When it comes to achieving a minimalist home, the “less is more” mentality is a must. But, there’s much more to it than simply having fewer things in your home. Minimalism is a lifestyle that relies on the foundation of being intentional with how you decorate.
“A minimalist home is synonymous with an intentional home—it’s about surrounding yourself with items you need, use, and love, and stripping away the excess,” home organizing expert Shira Gill says.
A major misconception about a minimalist home is that it requires less thought, according to Melissa Lee, the founder and creative director of Bespoke Only. “On the contrary, it takes more consideration to choose fewer pieces, as everything should have a purpose with both design and function in mind,” Lee shares.
We gathered tips from design experts to help you create the minimalist home of your dreams.
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If you want a more minimalist home, the first step is to start with your “why,” according to Helen Youn, master-level certified KonMari Consultant.
“Think about why you want to have a more minimalist home and consider how your home will be able to support you to live an intentional life,” Youn says. “When you have a clear vision of the life you want and get down to your core values, it will give you clarity on which items to keep and which to let go.”
Minimalism is all about living with less, so decluttering is a must. “If there’s something you haven’t used in years—get rid of it,” Lee says. “Everything in your home should serve a purpose, either emotionally, aesthetically, or functionally.”
One way to declutter is with the iconic KonMari Method, which involves living a more intentional and joyful life that minimalism can bring. According to Youn, you can declutter by category, starting with clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and lastly, sentimental items.
“This order goes from easiest to hardest and helps the client hone their sensitivity to what brings them joy,” Youn says.
After decluttering—and before you buy more furniture or décor—try to reuse and repurpose what’s already in your home. “I am a big fan of repurposing items the clients might already have so we often don’t need to buy anything,” Youn says.
For example, you can use shoeboxes to organize clothing in drawers with smaller boxes as dividers for smaller items. “Some of my favorite organizational products include clear shoeboxes because they're see-through, stackable, and can be labeled,” Youn adds, having used them in closets, linen closets, bathrooms, kitchens, and garages.
According to Youn, one of the best ways to decorate a minimalist home is to use your favorite furniture and items as a base.
“For added personal touches, you can use objects that have a special meaning to you or framed kids’ artworks and family photos around your home,” Youn says. “You can also use everyday objects like books and candles and arrange them in a way to make them aesthetically pleasing to you.”
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When we buy items without intention, we tend to end up with clutter, but that can be avoided with a minimalist mindset.
“When you buy with purpose, you don’t end up purchasing unnecessary pieces just because,” Decorist designer Emily Johnson says. “We all do it, so really ask yourself, ‘Will this benefit me and my home?’”
“One of the many upsides to a minimalist lifestyle is that it enables you to invest in fewer, better things,” Gill says. “When it comes to furniture and décor, opt for timeless well-made pieces that will stand the test of time. Clean lines and well-constructed pieces never go out of style.”
According to Decorist designer Olivia Besselaar, achieving a minimal aesthetic is all about simplicity and putting together a home that feels “bright, airy, relaxing, and modern.”
“Pick one to three materials to use consistently throughout your home, keeping practicality and function in mind,” Besselaar says. “Stick with materials that feel light and airy, such as bleached oak or lighter concretes.”
Not all items in your home are meant to be put on display, which is where concealed storage comes in.
“Tuck away household utility items like lightbulbs, cords, batteries, and paper files into pretty bins or baskets, conceal in a credenza, or buy a built-in storage unit so your home can feel streamlined, airy, and minimal,” Gill says.
If you’re working with a predominantly white color scheme—a popular option for minimalist décor—adding natural textures can add warmth to your home. Marie Ducheyne, a designer at Decorist, recommends introducing natural woods, handwoven textiles, and plants to your home.
“Negative space showcases the beauty of the simplicity of your home,” Besselaar says. “It lets the materials speak for themselves and tell their story. Don’t feel like every inch of your home should be furnished.”
She adds that minimalistic style evokes feelings of peace and tranquility within simplicity, and leaving a bit of negative space communicates the sense of having the space to breathe.
“If you have a large amount of negative space and feel the need to dress it up, simple touches such as indoor plants or a piece of artwork can help make the space feel homely while maintaining the understated and simple minimalistic aesthetic," she says.
If you want the “less is more” look, try investing in larger items rather than smaller pieces of décor. According to Decorist designer Emily Johnson, large-scale pieces have more of an impact on the eye and help create a simple yet stunning space.
“Look for flexible furniture that can perform multiple functions or even be moved around from room to room,” Gill says. She recommends keeping an eye out for stools that double as side tables or nightstands or an entryway bench that can be used in the dining room for additional seating.
Items in your home should share a language and speak to each other to create one story, according to Lee. “Nothing should fight or compete for attention," she says.
Ducheyne adds that homeowners should highlight the beauty of a space, view, or piece of art, so it is important that the rest should harmoniously blend in. “Colors and textures should complement each other and shapes should remain simple," she notes.
Maintain a minimalist home by cleaning up regularly and having a place for everything.
“Once you decide to bring something in, everything must have a home within your home,” Youn says. “Returning an object back to its home takes up less time and energy than to have to find a home for it each time.”
To add more visual appeal to a minimalist home, play around with fun lighting. “There are endless options when it comes to modern light fixtures and choosing something that is a little less simple and a little more out of the box in a dining room or powder room can add character to a minimal home," Besselaar says.
It’s not uncommon to associate a minimalist home with a neutral color palette filled with light grays, whites, and beiges, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with color.
“While the goal here may be simplicity, introducing color and texture in small amounts through plants, artwork, and textiles is a great way to create interest,” Besselaar says.
“If you have an art collection, instead of showing the whole collection at once, you can smartly store the pieces out of sight and only display one at a time,” Ducheyne shares.
“Adding soft curves and smooth edges such as a round coffee table or rounded armed sofa is more inviting,” Ducheyne says.
“Focus on what works for you instead of trying to replicate a specific look,” Youn says. “Minimalism is not one size fits all and can look different for each person.”
Gill also recommends not holding yourself to hard and fast rules like only owning a certain amount of things or getting rid of one item a day.
“Instead, use the process of simplifying your home as an opportunity to experiment and get in touch with your authentic values, tastes, and goals,” she says. “Allow yourself to be patient, and work your way through your home one room at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed by the task.”
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