Of all the trends to be peaking in interiors right now – from green marble veining to dark brown living rooms to curved kitchen islands – minimalism is the one I’m most excited for. It’s creeping into every design, its tendencies being felt in more and more homes around the world. And it’s making decor a much calmer thing to think about.
But what is minimalism in interior design? It’s not, as many would think, a total disregard of stuff. It’s not empty houses and totally clear surfaces and rooms devoid of personality.
If anything, it’s the opposite. A celebration of the homeowner’s personality, of their favorite things, displayed lovingly. Of being able to see them because they’re unobstructed by all the other stuff you’ve accumulated.
‘You need a certain amount of things for life to go smoothly,’ says the designer John Pawson, who is often credited as being the biggest name in modern minimalism. ‘If you have more than you need then I think things get in the way.’
His theory goes that if you continually self-edit then you end up with a space that you love, that feels like you, because you can really appreciate the items you’ve carefully chosen.
So these are the ten best modern homes that embody this sense of warm minimalism. That are calm, curated, yet anything but cold.
1. John Pawson’s Neuendorf in Majorca, Spain
Designed by John Pawson in the 1980s, this Majorcan home is airy, light, pink and with a pool to die for. It sets the tone for what minimalism looks like now – warm colors, plenty of space, but an inviting sense of ambience.
The modern kitchen is a particular treat, looking out from a platform onto just a dining table and what feels like mountains of space.
Take the full tour of Neuendorf here.
2. Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen’s apartment in Copenhagen, Denmark
Star-chitect Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, founder of Norm Architects and product design brand Menu has created a minimalist haven just outside Copenhagen.
Despite being a forerunner of current architecture trends it is, however, not exactly empty. Surfaces display objets, books sit on tables in a way that invites you to read them and this is clearly a home in which real people live a real life. But the color palette is pared back and the minimalist decor ideas come from the way in which items are placed next to each other, allowing them to breathe, or even sing. Masterful.
Take the full tour of Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen’s apartment here.
3. Grant Straghan’s warmly-toned home in London, UK
Architect Grant Straghan of DEDRAFT fulfilled all his minimalist fantasies when designing his own home. Again, it’s not characterised by a lack of things, but about distilling what you actually need to live.
In his home office, Grant has realised that all it really takes for a successful space is something to sit on, something to sit at, and some light.
Take a full tour of Grant Straghan’s home here (opens in new tab).
4. llabb studio’s tiny house in Italy
More a retreat than a home, this tiny house by llabb studio overlooks the Italian mountains and nothing is going to stand in the way of that view.
But it’s not spartan. Instead, The Hermitage can be a work space, meditation space or even tea room, with a desk and task lighting and all that you really need. Small – tiny, in fact – but perfectly formed.
Take a full tour of The Hermitage here.
5. i29’s decorative home in Amsterdam, Holland
There isn’t much in this very modern family home in Amsterdam, Holland, but that doesn’t stop what is there from being surprisingly decorative.
But instead of hanging art or using layers of textiles and rugs, architects i29 created cut away in the modern kitchen cabinets. The result is a pattern that looks like a cloud of butterflies, and a reminder that sometimes our fixtures can be the decor in themselves.
Take a full tour of i29’s design here (opens in new tab).
6. Studio Paolo Ferarri’s cabin in Muskoska, Canada
Nestled into the mountains of Muskoska, Canada, this luxe cabin is the height of the warm minimalism trend. It takes materials from directly outside it’s door – the kitchen island in local granite has to been to be believed – and like the tiny house above, lets the views be the star.
Designed by Studio Paolo Ferrari, this is yet another great example of putting just enough inside a house you can live comfortably but – ultimately – calmly. And speaking of calm, all that Dougas fir is as soothing as mountain life can be.
Take the full tour of Studio Paolo Ferrari’s cabin here (opens in new tab).
7. Cherie Lee’s luxe house in London, UK
Who knew minimalism could feel so luxe? Designer Cherie Lee purposefully kept this London home free of clutter, but what she chose to include is refined, polished and high end.
The result is a minimalist living room which still manages to have a pink sofa, a dining room with plush nectar-colored chairs and a snug with a rounded table by Bonaldo. Minimalism is what you make of it.
Take a full tour of Cherie Lee’s project here (opens in new tab).
8. Kingston Lafferty Design’s project in Cork, Ireland
This project is a fascinating example of minimalism because the palette is anything but pared back, Overall, the home is an exciting kaleidoscope of greens, blues and reds, and deep veining flickers across walls and surfaces.
But because the decoration is – on the whole – stripped back, it counts. The opulently chosen materials, the marble and the velvet and the wood all gleam, unobstructed by anything else. Kingston Lafferty Design have pushed the boundary of minimalism in extraordinary ways.
Take a full tour of Kingston Lafferty Design’s project here (opens in new tab).
9. Dean Poole’s cabin in New Zealand
As a surfer and an artist, Dean Poole was only ever going to have a visually beautiful beachside home. But his cabin in Karekare is wonderfully done. Blonde wood is used seamlessly throughout, creating a space where the eye just glides from zone to zone.
And to wake up in that minimalist bedroom, sun streaming in, must be pure heaven. Surfer’s Paradise? This is it.
Take a full tour of Dean Poole’s beachside cabin here (opens in new tab).
10. Sleeve House in Hudson Valley, New York
It’s the choice of materials that remains steadfastly minimalist in this house in upstate New York. Exposed concrete and blackened wood lead the eye in from the exterior and keep going, used inside too.
There is comfort here, and softness, in the form of comfy living room furniture, but their elegance is contrasted by the starkness of the architecture, and its minimalistic approach to design.
Take a full tour of Sleeve House here (opens in new tab).
If this has inspired you to embrace minimalism further then designer John Pawson’s book Anatomy of Minimum is the perfect place to start. It shows the best of his work, and helps to understand his principles which we can all take on board for a calmer way of life.
Buy Anatomy of Minimum by John Pawson on Amazon (opens in new tab).