5 Cozy Minimalist Interior Design Tips

Cozy Minimalist v.s. Extreme Minimalist

Personally, minimalism is never about limiting myself to own only X number of items and depriving myself of materialism. I have come across extreme minimalists who insisted on owning just one object of each functionality: One cup, one chair, one desk. No, thank you, I think I would like to drink my coffee from an actual coffee mug and not a glass jar.

The reason that I have chosen to live a minimalist life is not that I want to deprive myself of physical items, but I want to spend less time on objects that don’t matter and focus more on the people that I love and experience life.

When I get home from a long day of work (or these days, working from home), I want to come back to a cozy home, a place where I can play some lo-fi music from my speaker, pick up a book, plop down on my comfy chair, and eat homemade dinner from a proper dining table.

Being a minimalist doesn’t mean that your house needs to be cold and dull. Here is a list of design tips that I have experimented with over the years and has worked wonders for me.

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

Tip 1: Limit the number of colors

If possible, try to limit the colors in a room down to three colors. That includes the walls, ceiling, and flooring. Many interior design guides strongly suggest having a theme color for your room. It is easy to get distracted and unsettled when too many colors are screaming for your attention.

I prefer white, wood color, and some green accents from plants.

I pick white because it makes the room looks larger and provides peace of mind for me. The whiteness serves as a blank canvas that allows me to come up with creative and original ideas.

Wood elements add a level of coziness and increase the color temperature of the room. I will elaborate a bit more on the green accent later in the article.

Tip 2: Set the right temperature for each room

Color temperature, measured in Kelvin (K), is the measurement of the amount of blue light and yellow light in a room. Instead of using walls, furniture, or rugs to formally segregate rooms, I chose different color temperatures to separate different rooms.

  • Office light: > 5000 K: Many people find it more productive to work under a bluer light color. I purposefully set the color temperature of my home office lower than the living room to separate working mode from relax mode.
  • Living room light: 3000 K ~ 4000 K: Lower color temperature creates a warm and snuggly vibe. But don’t get too warm. Make sure that you are still comfortable working in the kitchen or reading under the warmer light color.

Tip 3: Declutter

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Many people have the misconception of treating decluttering and hiding items as the same concept. Effectively storing items in neatly labeled containers on shelves is not decluttering. I have seen clients asking interior designers to add more storage for their tiny spaces. The results turn out to be quite strange, as designers are then required to come up with ingenious ways to add storages in strange areas such as under the bed, under the staircase, or creating a secrete door that opens up to a cabinet. That is a lot of effort and money spent on storing clutters.

Tip 4: Be cautious of Multi-purpose furniture

Multi-purpose furniture is great if you don’t need to transform it from one functionality to another functionality on a daily basis. Expandable tables are great only if you are planning to expand it for occasions when you have friends over for dinner. It becomes somewhat tricky when you need to transform the furniture on a daily basis. Unless you absolutely require it, beds that transform into desks are super inconvenient. It creates an illusion that you have more space, yet in reality, it creates a lot more hassle because now you will have to put away the blankets and pillows on your bed, transform it into a desk, and place your laptop and notebooks on the desk in the morning.

The effective way to have more space is to declutter and not squeeze multiple furniture into one.

Tip 5: Introduce house plants

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Photo by Rumman Amin on Unsplash

This is slightly different from contemporary design, which uses metals like stainless steel, nickel, and chrome for accents. Plants also accentuate the house with playfulness while maintaining a minimalist style. Some house plants help purify the air in your home. In fact, I would say this is a piece of great multi-purpose furniture: decoration and air purifier (wink)

Minimalism is about retaining what creates joy for you and removing unnecessary items that divert your attention away from what really matters.

This is why I encourage people around me to become “cozy minimalists” instead of “extreme minimalists”.

Have some cozy minimalist design tips of your own? Please share some of them in the comments!

Written by

software engineer (web full-stack) + Machine Learning grad student at UT Austin. I write about studying tips, productivity, and minimalism.

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