When you live in a small space like an apartment or tiny house, minimalism is not a choice, but a necessity. The reality is there is only so much you can fit in a small space and you need to be saavy about what you include and how you design your space. The key to successfully pulling off a minimalist home is to edit your furniture down to the bare essentials and focus on functionality.
In this article we'll outline the bare essentials you need in a small space and how to pull off space- saving minimalism that is as unique as you.
Image credit: Coco Lapine Design
What is minimalism?
The first images that spring to mind when most people think about minimalism is sparse, white, sometimes almost clinical white spaces. While a white or light neutral palette is often key to minimalism because of the calming quality of monochrome, it's not essential.
Another misleading conception of minimalism is that it involves selecting some modern white peices of furniture to match the backdrop.
Successful minimalism is more deliberate and there are no hard and fast rules about specific colour schemes or furniture styles although there are definitely trends.
The biggest unifying factor to minimalist design is uncluttered, calm space.
Architecturally, this goes hand in hand with open floor plans and light filled rooms.
In terms of interior design, the focus is on well built, quality furnishings that are comfortable and functional. While white isn't a neccessity, monochramatic palettes with colour used as accents are predominantly used to create relaxing homes.
Once a room is de-cluttered, it's time to edit your furniture down to the furniture you need and use. Anything that is purely decorative needs to go.
Furniture design needs to be clear and simple, making construction and quality essential. When you strip your furniture down to a few key pieces, form and function takes centre stage. There is a particular purpose, function and aesthetic to everything in a minimally designed home.
Apart from key functional pieces of furniture, for example, a bed in the bedroom, the other consideration is storage. Ample storage is a must in minimal design as you need places to hide away your clutter rather than having all those knick knacks on display.
Let's take a look room by room at some key pieces for a minimalistic home
In the bedroom, it's all about the bed of course. A dreamy soft one you want to fall into at the end of a long day. But in a minimalist home, in order for the bed to be the hero, it needs a couple of sidekicks, namely a built-in closet and bedside table.
Ample storage allows for a bed to become the focus of the space by eliminating clutter which would otherwise create a stressful sleeping environment.
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A bedside table is not only practical, but enables you to tuck away the bits and pieces at hand so that you're not going to sleep and waking up to mess. It's a little thing, but really affects your quality of sleep as well as the design of the room.
Bedrooms should also have an ample closet to house your de-cluttered pared down wardrobe, and have some room to spare for other stuff we tend to squirrel away in the bedroom - extra blankets, books, yoga mats. Put it all behind closed doors for a serene, minimalistic bedroom vibe.
The kitchen is one of the easiest spaces to keep minimal if you have cabinetry with ample storage. The key to a minimal kitchen is keeping the surfaces clear. Put away away appliances and store jars, spices and anything out you have a tendency to leave on the counter.
You then have room for one or two purposeful decorative items like a pot plant of herbs or fruit bowl.
Image credit: Dana van Leeuwen
The key furniture piece in especially an open plan kitchen/ living area, is a spacious dining table. This is not something to skimp on, as a good dining table often becomes a multi-functional hub and is worth investing in quality craftsmanship and natural wood that will stand the test of time. You want a beautiful piece that can be enjoyed for its simplicity of form. If you have a family or like to entertain, an extendable table is a fantastic option for small spaces.
In lounge spaces a comfortable sofa is essential, but will usually need to be accompanied by some storage solutions like a coffee table with storage or a cupboard or shelves, to keep the sofa clutter free.
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You don't necessarily need huge storage systems and TV units - think about how you use your living space and where you want to put your stuff. Some people like to have bookcases in their living room, others prefer to keep books in a study or bedroom. Some movie lovers may have large collections they want at their disposal, others may not have a TV in the living room or have another room dedicated to a home theatre like space, but if you're living in a small space, it's likely the living room will be meeting all of these functions and maybe more. Think through what are the bare esstentials you need in this space, and at very least, have somewhere to place your coffee cup!
When choosing a sofa, a minimalist choice is a design that has a clean form and is not too bulky. This doesn't mean that it has to be contemporary design - there are lots of vintage finds that can fit the bill, but not chesterfields, recliners or fussy antiques.
Mimimalism begins the moment you walk in the door, adn because a key principle of minimalism is an uncluttered space, this also begins as soon as you walk in the door. You need to create a drop off point for jackets, keys and bags so they don't clutter up the hallway and also, to set the tone for the rest of the house.
Even if you don't have a hallway, creating an entrance with a hallway console table and mirror, or even some simple ushelves or hooks will do wonders for setting up a calm, minimal design for your home in providing both a design focus as well as practical pit stop on your way in and out the door.
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To achieve minimalism successfully, edit your furniture, eliminating the peices that won't sacrifice comfort and functionality. Go for simple clean designs in solid subdued colours or natural wood. Not only will this lend to the soothing calm of miminalist style, but it will also continue to stay relevant and be more sustainable in the long run.
Minimalism can be better for our environment and better for your health. Science proves that surrounding yourself with natural light can improve your sleep and boost your physical activity while decluttering your space down to the bare essentials can increase productivity and decrease stress levels.
Take one room at a time, observe your lifestyle and routines and look at what you need to prioritise room by room, making sure you have ample storage in at least one or two rooms of your small apartment or house that can accomodate all your stuff. Work out how you use each space in your home, or would like to use that space and look for essential peices that can help you achieve that. It could be a compact desk in the bedroom or removing a peice of furniture in the living room to make room for hanging a swing for your kids!
It's your home, do minimalism your way.