So many of us dream of a minimalist, uncluttered home, associating tidy rooms with a calm mind unburdened by distractions of ‘stuff’. After all, rooms with less objects and knick knacks are easier to clean and evoke a feeling of serenity. But when we start to strip things to the bare essentials it can seem like a difficult, if not impossible task. On the other side of the spectrum, how do we toe the line between attaining effortless, clutter-free aesthetics and avoiding a clinical, impersonal space? In this article we’ll go back to basics and get a better understanding of minimalist design.
At its essence, minimalism is a principle, rather than a style. It is based on the idea that ‘less is more’ and that to live without excessive material possessions contributes to a less stressful home environment where we can focus on our personal values. Minimalism takes a leaf out of traditional Japanese ideals, the concept of embracing imperfections and finding beauty in simplicity. There are also influences throughout historical design movements such as easygoing Scandinavian style and, more recently, mid-century modernism, which blends form and function. If you think about it, we don’t really need all the luxuries; we can make the most of a space with less.
Do you need to hang art on every wall? Minimalism questions what we know about materiality. Image by Dulux. Styling by Bree Leech. Photography by Lisa Cohen.
The base: colour and finishes
Simple elements are key to minimalist design, avoiding excessive ornamentation where possible. Typically, clean architectural lines are preferred, which allow for furniture, an eye-catching view or even the residents and guests to be the feature. Where a property’s architectural details are to be the star (such as a ceiling rosette or organic stonework), other items will be pared back.
If you’re at the build stage, aim to let in as much natural light as possible. This is also a good time to incorporate built-in storage to hide belongings as in this Three Gables home project built by TrueBuild Homes. Interiors by Kate Lawrence Interiors. Photography by The Palm Co.
Most minimalist designs opt for neutral colour schemes that provide visual calm. You’ll rarely see clashing hues in these projects, though contrasting hints can be used as an accent. Coming home to a soothing, muted colour palette is an instant sanctuary after a busy day.
Foundation pieces: lighting and furniture
Leaning into minimalism entails thinking about what you really need in order to live and what you can live without. The joy of this is being able to select furniture that you absolutely love. Rather than feeling restricted, it brings a sense of freedom to invest in pieces that may be pricier but are better quality and last longer. There is something very liberating about buying only things you adore, rather than chasing fleeting trends that beg to be updated each season. The furniture itself can be whatever style you like, though are generally simpler designs, and the quantity, comfort and placement will be deliberately considered.
Minimalism can still equal comfort. Left: Cream House by Belcon Constructions and Davis Architects is filled with curved furniture by Sarah Ellison. Photography by Jessie Prince. Right: Less objects and more storage are the secret to preserving a clear benchtop, as shown by Glenvill Homes' Minimalist Abode residence. Photography by Timothy Kay. Styling by Karin Bochnik. Furniture from Trit House. Kann 300 pendants from Lumi Lighting.
A minimal home can be both clean and welcoming if you mix textures and visual elements. Choose upholstery in tonal colours and inject cosiness with copious amounts of texture. Storage furniture is important if built-in cupboards are lacking. This is vital to maintaining a sparse elegance while juggling the sometimes-messy realities of a functional space. Look for multi-purpose pieces with hidden storage to reduce clutter even further.
When it comes to lights, an effective lighting layout will serve to provide as much illumination as needed. Use traditional decorative shades or chandeliers sparingly, or stick with simple geometric forms for a contemporary setting. The goal is to supplement natural lighting without drawing attention to it.
Lumi Lighting’s Urban Modern collection of stylish pendants and wall lamps will suit a contemporary minimalist home. But whichever style you use, be mindful to apply it with purpose.
Finishing touches: décor accessories
Again, less is more when it comes to decoration. The challenge with minimalism is finding the balance between omitting fussy frills while ensuring your home doesn’t feel like a stark hotel. Display items that mean the most to you, but reflect on whether you need to hang art or adorn the coffee table at all! Contemporary minimalist rooms favour geometric shapes and clean lines; think abstract art, angular objects and vessels with few embellishments. Ultimately, whatever you choose will come from conscious thought; either because it is practical, something that inspires you or both.
Left: Visual interest is created with texture and unique forms as in this image by Ferm Living. Right: Menu Design show how angled silhouettes, natural marble and simple art are applied with a restrained and deliberate touch.
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There is a beautiful simplicity in homes that embody a lifestyle of stripping back to fundamentals. It can be challenging to question society’s desire for fast fashion items and to place value in quality craftmanship or even putting the focus on the people in a space, rather than objects. But if you’re able to embrace minimalism there can be a lot of freedom that comes from a timeless aesthetic, reduced clutter and a fresh mindset. The Lumi team are here to help shine a light on what you value.