Sometimes less really is more, especially when it comes to your home.

Although maximalism is having its moment, minimalist home design offers numerous benefits, including less clutter and more money in the bank. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor with stark white walls and clutter-free shelves.

Even incorporating just some of the principles of minimalist interior design can make a difference in the look and feel of your space. It might even help you realize that the less you rely on belongings for happiness, and the more you embrace the power of less, the happier you can be. 

Tan and cream living room with minimalist patterns on the rug and pillows. There is a small chocolate brown velvet chair on the left wall and a cream rectangle long couch on the right wall. A large palm plant in the corner of the room with a tall floor lamp.
This minimalistic room design by Skillshare student Ariane Collman is proof that minimalism doesn’t have to mean cold and boring. 

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What Is Minimalist Design?

Home is where you go to relax, recharge, and reinvigorate—and that can be hard to do when you’re surrounded by stuff.

The idea behind everyday minimalism is to find comfort in simplicity. Minimalist home design relies heavily on the “less is more” approach, encouraging us to only hold onto items that either bring us joy or serve a specific function in our lives. Inevitably, this means getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit into either of those two boxes, a practice that requires us to think long and hard about what we own and why.

Beyond the material aspect, minimalistic designs also extend to the physical space that we inhabit. Clean lines, neutral or monochromatic color palettes, natural textures, and smart use of space and light are all integral to minimalist style interior design and go a long way toward helping create a home that’s perfect for simple living.

The Purpose of Minimalism

The basic purpose of minimalist designs is to take away everything that’s superfluous so that all you’re left with is what’s essential. Doing this frees up more of your mental and physical energy, and it also lets the essence of your space shine through.

A woven bag hangs on a coat hanger on the wall next to a glass door.
A lack of stuff makes it easy to notice the simple but stylish details in this minimalist entryway designed by Skillshare student Agata Smok.

There are some more direct benefits to minimalist home design, too. For starters, owning less means spending less, since even if you buy high-quality items you’re still buying fewer of them (and holding on to them for longer). Owning less is also better for the environment, as it breaks the cycle of endless consumerism by making you think twice before buying something to add to your space.

Ultimately, minimalism is what you make it. Some people believe that minimalist design is key to living your best life. Others are simply drawn to the aesthetic or find that a minimalist house design makes it easier to keep everything clean. Whatever your reason for opting for minimalism, you’re likely to find that you can do more when you have less—and that you don’t miss the chaos or clutter.

Basics of Minimalist House Design

While there are various styles of minimalist interior design, they all share many of the same characteristics. Use these characteristics as guidelines as you start to adopt minimalistic principles in your home, particularly if you’re going to take a more general approach.

The features of minimalist room design include:

  • Clean, simple lines in furnishings and decor
  • Focus on form and function rather than ornamentation
  • Monochromatic and neutral color palettes
  • Color as an accent, rather than a focus
  • Restraint and simplicity
  • Lack of clutter and smart storage
  • Appreciation of natural light
  • Easy and organic movement throughout the space

Minimalist design is the true embodiment of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” More than that, it’s a way to create a warm, comforting space that isn’t pulling the eye—or the mind—in a million different directions.

What About Minimalist Apartment Design?

Minimalism is a great choice for renters, and not only because it speeds up the packing process when your lease is up.

While you might be more limited in what you can do in a rented space versus an owned home, there are still plenty of ways to achieve minimalist design in an apartment. Follow the same characteristics mentioned above, keeping in mind that perfection doesn’t need to be the goal. Even if you’re stuck with garish wall colors or your windows overlook a brick wall instead of an open sky, embrace a minimalist apartment design by editing down your belongings, sticking with minimalist-inspired furniture, and steering clear of clutter.

Modern livingroom with kitchen in background. Couch and small chair are both velvet and royal blue with pink fluffy pillows. A small white fluffy dog sits in the bottom left corner.
There’s room for color and contemporary details in a minimalist apartment, but there should also be balance in the space and plenty of clean lines. (Designed by Skillshare student Sharon Jiang.)

Types of Minimalist Interior Design Styles

Minimalism encompasses several different styles of interior design. You don’t have to go all-in on one particular style if you don’t want to, but looking at what sets each of them apart could provide you with some inspiration as you make a plan for your home.

  • Japanese Minimalist Interior Design: Japanese minimalism just feels quiet—and that’s sort of the point. There’s a Zen aspect to the style, with open, airy spaces and lots of natural light. Also present in many Japanese minimalistic interiors is heavy use of light wood, sheer paneling, and low-to-the-ground furniture, as well as natural elements like stone and water.
  • Scandinavian Minimalist Design: There’s a lot of versatility in Scandinavian minimalist design, and even some room for having fun with color. But it’s still distinctly minimalistic, with a strong focus on functional pieces that are both practical and cozy. The outdoors plays a starring role, too, with large, unobstructed windows and plenty of greenery helping to bring the outside in.  
  • Japandi Minimalist Design: Japandi is a hybrid of Scandinavian and Japanese minimalist design. It’s sleek, modern, and simple, but with a high priority on comfort. Think of it like the best of both worlds in terms of minimalist styles, with an approach that combines the two while also balancing them in perfect harmony.
  • Contemporary Minimalist Interior Design: It’s not a style per se, but contemporary minimalist interior design is a framework that you can use as you determine your own unique approach. The idea is simply to incorporate contemporary elements using minimalist principles—for example, a minimalist application of trendy features like jewel tone furniture and brass accents.

Get Started on Your Space

Interior Design: Create a Plan for Your Perfect Room

Minimalistic Design Ideas

Ready to start embracing minimalism? Here are some easy minimalist design ideas for every room in your house to kickstart the transformation.

Minimalist Kitchen Design

Minimalism makes a lot of sense in the kitchen, where functionality is always a top concern. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a small space, which requires a bit more creativity to balance storage and space for chopping and cooking.

Go-to minimalist kitchen ideas often start with clearing clutter off of your countertops and investing in some reliable storage solutions. More involved options for minimalist kitchen design are things like monochromatic palettes, hidden hardware and lighting, and the introduction of simple but high-quality materials like plain white quartz for the counters or a full-slab marble backsplash.

White kitchen. With white cabinets and white painted brick backsplash. Wood countertop with plant and wooden elements.
Minimalist kitchen design shared by Skillshare instructor Erikka Fogleman.

Minimalist Bedroom Design

Just like the kitchen, the bedroom is a place that really benefits from minimalism. A minimalist space is ideal for sleep and relaxation, telling your brain to shut off when you step inside. And because your bed is usually the focus of the room, it’s a good place to begin, going with pattern-less, neutral-colored bedding and a minimal headboard—or no headboard at all.

Arrange your bedroom furniture so that there is plenty of floorspace, and if an item can live in another room, move it there. Everything visible in your bedroom should be purposed toward comfort and serenity, and everything else should be carefully stored away.

Minimalist Living Room Design

Most of us spend a lot of time in our living rooms, so a minimalist living room design is essential for enjoying the benefits of minimalism at home. As with other rooms, make good use of storage to keep clutter out of sight, but do show some personality, too. Use a minimalist staple like open shelving to display décor that you really love, and hang artwork purposefully and in simple frames.

Highlight natural light in the room by going for sheer window treatments, or ditching window treatments entirely. And if you do need window coverings, go with airy curtains instead of heavy blinds, and hang your curtain rod 4-6” above the window to bring in the illusion of more height.

Minimalist Bathroom Design

A bathroom is already a pretty simple space since you’re probably not going to have any added furniture to worry about. What you do have is added stuff, and lots of it. Make creative use of cabinet and closet space to store that stuff in a more efficient manner (i.e., off the counters), and do your best to finish off personal care products before restocking. From there, it’s just a matter of selecting a neutral palette for the space and avoiding any overtly decorative elements.

Creating Your Minimalist Interior Design Mood Board

Create a mood board with minimalist room design ideas to get inspired and organize your thoughts. This can be a physical mood board with images from magazines, though it’s even easier to create a mood board online using images from design websites and social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. The more images you pull, the more you’ll figure out exactly which minimalist details you’re drawn to and can adapt for your own purposes.

Uplevel Your Days With Minimalism

Use Minimalist Interior Design to Live Your Best Life

Written by:

Laura Mueller