First, lets dispel a myth. A minimalist interior doesn’t have to mean living in a white box. Far from it. Some of the best examples of clever, simple designs are ones which use bags of colour and style. At it’s essence, minimalism is stripping away elements and focusing on function. It’s a reaction to the overly decorated styles of early 20th century – think flocked wallpaper here. However, It’s just not that practical to have a completely white interior to most people and families (thinking toddler with a Freddo) but the desire to strip back and get rid of stuff that doesn’t work for you is very desirable. We need cracking interiors that spark our interest and bring joy, provide great storage, are easy to clean and are a pleasure to be in. Revamp or do-over, it’s time jump into our guide to beautiful simple living design.
Define your style
First up decide and define your style. A style is a bit of ‘a hook to hang things on’. It will give focus and clarity to . You also have to work with what you have. I can’t afford a new sofa, my daughter likes stuffed fluffy animals everywhere and my partner must have his computer at arms’ length. I like mid century modern but I have stuff in my room that doesn’t fit that scheme however I still keep it in because ultimately I am doing this because I want to live in a beautiful home full of things I love and not because I want to win the Great Interior Design Challenge.
The period your house was built in will also have some influence on you. I live in a small edwardian terrace so open plan is not an option for me without knocking down walls. I need something that works with small cosy rooms. Ultimately my house was built to be decorated with flock wallpaper and aspidistras – which is so not a look I’m going for. This is definitely worth a read if you want to know more about the design origins of your home. Here’s some popular design styles for inspiration – it’s ok to not stick rigidly to them or combine a few and call it ‘eclectic’.
Mid – Century Modern
TIP: If you’re stuck with what you have or what you like, start a Pinterest board and save your current stuff and inspiration to it. You’ll soon start to see a pattern and style emerge.
Light and negative space
Negative space is the space where nothing exists i.e no ornaments, furniture etc just space (obviously the wall stays). For me, negative space means less clutter which will stop your minimalist mindset going into overdrive. Also, the juxtaposition, if you will, highlights other parts of the room. Plan in negative space then it’s there in your mind almost like a physical object. You can always fill it in later if you don’t like it – but you will…
You know that feeling when you walk into a lovely, bright, sunny room that lifts the spirits and soothes you – you can almost drink it up. Light is so important and best of all it’s free. My house is naturally small and dark but that’s that way it was designed. In a space like this you have to use all the tricks you can get to light up dark space.
What would William Morris do?
William Morris said “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Now, William really loved a busy, flocked, wallpaper scheme which is about as far as you can get from the idea of a minimalist decor. However, his Useful or Beautiful rule is a really good way of sorting through your possessions. It’s the same kind of message as Kon Mari’s “Spark Joy” which is the inspiration for this piece and a useful prism for designing interiors. Basically just dig your stuff and throw the rest. Also, don’t get hung up on perfection and wondering what others will think – tis’ your space, go forth and decorate.
You can just update rather than revamp
I am currently updating my space so I’m not interested in starting over, but will be looking at my existing colour palette and working from there. There’s something called the 60-30-10 rule in interiors (I know – a formula and everything) that helps you to build the existing colour in your room without going bananas. Get your maths here how to do the 60-30-10 rule.
Pattern and Colour
I want to live my life with less stuff but that doesn’t mean less colour. Most of the rooms in my house are painted with some form of colour from dark teal and yellow, through to ‘barely there taupe.’ Even in the lighter rooms, I still don’t use white. In the bedroom, I have more muted tones but in the kitchen, where I like to cook and P-A-R-T-Y, it’s vibrant and colourful. Same goes for patterns I love stripes and geo designs. I wouldn’t go for 100 % pattern all over but I really dig accents in the form of rugs and cushions. I also like patterns for the same reason I liked multicoloured t-shirts when my daughter was weaning – it’s a lot harder to see stains! It’s all about your style but don’t let your love of colour and patterns put you off achieving a simple interior. If you like your whites whiter than Daz whites (takes me back) do that. No judgement here. It should ultimately be beautiful to you and make you happy.
Do you have any tips on simple living design? What has worked for you?