Can a minimalist interior work for a family?Jen Wiss-Carline
In home design, minimalism is about reducing each room to its necessary elements, where ‘less is more’. The minimalist interior look is about creating a mood of extreme simplicity where very element is functional, fuss-free and beautiful.
If you manage a busy family home, you can be forgiven for thinking that the minimalist interior is reserved for single young twenty-somethings and retired couples with grown up children. However, this style of design can be really beneficial for your family. Cluttered rooms that are too dark, small or bright can leave family members feeling anxious, depressed or stressed. By contrast, a clean layout that has simplicity and symmetry can help to calm and relax you. The minimalist interior is therefore perfect even for the busiest of homes and as a bonus, can make cleaning a doddle. Here’s how to achieve it:
Crucial to a beautiful minimalist interior is that everything should be in proportion and this can be achieved, even if you have a lot of storage requirements. Choose furniture that is roughly in proportion, so nothing should be bigger or smaller than anything else. If you really want to go for something out of proportion, choose just one item that’s vastly bigger or vastly smaller than everything else (such as an ornate mirror) so that’s it’s clearly an intentional design feature rather than a mistake.
Aim to balance the visual weight of the room, so one side doesn’t feel heavier than the other. Symmetry is desirable where possible – our brains find this more aesthetically pleasing sub consciously than an arrangement that is off-kilter.
Balance isn’t just about the quantity of items on each side of the room – although this is important. It’s also about ensuring the items you choose complement each other.
Since you’re going to be keeping the amount of furniture to a minimum, you’ll want to pay for high quality, well made timeless pieces. Stay away from run-of-the-mill catalogue designs if you can and look for furniture with a bespoke edge, like Croft Oak Furniture’s ‘Santana Rustic’ range (see, e.g., the coffee table below). While incredibly simple in design, each piece in this solid oak range is completed in a gorgeous rich patina with a soft sheen lacquer for an absolutely stunning finish.
Choosing eye catching ‘individual’ furniture makes every piece feel special and useful, rather than just being part of a collection of furniture that’s wound up in a particular room. This is a key aspect of minimalist interior design.
Above: This oak coffee table from the Santana range has lovely clean lines and a rich hand finish – plus it offers lots of valuable storage space to keep bits and pieces tucked out of sight.
In a family home, well-designed storage is key – so look for items that have substantial hidden storage space and multiple functions. A coffee table with pull out storage, seats that double as both storage space and foot stools, a sofa that converts to a bed – all of these give you the best possible use out of your space.
To achieve the minimalist look, you’ll need enough storage to tuck everything away out of sight. Make sure everything you use frequently is easily accessible – minimalism is about both function and form, so the space has to work for you. Sideboards work very well in the living room, dining room, kitchen or hallway – they often have clean, simple lines, they hold a lot, and everything is tucked out of sight.
Above: Storage is the key to achieving a minimalist look in a family home. These white high gloss units look clean, plain and simple when all the drawers and cupboards are closed, but they hold a huge range of items.
Minimalism is not the same as bare – and it is the small details in a room that give it interest. The best way to achieve a clean, simple minimalist look without adding any clutter is to vary the textures. A gold leaf frame, a soft furry throw, a sisal rug – each adds to the richness of the room. Adding visual interest through textures rather than ornaments makes your room instantly tidier and easier to clean too.
A simple colour scheme is required for a minimalist look, but this doesn’t have to be boring. A deep navy blue combined with white for example could make a striking minimal colour scheme. Most people will choose neutral and earth tones for a relaxed, sophisticated feel but don’t feel limited by this if you want to get creative. With a very simple colour scheme and minimal furniture, a single pop of colour can be visually stunning.
If the idea of using lovely crisp whites and lights on the walls makes you nervous, check out our post on using matt paint in a family home. Matt paint isn’t what it used to be and can now stand up to both grubby little fingers and muddy paw prints.
Lighting is of huge importance in minimalist design. Good use of natural light reduces the need for artificial lighting elements so it’s essential to use your curtains or blinds to direct the natural light where you want it to fall.
Recessed lighting can help to provide general discrete lighting across the room, while one simple stunning feature light (or a trio of hanging lights) can be the difference between perfection and bareness. Mirrors are also very useful for directing both natural and artificial light, reducing the need for too many light sources.
In a minimalist room, the space between the objects can be just as important as the objects themselves. We’d normally rush to fill large empty spaces with as much furniture as possible, but leaving them empty, with a few key, functional pieces, helps to achieve the calm, uncluttered, simple feel that this look is all about.