Minimalist Home Decor: The Complete Guide

Minimalist Home Decor: The Complete GuideClean, simple, serene.  These three words epitomize Minimalist decor. If you abhor clutter and knick-knacks and enjoy wide-open airy rooms that are simple, yet functional, you will want to learn about this decorating style and how to accomplish it in your own home. This concise detailed guide will teach you everything you need to know about the style of Minimalist Interior Design and how to apply it correctly in your home.

Minimalist Home Decor is a decorating style that adheres to designer Buckminster Fuller's statement: "Doing more with less". Characteristics of a minimalist home are bright open spaces filled with very simple furniture with clean lines. White is predominant, although other colors can be used, these are generally details of primary color, like red, yellow, and blue. Every item in the room must be useful and a good fit for the space. Think straight lines, and simple shapes when choosing furniture and decorative items: squares, rectangles, and spheres, without patterns or embellishments. 

Incorporating Minimalist decor in our home be tricky. If done incorrectly, a room can look sterile, empty and cold. Whereas done correctly, your home can be warm and welcoming; a true place to escape from the stress and noise of the outside world! Keep reading to find out how you can make this a reality in your home.

What is Minimalist Decor

Minimalist decor evolved in the 1920s, with the DeStijl artistic movement. This movement was known for utilizing Horizontal and vertical lines, rectangular forms, using white, black, and gray, accented by blue, red, and yellow. It was simplistic and reduced designs to the essentials of form and color.

One of the pioneers of modern architecture was Ludwig Mies Vander Rohe who designed several buildings in the post-World War II era. His work set the standard for minimalism in architecture and design in his use of modern materials like glass, and steel, minimizing framework, organic forms, lack of ornamentation, and incorporating lots of open space. This design aesthetic is also highly influenced by Japanese design in its simplicity and 'zen-like' use of space and respect for the items used in that space.

The minimalist concept reduces a room to the utmost simplicity and focuses on "light, form, detail of material, space, place, and the human condition". The goal is to create a space where the unused space is not 'empty' just but purposely open in a way that enhances that room. A minimalist room should be filled with natural light, as well as carefully chosen and placed lighting.

Minimalism is the forebearer of modern, mid-century modern, and contemporary design styles, which built on the minimalist foundation.

The Main Elements of Minimalist Decor

The main elements of Minimalist Decor are simple colors accented with primary colors, clean lines, furniture and room designed around form and function, the appropriate use of space, and lots of natural lighting.

1. Use of Color (or lack thereof)

This kitchen is a great example of how a room can be simple ad elegant, without being cold. White tile whiles are combines with simple pale gray cabinets, which add just the slightest bit of contrast. Black is the accent color, visible in the streamlined light fixtures, faucets, drawer pulls and the metal legs of the stools. The occupants of the shelving are limited to items that are both useful and decorative in their simplicity. Small touches of natural wood warm the space without overwhelming it.

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This dining room uses a similar color palette, with the use of black in the shelving as a contrast to the white. Another option if you crave color, is to use yellow, blue, or red in that same space. Veering away from primary colors can send your Minimalist look into Contemporary territory, so be sure to stick with primary.

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2. Clean Lines

Clutter is nowhere to be seen in this perfect bathroom. A sleek sink base in natural wood tone stores bathroom accouterments and keeps them out of sight. Notice that the items in this room reflect the lines of each other, from the sink base, mirror and the black edging on the shower. these straight lines are very minimally offset by the curves of the sink basin, faucet and light fixture.

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3. Form and Function

Minimalism does not have to be devoid of comfort, as you can see in this bedroom. A platform bed is a trademark for this design style due to its straight lines and ability to fade into the background. In this case, the simple wood color is reflected in the picture frame and provides a visual break from the stark white of the rest of the room. The bed is dress in soft white an gray, which adds a cozy element, and the windows provide a generous amount of light. As you can see, everything in the room is useful and simple, creating an oasis from the vibrancy of the world outside.

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4. Using Negative Space in a Positive Way

Using negative, or 'empty' space purposefully to support your overall design can be tricky, but the key is to use it to emphasize a focal point or carefully chosen piece of art or furniture. For example, the fireplace is a focal point for this living room. Its cavernous darkness is the highest contrast area in the room, which is set in a large unadorned wall. While simple, this room is far from plain, due to the lines created by the placement of the furniture which runs parallel to each other and counter to the lines of the fireplace wall.

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5. Natural Lighting

This room is filled with natural light! With high ceilings, white walls accented with brick and low profile furniture in a light gray, it is a comfortable and peaceful domicile.

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Typical Materials Used in Minimalist Home Decor

The most commonly used materials in Minimalist home decor are:
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Stone

These materials are used to create clean, horizontal and vertical lines and basic shapes like squares, rectangles, circles, and ovals.

1. Metal

Metal is typically used as an accent in lighting or on furniture. Check out these amazing light fixtures and how they add a slightly industrial look to this minimal kitchen. Metal is also found in the legs of the kitchen stools.

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2. Plastic

Plastic molded furniture is often found in minimalist rooms due to its ability to be crafted into low profile sleek shapes. frequently this medium is where you can find the pops of primary color.

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3. Wood

Wood is an important component in minimalist decor. While lighter colored woods and finishes are the norm, wood provides warmth, where a stark white room might seem sterile and uncomfortable.

This living room is a great example of how wood can be used. The pale paneling and cabinetry give the room uplift and dimension, without creating drama in any way. They meld perfectly into the background, helping build a foundation of serenity for this living space.

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Here, wood accessories are used to create warmth, without detracting from the simplicity of the room.

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4. Glass

For a design style where light is an important component, glass is imperative. From massive windows to room dividers, like in the house below, glass can be used in a multitude of ways. In this room, a glass partition is used to separate rooms without blocking the natural light with solid walls. This creates an open, breathable feeling.

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5. Stone

Like wood, stone is a natural way to add color and visual interest to a room without decorative items. Cement, marble, granite, and tile can all be used unobtrusively. The idea is to create interest without disturbing the serenity and open flow of the space.
In this bathroom, the walls are made of a gray marble patterned with white. The lanes are kept straight and simple, with the shower stall looking like it was carved out of a solid piece of the marble. The gray is accented with black metal in the towel bar and water fixture. The bright white tub stands out as the curve of the tub counters the harshness of the rest of the lines of the room.
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Typical Color Schemes of Minimalist Home Decor

Minimalist home decor is typically white, gray, and black, but may also use primary colors, such as red, blue, and yellow as accents. There is not much wiggle room for using colors outside of these, other than the addition of very light wood colors.

Black and White

Black and white is the perfect color combination for a minimalist room. Use black to accent the white. Add a black end table or bookcase, a coffee table with black metal legs, and black metal curtain rods. Here the windows pop in the white walls due to their black frames. This look could be easily recreated in a cost-effective manner with a white slipcover and curtains and a couple of cans of white and black paint.

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Gray and White

All white everything is not realistic for many of us, especially for families. In this case, gray and white is a great option.

This living room is what is referred to as 'cozy minimalism', which is a current take on minimalism that is a little more family-friendly. Here gray is the primary color, which is accented with white. While the furniture and objects in the room are still pared down to useful items, these items are less linear in nature than are commonly found in a minimal room. The overstuffed sofa covered in pillows maintains its minimal staus by keeping all of the colors consistent. Sleek metal tables are both useful and minimal.

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White and Primary Colors

Brighten an all-white room with a dose of primary color. Stick to red, blue, or yellow, and only one of these, or your room could quickly look clownish.

This kitchen uses a mustard yellow cabinetry to impart a happy color to the light and airy space. Notice that the rest of the room is in shades of white so there is no competition with the yellow.

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4 Quick Tips for Decorating Any Room in Minimalist Decor

  1. Provide as much natural light as possible. Minimize window coverings to allow maximum light in your rooms.
  2. Limit furniture and decor to items that have clean lines and are useful.
  3. Stick to white and light gray, with accents in black, yellow, blue, and red.
  4. Use light wood accent pieces or flooring to add warmth.
  5. Use metal, plastic, stone, glass, and wood with simple shapes for accents and decorative items.

Minimalist Furniture by Type

Let's take a quick look at what typical furniture looks like when designed in the minimalist style.

Minimalist Tables

This minimalist coffee table Nathan James is exactly what your living room needs. Crafted with burnished black metal legs with a wooden top, it has perfectly straight lines that will add structure to your design.

Click here to find this table on Amazon.
This dining room table from Best Choice Products has similar lines to the coffee table above, which would work exceptionally well in an open concept room. It is also useful for smaller spaces, as the benches nest neatly under the table.
Click here to find this table on Amazon.

Minimalist Couches

AILEEKISS offers this sleek, minimalist sofa that is perfect for a smaller home or apartment. The clean lines and light gray color make it a great foundation piece for your minimalist living room.

Click here to find this sofa on Amazon.

Another really cool option is this sofa bench from Great Deal Furniture. Made from Acadia wood with a gray cushion, this couch will add an element of interest to your room without adding useless decorative items.

Click here to see this sofa on Amazon.

Minimalist Chairs

These plastic molded dining chairs with metal and wood legs from Furmax will give your dining room a minimalist feel without sacrificing comfort. They are also available in black if you are looking for something to bring contrast to an all-white room.
Click here to find these on Amazon.
An interesting accent and an excellent contrast to white walls and furniture, this unique black and wood chair form Armen Living will give your living room visual interest without being overwhelming.
Click here to find this chair on Amazon.
You might also want to check this Black and White Rattan Chairs (8 Gorgeous Examples).

Minimalist Beds

A bed in a minimalist bedroom should fade into the background, while still providing ample support and comfort and contributing to the overall room aesthetic. This simple black bed frame does all of this. The straight black lines provide good structural lines to a light-colored room and the extra slats give your mattress all the support it needs.

Click here to find this bed on Amazon.

Platform beds are very common in Minimalist bedrooms. This one from South Shore is especially useful due to its hidden drawers underneath. The more unobtrusive storage that you can have, the better!

Click here to find this bed on Amazon.

Minimalist Decor Items

Minimalist rooms are by definition, minimall decorated, but that doesn't mean that they don't have anything interesting to look at. Just take care to find items that are useful and follow the design strictures of clean lines and simple shapes.

Minimalist Lamps

This lamp does just that. It is a simple black post, without a lampshade. It will add illumination to your room, without detracting from the simplicity around it.

Click here to find this lamp on Amazon.
The cylindrical shape of this lamp is a great way to soften the sharp edge created by a lot of horizontal lines. The soft glow will warm up your space as well.
Click here to find this lamp on Amazon.

Minimalist Rugs

Using an area rug in a minimalist room is a good way to incorporate texture to soften the look of a streamlined room, and even add a touch of color or pattern without overtaking the room. This rug from Safavieh is silver and ivory so it can do just that.

Click here to find this rug on Amazon.

Minimalist Wall Decor

Minimalist wall decor has to be carefully chosen and sparsely used. Use it to impart a touch of primary color, as in the case of these Indigo blueprints from Wallways. They show images of colors in shapes, but no specific images.

Click here to find these prints on Amazon.

This simple black and white image could be a good addition to a minimal kitchen. Its simple color scheme adds interest but will blend easily with a black and white color palette.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

In Summary

We hope you found this guide helpful! You should now be armed with enough information to start decorating your home in the minimalist home decor style. If you enjoyed this guide - why not share it with friends too?

To see how minimalism can be applied in various rooms, check out our picture guide with over 50 Minimalist Kitchen designs and the one about Minimalist Bathroom Ideas here.

Looking for more ideas? Try our guide for Rustic home decor for a fresh look at interior design.

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