Modern and minimalist style homes always look luxurious and clean, and provide a relaxing space where there is little-to-no visual clutter to slow the constant thoughts swirling in our minds. Modern and minimalist décor works in both city and country homes, but achieving a look that balances minimalism with practicality without looking cold and clinical can be a challenge.
If you’re ready to declutter and create a beautiful home that feels like a sanctuary to return home to, while impressing your friends, read on for our 14 top tips.
14 Ways to Embrace a Modern & Minimalist Style in Your Home
1. Choose a Neutral Colour Palette
Before you start worrying about the details, your first step should be to choose a palette of neutrals that will form the base and determine the colours you use. You can take this in any direction you want – do you want to use light, sandy colours that are so common in Scandinavian design? Or are you looking for something much darker, richer, and reflective of the city outside?
The colour palette should incorporate natural tones, so think about the colours that make you feel like taking a deep, relaxing breath. Do you prefer greys and stone colours? Browns, moss greens, or touches of light blue? Do you prefer bright, light spaces, or dark and cosy? If you’re not sure, scroll through Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration and save images of the kinds of hues you want to use in your home.
If you want to use splashes of colour, do so sparingly. Think a bowl of lemons and a couple of yellow-accented pillows, rather than a yellow couch. Stick to white, grey, beige, stone and wheat shades, nude, and natural shades of green for your base, and accent with one or two touches if you love a pop of colour.
2. Use Smart Storage Solutions
Are you embracing a minimalist way of living as well as the style, or do you simply like the clean lines and open spaces these styles create? Either way, smart storage solutions will be key. To properly achieve a modern and minimalist style, you need to effectively hide most of those “life” things that tend to get left out and get in the way.
If you have the budget, consider upgrading your furniture to provide smart storage, such as couches with in-built storage. If that’s not an option, look into containers and drawer tidies that can help you keep drawers and cupboards organised and pack as much in as possible.
If necessary, nominate a cupboard or a space (such as the attic, shed, or garage) to hold the overflow. Do you remember that episode of Friends where Chandler finds Monica’s secret shame cupboard that’s stuffed with stuff? Think that, only better organised!
3. Use Clean Lines
Without clean lines, your minimalist, modern look will fall short. Clean, almost sharp lines are essential to this style, so embrace it wherever you can. Choose sharp edges and hard textures for your largest pieces of furniture and soften with accessories (which we’ll cover next).
4. Soften with Textures
The textiles and textures you use in your home will soften the hard edges of your furniture and can create visual interest without busying a space. Consider using a rug with a long pile, a faux fur blanket or cushion, oversized knit cushions and woven baskets for storage.
You can also use plants, but choose your containers and style carefully. Artificial plants will ensure you don’t have to manage the extra growth or end up with a plant that no longer works in the space. Choose containers in natural colours and textures, such as wood or slate, and choose plants with a defined shape. In luxury spaces, artificial topiary balls in containers work well, small, uniform artificial succulents can work in relaxed spaces, and if you have more space with high ceilings, you can also use something like a large artificial palm plant.
5. Carefully Select Lighting
Lighting is extremely important in any space, but you need to be very intentional in modern and minimalist designs. During the day, make the most of your natural light, so make sure your drapes, blinds and curtains draw back to the very edge of your windows, especially if your living spaces aren’t south-facing. A good tip for this is to choose (or extend) your curtain rod just a little wider than your window. In rooms with high ceilings or small windows, fix the curtain rod as high up the wall as possible, as the additional length will help make the space feel bigger and lighter.
Consider what mood you want your room to have on dark days and at night. If you have low ceilings, choose simple light fixtures and keep them close to the ceiling. Hanging lampshades and fixtures are very in style, but avoid them if they’ll hang at head-height or lower, unless they’re over a dining table or kitchen island.
Also keep your accent lighting simple, and use a few bigger pieces over lots of little lamps, which can make the space feel cluttered. To break away from wall lights and standing lighting, consider using fairy lights in a bottle with dried pampas grass or backlight a container with an artificial topiary ball with a small light or fairy lights – this will help bounce light off the wall and create visual interest while making the space feel bigger.
6. Use Mirrors to Create More Space
Mirrors are a great way to add interest to a room, give the appearance of more space, and bounce light around the room. Go for larger mirrors with a simple surround in a colour that matches the rest of your décor – gold, brass, white and black work well. Large floor mirrors instantly elevate the room, and you can place artificial topiary balls or a vase in front of the mirror to complete the look.
7. Start Outside
Start your modern and minimalist design outside the front door to create a greater sense of flow from the outside in. If you have a front garden, make sure any grass stays cut short (or use artificial grass), and use things like box bushes and artificial topiary to decorate. Blue, black, or plum slate also works well in place of grass, as do Scottish pebbles (large pebbles about 1-3” in diameter).
If you’re working with limited space or live in a flat, consider using hanging artificial topiary balls on either side of your front door, or place them in small, modern planters on either side of the door. This look can work wonders for flats where you have few ways to make your home stand out from all the others in the building.
Continue these same themes out the back door onto the balcony, deck, or patio.
8. Go Handle-Free
If you’re investing in new pieces of furniture, look to Scandinavian-style pieces that have drawers and cupboards without handles, but use the cut of the wood to create hand-holds. This gives the smooth, seamless design that is so popular in modern and minimalist designs. If that’s not an option, choose handles that are the same colour as the furniture.
9. Create Focal Points
The modern and minimalist spaces we see in the pages of interior design magazines and on Instagram always use focal points to draw the eye, and you can do the same thing in your home to great effect. Minimalism and modern designs are perfect for this because you don’t want a lot of clutter. Consider using just 3 items in narrow spaces and no more than 7 for larger spaces (though, of course, take these numbers with a pinch of salt!).
For example, place a rug, armchair, and cushion in a hallway, or a planter, artificial topiary ball, and art print. You can exclude curtains and drapes from this number, but include books and other trinkets that distract from the minimalist style.
10. Incorporate Nature Carefully
You need to be careful about how you incorporate nature, but it is also essential to modern and minimalist designs to keep them from looking too hard. The key here is to be strategic and don’t choose anything too busy, such as big floral prints. Use natural wood tones, stone, and choose just a few essential plants for the space. Artificial topiary balls ensure you keep the clean lines, while dried grasses soften the look. Choose just one or two large artificial plants if you have room.
11. Select the Right Art Prints
A common theme in modern and minimalist design are large art pieces. You don’t typically see gallery walls of family photos, so consider keeping those in your bedroom or hallway, and keep picture frames consistent and minimal. You can choose whatever kind of art calls to you, but simple, abstract pieces work particularly well. Tapestries also work well.
If you have the space, another idea is to stand your artwork on the floor or on a side table and stack it together, slightly overlapping. This gives a cool, art gallery vibe, and can give a space a little more dimension without taking up significant wall space.
12. Embrace Open Plan Living
Try to create open plan spaces where possible, as this is another hallmark of modern and minimalist designs. You don’t need to go knocking down walls either, you can consider using doors with windows or remove doors entirely, if it makes sense to do so.
If you already have an open plan living space, use natural dividers and differing heights to create different living areas. For example, a sideboard behind a sofa with three square slate planters and artificial topiary balls will divide the living area from the dining. Similarly, using hanging lights over the dining table or kitchen island will break the line of sight and help create separate living spaces, while reaping the benefits of the open plan design.
13. Create an Indoor Garden
Indoor gardens are extremely popular in contemporary modern interior design, and it can be done to great effect even in small spaces. There are a couple of ways you can take this, but the key here is to continue the clean lines and avoid a wild, greenhouse look.
One way is to use an artificial green wall, which is where one entire wall is covered in various types of artificial plant. It’s a great way to add texture and colour to a wall that is otherwise boring, such as an awkward hallway or even an outside wall that faces a window. If you like the idea but think it may be too much in a small space, use multiple artificial moss panels to get a similar effect with less volume and more white space.
Another popular way is to find a small space and add gravel, stepping stones, and a few artificial plants. You can click here to see an incredible idea for this, which incorporates a large skylight, but you can use a small space such as under the stairs or the end of a hallway for a similar effect. You can use artificial topiary for a luxury, well-groomed look, or use artificial bamboo or palm plants if you want something a little more relaxed.
14. Edit & Prune Often
While your artificial plants will ensure you don’t actually have to spend time pruning plants, you should always look at what you have in your home and think about if it really has a place. The key to minimalist and modern styles is to emphasize the necessary, so if you find you suddenly have a lot of clutter on the side, it’s time to reorganise.
A modern and minimalist style home creates an environment where you can easily destress and relax from the busy world outside. They’re easy to keep clean, because surfaces are clear, and you can cherish the items you do have on display. You’ll also start to have a place for everything, which will make it much easier to find the things you need when you need them.