Many people have an impression of a minimalist home as a mostly white, bland space with very little furniture and a not very welcoming feel. But a truly minimal home can also be comfortable and reflect something of the owner's character with carefully selected statement decorations. Minimalist living is not about removing comfort and personality from a space but about injecting a calm, stress-free atmosphere by removing all clutter and storing the majority of necessary items out of sight.
As with all styles of decorating and living, there are different levels of minimalism that work for different people but every minimal home will have some of these common elements:
Clear surfaces – the majority of visible flat surfaces will be clear of any items. There may be a few open bookcases and the kitchen surfaces may contain a few items that are impractical to store away such as the kettle and toaster, but, in general, even the most frequently used items will have an allotted storage space inside a cupboard or drawer.
Simple Furniture – rooms will only contain essential furniture and it will all be of a simple, elegant design, without any fancy decorative touches. Soft furnishings will be in neutral, or pale, muted colours and there will be no patterns in sight.
Simple Window Treatments – a minimal room may have curtains but they will be a plain feature of the room (no tie-backs, pelmets or fancy rails) but more often the windows will be unadorned or have just a simple blind for privacy.
Plain Neutral or Muted Colours – one of the ways of creating the calm atmosphere of a minimalist room is to use neutral and soft, muted colours only. This will not create a bland or cold room if combined with some textural elements in the furniture or flooring. There will be a distinct absence of any patterns however subtle.
Personal Touches – it is important for a home to reflect something of the character of the owner and no one would wish to live in a completely impersonal space so a few carefully chosen items will be on display; maybe an elegant Scandinavian vase on the window ledge or a simply framed family photo on the coffee table.
Decoration – good paintings often play an important part in the design of a minimalist space; they enable colour, texture and vibrancy to be added to a room without encroaching on the physical space. They also reflect the personality of the owner and bring character to the room to prevent it from seeming too bland.
Abundant storage space – this is the most essential element in any minimalist home, without which a minimal lifestyle would be impossible. The storage space should be abundant but also well organised with a defined space for every item that needs to be stored away.
To many of us it may seem like an impossible ideal to live in a minimalist home but it is possible to start to move towards that calmer and more serene way of living by taking one step at a time. Start by de-cluttering and creating plenty of storage cupboards and drawers. Attempt to make the easiest rooms minimal first – those that already have the least amount of furniture and clutter and discard all but the most essential pieces of furniture. Next, redecorate in neutral colours and you are already nearly there.
The act of redecorating a room will involve removing almost everything from the room so it is then simply a matter of resisting the temptation to put everything back again. Review every item again, even if you think you have already discarded everything possible there is always the opportunity to remove even more stuff. Try to ensure that all flat surfaces are completely clear and store away the essential items you have kept in their pre-allocated space in the storage cupboards. It is vital that a minimalist home has plenty of good, well-organised storage space from which items are easily accessible.