Minimalism is a lifestyle that embodies the phrase “less is more.” Creator of the Minimalist Vegan, Michael Ofei, explains it as “the process of identifying what is essential in your life and having the courage to eliminate the rest.” Thus, you live off only what you need, and nothing more. The driving force behind minimalism is the idea that our current way of life is filled with so much stuff, and valuing things has overshadowed what is truly important.
The idea has gotten plenty of attention in books and documentaries, spurring a trend of people relinquishing their possessions to take on a more minimalist way of life. While the lifestyle itself is gaining traction, it actually originates from the world of architecture and design. Having minimalist decor is different from living a full-on minimalist lifestyle — and the two can exist separately from each other. In other words, your home can take on the look of minimalism without getting rid of all your stuff. Here’s how.
What is minimalist decor?
With minimalist decor, the concept of scaling back still holds true — but it focuses more on the look of a home than how you live in it or the amount of things you own. The look is simple and clean with neutral tones free of clutter or other distractions.
As designer Robert Brown tells Elle Decor: “In a dining room, you need a table and chairs. These pieces need to speak to one another and relate in regards to things like line, colour, mass, etc. They must work well together in their basic shape.” The room decor should, first and foremost, support the most important part of the home — the people who inhabit it. Clean lines, muted colours, and minimal decor brings the focus to what is happening in the room, rather than on specific items in the space.
How to achieve a minimalist aesthetic
You’ll want to start with a blank slate by removing everything (yes, everything) from the room and adding back in only the most essential pieces. The home decor site Livspace stresses the importance of empty spaces — just because there is space on the shelf doesn’t mean you need to fill it; instead, find a small focal piece you love that accents the furniture. Light, bright, and airy are key terms to keep in mind. Let as much light in as possible with sheer window treatments (or maybe even no curtains at all).
Next, assess the function of the space. If you want a comfy living room, you’ll need a plush couch and accent chairs. Make sure you stay within the muted colour scheme for your large pieces. In general, if you’ve got subdued tones and clean lines overall, you can use smaller pops of colour or accent pieces to add character to the room. Use different textures, bright colours, and busy patterns sparingly (don’t overwhelm the space with argyle pillows or turquoise everything), keeping in mind that each piece should complement the rest of the room. This is where minimalism and minimalist decor part ways — you probably don’t need that extra throw pillow, but if it adds just the right amount of pop your room needs, go for it.
Flat surfaces are also key in minimalist decor, and hardware and extra finishes aren’t necessarily important. For example, you could have cabinets without handles and open, clutter-free countertops to match. The flat surfaces and straight edges limit distractions for the eye, while all your stuff is hidden away. Embracing minimalist decor is less about getting rid of the things you don’t need, and more about being intentional about the pieces you buy and the overall function of your space.