Secrets to minimal design

A keen command of balance, proportion and other basics

When a space doesn’t have a lot of actual items in it, you have to be even more strict with basic design rules like balance, proportion and harmony. Furniture should all be in proportion with itself — meaning nothing sticks out as too big or too small. The visual weight of a room should be balanced (meaning one side doesn’t feel too much “heavier” than any other side). There should be harmony among your furnishings; not everything has to “match” but they should complement and coordinate. And of course, if you are going to add something too big or too small for dramatic effect — go either really big or really small to exaggerate that you’re doing something intentional.

2. Quality over quantity
Again, when you’re aiming for a minimal interior space, you’re going to want to splurge when you can on high-quality and well-made pieces, since you’re not just trying to fit as much into a room as you can. Pieces that are unique finds — not just straight from a catalog.

3. In the details
Details — small touches and designs on elements in the room — are important when you’re aiming for a simple space. Maybe it’s a gold-leafed edge of a frame. A embroidered element on a pillow. Something you don’t notice at first glance in a room, but something that adds to the richness without adding to clutter. And a variety of textures continues to be an important element in minimal spaces for this very reason.

4. Neutral, calming palettes with earth tones
This could easily be disputed, as there have of course been simple, minimal spaces that rocked colour. But on the whole, when you’re aiming for a truly spectacular minimal environment, stick to neutral colours and those that show up in nature for an easy, sophisticated space.

5. Light plays a huge part
In minimal spaces, light becomes as an important element as the larger furniture purchases. Know when your light comes into your home and how it presents itself. Use window treatments to direct it how you want. And that’s just with natural light. As with the first suggestion, splurging on just one spectacular light fixture can set the tone for an entire simple space.