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10 Ways to Master The Minimalist Design Style

The phrases “form follows function” and “less is more” likely come to mind when you hear minimalist interior design. You probably envision empty rooms with very little furniture, no decor, and white-on-white-on-everything. You might also think of scenes from futuristic movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tron. There’s truth to all this but the minimalist design aesthetic is (ahem) so much more.

Minimalism was originally conceptualized by the Bauhaus, a German design school in the 1920s and 1930s. It championed the concept that the shape of an object should follow its intended function. This led to interiors that were generally void of decorative objects and had minimal furniture that was geometric in form. It set the tone for the minimalist home, which consisted of sparse interiors, simplified designs with clean lines, and restrained color palettes.

Today, you’ll find a handful of minimalist interior designers who specialize in spaces that embody the style with their own twists—from mixing in ornate antiques to infusing rustic textures and even bold colors. It all goes to show that there are many ways to pull off a minimalist space in the home.

For inspiration and guidance, we’ve rounded up 10 different takes on minimalism that show how you can blend in other styles with the minimalist aesthetic in any space in your home—all without sacrificing comfort, color, and livability. Find out more below!

minimalist interior design1. Rustic Minimalism

You’ve probably seen your fair share of rustic minimalist interiors. The name says it all. A rustic minimalist space emphasizes clean lines and cozy textures, so you’ll find something like a pared-down bed styled up with sheepskin pillows, chunky knit throws, and a plush wool rug.

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The Palette: High-contrast shades are played up in the rustic minimalist space. Think white tones of beige, creams, and ivory mixed with black shades, like charcoal, tar, and ebony.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Less is definitely more. If you want to introduce the rustic minimalist interior design aesthetic into your home, start by editing down your furnishings and accents.
  • Texture, texture texture. Lean into lots of rustic textures and finishes, like grainy woods, faux fur, and natural fibers. They’ll warm up the neutral palette.
  • Hold the accents. Skip the art and ornamental decor, and let things feel a little “unstyled” and spare. Let all the textures do the talking.

minimalist interior design2. Minimalist Maximalism

Opposites attract. That’s basically the minimalist maximalist look in a nutshell. It’s a minimalist design approach to furniture and decor with a maximalist take on color and materials. The result? A space like this, where you’ll find a sculptural coffee table and a curvy sofa set against a bold wall color.

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The Palette: Instead of a minimalist living room that’s all white, you’ll find bright colors that make a statement in various ways. It could be a sapphire blue armchair, an emerald rug, or bright red walls.

The Key Design Elements:

  • All about the curves. Rounded shapes and curvy designs are the stars of the show here, so bring on the sculptural furniture starting with your seating.
  • Luxe it up. Pick beautiful materials to even out the strong colors. Mix together a marble coffee table, a matte-black pendant, and a velvet sofa. Think simple yet elevated.
  • Fewer, bolder. Take a page from the minimalist interior design rule book when it comes to accents. You don’t need five paintings. But the hand-carved stone vase? Yes, indeed.

minimalist interior design3. Eclectic Minimalism

Perfectly minimalist. Carefully curated. The term ‘Discerning Collector’ sums up the eclectic minimalist look, which consists of distinct sculptural furniture and unique accents that all tell a story.

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The Palette: Warm neutrals, like cozy ivory and cream, mixed with pops of black is the energy you’ll find here. It’s finished with touches of light woods, beige linens, and white ceramics.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Go linear. In classic minimalist interior design fashion, keep to pieces that have strong, clean lines, like a super sleek marble dining table or a cutting-edge light fixture.
  • Play with visual textures. Details like marble veining, embossed surfaces, and woven touches are what will bring your room to life. Let them shine.
  • Showcase stories. Before you add an accent to your space, make sure you’re not just displaying it for visual interest. Here, art and objects with backstories reign.

minimalist interior design4. Refined-Rustic Minimalism

You can say refined-rustic minimalism is the elevated older sister to rustic minimalism. It has the same strong rustic streak, but this minimalist interior design style dials up the cozy with farmhouse furniture and more textures.

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The Palette: You can expect a mix of white hues and natural tones in a refined-rustic minimalist living room. There will also likely be a few pops of black metal added in for contrast.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Keep it simple. The refined-rustic minimalist space is anchored in big comfort and ease. So stick to fewer pieces, like a slipcovered sofa and a spacious coffee table.
  • Natural materials galore. A weathered-wood coffee table, a striped sisal rug, a slipcovered sofa… combine these pieces to highlight their natural beauty.
  • Make breathing room. Pick furnishings that open up a room, like a hanging mirror and a soft-colored rug. They’ll extend the minimalist vibe.

minimalist interior design5. Organic Minimalism

Simplicity and organic elements are at the heart of this minimalist interior design style. Just imagine a minimalist space grounded with Mid-Century designs and sparsely layered with natural accents.

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The Palette: Neutral hues are contrasted with warm wood and woven materials. From that you get white rooms with a cozy vibe, thanks to earthy notes from the furniture and accents.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Function with style. You’ll want to truly abide by the ‘form follows function’ principle if you’re going after this look. Pick designs with practical sizing and storage before shape.
  • Let modern be. Mid-Century Modern furnishings have innate minimalist appeal, so all you need is one or two classic designs, like a Wishbone or an Eames chair.
  • Weave in texture. The main organic touch here comes from woven baskets and rush chair seats. They pair perfectly with Mid-Century pieces, so make sure you have them.

minimalist interior design6. Industrial Minimalism

Raw and rugged, this bold take on the minimalist interior design aesthetic focuses on industrial designs that make a statement. You know the look. It has heavy-duty shelving, a big metal floor lamp, and a leather armchair that steals the show in the living room. Yes, that minimalist space.

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The Palette: There’s a lot of tonal contrast that comes from the heavy mix of leather, metal, and woods. It’s this bold juxtaposition of tones and materials that define the industrial minimalist home.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Geometry is important. With the industrial minimalist look, remember that your priority is pieces that have distinct shapes and sharp, clean lines.
  • Add subtle pattern. It’s a plus here, but you have to make sure the pops of patterns you choose are soft and easy on the eyes, like a subdued abstract print.
  • Go plush. You’ll need soft finishing touches like shaggy pillows and a patterned cowhide rug to balance out the strong lines. They’ll make your space feel more inviting.

minimalist interior design7. Monochrome Minimalism

You know by now that minimalist interior design doesn’t imply an all-white home. You can experiment with color as long as you stay within the same tonal family. That’s what sets apart monochrome minimalist interiors.

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The Palette: Focus on one color and its varying shades throughout your space. If you use an earthy brown for your living room walls, follow up with accents in tan leather and sandy hues. Contrast it all with crisp white accents.

The Key Elements:

  • Focus on negative space. You don’t want to visually crowd your space. Leave lots of blank wall space and breathing room between furniture and objects.
  • Get sculptural. With a saturated color approach, you’ll want to offset the visual impact. Seek out curvy furniture with a softer edge.
  • Monochrome palette. Technically you can translate this look into your home using any color, but our favorite spaces tend to stick with warm neutrals and pastel hues.

minimalist interior design8. Mid-Century Minimalism

We can’t talk about minimalist interior design without talking about the Mid-Century minimalist aesthetic. Think of it as the Mad Men-inspired look given the clean lines and cool vibes.

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The Palette: This is a classic Mid-Century palette of wood tones, black metal touches, and neutral upholstery. It’s a tried-and-true formula for a minimalist space that doesn’t require white as the unifying shade.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Set a mood. Make sure your furniture and colors build up a sense of drama. Try gray tones as a base and choose the color of your furnishings around that.
  • An authentic mix. Opt to include quality Mid-Century designs, like a white Tulip dining table or an Arco floor lamp, alongside other modern pieces for a more dynamic look.
  • Spread out focal points. Every piece will make a statement, so be sure to space out your furniture and accents. This will help add visual interest around your home.

minimalist interior design9. Contemporary Minimalism

If it’s a comfortable minimalist home you’re after, the contemporary minimalist interior style is for you. It’s an approachable, livable take on minimalist interior design that’s perfect for the family-friendly home since it’s rooted in clean-lined comfort.

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The Palette: Shades of white, from cream to eggshell, take center stage in the contemporary minimalist space. You’ll also find light wood and lots of woven textures, which provide contrast.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Foundational furniture first. Because this style is all about comfort, so make for cozy anchor pieces, like a plush armchair or a clean-lined upholstered bed.
  • Bring on the baskets! You’ll love having these for practical storage, but their texture and natural color will also help warm up your space.
  • Layer in a few frills. Use pops of subdued colors and soft patterns from pillows and wall art to enliven your space in a way that still feels homey.

minimalist interior design10. Urban Rustic Minimalism

There’s an earthiness to the urban rustic minimalist design look, which is informed by Scandinavian minimalism. Here is the minimalist living room where you’ll find Danish furniture alongside contemporary pieces and artisanal handcrafted accents.

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The Palette: The color scheme stems from the natural materials of the furniture. It’s all balanced with warm white tones, resulting in a minimalist interior that’s calm and collected.

The Key Design Elements:

  • Streamline your furniture. A few distinct pieces, like a Scandinavian armchair and a wooden bench table, is all you need here for a stylish and livable space.
  • Spotlight natural beauty. Highlight natural textures and materials near daylight. It will add a sense of sophistication to any space in your home.
  • Accents you love. You want to bring in pieces that inspire you. Hold out for that awesome lamp or amazing pillow. It will be so worth it.

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minimalist maximalist entryway

Trend Spotlight: Designing The Perfect Minimalist Maximalist Home

minimalist maximalist entrywayOver the past year, we’ve seen people lean into the less-is-more mantra when it comes to their home. Rather than having more things, many people are opting to live with less furniture and decor and choosing pieces that prioritize good design and rooms that are layered but not cluttered. Think highly curated spaces with a few statement pieces and a tight selection of equally bold accents.

Enter the new look that’s trending for 2020—we’re calling “Minimalist Maximalist.” What exactly does that mean? Exactly what it sounds like. On their own, many people find the styles of minimalism too sterile and maximalism too opulent, so this look is the perfect blend of the two. The style plays with the unlikely combo of a minimalist’s design principles and a maximalist’s love of patterns, colors, textures, and all things over-the-top.

We know what you’re thinking: How does all that work in the home? Find out below with a peek inside a Minimalist Maximalist home dreamed up by our expert designers.

minimalist maximalist entrywayIn an Entry

Our Minimalist Maximalist entry establishes the nuanced aesthetic right off the bat: Dramatic interiors with statement pieces and light styling.

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The Key Elements:

Show strong forms. The bolder the design, the fewer things you need. To master the look you’ll want to hone in on one or two sculptural and captivating entryway pieces that will set the stage for your home. Look for pieces like a rounded wood buffet, an angular chair, or a chicly shaped sconce.

Edit your accessories. One of the key elements of the look is minimal styling. Only add decorative accessories that truly evoke the look you want in your space, be it a set of beautiful ceramics or a compelling art piece.

minimalist maximalist living roomIn a Sitting Area

With living area furniture, sculptural upholstery will go a long way when paired with beautifully crafted contemporary pieces. It’s about playing up shapes and materials in the same space.

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The Key Elements:

Go for big curves. Rounded and curved sofas and chairs were also a big trend in the past year and they’re the perfect showpieces for a Minimalist Maximalist sitting area. Limit your pieces and don’t worry about colors too much. It’s all about the silhouettes here.

Add simple, luxe accents. By that we mean bringing in tables, lighting, and other small objects that highlight gorgeous materials and designs. Case in point: the black metal pendant and the marble and slate coffee table have a streamlined look that’s unobtrusive but still striking.

In a Breakfast Corner

Perhaps the best example of the Minimalist Maximalist look is a space with high-contrast shades—be it in a corner dining space or a vignette. Think light meets dark, but layered.

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The Key Elements:

Layer up with black and white. Find distinct furniture pieces and go full-on black and white. It will set a modern yet maximalist foundation for you to dress your space up and down as needed. The idea here is that you want a bold backdrop to work off of.

Keep to clean-lined materials. Black and white can easily feel sparse and stark but you also don’t want to add in too much. A great way to balance the high-contrast palette is to work in warm metals, like brass and copper. Just make sure those designs have contemporary and streamlined silhouettes that add drama but still feel airy.

In a Display Area

By now, you already know that this look is about adding statement piece after statement piece. You can take that approach with any room or corner, like this curated showcase of artful designs and objects.

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The Key Elements:

Bring in statement pieces. When we say statement pieces, keep in mind that we’re referring to pieces that have presence. So choose a piece that resonates with your style, be it one that has strong sculptural appeal or is painted in an unexpected color. When it doubt, consider if your furniture piece has a shape that holds your attention.

Have fewer but more impactful art. There’s no gallery wall when it comes to this look! Instead of arranging art and objects en masse, pick larger scale art and sculptures that have a minimal look. Think abstract, modern geometric art, and simple sculptures and bowls. They’re the perfect balance to big statement furniture pieces.

In a Dining Space

An attractive way to bring the look into your home is in the dining room, which is always a great place to experiment with mixing shapes and colors. Here, start bold and end with subtlety.

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The Key Elements:

Contrast sharp shapes. You already know that curvy, rounded designs play a big role in the Minimalist Maximalist room, but the key to making them work is to offset them with furniture that has sharp angles—rectilinear tables and cabinets, clean-lined rugs. It’s a push-pull tension of the bold and the soft lines that adds major intrigue.

Embrace neutrals with a pop. With sculptural forms and furniture, a neutral palette will help tone down the visual linearity. But all neutral can feel too minimal, so make sure to add in a pop of color, whether you go big with bright-painted walls or with simple small accents that add pops of vibrant colors. Think black, white, neutral, plus a pop!

minimalist maximalist officeIn an Office

Another element of the Minimalist Maximalist style is the focus on furniture and accents that add visual interest. With a workspace, you can do that by mixing stunning furniture and accessories in warm neutrals.

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The Key Elements:

Work in classic designs and finishes. One approach to maximalism is to go with classic furnishings with traditional finishes, like burled wood and mottled surfaces, along with classic forms, like trestle bases and arched lighting. These have a way of adding impact with a formal bent, so don’t rule them out when you’re looking for statement pieces.

Balance with pared-down patterns. To take the edge off of traditional furnishings, you can tone it down with modernized patterns. We’re talking about designs, like a chevron or geometric rug that’s rendered in warm neutrals. Here, less color is definitely more, and you can mix in contemporary and abstract art in similar hues to create additional focal points.

minimalist maximalist bedroomIn a Bedroom

Contrary to the super-crisp and soothing bedroom, this look calls for a daring approach with opulent designs and oversized furniture. Go for substantial pieces that are anything but boring.

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The Key Elements:

Focus on opulent designs. From a stately upholstered bed to a meticulously carved dresser, you’re going for big style and intrigue in the bedroom. Keep this approach to just the furniture pieces and scale back on your accents, which is in keeping with the overall look and vibe of your rooms.

Soften with crisp textiles. In the bedroom, you’ll want to pull in some key neutral pieces that provide light contrast. The easiest way to achieve that is to lay down a rug in soft hues and keep to simple white bedding. Unfussy, geometric art will also help bring attention to the bright, crispness of your textiles.

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