When I moved from a place that looked like a Victorian pawn shop to a clean-lined Sixties house, it was the chance to embrace the sort of minimalism I’d always admired. Not stark – but calm, considered and classy. The result? Cold, uninteresting and clearly lacking something. Where was I going wrong?
|Clean and lean: (clockwise from top left) interior designer Staffan Tollgard's stunning London flat (via Living Etc.); a vintage chandelier from eBay Abbey Chandeliers; clean citrus lines from Coastal magazine; ClarkeDesai architects|
Interior define What exactly is minimalism? “It is simplicity,” explains George Clarke, architect, Ideal Home Show ambassador and fan of pared down interiors. “It is quality not quantity; design stripped to its most fundamental features; maximizing your living space so that your home doesn’t look cluttered; it is calming.”
Opposites attract Minimalism does not need to look like a sleek white box (or, in my case, a half-furnished room). Soften empty spaces with warmth – like a sofa full of velvets and fake furs in a sparse, industrial setting. “Minimalism’s power,” says Alan Hughes of the Inchbald School of Design, “is based on juxtaposition … light against shadow, wool against leather, reflective against matte.”
United colours “There is also a control over the colour palette, adds Hughes. “Usually a single pale or neutral hue,” which brings varied textures to the fore as a way of adding interest and depth. But you can still be minimal-ish with brights, by picking just one.
|The relaxed, homely vibe of this kitchen proves minimalist can be cosy, too. The image is from Pale and Interesting, the gorgeous online store run by stylist, designer and author, Atlanta Bartlett,|
Bin there Clutter can be a hard habit to kick. Try the two-stage trick: tear yourself away from useless objects by storing in the attic/garage/self-storage unit. Make a six-month date: anything you haven’t missed – charity charity shop, or rotate it with objects from home. Try also the Clutter Clinic book.
Shelve it Clear kitchen surfaces for smooth lines: Lakeland’s under-shelf baskets (£11.99) for cupboards and under-sink shelves are pure genius.
Occa Home's, above) or any dual-purpose furniture with a secret niche) and keeping corners visible to enhance an air of space. Floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall mirrors are magic too.
Loose Fit Floundering? I like the sentiment Kelly Hoppen expresses in her book Close up: Attention to Detail in Design (Quadrille): “A room that is over-disciplined is in danger of becoming boring," she writes. "And a space punctuated with too many ingredients will have the awkwardness of a badly composed sentence.” I may have to focus on writing.