- Posted by jversichele
- On November 24, 2017
- 0 Comments
- architecture, home decor, house, interior design, minimalism, minimalist
Welcome to this multi-part blog series about minimalism in interior design. The purpose of this series is to introduce the concept of minimalism in interior design. If you already know a little bit about minimalism, then this series will also expand your knowledge on the subject.
Minimalism is a buzz word in the interior design space. Home décor blogs feature home tours full of stark white walls, industrial furniture, and open space. People follow decluttering challenges in the name of minimalism. But what is minimalism really about? Is it as simple as just owning less and painting all your walls white?
This first article explores the theme of the minimalist home. With this information in mind, you can make more conscious decisions about how you practice minimalism in your own home.
Definition of Minimalism
a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity (Merriam Webster). It’s interesting to note that the first recorded use of the word was in 1927. It was precisely during the interwar period that designers began simplifying interior spaces in reaction to the excesses of the Victorian era.
Minimalism as a Life and Design Philosophy
Minimalism is catching on for good reasons. After decades of being slaves to consumer culture and seeing that blow up in our faces, it’s understandable that people are looking for deeper meaning in their lives.
The idea behind minimalist philosophy is that if you give up the cycle of constantly buying things and working just to make more money to buy things, you will have more time and energy to focus on the things that really matter in life; family, friends, hobbies. Whatever makes you happy. Minimalism is against materialism and consumerism, which are proven to be the root of unhappiness in modern society.
When you apply this philosophy to interior design, it can lead to owning less furniture, owning more sustainable and eco-friendly furniture and avoiding clutter. Since you’re not trying to constantly be “on trend” or “keep up with the Joneses” you won’t have to buy new furniture every few years. You also won’t feel the need to impulse buy home accessories you don’t need.
Minimalist philosophy isn’t about throwing out all your things. It’s about throwing out (and avoiding buying) unnecessary things that take up your time, cost you too much money and add to your stress. It’s about being free from material objects and the urge to buy for the sake of buying.
Minimalist Home Architecture
Minimalism in architecture is a broad topic that is better summed up in a book than in an article. For our purposes here, we’ll quickly go over the characteristics of minimalist home architecture.
While simple, minimalist homes are often the height of elegance and taste (many coming with a price tag to match). Some minimalist houses resemble white cubes, while others resemble other simple but elegant shapes. Some common features you will notice in these palaces of simplicity are lots of windows, right angles, and open space.
On the other end of the spectrum are the “Tiny-Homes” that are growing in popularity. These little homes are minimalism incarnate because they are only big enough to accommodate the bare necessities. The rise in popularity of tiny homes is changing the discussion on the necessity of space. They prove that a person can live happily with less.
In the United States, it seems that minimalism in residential architecture tends to skew towards these two poles: million dollar+ homes in NYC and the San Francisco Bay area on the one hand and tiny homes on the other. In keeping with the individualistic nature of Americans, it is up to the will of the individual to build a minimalist home.
In other countries, especially in Northern Europe, minimalist housing for the masses is more prevalent. Where I live, in The Netherlands, some entire neighborhoods are built in the minimalist style. Take, for example, the “City of the Sun” in the town of Heerhugoward, famous for being a mostly solar-powered, CO2 neutral neighborhood. These super-efficient houses are also famous for their minimalist design. Minimalist housing also makes up part of the urban architectural fabric as well. In the Amsterdam neighborhoods of Stigereiland and Ijburg, one can find many exceptional examples of minimalist homes.
Minimalist Home Interiors
How you apply minimalism to your own home is a personal decision. Your definition of minimalism may be different from someone else’s. Therefore, there is no set rule to how a minimalist home should look. Homes can employ different kinds of styles and look completely different but still be minimalist. That said, there are a few characteristics that all minimalist interiors share. These are the strategic uses of light, space, and texture as well as the avoidance of clutter.
Light is a super important factor in minimalist interior design. A minimalist home is intended to be calming and de-stressing. Since natural daylight is proven to have a positive effect on mood, it’s no wonder that minimalist interiors have huge windows. It is also somewhat Zenlike but these large windows allow you to appreciate the changing atmospheric conditions. By viewing sunsets and rainstorms from the comfort of your cozy home, you can de-stress by feeling connected with nature.
Texture is an important element that adds visual interest in minimalist interior design. Because there are so few individual objects in a minimalist home, the surfaces of those few objects should contribute to the overall beauty of the space. Think stone countertops, hardwood floors, interesting wall textures and luxurious textiles. While these things can be quite expensive, many find ways to afford it through DIY projects or (in true minimalist style) spending less on other things.
Finally, minimalist interior design strives for open space. This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding clutter like the plague. Having clutter in your home is a known stressor, particularly for women. The daily struggle of finding a place to put all your “stuff” is real. But with minimalism, you need very few things to get the look; just essential furniture and maybe a few plants and maybe one (also minimalist) work of art to get a minimalist look. Then you can just let the beauty of your home’s materials take center stage.
Minimalist Home Decor
Here I’m using the term home décor” to refer to the individual objects that you use to furnish your home. A minimalist object has only the features necessary to perform its function well. But that’s not to say that minimalist objects shouldn’t be beautiful to look at.
But furnishings don’t have to look space-aged for you to have a minimalist home. When looking at pieces like those in the photo below, you can see that minimalist designs are really timeless. Those dining room chairs could have been used in 1960 but they look just as fresh and modern today. You can see that every item in this photo is nice to look at. The chair is comfortable and supports the sitter without being overly stuffed. The furniture is also lightweight. You don’t feel weighed down looking at these pieces. That’s what makes them minimalist.
Because the designs of individual objects are so simple, designers make use of high-quality materials that increase the object’s beauty. An example would be using glass or ceramic tableware instead of plastic. Glass or ceramics don’t have to be expensive, but they feel better in your hands, scratch less easily and are more durable than plastic. Minimalism really encourages you to be mindful of what you buy and think about how the items you bring into your life will affect you in the long term.
In conclusion, minimalism can permeate every aspect of home interior design from the architecture, to the floorplan to the décor. As a philosophy and as a design style, it focuses on quality over quantity. It’s about appreciating and really loving your home and the things in it. Also, minimalism is not a homogenous style. It really is a style that allows for a lot of variety, individuality, and creativity. I hope you enjoyed part one of this series. Be sure to comment and tell me what questions you have about minimalism so that I can answer them in future articles.