Design Dilemma: Making Minimal Livable | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Making Minimal Livable

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It’s cool, it’s chic, it’s artsy and classic. In fact, decades after the “minimal look” first appeared on the design scene, it continues to be a favorite among designers, architects and homeowners. Minimal furniture (and the fewest number of knick-knacks possible) can do exactly the opposite of what you might imagine. Instead of drab and sad, a minimal space can look high-impact and dramatic. Architectural details and features suddenly pop out.  Light shines through. Somehow, an uncluttered space suggests abundance and affluence (or at least good taste) rather than paucity or scarcity. A minimal home is like a woman who resists slathering on makeup. She knows that no matter how beautiful she is, too much make-up will only call attention to the make-up, not her beauty.

Many of us already know this instinctively, and that’s what keeps minimalism so popular through the decades. But some of us who have accepted the philosophy of minimalism are grappling with a different question: how can we achieve a minimal look  that still works for daily life?  Can minimal be clean and chic, but cozy and comfortable too?

  1. Choose furnishings with the utmost care. If you’re going for minimal, every piece of furniture you own has to be functional, comfortable AND beautiful. You can’t waste space with a chair that is comfortable and ugly, or with a sofa that is beautiful but uncomfortable. Every stick of furniture in your home must fulfill the twin requirements of function and beauty.
  2. Don’t abandon decorative touches. Yes, a woman may wear minimal make-up but she’s usually doing herself no favors if she wears none at all. Small, carefully selected decorative touches can have a special impact in a minimalist space. A single painting, a dramatic houseplant, an interesting pendant lamp, a beautiful rug, can warm up a  home  without seeming overdone or cluttered.
  3. Make use of built-ins. You love minimalism but you have plenty of books. How do you handle them? The secret:  incorporate plenty of built-ins that can stand in for furniture. So if you have books, opt for built-in book shelves. If you love television but you don’t want a lot of audio-video equipment cluttering your home, think about a built-in projector. Built-ins can include dining nooks, window seats, built-in couches and chairs, and storage units. In the room above, built-in shelves provide a space for books without interfering with the pared down look of the room.
  4. Go  multi-functional. Everything in your home needs to do double-duty. A coffee table needs to function not just as a place to set a coffee mug, but as a storage unit for books, magazines or toys. A couch needs to function as seating, but also possibly as a bed for guests. Chairs should be light and mobile enough to function as seating for long conversations, or as theatre seating for television viewing. If furniture can’t serve more than one purpose, it shouldn’t be in your home.
  5. Pay special attention to materials. It’s hard to fudge mistakes in minimal homes. For instance, we’ve heard of  homes with beautiful concrete floors that can’t be cleaned without getting stained. That’s not functional or beautiful. So when you choose flooring, countertops and fixtures, make sure you choose resistant, hard-wearing materials that can stand daily wear and tear, because after all, not much can be swept under the rug in a minimal home.
  6. Relax the rules, just a bit. Let’s say you’re afraid that a minimalist home will feel bleak and colorless. Well, feel free to break a few rules! Introduce colorful ethnic rugs in your space, or a fluffy flokati pillow. In the kitchen below, a few measured decorative touches — like throw pillows and house plants — counterpoint the crisp modern laminate cabinets.  A few unexpected twists will make your decor feel fresh.
  7. Tweak  your home as time goes on. You may start off with a completely minimalist home, and find that over time, more treasured objects make their way into your space. Or you may start off with a cluttered home, and slowly eliminate unnecessary objects. Whatever tack you take, maintaining a home that really works is always a process calling for constant reevaluation: is an object worthy of bringing into your home? Will it serve a purpose? Is it beautiful enough? Is it comfortable enough? If you think carefully as you furnish a minimalist home you will find its possible to make a simple interior lively, eclectic and comfortable, too.
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