Minimalist Design: When Less Is More

It’s not about inexpensive; it’s about elegance through simplicity

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When you say ‘minimalist design’, people often think of large, sterile spaces; ascetic and including very little in the way of comfort. This, of course, is an oversimplification. Nor does minimalism refer to shelves made from two by fours and milk crate seating.

It is not about austerity; it’s about something more ethereal…

Minimalism is a design that doesn’t overwhelm the eye. It is represented by clean lines and essential silhouettes.

Look at a black and white photograph of a woman wearing a beautifully tailored suit. The lack of color and the elegant simplicity of the suit’s lines force you to notice the woman more than the suit.

That is the divine inspiration of minimalism. It forces you to notice the person or persons occupying the space, or a particularly spectacular piece of art, rather than the sofa.


A Little History

Although the phrase ‘less is more’ was popularized in 1947 by minimalist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, minimalism saw the true light of day beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as part of a new trend in the arts.

Simple shapes and massive dimensions were dominating both paintings and sculptures, including enormous geometric abstractions, focusing on color and lines, and large three dimensional pieces that celebrated light and shade, with a minimum of essential elements.


Quality Materials Count


Eclipse Dining Table


When working with a minimum of elements, quality is important. High quality, intense materials literally speak for themselves. Wood with the natural grain showing, marble with beautiful threading… these things don’t need additional adornment to be appreciated.

Textures make all the difference, and if the raw materials don’t have enough, adding accents will compensate. For example, a room that is focused on clean lines with a stone fireplace and tidy bed and side tables can be warmed by adding soft bedding and blankets.

Raw materials with contrast are ideal in a minimalist environment. If the goal is to play with the concepts of light and shade, why not install a beautifully veined marble top? Or you could use light and dark stone work in a geometric pattern to lead the eye to the focal point of the room.


Minimalism Requires Clever Storage

To achieve the look, you need ample storage in every room of your house. Clutter is anathema to minimalism. While an artfully placed pile of books may in fact be delightful, a mountain of dirty clothes is not.

Keeping a minimalist look intact means either possessing fewer things (or storing those things out of sight.)

In this regard, drawers and hidden storage are your friend. Elegant cabinets, benches and ottomans can be strategically placed to add to the beauty of the room and double as space for all those things you want to keep handy but don’t want visible.


Abby Storage Ottoman


Use A Single Piece To Draw The Eye

When everything else in the room is clean and simple, the eye is automatically drawn to the focal point, whatever it is that you wish this to be. It could be an enormous bay window, overlooking the lake. It could be a beautiful painting handed down as a family heirloom. Whatever it is, everything else in the space is working to make that focal point the place where a visitor’s eye rests.

Remember that a color focal point—a red chair set against a beige room—is a different thing from a floor to ceiling window view. You CAN have both in the same space as the effect on the eye is quite different, as long as the focal point is so outstanding that the pieces in no way distract from it despite being very masterful themselves.


Design A Minimalist Room As If You Are Sculpting A Masterpiece

A sculpture is best viewed with space around it, so that it can be seen from different angles and different points of view. This same idea applies to minimalist design. Space around the furniture is essential to creating the light and shade that defines the movement.

A single vase on a shelf with a light or a bowl sitting in the middle of a table. No other pieces. Just that. Using light to redefine the shape or look of an object, depending on which angle it is viewed from, is an excellent way to leverage the look.

The beauty of minimalism is in the (carefully chosen) details: a monochromatic designed room with one piece of brightly colored artwork is a masterpiece in and of itself.


Minimalist Subtlety Extends To Color

With minimalism, it’s not each individual piece that creates the effect, but the overall look as the eye takes it in and that includes color. It’s essential to ensure that the colors flow together. To find out how to flow your colors throughout your home like a pro, read this blog we posted a few months back…

Are you a fan of minimalist design? Leave your comments in the section below