Although it’s often associated with being a very modern look, the minimalist concept in interior design certainly isn’t a new one. Japanese culture, amongst others, has extolled the virtues of simplicity in living for centuries.

Likewise, more recently in Western culture, the renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) had the motto ‘less is more’, and many of his contemporaries had similar approaches in the early to mid-twentieth century.

The minimalist look that we know and love today largely stems from the mid-century art movement that spilled over in to architecture and design. Trailblazing minimalist architects and interior designers set the standard that thousands of homes around the world now seek to emulate.

What are the benefits of a minimalist home?

There are many practical and aesthetic benefits of opting for a minimalist approach:

  • Firstly, the room will always look clean and tidy, and that’s never a bad thing. 
  • This style of interior often brings a serene feel to a room, delivering a sense of calm that you can immerse yourself in after a long and tiring day. A decluttered room will also help you declutter your mind and consequently reduce stress.
  • Minimalist rooms are easier and quicker to clean. Not only is this a practical benefit but, from a perspective of physical health, a cleaner room can mean a healthier you.
  • As well as benefiting you, a much cleaner room will also make a great impression on visitors. No more fretting about what state the house is in when an unexpected guest knocks at the door. 
  • By the very nature of the style, the room will be very functional. 
  • Beyond the benefits it’ll bring to your home, you may also find that your new way of living will refresh other aspects of your life. Recognising that you simply don’t need so much ‘stuff’ can be a liberating mindset and, in turn, can offer significant financial and emotional benefits.

And the drawbacks?

This style of interior design certainly isn’t for everyone, and many of the drawbacks mirror the advantages discussed above:

  • Keeping things ultra clean and tidy is no mean feat. You’ll need to be very disciplined to ensure that any form of clutter doesn’t begin to accumulate. Staying this pristine is really about habit-forming – getting used to always putting something away after it’s been used. Failing to get in to this habit might begin to feel like failure.
  • The quality of fixtures and furnishings are usually important in creating the ‘designer’ look that so typifies the style. With quality there comes a price tag, and so achieving a convincing look on a budget might not always be possible.

Minimalist living area

How can I bring some of the minimalist look to my house or flat?

  • Firstly, and most obviously, minimalism and clutter just don’t go together. If you’re truly going to embrace the minimalist style you’ll need to shed some ‘excess’ that you currently live with. Floors, surfaces and walls should be as clear as possible and very regular ‘micro-tidies’ will need to replace less frequent, longer efforts. Ultimately, you’ll only achieve the minimalist look if you’re wholly committed to it. 
  • Even after you’ve done away with much of the clutter, the reality is that you can’t, and shouldn’t, dispose of everything. Therefore, plenty of discrete, concealed storage is a must.
  • In terms of colour schemes, pastel shades and a neutral pallet are best. White and black are very common and it’s advisable to have one dominant colour, a coordinating secondary colour, and then possibly an accent colour to add character.
  • Notwithstanding the above point about colour, a common misconception is that everything must be relatively monotone, but this certainly doesn’t have to be the case. The style has evolved in the past decade or so and using vibrant accent colours to breath some life and energy into the room is absolutely fine. Minimalism certainly doesn’t have to mean miserabilism!
  • Choosing the right furniture is crucial - as there will be relatively little furniture in any given room, it will become more of a focal point than it ordinarily would. The style of any furniture should be simple and contemporary, featuring sharp, clean lines. In terms of height, keep everything as low as possible.
  • Decorative items should also be kept to an absolute minimum. 

Which rooms most commonly have the style?

Of course, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to apply the minimalist look to every room. You may wish to opt for a minimalist kitchen, for example, and go for a slightly softer contemporary look in other rooms of the house, such as the bedrooms.

The kitchen is indeed often the most common room to apply some minimalism to. Having less clutter serves a very practical benefit in that it’s easier to prepare food and cook, plus it’s easier to clean afterwards.

Living rooms – especially if they’re open-plan, adjoining the kitchen – are the next most popular area. Bedrooms, bathrooms and other rooms in the house are also highly suitable – it’s a style that can be applied effectively throughout most homes.

Minimalist kitchen

And what if you change your mind?

What if you try it and don’t like it? Like any new style of décor, this can happen and you needn’t worry if the attraction wears off. If you don’t enjoy living with it, find it too clinical, or indeed find the discipline of keeping everything so tidy onerous, then all is not lost. In fact, far from it.

Even if you transition back out of a minimalist décor, look on the positive side – you haven’t lost anything, you’ve actually gained. You’ll have freshened the look of the room and invested in new furniture, fixtures and fittings that were most probably due anyway.

In addition, a declutter is never a bad thing, and most people who go through the process realise that they don’t need as much as they’ve lived with for years. This in turn modifies future living and spending habits for the better.

You can quickly and easily soften a minimalist look by adding one or two additional pieces of furniture, as well as decorative elements to walls, floors and other surfaces. Minimalism, but on your terms.

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