Say the word minimalism and many automatically think of stark, cold, characterless rooms. Anyone thinking this way should be forgiven, though, as a badly-designed minimalist home does indeed look austere, empty and boring. Here are ten tips to prevent this from happening…
1. Go Back to Minimalism’s Roots
Unfortunately, some of the worst attempts at minimalism in the 1990s has given the idea a bad reputation. However, minimalism as an artistic movement stretches back to the late 1950s/early 1960s with artists like Donald Judd and Robert Morris. One could claim that the 1960’s love of form and function in architecture started with minimalism’s focus on ‘primary objects’. The 1950s Ponza Chair pictured below is a great example of classic minimalist design.
2. Do Not Deviate
Minimalism’s success rests upon how structured your room looks. Therefore, it is best to stick to no more than three neutral colours, whilst adding a splash of eye-catching colour. Many choose blacks, whites and greys as their base neutral colours, and add a small amount of red (e.g. a vase of flowers) to make the room striking. However, as classic as this combination is, you can, of course, add other accents too. Blues and greens together, for example, can be used to create a soothing effect, rather than the focussed result you get from the use of a bright colour.
3. No Complex Patterns
This means no floral wallpaper, rugs/carpets with large variations in design or visually busy artwork. Patterns should either not be used at all or used sparingly, with simple geometric shapes. Artwork should ideally blend in with the surroundings.
4. Get Creative With Your Materials
A minimalist room, thanks to its ‘open space’ ethos, can already look visually stunning. By adding some furniture made out of unusual/unexpected materials, you’ll have a room that looks wholly original as well.
5. Minimalism Can Be Warm, Too
In fact, a minimalist room is supposed to be inviting – it is a space for quiet and calm in a complex world. Those who have a love for collecting masses of accessories may well benefit from having a minimalist room in their home in order to have a space to “get away from it all”. Also, having a minimalist living room needn’t mean getting rid of fireplaces and the like, but making the fireplace seem at ease with or a part of its surroundings.
6. Minimalism – Working With, Not Against
To some, minimalism can look all too man-made. As mentioned already, though, minimalism tends to prefer blending in with its surroundings as opposed to standing out from them. Ideally, a minimalist room should work with the natural elements that surround it, rather than attempt to bulldoze them out of the way.
7. Choose Colours That Sit Comfortably Together
Small amounts of contrasting colours are acceptable, but otherwise the colours should create a flow, not a jarring sensation. For example, the room in the picture below uses a vase of orange flowers to get some brightness into the room, but it is paired with the muted oranges and browns that surround it. Wherever contrasting colours are used, it is best to use complementary colours, which in this case is blue/purple.
8. Keep It Simple
Get rid of all superfluous accessories and furnitures. Choose simplicity and functionality over ornate designs. Clean and straight lines are preferable to wavy and non-uniform lines.
9. The Japanese Tradition
Many minimalist concepts go further back than the 1950s, with artists from that period being heavily influenced by Eastern Philosophy and Zen Buddhism, particularly the plain and simple aesthetics of Wabi-sabi. This Eastern influence can be seen today in the works of UK architect John Pawson.
10. Get Geometrical
Squares, circles, hexagons… Any regular shape can be used as a guide to bring harmony to a minimalist room. One of the most popular exponents of the use of geometry in minimalist architecture is Tadao Ando.