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What is minimalist design?

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  • Living Room Ideas
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Ed Hawes
minimalist design

Minimalism refers to the interior design style that boasts simplicity and functionality. It’s an aesthetic that often gets mistaken for contemporary, but it’s slightly different. In simple terms, minimalism refers to clean lines, open space, natural materials, textures and natural light. 

What is a minimalist style? When creating a minimalist interior in your own home, think about the following five key elements:

1. Functionality

Functionality refers to the need for every object or furniture item to have a purpose within the room. If there is no intended purpose then the item shouldn’t be in the interior.  

2. Simplicity

Minimalism design is just that, minimalist. Patterns and complicated details are often avoided, but simple shapes and forms are promoted.  

3. Open space or negative space

A key component of minimalism is negative space. Negative or open space gives the room area to breath. It’s the opposite of filling the interior with stuff and making it feel cluttered. It follows on from the functionality aspect of this design style - with functionality comes more space.  

4. Neutral colours

Using a neutral colour palette is important for a minimalist interior. Whites, greys, blacks and beige are used throughout to encourage a clean and open aesthetic.  

5. Natural light 

Maximising natural light in the room is another key aspect of minimalism design. Prioritising natural light encourages unobstructed views and open spaces. Again, it helps the room’s breath-ability. 

With that in mind, how can you create a minimalist style room? Our interior designer, Kelly Collins, came up with these four simple tips for ideal minimalism that can be used across all rooms:

01 Clear the clutter and invest in some good storage solutions. From ottomans that double up as storage to sofa beds and media units, use clever storage to guarantee furniture to a minimum. Remove any over-the-top ornaments and decor. Use uncomplicated furniture pieces that blend the room perfectly.

02 Select furniture and accessory pieces that have clean and straight lines. Avoid patterned pieces or items with lots of detail and instead focus on flat, smooth surfaces, and simple statement shapes.

03 Stick to a neutral colour palette, but include pops of colour with artwork and accessories. Create a simple colour scheme. A minimalist home uses timeless, versatile, easy to work with colours that offer a fresh, clean look. 

04 Include different and simple lighting options in the room. Think about the layout of the room and how best to place lighting. Use floor lamps, ceiling lamps, frame lamps and side table lamps to create an aesthetically pleasing environment with minimalism at the style’s core.

Minimalist living room ideas 

Living rooms are the most popular space where we see minimalist design. It’s arguably the heart of the home, with high traffic and hours spent lounging, if minimalism is what you’re looking to achieve it's important to get the living room right. 

minimalist living room ideas

Neutral elements and rugs 

In the living room, it's important to incorporate organic, natural elements such as wood and stone. A natural touch will add texture, interest and introduce warmth to the interior. Another way to add warmth is through a neutral rug with subtle patterns and textures. A rug that is a different tone to the rest of the interior will help bring the room together and create a point of interest. 

Open floor 

The living room is a high traffic area, so creating a room layout that offers an open space will help air flow and bring a sense of space and breath-ability to the room. 


A minimalist sofa should encompass the design. This can be achieved through clean lines, simple textures and neutral colours. The main sofa of the room could be a grey boxy modular sofa with simple lines. An ivory boucle armchair would also work well in this interior as the fabric’s texture adds interest and the colour is neutral. 

For minimalist design, avoid a timeless sofa like a Chesterfield, a chunky classic with big cushions or a mid century style sofa. Remember: clean, simple lines. 

Furniture with purpose  

One of the main components of minimalist design is the functionality of furniture. Every piece of furniture needs to have a purpose; whether it’s a coffee table with storage, a sofa with built-in side tables, or a console table with storage. It’s important to adhere to this rule because it ensures the room is rid of clutter. 

Colour palette 

Keep in mind the classic colour ratio for interiors is 60/30/10. 

60% of your room should be the dominant colour – for a minimalist style living room this should be light or neutral tones. 30% should be a secondary colour or texture, so a boucle sofa or armchair for texture or a dark shade of a neutral tone. And, finally, 10% should be accent colour – this can be a contrasting colour or a small pop of colour introduced through accessories. 

Keep accessories in the living room minimal; indoor plants, two-tone artwork, solid colour throws and cushions. Do not over do it; simplicity is key. 

Minimalist bedroom ideas

A minimalist style is perfect for a bedroom, the design naturally helps to relieve stress – improving your overall well being, but creating a relaxed environment for sleep. Reducing the amount of visual clutter we have in a space makes it easier for us to unwind. So with that in mind, here’s our ideas of creating a bedroom where minimalism is at its heart. 

minimalist bedroom ideas

Neutral colours 

Again, as with all minimalist interiors, the neutral colour scheme is paramount. In the bedroom use whites, greys and pastel to promote a serene and relaxing environment. This will help you unwind before hitting the pillow.  

Storage, under the bed

Utilising the space underneath the bed is ideal for bedroom storage. It means clutter can be kept out of sight without taking up wardrobe space. A storage bed embodies the functionality aspect of minimalist design perfectly. 

Multi-functional storage

Remember, every furniture item has a role to play in the room. Making sure that the furniture doubles up as storage solutions is important to avoid clutter. Use a small storage ottoman as a dressing table chair. Or place a large storage ottoman at the end of the bed – a place to sit whilst also to hide clutter. 

Instead of built-in wardrobes with shelving or using block bookcases, consider floating shelves. Floating shelves keep clutter minimal without taking up too much space. The design of a floating shelf also helps create the feel of open space.  

Minimalist style bedding 

Neutral shaded bedding is important – use block colours that contrast against or complement the walls. It will help the breath-ability of the room and create a calming environment. To further exaggerate the point, make sure that the bedding is of good quality. 

Soft lighting 

Avoid harsh overhead lighting in the bedroom. Soft lighting with warm bulbs that are dim-able or in the form of bedside tables are guaranteed to create a calm, cosy environment. 

Plants and artwork 

A handful of indoor plants will not only add an element of bold colour to the bedroom, but they bring a sense of calm and purification. Artwork is another way in which you can add personality and colour to the bedroom. Choose one or two pieces that follow the minimalist style with shaded tones. 

Reduced furniture items 

Again, it’s important to try not to overdo it. Make sure the bedroom has as much open space as possible – the perimeter of your bed is a high-traffic area, so this is an example of where you can keep space open. 

Minimalist design is about conscious, considered decisions that will elevate your interior and create a calming and aesthetically pleasing environment. Furniture with purpose, neutral colour scheme, clever storage solutions, reduced clutter and open spaces with natural lighting and natural elements. Minimalism requires a ‘less is more’ approach.

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