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8-Step Guide to Mastering a Minimalist Aesthetic

a minimalist living room with a leather sofa and chair with natural light, white walls and plants

Table of Contents:

       - 2C: Simple Shapes

       - 3B: Space Optimized

       - 4A: Neutrals

       - 4B: Balanced Colors

       - 5A: Clear Corners

       - 5B: Clear Surfaces

       - 6A: Cosy Textures

       - 6B: High-Quality

       - 6C: Simplicity

       - 8A: Clean Shapes


Minimalism is more than an interior design style. It's a lifestyle and ethos that celebrates being intentional with every area of your life, making the most out of essentials and embracing a less-is-more approach. The minimalist approach can be adopted in many different areas, from interior design and fashion to art and digital life.


Minimalism has gained a high level of traction all over the world over the past several decades, but it's by no means a new concept. For example, if we look back to the 12th century, elements of minimalism were already evident in Japanese interior design, where a focus on simplicity and natural materials was paramount.


Today we will be covering 8 areas to consider when creating a minimalist home, from creating a minimalist aesthetic to streamlining organisation to enhance functionality. Before we jump into the 8 steps to a minimalist aesthetic, let's explore why minimalism is important and how it can improve your living space and overall well-being.



Benefits of Minimalism on Stress and Mental Health

Every item you bring into your home brings with it a need for a space to reside in. It will also get dirty and need cleaning, and once it has served its purpose, it will need to be disposed of. All of these steps require your time, leaving you less time to attend to your responsibilities and do what makes you happy. These items are what we call clutter - objects that may have once served a purpose, or once held sentimental value, but now they simply take up space - and clutter can cause a mountain of stress.


A 2009 study found that the way people describe their homes can indicate their stress levels. In this study, women who described their homes as cluttered and unfinished felt more stressed and had worse health markers, while those who mentioned restfulness and nature felt less stressed and had better health markers.


Creating a minimalist home requires decluttering - removing everything that no longer brings you joy. This frees up space in your home so you can move and live within it without being obstructed by unnecessary belongings.


Our environment has a significant impact on our health, and living in a home that is cluttered and chaotic can hinder relaxation and the amount of time we have to spend with friends and family. A minimalist home makeover provides a solution to chaotic homes crammed with an overwhelming amount of stuff that no longer serves a purpose. Stripping back to the essentials and letting go of excessive possessions can help us focus on what truly matters, and improve our attitude towards our home.


What is a Minimalist Aesthetic in Interior Design?

Minimalism isn't about accenting your home or enhancing your decor, it's about downsizing, simplifying and putting your home in a state of constant flow and functionality. 


There's a focus on clean lines, blank space, simplistic designs, and high-quality materials, all of which contribute to a light, airy and spacious home.


Examples of Minimalist Interior Design Styles

While minimalism can be an interior design style all on its own, there are many specific styles which embrace minimalist aesthetics and ethics at their root, accompanied by other elements that make these styles their own:


  • Eco-Minimalism: This style focuses on sustainable, ethically sourced materials, and eco-friendly designs and is blended with a minimalist approach to create open, calming living spaces.

  • Mid-Century Modern Minimalism: Mid-century modern is a highly popular interior design style that emerged during the 20th century. Timeless and versatile with a focus on neutral, earthy colours, wooden accents, and sleek, slimline furniture, this style is often paired with minimalism to create an elegant, stylish and open aesthetic.

  • Hygge: "Hygge" is a Danish-Norweigan word, its closest literal translation meaning "to console" or "to comfort". An ethos that has influenced Scandinavian interior design, this style focuses on all things cosy, simple and comforting. Minimalism comes into play within hygge spaces to enhance functionality and a calming atmosphere.

  • Wabi Sabi: Wabi Sabi isn't just an interior design style, but a world view based on the appreciation of imperfection. The style embraces aged aesthetics, raw natural materials, and simplistic designs, and, like many Japanese interior design styles, minimalism is at its root.

  • Japandi: A calming blend of Japanese and Scandinavian interior design, the Japandi style focuses on natural materials, simple designs, clean lines and functional accessories. Like hygge and Wabi Sabi, a minimalist aesthetic is usually used to improve the practical and soothing nature of the space.

  • Industrial Minimalism: With a blend of the raw, rugged elements of industrial interior design and the simplicity of minimalism, this style emphasises open-plan spaces and a sleek, modern and edgy aesthetic.



8 Steps to a Minimalist Aesthetic


1: Declutter First

someone decluttering their clothes and organising them

Having a true minimalist home means eliminating unnecessary clutter.


Adopting a minimalist aesthetic within your home will likely require some decluttering unless you're moving into a new place and buying most of your stuff from scratch.


Clutter easily builds up over the years, creating a jumbled mess. The key is to remove anything that no longer serves a purpose and makes you happy. Decluttering can be overwhelming, so take your time and do a little every day. Recruit helpers, plan, and use decluttering rules to decide what to keep. Dispose responsibly by donating, selling, or recycling unwanted items. Establish a regular decluttering routine to prevent future clutter.



2: Minimalist Furniture

Let's face it, furniture items, such as sofas, beds, and tables, are big and bulky and they take up most of the space in your home, which is largely unavoidable, but there are ways to enhance the minimalist aesthetic and functionality of your furniture to ensure it doesn't disrupt the flow of the space.


2A: Compact Furniture

compact chest of drawers next to a dining table in a minimalist home

What makes a piece of furniture compact? Essentially, the item is optimised to perform at a high standard without taking up a large amount of space. Take a couch for example - there's no point in downsizing a small couch if it doesn't seat all the members of your household or the number of guests you want to host. Instead, opt for items that are carefully proportioned to offer maximum comfort for a minimal spatial footprint.


Consider extendable dining tables, sofas without armrests, platform beds, and low-to-the-floor coffee tables. Your furniture can take up less space without sacrificing functionality.


2B: Focus on Quality

a chair in a living room next to a round table with gold legs and golden ornaments

The key to ensuring a beautiful aesthetic within your minimalist interior design is to focus on quality. If you reduce the amount of stuff in your home down to the bare minimum and those objects are of poor quality, it can easily make the space look cheap and boring. Adopting a quality-over-quantity ethos will guarantee your home looks and feels sleek and luxurious.


With this in mind, some general rules of thumb could be avoiding too much plastic and synthetic materials, and instead opting for natural materials like wood, leather, or cotton. Keep in mind the longevity of the furniture you buy. The higher the quality, the longer it will last. This doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune, but be cautious about buying furniture with small price tags, as it's common for them to lack durability.


Consider second-hand furniture - as long as it's in good condition and made from quality materials, preloved furniture can offer the same quality as new but at a lower price point.


2C: Simple Shapes

a curved armchair with a rounded shape next to a minimalist floor lamp and plant

Minimalist furniture commonly features simplistic shapes. Consider soft curves and clean lines as the main design elements. Many minimalist enthusiasts avoid complex patterns, trims and finishes for their furniture, preferring to prioritise seamless shapes and a streamlined aesthetic.


3: Smart Storage

Smart storage is key in minimalist homes. While you can make every effort to reduce the amount of stuff you have in your home, the truth is, you need some of that stuff, so to keep your home tidy (and truly minimalist) you need optimised storage.


3A: Multi-Functional

a wooden pegboard hanging on a wall with various accessories handing from it

Image Credit: hyperair | Wood Pegboard: Buy on Etsy


If a single piece of furniture can serve two or more purposes, it can streamline your home and save on precious space. Look around your home and consider where you could double up on storage and functionality.


Could you consider a bed with built-in drawers underneath or a coffee table with extra shelving for books and magazines? Maybe an ottoman with storage inside that also serves as extra seating when you have guests over, or an entryway bench with in-built shoe racks and coat hooks.


3B: Space Optimised

a neatly organised kitchen with wooden cabinets, flowers and plants

The more you optimise your storage spaces, the more you can fit into a small area, making the rest of your home feel tidier and more spacious. Consider areas like built-in closets and kitchen cabinets - implement solutions such as over-the-door hooks for inside closets, or storage baskets to keep the insides of cabinets organised and streamlined. 


When choosing storage items for a minimalist space, always assess how space-optimised its design is. For example, if you're on the market for a chest of drawers for your bedroom, look for one with multiple compartments/drawers in varying sizes for storing a wide variety of items. This negates the need for separate storage areas for those items and saves on space.


3C: Streamline Organisation

a neatly organised white open wardrobe

A common challenge for people trying to achieve a minimalist home is keeping regular everyday items out of sight and out of the way. One rule we like to follow in any home, whether it's minimalist, maximalist, or anything in between, is to ensure that every item has a designated storage spot.


For example, take the humble laundry basket - it's often left out in the open because it's heavily used, but if it always has a designated storage spot that's easy to access and free of other clutter, it clears the mental block to tidy it away.


4: Minimalist-Friendly Colours

When it comes to minimalist interiors, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to colour. While interior designers often suggest calming colours like neutrals or muted hues to achieve simplicity and serenity, your preferences and the type of home you want to create should determine how much colour you bring into your design. Every design requires some individual flair to reflect your personality.


4A: Neutrals

a minimalist bedroom with a neutral beige colour theme

Neutral colours have a remarkable ability to make a space feel larger and brighter, which is why they are a popular choice for minimalist aesthetics. Opt for soothing neutral tones like white, cream, beige, grey, and brown. These classic minimalist hues help to create a sense of continuity and tranquillity.


4B: Balanced Colours

a minimalist living room with white walls and colourful accents like cushions and artwork

For a design that falls between super colourful and monochromatic, consider using neutral colours as the foundation of your room design, like wall colour and furniture, while adding colourful elements to your preference. This could range from a vibrant sofa and contrasting rug to a colourful vase or throw cushions. By doing so, you can create a balanced minimalist aesthetic that is both sleek and calming, while allowing your favourite decor accessories to stand out as statement pieces.


4C: Colourful Minimalism

a minimalist living room with blue walls, a mustard-coloured chair and a colourful framed art piece

Colourful minimalism can be beautiful and stylish. The key is to choose complementary colours and avoid over-complex colour combinations that detract from the simplicity you're trying to create. Be restrained in the number of colours you choose for base items such as wall and furniture colours; you can always add more with small decor items, which are more adjustable if you decide the design looks too overwhelming.


One way to ensure simplicity, no matter how bright or saturated your colour scheme is, is to implement colour drenching, a technique that involves using a single hue across a whole room (walls, ceilings, doors, woodwork, etc.). It creates a calming and seamless backdrop, even if you use a bright shade, which is complementary to a minimalist aesthetic.



5: Embrace Blank Space

If you're not a seasoned minimalist, it can be tempting to fill empty corners and surfaces with extra decor or clutter while decorating. When it comes to minimalism, the key is to embrace emptiness. That's not to say your space should be lacklustre, but rather, embrace the less-is-more approach and appreciate what blank space can do for your minimalist interior design.


Embracing blank space leaves room for the carefully selected decor items you do have to take the spotlight so you can appreciate them to their full glory.


5A: Clear Corners

a minimalist living room with lots of blank space

An empty corner in a room can be tempting to fill with decor or additional furniture. However, in the spirit of minimalism, sometimes leaving an empty corner as it is can be the best choice. If the rest of your furniture layout is well-planned, having a few free corners will contribute to making the room feel more open and spacious.


5B: Clear Surfaces

a modern minimalist kitchen with white countertops and lots of clear counter space

Make it a habit to keep some space clear on your kitchen counters, desks, and dinner tables. This will help your home feel more functional by providing surface area for your daily tasks. Try to put away any unnecessary items, and you'll notice that the extra space makes the entire room look bigger.


5C: Prioritise Free Movement in Your Layout

a minimalist living room with an open layout

Cramming all your furniture together can make the room feel tight and restrictive. A proper minimalist space will allow plenty of space for movement between furniture and walls. You should feel like you can walk freely throughout the space without encountering obstacles or the risk of bumping into things


6: Minimalist Materials and Textures

Essential elements in any interior design, the materials and textures selected for a minimalist space should be of high quality, harmonise with the overall design, and offer tactile satisfaction.


6A: Cosy Textures

a minimalist living room with a blanket on the sofa and plants

Without proper attention, minimalist spaces can feel cold and echoey, so it's crucial to infuse some warmth with cosy textures. Bring in soft furnishings in moderation, choosing gentle textures that bring comfort and warmth to the space, such as sheepskin rugs or woollen blankets. Consider natural cotton and wood, with interesting textures for upholstery such as boucle and corduroy.


6B: High-Quality

a minimalist living room with natural, high-quality materials

Minimalism is all about quality over quantity, so ensure what you bring into your home feels authentic and well-made, avoiding too many synthetic materials which can dampen a room's atmosphere.


6C: Simplicity

a minimalist living room with simple materials

It's best to avoid using excessive textures and fabrics, as this can create a cluttered and overwhelming look. Instead, consider coordinating some of the same materials across various surfaces to achieve a cohesive and harmonious aesthetic.



7: How to Create Minimalist Lighting

Lighting is a crucial element of any design, particularly in minimalist spaces where the goal is to create an open and spacious feel. Abundant light is essential for adding dimension to the space and accentuating its clean, uncluttered aesthetic.


7A: Prioritise Natural Light

a minimalist living room with natural light

Natural light has the power to enhance every element of your interior design, highlighting the intricate work you've put into creating the space. It's an element of home design that shouldn't be underestimated, as a lack of natural light can turn any interior design bleak and dingy.


Opt for sheer curtains, keep your windows clean and remove any obstructions around them that could block light from filling the room.

 

7B: Sleek Light Fixtures

a bedside table with a simple sphere table lamp

When choosing lighting fixtures, look for ones that complement your interior design while adequately illuminating the space. Opt for fixtures with clean lines and unobtrusive designs, like geometric pendant lights, slim floor lamps or spherical lampshades. Also, ensure that you choose efficient lampshades to soften the light without blocking it, and select lightbulbs that are bright enough to effectively brighten the area.


7C: Make Lighting a Statement

an end table in a minimalist living room with a unique statement table lamp

You may want to consider going in the opposite direction of the minimalist approach when it comes to lighting. While not everyone may agree, we believe that statement lighting can work well in minimalist spaces. Since lighting is an essential part of a home, it's an aspect of decor that you can highlight without overwhelming the space. Stick to the rules we've mentioned above about clean lines, simple shapes and balanced colours, but consider allowing lights that stand out, such as arc floor lamps, and uniquely shaped ceiling lampshades.


7D: Warm Ambient Lighting

a minimalist living room with warm ambient lighting

Warm, soft lighting is queen when it comes to evening light. Calming and ideal for night-time relaxation, it will help to highlight your minimalist design even when it's dark outside. Warm ambient lighting is best achieved using a layering technique, placing multiple small light sources, such as table lamps and candles, at low height levels to create a soft glow across the room.



8: Simplistic Decor

Decor is where the minimalist less-is-more approach is vital. If you're sticking to the basics with your accessories and soft furnishings, it can feel a bit daunting to know what to choose.


Because there is less in the room, you want each piece to feel intentional, as the wrong pieces can stick out and detract from the rest of the design, upsetting the aesthetic balance. Take the time to carefully plan and handpick your decor, and avoid creating excessive visual noise with too much clutter and contrast.


8A: Clean Shapes

a minimalist dining table with a white colour scheme, and white flowers in a bud vase on the table

Clean shapes in interior design refer to crisp, uninterrupted lines and shapes that help create a sleek and seamless look. Consider soft shapes such as curved pottery and clean lines such as geometric artwork.


8B: Purposeful Decor 

a gold and wooden minimalist jewellery stand

Image Credit: DamronDecor | 3 Tier Jewellery Stand Buy on Etsy


If you're going for ultimate minimalism, consider decor pieces that serve a second purpose, making a statement while also fulfilling a necessary function, such as items like handmade ceramics you can also use to serve food.


Additionally, indoor plants are a great addition to minimalist spaces as they provide decorative value while also enhancing the freshness of the ambience.


8C: Placement is Everything

a minimalist dining room with an art piece placed centrally with a spotlight above it

When arranging your decor accessories, it's important to consider the placement. Be sure to space them out and avoid clustering them together.


When it comes to wall art, it's a great opportunity to make a statement without taking up floor space. Large paintings or photographs work well in minimalist spaces, but placement is key. Make your artwork the central focus by positioning it above key furniture items like sofas, beds, or dining tables. This will allow your art to stand out.



I view minimalism as a valuable skill that requires consistent effort and dedication. It involves the ongoing process of eliminating unnecessary possessions and clutter to maintain a truly minimalist living space. The physical and mental benefits of creating an uncluttered environment serve as a rewarding outcome of mastering this skill. While minimalism might be about creating ease and increasing practicality, it's by no means the easiest style to get started with, especially if you have a lot of decluttering to do. Be patient and trust the process.


What are some strategies you have in place to keep your home minimalist and clutter-free?


Looking for minimalist furniture and decor? Check out some of our favourite products here.


If a minimalist aesthetic isn't your thing, check out our article on its opposite, maximalism: Make a Statement with Maximalism | 5 Bold Interior Design Elements


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