minimalist interior design in living room with sofa and table

Minimalist Interior Design: A Simple Guide to an Ultra-Simple Style

Do you hate clutter as much as I do? Then welcome home. Minimalism is one of my favorite styles as a designer. It is the ultimate answer for a cleaner, more peaceful, and more productive life. I currently use it at home and work.

Modern styles are often associated with minimalist interior design, such as mid-century modern, biomorphic design, and Japandi design, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, I often use it as a reference point in other home styles to help furniture stand out like works of art, maximizing their beauty and interest. This trait is especially aligned with today’s growing focus on displaying handmade or heirloom items. A minimalist design aesthetic lets each item’s story stand out.

This article is a guide for both modern and non-modern lovers. It focuses on minimalism in its purest form so that you can select items within your personal style that capture the benefits. I break down what minimalistic interior design is and how you can use it at home. The good news is adopting it is pretty easy, which makes sense; after all, it’s all about keeping life simple.

Minimalist interior design of living room with view

Image: miladeshtiyaghi

Minimalist decor emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and the use of minimal elements to create a clean and uncluttered space. It’s about stripping away the unnecessary and focusing on what truly matters.

The thought behind it is that having less allows brings calmness, which in turn improves well-being and mindfulness. I find that to be true, and it’s a big part of its popularity. With less visual clutter, you have a quieter home and a quieter mind. 

The stripping away is most often related to the design of the items, but it can be accomplished with any style by valuing negative space and using items that exude calmness in their look. The busier the look, the more it detracts from a minimalistic experience.  It’s also about making intentional choices and appreciating the beauty in simplicity. Highly furniture furniture helps improve the experience of the room while still limiting clutter.

Richard Neutra designed home

Minimalist interior design style has had a long history in Japan but got a boost internationally in the early 20th century thanks to Scandinavia’s appreciation for Japanese style when Japan opened its country up to more international attention.

The attraction to Japan from Scandinavia makes sense. Both areas of the world value simplicity, functionality, and a deep connection with nature. Over time, the West began to embrace these principles. It began with Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bauhaus, and it was championed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who coined the term “less is more.”

The aesthetic gained more focus after World War II. The time period marked a shift toward more simplicity and functionality that was partially born from advancements in mass production and in new uses of materials – both in part due to the war. As time went on, the increasingly clean aesthetics became associated with well-being and mindfulness.

Japandi bedroom furniture with plant and screen

Minimalist decor in the 21st century is not just about white rooms with sparse furnishings. It’s about intentional living and creating spaces that also have a natural, environmentalist edge and resonate with one’s personal style. Some recent trends include incorporating sustainable materials, blending indoor and outdoor spaces, using muted, earthy color palettes, and displaying handmade items and antique/heirloom items for added personality, as evident with Japandi. 

As someone who has worked in interior design and written about it for years, I’ve seen a shift in minimalist interior design style towards spaces that aren’t only beautiful; they promote overall well-being. 

minimalist home with black wooden table and chairs

Here are some key elements of the style: 

Forms and Shapes

In minimalist design, the aesthetic leans towards clean lines, geometric shapes, and a lack of ornamentation. The beauty is often found in the simplicity of forms, where every piece has a purpose, and there’s no room for excess.

Materials

Natural materials like wood, stone, and glass dominate minimalist spaces. They bring warmth, texture, and a touch of nature into the interiors. From my experience, choosing high-quality materials not only elevates the design but also ensures longevity.

Color

The color palette is often neutral, with whites, beiges, and grays taking center stage, but pops of color can be introduced as well. Examples include accessories, pillows, and art. 

Furniture Arrangements

Less is more when it comes to the quantity and placement of items. The furniture is often low-profile to not overwhelm a space and to make rooms feel larger. All items are arranged in ways that promote flow and a feeling of openness. 

minimalist kitchen with white counters and wood stools

Let’s take a look at each furniture element in more detail.

Furniture

Choosing the right furniture is crucial in a minimalist space.  The focus is on functional pieces that serve a purpose and do it beautifully. The design of the items are meant to be admired like works of art, and sometimes the designs are different to each other in order to stand out accordingly. Still, all items complement each other to tell a simple story and eliminate the feeling of clutter. Clean lines are common and can be linear or curved, with an emphasis on simple beauty. 

Lighting

Lighting plays a pivotal role in minimalist design. Natural light is always preferred, emphasizing open spaces and large windows. When it comes to artificial lighting, opt for fixtures that are both functional and arrestingly appealing. Pendant lights, floor lamps with clean designs, and subtle recessed lighting can enhance the minimalist vibe.

Accessories

While minimalism leans towards fewer accessories, the items chosen should make an elegant statement. A single vase on a coffee table or a standout piece of art can often be the focal point of a room. It’s all about curating pieces that resonate with your personal style.

Rugs

Rugs add warmth and texture to a minimalist space. Opt for neutral colors and simple patterns. Whether it’s a plush rug in the living room or a woven one in the bedroom, ensure it complements the overall design and doesn’t overwhelm the space.

Art

Art in a minimalist home is often understated yet impactful. It could be a monochromatic painting or one with minimal, yet eye-catching color, a black-and-white photograph, or even a sculptural piece. The key is to allow the art to speak for itself without it getting lost in clutter. Giving the art space to breathe is an easy way to accomplish it. 

Wall Treatments

Walls in minimalist design are usually kept simple; however, textures like linen wallpaper or subtle paint techniques can add depth. Remember, the goal is to keep it understated and let the other elements in the room shine.

Minimalist architecture is characterized by open floor plans, lots of natural light, and a lack of unnecessary details. Think large windows, straight lines, and functional spaces that flow seamlessly into one another. Incorporating elements like exposed beams, raw finishes, and neutral color palettes further enhance the minimalist aesthetic.

From my years of experience, I’ve learned that embracing minimalism is not about stripping away personality but about making more singular statements with dynamically intentional choices.

The best first step is to look at what you own and start by decluttering, keeping only what you love. Focus on quality over quantity, and keep and invest in pieces that are both beautiful and functional.

Remember, minimalism is a journey, not a destination. It’s about creating a space that reflects who you are and what you value/ 

Minimalist interior design is more than just a trend; it’s a reflection of a lifestyle choice that values simplicity, functionality, and intentionality. As you have learned, minimalism is about creating spaces that resonate with our true selves and do it in subtle ways that in itself can be more impactful than other styles. It’s about making room for what truly matters, both in our homes and in our lives.

As an interior designer, I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of minimalism. It’s not just about decluttering spaces; it’s about decluttering our minds, making room for peace, clarity, and joy. 

  • What is minimalist interior design style? It’s a design philosophy that emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and intentionality. Think clean lines, neutral palettes, and a clutter-free space that resonates with purpose.
  • What is the minimalist design method? It’s about stripping away the unnecessary and focusing on what truly matters. It is designed with intention, where every piece has a purpose.
  • Is minimalist design cheap? Not necessarily. While it promotes fewer items, the focus is on quality over quantity. Sometimes, less can cost more.
  • Why minimalist design is expensive? Because it’s about investing in high-quality pieces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It’s a long-term investment in your space and well-being.