How To Interior Decorate Like a Minimalist

Updated: Jan 29, 2019


{5 Simple Tips for a Cohesive Interior Design Style}

There’s a wonderful article titled “How to Fail at Living a Minimalist Lifestyle” featured on the Huffington Post UK site. One of the best tips author Rosie Leizrowice includes is to not “Get Sucked into Lifestyle Porn”; AKA airy Swedish rooms with structured, midcentury modern furniture or sparse, all-white loft apartments featuring floor to ceiling windows with one lonely (but ideal) couch in the center.


The truth is that often when we see interior design spreads online or in the media, they’re carefully crafted creations made by a team of professionals who have access to more resources, space, and time than your average person who just wants their bedroom to look nice. Frequently these magazine-worthy rooms are created on a set, with pro lighting, a fresh coat of paint, and no cords or outlets in sight. Bedroom shots will feature freshly ironed linens, fluffed pillows, decadent flower arrangements, and are tricked out with sponsored and/or rented products. Every single detail is curated with the intent to sell an image and the products. It’s a false reality, hyper-designed to maximize the use of visual aesthetics and product placement.



Look Ma - no cords!

So, I think her tip is brilliant in the sense that when you’re trying to upgrade, improve, or re-design your personal living space, it’s simply not realistic, practical, or healthy to try and compare our homes to such lofty ideals. Would you go to the mall to clothes shop and intentionally compare yourself to a photoshopped and professionally dressed Vogue model? Just imagine how depressing and unproductive that would be!


In reality, if you love natural bedding materials like cotton or linen, they’re going to be wrinkled. The cats are going to claw your new throw blanket, the dogs are going to chew on your bedpost, and you probably can’t afford to replace all of your furniture on an impulse. Plus, there are most likely cords in the corner of your room which resemble flying spaghetti monsters - just add some googley eyes -and your bed isn’t made every day. So let’s just be frank about the fact that life isn’t a perfect snapshot from a magazine spread for most of us.


That being said, we can all take a few basic tips from these gorgeous interior design spreads. You might not be a professional interior designer with tons of resources, but that can't stop you from creating a place that is both fabulous and functional!


I’ve recently been purging my own belongings thanks to the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. As I continue to pare down my items to what I only really need or truly love, I’m left want wanting to maximize the function, form, and beauty in my living space. Since mindfully applying minimalism to my belongings, I also have enjoyed being intentional about how my apartment is arranged and designed. In my opinion decluttering is an ongoing process! However, once you have completed that first major round of discarding may be the perfect time to refresh and update your space. Here's are my top 5 key interior design tips.


A vintage cane chair updated with a coat of white paint and upholstered with peach pink velvet compliments this traditional-style wooden desk.

RE-PURPOSE, RESTORE, & RETHINK

The best way to save money when re-decorating is to re-purpose, up-cycle, and rearrange what you already own. Think creatively about meeting your storage, design, or organization needs before heading to the store. Look online at Pinterest or YouTube for affordable DIY ideas and tutorials. Walk through your space and start out by working with what you already have.


Often a simple update to an item can completely change the overall look of a space. Handcrafted, upcycled, and restored vintage furniture pieces can bring a one-of-a-kind, personalized look to your space. Put a fresh coat of paint on a piece of furniture that doesn't quite flow with the space, add new drawer pulls to a piece of furniture, or get a couch cover to freshen up your living room.


After evaluating your existing space, if you find that you truly need or want to add new items start by doing some online window shopping. Ignore the pricetags and the shipping fees. This is simply a way to look around at everything out there and to pick out some inspirational or dream items. Save your favorite images to a Pinterest board or on your phone, then hit the thrift stores, charity shops, and consignment venues. This will help you to have a clear picture in your mind of exactly what you are and are not looking for! Don't forget to take measurements of the room if you're looking at larger items.


Vertically layering these every-day living room items adds visual interest to an otherwise sparse room.

STYLE IN LAYERS

As tidy guru Marie Kondo explains in her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up", vertical storage is an instant way to lift the mood of a room. Use vertical storage to maximize your space, but also think about layering textures, colors, materials, and objects to create a rich, luxury look to your space. A great example of this is visualizing the difference between cupcakes sitting on a platter versus being featured on a 3-tiered cupcake stand; it makes a world of difference in terms of the visual presentation.


Use a limited selection of functional accessories to accentuate an already beautiful room.

LESS IS MORE

Set limits for yourself. Keep what you love and what you need, then discard, sell, or donate excess items.Reevaluate your storage units and organization systems. The less storage space you have, the more picky you will become about what is worth storing in your valuable space. By reducing storage space, using a limited color palette, and reducing clutter your space will automatically look and feel more spacious. It will also draw attention to the items which you intentionally chose to include in the room.


Mix and match it all with design confidence.

COLORS, TEXTURES, & PATTERNS

When it comes to decorating like a minimalist, be sure not to confuse the minimalist aesthetic with a minimalist approach. A minimalist aesthetic is very modern and sleek, full of white, black, and gray or subdued neutrals like beige and light browns. If this is your style vision, then go for it! But I'd like to emphasize that your interior design at home should reflect you, so if all-white is not your cup of tea, you can still have a minimalist design style. Let's focus on the minimalist approach - one in which you plan out, arrange, and organize your space in a thoughtful way that best serves your functional needs at home and brings joy to your life.

[ LEFT: example of a sleek & modern kitchen designed with a minimalist aesthetic | RIGHT: a cozy seating area design with a minimalist design style ]


By thoughtfully planning out and placing colors, textures, and patterns in a designated area, you can create a cohesive, calm, and balanced look and feel to your space. A well planned interior design accentuates the both the space and the items within the room while maintaining its usability factor.


This living room introduces a pop of color by juxtaposing the warm-toned, complimentary colors of orange and blue against a cool gray wall The striped rug incorporates pattern and the neutral colors of black and white into the space.

COLORS

Pick a color palette and stick to it! Limiting your choices in colors will create a cohesive visual aesthetic. Pick out a color palette which includes neutrals, warm colors, and cool colors. Color theory can get pretty complex if you really want to go in-depth, but this is the formula I use to simplify it for interior design.


Neutral colors are white, gray, black, and brown. Warm colors are red, orange, and yellow plus any shades that fall into the ROY category, like the color pink. Cool colors are typically green, blue, or violet plus any shades within the GBV range, such as the color teal. I usually find that it is safe to pick one out of the three categories (neutral, warm, or cool) to be the dominant color and then use the other two categories as focal accents. Choosing and sticking with an intentional color palette will automatically give a room a harmonious and balanced look.


This room is a great example of a space that uses a lot of texture to add visual interest. Wicker, rattan, textured glass, smooth woods and natural greenery add a variety of textures to look at, while carrying a consistent color palette throughout the space.

TEXTURES

The textures used in an interior design is just as important as the colors implemented. For example, rattan furniture automatically has a beachy, tropical, summer sunset on the porch type of vibe. It invokes a casual, warm-weathered, and relaxed feeling. Or a fully matching set of bright white, smooth cotton bedding with oversized pillows, and structured navy piping just screams luxury hotel chain. A room full of extremely varied textures can give off a bohemian, vintage shop, or mystical magpie sort of vibe. For a clean and tailored look, limit the number of textures you use. For a more spontaneous and quirky look, mix and match textures like wood and metal, cotton and linen, or glass and porcelain.


This small living room puts patterns to great use. Combining a large patterned striped couch with a few smaller patterned cushions transforms the couch into a focal point against an otherwise fairly stark room.

PATTERNS

When I’m using patterns, I prefer to take the either/or approach with either a dominant pattern with solid accents colors or dominant solid colors with a patterned accent piece. I liken it to listening to music. You either want your music to be louder than everything or just background noise. Wouldn’t it be weird if your music was the exact same volume as the city traffic sounds? Use patterns successfully by deciding whether or not to place a pattern as a feature element or as an accent.



MULTI-PURPOSE

Really take a moment and ask yourself what you use the space you are designing for and tailor your design decisions to those particular activities. If you have a kitchen in which you hardly cook and mostly entertain in via cocktails and carry out, then it would make more sense to put away the knife block and cutting boards. Instead, use that newly found counter space to feature a wine rack, a lazy-suzan for condiments, and a carry-all container for silverware, napkins, and to-go menus. This is the difference between a display kitchen and a real, custom tailored kitchen that is uniquely designed to you and your lifestyle needs.


Use pullout and tuck-away features for clever storage solutions. Don't forget to keep it simple and avoid creating a space which serves so many purposes that it becomes cluttered again! No matter what room you are re-decorating, keep this is in mind so that you can get the most enjoyment out of your space while displaying your unique qualities.


DON'T FORGET ABOUT FORM & FUNCTION

Great interior design doesn't sacrifice form for function or vice versa. A blended selection of items that instill beauty and joy in the viewer as well as deliberately placed items which serve a purpose will create a balanced living space.

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