Being a minimalist isn’t about having less, it’s about showing less. When I say minimalism, I don’t mean “hotels in the middle of nowhere” minimalism. That’s just money-saving hyper-pragmatism. Let’s take a walk through the 5 primary facets of a minimalist room that anyone can use.
1. Simplify Your Colors
Sorry, but if you’re going for minimalism, you’re not in the market for a paisley room, so stay away from those crazy colors. Common hues are white and black, if you’re going for the most clean, smooth look. You can go outside of that range, but try to limit yourself to two major colors, at most. We’re trying to simplify here, color lines can be harsh barriers for your visual pallet and, as minimalist interior designer Mariette Hines Gomez has said, can generate “uncomfortable intersections.”
2. Metal, Glass, and Wood Accents
While we’re talking about textures and colors let me reiterate, keep it simple. Metal is a fetching accent to your color scheme and doesn’t distract from the flat surfaces of your walls and decor. Glass adds a combined depth and hard stability to your design without complex textures. Wood can work to your advantage if you want to add a natural feel to your minimalism. But keep it sleek and polished. Reclaimed or distressed wood can add distracting textures that absorb light and break up the flow of your room’s surface. [Edit: Yes, they CAN be done well, but that’s a story for another time.]
3. Decrease Clutter
Now let’s get past the skin of the room and get into the construction. The golden rule of a minimalist room is “cut the clutter.” This is achieved by storage units that fit smoothly into the wall. I’m just going to put this out there: if you’re going for a minimalist look, you’re going to have to live the lifestyle. Take a good, long look at your possessions and figure out what you need and what you don’t need. You want big, broad walls free of mantles full of knick-knacks and birthday baubles purchased for you an hour before your birthday party. We want clean lines as often as possible here and if you design just right, you can get your cubbies filled with specially-fitted storage boxes to maintain those sleek walls. You’re trying to create a wide-open space that occupies the majority of your room. Keep your decor to a minimum and your personal items in their place. An inexpensive fix for those cluttered storage corners is the purchase of a room divider to give proper angles to your space.
Decor should be simple. Even if you have a bit of furniture, keep it in line with your color theme and, when possible decide when you don’t need it. Wall art with a low depth of field is always fine in a room like this. Choose chairs that fit snug under your table or stools that blend well with your couch when pushed up against them. Maximize space in-between your large items. These ground your room, but shouldn’t get in the way. Minimalism is a physical representation of your psychology. Air, light, and people should be able to flow unencumbered through your rooms the way ideas should be able to flow easily through your mind, free of distractions. Designs for decorations should be simple and thematic. If your room is angular, keep statues, appliances and artwork angular. If you’re going for soft curves, stick to that.
Here is where some true art comes into your design. Light can either reveal all the imperfections of a minimalist room or lovingly highlight the streamlined simplicity in the simplified horizons of your quarters. Sunlight should be able to get in and flow through your room, casting few strong shadows. With proper design, even the shadows have room to play themselves out without intersecting too much with anything else. Interior light can be diffused or bounced to cause few distractions in your overall design (this is how you can keep from highlighting any unfilled spaces with shadow). Lighting in corners do a great job in place of an overhead light by illuminating from all sides and fading into the room quietly without being harsh on the eyes.
These are pretty basic ideas for overall minimalist design. However, as they are broad guidelines, don’t be afraid to play with ideas that can work within an overall clean design. We’ll get more into minimalist design in the future, so stay tuned for that.