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Each week, Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week, we discuss tips for styling a minimalist living area that feels warm and welcoming.
Minimalist interior design translates to more than an uncluttered, sparsely decorated room. Birthed from modern design, minimalism embraces simplicity, reducing an interior to what’s necessary for the space to function well. But this clean, no-fuss style doesn’t need to feel uninviting.
“Less is more with this style, but it is easy to lose the design aspects and produce a vibe that’s too cold and bare feeling,” said Ginger Curtis, owner and principal designer at Urbanology, a design firm in North Richland Hills, Texas. “Balance and warmth are crucial to delivering the elevated beauty this style can create.”
We turned to several design pros for tips on creating a minimalist living room. Here’s what they suggest.
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Minimize Details for a Clean Look
“At the end of the day a minimalist space is one that doesn’t convey too many different visual ‘messages.’ Obviously ‘too many’ is a very personal definition. I recommend pieces with clean lines. You need a selection of various items with different shapes and heights: books, sculpture, decorative objects, bowls, trays, vessels with or without branches (depending on the height you want to add here and there). But avoid too many small decorative objects. Use fewer and larger items instead.
“Minimalist shouldn’t mean a space devoid of color. It doesn’t have to be neutral colors necessarily, but obviously neutral colors usually deliver a calmer space. So it can be some sporadic accents (a color block sofa, an accent table paired with a lighting fixture or an oversized artwork, a wall paint accent paired with color curtains).
“We tend to use drapery on most of our projects––usually ripple fold, but not always depending on the walls and ceiling––even in minimalist spaces because it adds a luxurious elegance and welcoming comfort to the room.
“Lighting is a crucial element to truly make a room feel welcoming, which is even more important in a minimalist space since you don’t want to use too many details. Like in any other space, the lighting plan should deliver ambient (overall illumination), decorative (to add interest and warmth to a space) and task (if there is a specific need) lighting. Because of its inherent nature and the plethora of beautiful fixtures, decorative lighting lends itself to being the jewel of the room, thereby instantly elevating the overall look.”
— Fanny Abbes, creative director at The New Design Project in Brooklyn, New York
Play up Natural Elements
“Keeping a consistent scale of furniture and using simplified shapes will lend itself to a minimalist space. For example, simple wood accents or built-ins warm up the room but do not overwhelm the design. Similarly, the fireplace design should be simplistic in shape and soft in tone. To add color, a vintage rug or one-of-a-kind pillows are a delicate way to achieve a pop without overshadowing the foundational elements.
“Often less is more and it’s best to try adding dimension using textures. For instance, the softness that a faux fur throw can add to a sofa (even if its tone on tone) makes a case for texture’s impact. In terms of stylizing shelving, try some more organic pieces as these often make a unique statement strong enough to stand on its own.
“It’s proven that natural elements have an effect on humans and their living spaces. Minimalist rooms really count on natural sunlight to add dimension and depth to neutral but textural pieces. Greenery is a must.”
— Katie Burnet, Rumor Designs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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Aim for a Well-Balanced Space
“Don’t let the desire for negative space leave you with chairs and a sofa that are way too small for a large, high-ceiling room. Minimalism is not creating a space that feels empty; designing with it means playing with it until it feels right.
“Start with your coffee table, arrange it in a way that doesn’t feel bare or cluttered, but beautiful, minimal and balanced. An accent wall with a warm color tone, mixing metals, and layering different textures will lead to an inviting, well-balanced space that’s not too monochromatic.
“Art pieces within minimalism certainly have a larger impact compared to other styles. They can help anchor a room or bridge layers, but what’s most important is to choose what you love. Eye-catching, abstract art is always a great choice with minimalism as well as pieces that are simple, geometric, or evoke a sense of sophistication.”
— Ginger Curtis of Urbanology in North Richland Hills, Texas
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