How do you decorate as a minimalist? Simple ideas to try

Minimalist decor ideas can really help your home become a calming, nurturing and serene oasis, a haven away from everyday life where you can relax and unwind. The minimalist style, with its soothing color palette of white and neutral, natural materials and matching decorative accessories, adds calm and balance, which is important in busier rooms of the house.

“Warm neutral colours, soft textures combined with clean lines and matte finishes are the key ingredients for successful minimalist design,” says Kashi Shikunova of minimalist interior design company YAM Studios. Nowhere is architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s mantra of ‘less is more’ more applicable than the principle of minimalism. Read on for our tips for decorating in a minimalist way that truly embraces this modern interior style.

How do I decorate in a minimalist style?

There are misconceptions about minimalism that it does not contain decorative elements, but this does not have to be the case. “People have a very mistaken belief that a minimalist interior requires homeowners to have no stuff,” says Kashi. “Even the most minimalist people will have some things they need or want to keep for sentimental purposes,” she says.

Instead, try a ‘soft minimalist’ approach, a form of minimalism that allows you to use minimalist elements in your design, but also allow you to have fun and explore the decorative aspect – the best of both worlds. When it comes to decor, choose a few carefully curated pieces that are visually interesting without overwhelming the space. For key decorative furniture pieces that work in a minimalistic scheme, read on for our top tips from the designers.

Oonagh Turner

Oonagh is an interior writer and editor. She spends her days interviewing leading experts in the interior design industry to bring the latest ideas and trends to her readers. For this piece, she spoke to the designers who specialize in minimalist designs to understand the essence of these interior styles.

1. Embrace the look with a minimalist coffee table

A coffee table in a minimalist style

(Image credit: MAIE)

A coffee table can be a key element in your minimalist home, connecting a scheme in perfect harmony and providing a central focal point in the room. Coffee table trends have evolved into more simple, statement pieces that are both functional and aligned with a minimalist aesthetic. In this example, the clean lines and palette of the color table are akin to minimalism. “The MAIE aesthetic uses a muted and subtle color palette in our stone range and uses triangular shapes, one of the most stable forms,” explains Theres Hoyos, Founder and Creative Director at MAIE (opens in new tab). The table is also an example of considered design, another linchpin of minimalism.

“Minimalism is about more thoughtful design and we designed our coffee tables with that feeling in mind,” adds Theres. “Our coffee tables appeal to the less is more ethos, because in addition to aesthetics, they are forever pieces that become part of a home’s stories and a small manifestation of moments well-lived.”

2. Buy furniture with clean lines and soft curves

A curved sofa fits well in this minimalist space

Credit: Christiane Lemieux Rouen Sofa

When choosing those most important pieces of furniture, think of flowing, clean lines and flowing curves. Nothing that clashes with the scheme and only shapes that will help usher in this calming atmosphere that minimalism is all about.

“Furniture with clean, smooth lines without ornate details works best in a minimalist space,” says interior designer, Christiane Lemieux (opens in new tab). ‘That applies to both straight furniture and curved furniture. A nice curved shape, like our Rouen sofa, can add a lot of minimal presence to a space while still feeling warm and inviting.”

3. Decorate with a simple rug to tie your schedule together

A Japandi-style interior with sleek furniture

Credit: Ferm LIVING, thanks to Laila Rietbergen

A rug in neutral or earth tones is a great minimalist decor accessory that will work well to add warmth to a minimal space, as well as tie a room together without distracting from the other accessories in the room. It’s about adding texture to the space without creating a harsh contrast between the carpet and a hard floor.

A deep pile rug can reinforce the idea that a minimalist space is for relaxation purposes, and a rug is a great time to embrace a natural material.

For the ultimate carpet material, it should be natural wool. “In general, a wool pile is the best choice for strength and durability,” says Simon Laurenceau of the French fabric company Pierre Frey (opens in new tab). Wool is also extremely comfortable, as the threads bounce back gently after being walked on. Other natural fiber rugs suitable for a minimalist space include cotton or jute, with golden tones exuding that coveted minimalist Japandi look – a hybrid of Scandinavian and Japanese interior styles.

In terms of shape, a rug should be simple, the designer insists Julia Dempster. While the goal of minimalism is simplicity, a rug is a place where you can introduce some color and pattern. A patterned rug adds a bit of character to the space, while sleek white walls and soaring ceilings keep the atmosphere open and airy. It’s a place for a pop of color without overpowering the design.’

4. Invest in quality pieces for the long term

A minimalist console table

(Image credit: Porada)

In the end, less is more when it comes to minimalist decor, so identify what your most important furniture and accessories are, buy what you need, and stick to it. “One of the many benefits of a minimalist lifestyle is that it allows you to invest in fewer, better pieces of furniture,” says Julia. When it comes to minimalist furniture and decor, opt for timeless, well-crafted pieces that will stand the test of time – these never go out of style.

“If you want ‘less is more’ to look like, try investing in larger items instead of smaller furniture.” Large-scale pieces have more of an impact on the eye and help create a simple yet stunning space. For example, look for flexible living room furniture that can perform multiple functions or even move from room to room.

Advice (opens in new tab) is one such brand that encourages a minimalist philosophy through handcrafted pieces that are a must-buy and made to last. “Our philosophy expresses minimalism in raw materials from nature, handmade know-how and creativity: the three pillars of our collection create pieces that are meant to last,” says Carlo Ballabio, Porada’s head of research and development. The Ziggy table above is the perfect example of a minimalist piece with a mid-century twist.

5. Decorate with a muted color palette

A muted color palette creates a minimalist look

Credit: Christiane Lemieux

The minimalist style is all about an understated and understated color palette. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go all white, though, and you can mix things up with white of a different shade and add some colors from a neutral color scheme. “Choose a relaxing muted color palette for your anchoring furniture pieces like sofas and accent chairs,” Christiane advises. In terms of the right palette for minimalism, “you can never go wrong with neutrals like ivory, gray and brown,” Christiane insists. ‘But colors can also feel calming and minimalist if they are less saturated in color. We like a good dusty mauve or olive shade.’

Interior designer Julia advises using three in a nod to the 60-30-10 decorating technique that uses one main color, one secondary color and one accent color to create a cohesive color scheme. “Choose one to three materials or colors to use consistently throughout your home, taking practicality and functionality into account.”

“Stick to materials that feel light and airy, such as bleached oak or lighter concrete against white walls,” adds Julia. “If you’re working with a predominantly white color scheme, a popular option for minimalist decor, adding natural materials or shades can add warmth to your home.”

6. Organize your belongings with smart storage

A dining room annex living room

Credit: AMMOR Architecture. Photo credit Matt Dutile

“Minimalism is about living with less, so cleaning up is a must,” says Julia. And an important way to manage your clutter is with smart storage solutions that fit in the schedule and are hidden. Think of storage solutions without handles but with a graceful push movement that opens your cupboard or cupboard.

“I always recommend having a closed storage area for all the things people need but don’t want to see, and also to have some open storage, such as shelves or surfaces where the most meaningful and cherished items can be displayed and that reflect the personality of the homeowner,” says YAM’s Kashi. “Storage makes it possible to create space that feels effortless and simple, while at the same time being very practical for the people who live there.”

7. Bring the outdoors in

A living room with a touch of nature

Credit: Ollie Hammick. Design: Lior Brosh

“Unnecessary decorations, frills, artwork or extras should be removed, think about the details and architecture of your home and respect them instead,” says interior designer, Ula Burgiel (opens in new tab), which specializes in minimalism. Minimalism has a strong connection to nature, with a strong focus on sustainability and caring for the planet with pieces that are timeless and natural materials used in the home.

So if you’re introducing a few accessories here and there, avoid trinkets and instead bring the outdoors in with some of your favorite plants. Don’t go overboard and keep it simple as with this example from Lior Brosh (opens in new tab). A vase with a few olive trees is enough to refer to nature, or a potted indoor tree in the corner of the room.

“While some people embraced pattern and color at the start of a very tumultuous period of sitting at home due to Covid lockdowns, others have tried to ‘bring calmness to the home’ during these uncertain times,” said Theres Hoyos, creative director at MAIE. “I think minimalism has never gone out of style, but we’re embracing a different, warmer side of it: soft minimalism, if you will,”

Coupled with the sense of tranquility that minimalism can bring to the home, there is a growing desire for more thoughtful design, the search for craft, natural materials and a way to connect with nature in the home. “Minimalist spaces allow us to create focus by highlighting thoughtful design pieces, carefully chosen or even made for a specific area in a home,” adds Theres.

Finally, minimalism evokes a sense of luxury. “Textures and finishes such as wood, hemp, linen and natural stone help give spaces a grounding sense of serenity, while elevating them in an intentionally sleek, yet luxurious way.”

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