When you think about minimalism in interior design, maybe you think about big empty spaces that are cold and sterile and uninviting. But maybe it’s time to take another look at what minimalist design really means. It’s about taking a space and making it your own – with function, style and purpose, minus the clutter.
Everyone’s heard the saying “less is more”, but that doesn’t have to mean bare and unappealing. Most of us can admit we own too much stuff that clutters up our spaces. “I approach this with the intention of having no excess – living without things that aren’t necessary,” explains Krista Salter, principal designer of KM Salter in Hamilton. “I do think that minimalism is living with the least amount that you possibly could, keeping it clean and simple. Function is obviously the forefront but doing it in a stylistic way.”
Living with less also helps reduce stress and anxiety, as many studies have shown. People see the value in spaces that are thoughtfully designed because they’re both functional and easier to maintain. Erika MacKay, principal designer of Niche for Design in Hamilton recently downsized from a 3,000 square-foot home to about 600 square-feet. “I can relate to this desire,” she says. For her it’s about space that needs to be designed more thoughtfully. “It’s thinking about the esthetic objects that you bring into the space.” She recommends keeping and incorporating only a few pieces that bring you joy, are sentimental, or are re ective of a brand in the case of commercial design.
The easiest way to keep things simple is by pairing down, and by organizing in a way that’s creative, stylish and functional to avoid clutter collecting on surfaces like dining tables and kitchen counters. MacKay says that it is important to choose a focal point that allows certain items to be emphasized in order to create the look and feel – to prevent pieces from competing for attention. “Start with a subdued backdrop and allow the intentional elements to stick out,” she says. For example, in the kitchen a clock can become a feature. “It’s a functional piece, it’s practical to have a clock in that space – but also even from a visual perspective, rather than having a lot of visible things, the clock becomes something that stands out and the other elements tend to be more subtle, like the tile and the countertop.”
Minimalism doesn’t mean sacri cing colour for bland monotones throughout, as it can be achieved with any colour palette. The idea is to streamline, and use high-quality material and let it stand on its own. Salter would choose neutrals paired with a strong accent colour. “Minimalism pairs very well with modernism,” she says. “I think when you see modern homes you see a lot of natural textures – wood and concrete and smooth surfaces and usually those things are very natural and simple in terms of their execution. Minimalism is quieter on the overall colour, but you could have an amazing piece of art that’s modern and simple but filled with colour. “For furniture she suggests low profile pieces that are lower to the ground, fewer curves but instead angular 90-degree corners. “There’s no fuss to it. They’re structurally sound in terms of style.” Even when styling a bookcase, she likes the look of books shelved with the pages facing out for a uniform look. “It’s calming – everything goes together but nothing stands out.” Side tables or coffee tables could include intentional elements like lighting but perhaps a small low profile stack of books with a simple succulent on top.
MacKay cautions: “Be mindful of elements and let certain things be the feature.” Is it a coincidence that minimalism and mindfulness both start with the same letter? One could also imagine that this stylistic way of life could encourage a Zen like meditative state. Ah, what a pleasant notion that is.