It’s a design trend that has walked into and out of homes for decades under various incarnations — the Dutch ‘de Stijl’ (the style) of the thirties, Swedish Lagom and Japanese Wabi Sabi — and now onto your TV and laptop screens as well as the office scuttlebutt thanks to Marie Kondo. There’s no escaping the magnetic pull of minimalism. It lies at the root of the rustic wooden furnishings and Edison lights of 2016’s hipster fad, as well as the glass and chrome ceilings and clinical all-white and monochromatic colour schemes of the modern aesthetic. The trend is constantly evolving, making it a timeless, classic one worth investing in for your home.
Minimalism’s Less is More mantra is often used synonymously with decluttering — the buzzword du jour that scares people off from dipping their toes into the trend. Another deal breaker for homeowners has been the neutral colour palettes (drummed into the popular definition of minimalism by the Scandi-chic movement) that when overdone, can straightjacket a space into a lifeless landscape of endless beige, grey, black and white, draining a room of character.
Cue warm minimalism — a fresh approach to the trend that allows you to integrate minimalism’s tenets of simplicity, open spaces and calm, without trading in the chance to infuse your personality and story into the décor through colour and objects. Yes, you don’t have to throw out entire couches because they don’t give you joy.
Minimal stuff, maximum impact
Statement pieces and the minimalist aesthetic can go hand in hand. Clutter-free doesn’t equate to boring. Once you’ve chipped away at excessive items that create chaos and confusion, invest in a single attention-grabbing piece. ‘A single statement piece can pack a stylish punch into your décor without dwarfing your space,’ explains Amit Yadav, head of marketing at 2XL Furniture and Home Décor. Colour-blocking is your best friend when it comes to enhancing a minimalist scheme’s warmth, says Dina Arslanouk, buying manager at Kare. ‘Opt for shades that complement neutrals such as greens, metallic and blues.’ Done right and in moderation, bright yellows and reds can work too.
‘Solid-coloured curtains or pillows and cushions add life to an otherwise neutral setup,’ says Luiza Jodziewicz, Ikea’s interior design specialist.
Chris Naylor, general manager at Aura, advises investing in items such as a bold piece of pop art set over a sparse tabletop, or a vibrant rug in a monochromatic room. ‘Contrasts always make a space interesting,’ he adds.
But do your homework before you make the big purchase, says Magdalena Smolka, head of visual merchandising at Home Centre: ‘Figure out whether you want the piece to be a secondary item like a mirror or a lamp, or if you want it to be the crown jewel of the layout, like a couch or bed.’
Gayatri Dongre, senior general manager at Western Furniture, agrees, and adds that you also need to question a statement piece’s versatility: can it also function as storage? Because decluttering isn’t always about throwing things away. Sometimes, it’s about stowing away the chaos cleverly. ‘Swap coffee tables for footstools with a plain top surface,’ suggests Hanne Langmead, The One’s collection conceptualiser. Such versatile pieces can be used as a table, footrest or a seat depending on your needs.
While statement pieces work wonders to warm up a minimalist bedroom or living room, smaller décor elements cinch the deal for a minimalist kitchen or bathroom. ‘Add a touch of colour to the towels or accessories and backsplashes,’ says Lama Al Awa, interior designer at Al Huzaifa Furniture.
And if colours feel like straying from the authenticity of the minimalist trend’s ethos, warm up the surroundings with fixtures, accessories or furniture in natural materials like wood, stone and marble — think marble kitchen worktops, a wood accent wall in the bathroom, or a raw concrete/stone floor.
But prudence is key, warns Philip Selva of Selva ME, as incorporating more than two elements creates a visual dissonance and confusion that belies the cornerstone of minimalism — a sense of harmony.