Minimalism in the home is becoming an increasingly desirable trend even for incredibly successful and wealthy billionaires like Elon Musk, who recently sold his six mansions in California to move into an approximately 400-square-foot studio apartment in Texas. Aside from downsizing possessions to the bare essentials, minimalism emphasizes simplicity, functionality, neutral colours, and clean lines.
The minimalist style has its origins in the modern art movement of the 1960s, at which time abstract expressionism emerged. One element of this style was an emphasis on clean, straight lines and compartmentalized colour. Today, the minimalist style in homes is heavily influenced by Scandinavian design trends that also emphasize minimalism, functionality, and bright, naturally-lit spaces.
Perhaps minimalism has gained credence as a reaction to the materialism of much of the Western world, or perhaps it’s born from a natural desire to gain order and peace to balance our increasingly busy lifestyles. Whatever the reason, the minimalist trend has only picked up momentum during COVID-19 when more and more homeowners are focused on establishing tranquillity alongside livability in the spaces where they spend the majority of their time.
Floating elements are an extremely popular minimalist design feature because they take seriously the tenet of paring down possessions to the bare essentials. For example, one popular floating element in kitchen design is open shelving. Open shelving represents the most basic element of functionality, and there’s a definite appeal in the cleanliness of the line as well as in the simplicity of having frequently-used kitchen items like glasses and plates immediately accessible. Floating shelves are also popular storage devices in bedrooms, bathrooms, basements, and living rooms.
Another popular element for home design today is the floating bathroom vanity. Mounting a vanity to the wall rather than the floor can be a great idea because it loses almost no functionality (the storage space is approximately the same), but simply clearing floor space significantly reduces visual clutter.
The third floating element we’ve seen requested in many of our client’s homes is the floating staircase, or “staircase to heaven.” Again, this design choice makes a huge visual impact, allowing your whole home to feel open, airy, and weightless simply by keeping lines of sight open and allowing light to permeate throughout the home.
Neutral Colour Palette
The charm of a neutral colour palette may be easily seen in the Scandinavian minimalist movement. Quite often, this takes the form of white or cream paint on the walls and light wood flooring. The trick is to carry both wall and floor colours from room to room. Because minimalism emphasizes an open floor plan design, keeping colours cohesive reduces visual overload.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about a neutral colour palette is that it is boring. Instead, this palette creates the perfect tranquil and sophisticated backdrop for any smaller elements you might want to add, such as a patterned pillow on the sofa or a textured rug on the floor.
Clean carpentry is another hallmark of minimal design. By clean carpentry, we mean very refined cabinetry with smooth edges and often no handles; instead, cabinet doors and drawers open by popping out. Clever storage cabinets that are custom-made to suit the homeowner’s possessions also aid in hiding clutter.
You may be wondering how clean carpentry works with open shelving in the kitchen. The answer is that both are excellent design choices that emphasize different aspects of minimalism, so it’s up to each homeowner to decide upon their favourite expression. Combinations of clean custom cabinetry and open shelving may also be highly appealing, as this gives you the ability to hide certain items while displaying curated pieces in select locations.
Minimalist Design in the Toronto Area
If you’re sold on minimalism and you’re wondering whether you should renovate your home or demolish and rebuild it, consider the type of construction you currently have and how easy it would be to update and adapt. Many older homes in Toronto are original Victorian or else were renovated in the `80s with ornate, maximalist details. If you want a truly minimal style, it may be best to demolish your old home and rebuild a custom home with the minimal design you crave.
Getting Started on Your Custom Home or Home Renovation
Because home design elements are so paired down in the minimalist style, the quality of construction is paramount: it’s harder to hide construction and finish mistakes when there aren’t a lot of visual elements competing for attention. Because of this, it’s wise to thoroughly vet prospective contractors. An easy way to begin this process is to view their portfolio to see whether they have completed homes with the three elements discussed above, read previous client testimonials, and above all, start a conversation to inquire about their design and construction philosophy.