Design Dilemma: Cold but Beautiful | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Cold but Beautiful

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What’s it like to live in a home deprived of color, soft textiles, artwork, books, clutter?

Many of us would call it “cold.” A few others might call it “minimal.” But whatever you call it, it takes a certain soul to make such surroundings their own. For the right person, a minimal, bare room without color can feel peaceful and even exciting.

Above, a Japanese home has no rugs, no curtains, no books, no clutter, no art, no color. Below, the Danish home of an artist is also simple, but pushes into the realm of maximalism by simple virtue of a layered abstract painting, a rough-hewn wooden table, and a brick wall that adds lots of texture to an otherwise neutral environment.

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Below, the same home in stark black and white is warmed up with a rough wooden dining table and a polished concrete floor. Who would have ever thought that concrete could feel lush?

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Below is a view of the minimalist kitchen in the same home.

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While most of us would find these homes a little too stark to live in, there is a way of warming up minimalist, bare environments. Check out the photo below:

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The above room in a Swiss house/gallery has a concrete floor and wall, bare floors, no colors, and a plywood wall, but it’s actually the plywood which lends the room a feeling of warmth. Go figure.

What’s the key to pulling off a minimal, monotone room?

  • Be confident. It’s not easy to pull off this look because it appeals to so few people. Expect to hear lots of questions, like “so when do you plan on moving in?”
  • Be vigilant about clutter. Clutter destroys the cold, bare effect.
  • Find warmth in wood and stone. If you’re looking for a way to bring some interest into a minimal environment turn to rough wood furniture or architectural details. Stone can also be a way of adding some natural warmth in a restrained way. The zen rock garden in the Japanese house above is a perfect way of bringing nature into an environment that might otherwise feel cold.
  • Open up to the outdoors. Bare minimalist environments often have one trait in common: big picture windows that open up to the outdoors. It’s a way of putting the focus on the surroundings while the interior fades into the background. The reality, however, is that minimalist environments don’t work as well where there are few or no windows, and little light. Rooms begin to feel prison-like. It’s an important point to keep in mind when planning a minimalist interior.


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