Here’s a fun fact: the smartphone you are most certainly holding in your hand is inspired by the clean and sleek design ideas of minimalism. Minimalism is, in fact, a design movement that has snowballed into lifestyle choice. However, at its core, minimal interior design was the beginning of this concept.

With our infamous crunch for space, Singaporeans have embraced minimal design quite readily. In fact, interior designers quote it to be one of the most popular and asked for interior design styles in the city. So let’s dig a little deeper to understand what minimal interior design comprises and how it can be used for your HDB renovation. 

What is minimal interior design?

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Minimal does not equal cheap!

At its core, minimalism in design is an attempt to live with fewer things to reduce distractions. This kind of design strips down your lifestyle (and by effect your home) to its bare essentials. Whatever you have in your home, be it furniture, appliances etc., you must have some use for these items.

The 90 day rule is the bedrock of minimalist philosophy. It states that if you have not used something for 90 days and don’t intend to use it for the next 90 days, you most probably don’t need this item. Books, collectibles and heirlooms are exempt from this rule.

Don’t confuse the intent of this reductive style of designing your home with frugality. Though the objects in a minimal home might be few, they are often of high value. The purpose of keeping a few numbered items is to be able to focus on the beauty of each item in the space.

A snapshot of the history of minimalism in design

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New National Gallery, Berlin, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Minimalism is not a new philosophy. In fact, it is heavily influenced by the Japanese zen style. This design style takes in its stride concepts like ‘ma’ that stands for empty space and ‘seijaku’ that stands for stillness. These simplistic principles became influential in the West after World War II. The result was eventually manifested into an American art movement in the 1960s, where it represented a renewed focus on materials. 

Why is minimal interior design so popular?

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Keeping it simple with blinds instead of curtains

While the design style itself is not a new concept, it is gaining popularity among homeowners and has a lot of reasons why you will love it. Here are some:

  • Ideas for minimalist interior design for small house are great for making compact spaces appear bigger
  • When done right, minimal homes can never go out of style
  • Since minimalist house design principles revolve around clean lines and essentials only, you can save money on bringing in too much furniture and furnishings. But minimal furniture can be slightly expensive, so choose wisely

How to spot minimal interior design?

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Essentials of minimalist design

The most obvious way to spot a style is to follow its underlying principles. Thankfully, minimalism being a style of few elements, has just a couple of basic design principles that make up its core. 

#1: Less is more

The catch words of minimalism, ‘less is more’, tend to be used somewhat loosely these days. The phase was originally coined by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, iconic German architect, and went on to become the bedrock of this style. But what do we mean when we say less is more? The focus of minimal designs is not the furniture, furnishings or accessories (read elements) in a room. The gist of the design philosophy is to curate the things you love and need to create a simple but efficient living experience. 

#2: Reductive design principles

Reductive design essentially means stripping down a piece to its bare essentials. This is particularly relevant to furniture. Minimal furniture is basic and without frills. It would be fair to say that form follows function when it comes to furniture. 

#3: Clean and simple lines

Empty space, in minimal design, is as much of a design element as furniture or accessories. Hence, it favours open layouts that stick to clean and straight lines as well as simple forms. 

What are the elements of minimal interior design?

minimal interior design

#1: Colour Palette

Just like everything else about this style, the colour palette too is basic and neutral. Think whites, nudes, beiges, tan, greys and blacks. 

#2: Patterns

Prints and patterns are conspicuously absent from the scope of design in this style. What we find instead is the use of monochromes. Now there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding monochromes because most people perceive it to be black and white. But actually it involves using a gradation of tones of the same colour to create a semblance of texture.

#3: Materials

Minimalism revived the interest in use of new and traditional materials so we have sorted the materials used in minimal interior design into the following:

  • Industrial materials like chrome, steel, glass and plastic
  • Traditional materials like organic textiles, stone, wood and ceramics

#4: Textures and Surfaces

With a limited number of colours and no patterns, textures are the last resort to create visual interest. We see a mixture of surfaces that include matte, flat and reflective. These are combined with wooden tones and natural textiles that are used to add warmth to spaces.

#5: Forms

This style favours simple forms that adhere to clean lines. Typically, there is one statement piece in every room that stands out. The rest are complementary elements woven around this centrepiece. 

FAQs on how to get the minimal look right

Q1: How to decorate every room in minimal style?

A: It is easy to incorporate minimal interior design elements in every room. Let us show you some room-wise examples of how you can do it.

Living room

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Tan brown sofa looks sleek in this space

Create a laid-back luxury look and feel in your minimal style living room. Choose essential furniture that is also functional and sleek. Have no-decor spots in your living room, like behind the sofa. Stick to minimalist decor and let the clean and simple look speak for itself.

Here is the difference between minimalism and Scandinavian: Stylish Scandinavian or Modest Minimalism?

Dining room

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Experiment with the flooring if you’d like

The right amount of quirk in your dining room will go a long way in establishing a good minimalist look. Just like we’ve done here, you can add statement pendant lights or patterned floor tiles to highlight the area. But, make sure you keep the dining set simple and fuss-free.

Here are 9 Handpicked Dining Rooms That Are Perfect for Every Kind of Home

Kitchen

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Sleek handleless cabinetry looks great in a minimal kitchen

When it come to minimal design, no home is complete without a clean and distinctively modern kitchen. First and foremost, be sure to allocate the largest portion of your budget here , since you will need the best of cabinetry material. Why? It is beacuse the sheer simplicity of minimal design shifts the entire focus to the cabinetry. A clean colour palette including white, grey, beige and so on will ensure you get it right.

Bedroom

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The only pop of colour here are the pillows

Stick to symmetry, clean lines, simple silhouettes and sophisticated upholstery. You can always experiment and don’t be too critical about the design and choices. Notice how we have used white liberally in this bedroom and added pops of colour with soft furnishings like cushions.

Home office

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Creating a home office in an open layout

For the home office, we suggest keeping it functional and simple with respect to furniture. Given that this room is a high traffic area these days, storage is a priority. Make sure you add at least one cabinet where you can keep away your documents and papers so that the space does not look cluttered.

Q2: What is the biggest challenge of minimalist design?

The biggest challenge while using minimalist design at home is making the look fall flat. You can get too absorbed in selecting clean and simple patterns and textures. This might result in a dull outcome if you do not add the right pops of colour. Also, form and functionality need to be kept in mind when going minimal.

Q3: What are the main elements of minimal interior design?

The main elements of minimalist design are bare essentials, open layout, clean lines, minimalist furniture, clutter-free surfaces, neutral colours and simple textures.

How can you design your own home using minimal design?

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Clean and basic layout
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Floating storage cabinets to save floor space

#1: All new HDBs in Singapore now have open living room layouts. However, if you have an older HDB, opt for an open layout. This generally makes the space look larger than it is. 

#2: Stick with a trio of colours per room and play with their tints and shades as required. Use of subtle textures should be prioritised over adding colour. 

#3: Singaporean homes are typically heavy on storage because the space is compact. And while we understand that need, if you want an uncluttered home, we recommend using cleverly concealed options. Under bed or bedside unit storages are very useful in this regard. 

#4: Another option is installing wall-mounted or floating furniture ensures that you have plenty of floor space. Free space around the floor makes the home look open and roomy. 

#5: Last but not least, never buy anything that you don’t absolutely need. Also, don’t hoard things that you don’t need because it leads to clutter. 

Here’s a summary of minimal interior design for you

Colour palette– The colour palette is unmistakably neutral—consisting of whites, nudes, beiges, tan, greys and blacks
– The trick is to stick to two or three colours for every room; at best relying on different tones of the same colour for some variety
PatternsGiven the sparse approach of this style, prints and patterns are largely absent from interiors
MaterialsThe material library is quite multifaceted. It includes
– Industrial materials like chrome, steel, glass and plastic
– Traditional materials like organic textiles, stone, wood and ceramics
Textures and surfaces– With limited colours and no patterns to play with, fall back on textures to create visual interest
– Surfaces range from matte to flat and reflective
– Wooden tones and textiles are used to add warmth to spaces
Forms– Simple, straight-forward forms with a partiality for clean lines
– A room typically features one stand-out piece and while that can be bold, it still adheres to the principle of simplicity in form

How Can Livspace Help You?

We hope you found our ideas useful! If you want your home to be just as beautiful, then look no further. Book an online consultation with Livspace today. Delivering safe home interiors has been our No. 1 priority. Click here to find out how interiors are being delivered following all safety protocols.

If you are in need of inspiration to get minimal interior design right, check this out: Get Expert Advice on How to Choose Colours for Scandinavian Interiors.

Send in your thoughts and suggestions at editor.sg@livspace.com.