Minimalist architecture is a style that first gained popularity in the early to mid twentieth century. Largely in response to the overly ornate and decorated design themes of earlier periods, minimalism embraced the aesthetic of simple elegance. A measure of minimalism’s success can be witnessed in the high numbers of home owners still choosing to adopt this pared down approach to architecture and interiors. Famous architects in the minimalist style include greats such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, of the ‘less is more’ philosophy’ and Frank Lloyd Wright, both of whom built many important and iconic buildings that continue to influence young architects today.
Contemporary minimalist architecture focuses on the original core elements of light, space and simplicity. Every detail in a minimalist design has to work hard for its place; staircases are direct and unfussy, skirting boards are unheard of, natural light spills in through large windows, underfloor heating is the neat solution to clutter-causing radiators and the color palette is pale, neutral and natural. Building exteriors often combine traditional natural products with cutting-edge materials to great effect.
Minimalist interiors often have an impossibly tidy look, which scares many people off, but this can be remedied using concealed storage walls – a key part of successful minimalist living. The mixing of materials such as stone, steel, glass, slate, brick, wood and aluminum is often employed to stylish effect and gives an interior a relaxed and calm appeal. Don’t be tempted to introduce too much ornamentation into this style of interior; the best rule is to go for quality over quantity. A cool, elegant vase with clean lines or a simple, monochrome print or silkscreen here and there, is enough to add a little personality, without disrupting the harmony of the room.
Minimalist interiors are big on space. High ceilings, long wide picture windows and floors that stretch on forever, mean that the furnishings are really given top billing – and with so much attention focused on it, it has to be perfect. Furniture stores specializing in simple, modern pieces with streamlined profiles are the best places to find contemporary sofas, dining sets and one off items.
Long, pale sofas in ivory or ebony leather have long been the first choice for classic minimalist interiors and buttoned styles reminiscent of the iconic Barcelona chair always sit well in open, empty spaces. However, leather is rarely the cheapest option and those faced with the challenges of small children, muddy dogs and an outdoor family lifestyle may want to consider going for woolen or tough cotton sofas in dirt-disguising shades such as oatmeal or slate gray. If colors are kept natural, as long as the shape and style of the furniture is true to the minimalist aesthetic, it will look fantastic.
Putting together a minimalist interior need not be difficult. Keep the focus on light airy open spaces, bold and simple furnishings, zero clutter and long, internal views. Don’t stress about being a purist, some parts of this look don’t suit every home – pick and choose the elements that work well and sit back and enjoy the results.