Designing the perfect minimalist home

Tips to take your client’s minimalist design goals from inspiration to fruition with this guide on how to spot, outfit and protect a modern minimalist property

There is a fantastic mystery attached to minimalism: it encourages reflection, thought, restraint and smart conversation. This is especially true when it comes to designing a minimalist home.

There is a fantastic mystery attached to minimalism: it encourages reflection, thought, restraint and smart conversation. This is especially true when it comes to designing a minimalist home. Where so often there is a tendency to fill a space, clean, minimalist residences rely on the consideration of light patterns, conservation, and intuition, among other details.

While a perfect blank canvas can be hard to come by, the design principles of minimalism can transform any space into a purposeful retreat. Apply these rules of thumb when helping clients source or envision the potential of a new understated home.

Start with the philosophy of minimalist design

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Finding an identity or philosophy for a new space can come about a few ways. It may surface from a historical or local context, maybe it stems from an entire culture — like Elysium, a “place of happiness” — or perhaps it comes from a design principle such as wabi-sabi, which encourages its subjects to embrace the beauty in imperfection (cracks, scratches and a warm, visible wearing-out process are encouraged). However your client decides to shape his or her space, ensure there is a unifying principle holding the home together.

From there, look at the layout of the home. Minimalist living eschews ostentation for a focus on views and functionality. Take every opportunity to create open-space living areas by removing walls and prioritizing streamlined storage. In larger spaces, flow is secondary to purpose-led rooms and circles back to questions of use and atmosphere: how are clients living in their spaces? How much time do they spend there? What elevates these rooms, hallways or yards? Light, sound, openness? Long hallways allow for more movement; the soft curve of a staircase brings in organic form; scattered floating shelves nod to a love of linear art.

Create space and embrace nature

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Eliminating distraction is paramount to calm spaces. The items your clients display should offer a sense of tranquility. Because minimalism is a curated style, it’s the abundance of uninterrupted lines — and intentional remaining possessions — that sets this kind of home apart. Storage is paramount.

Pay attention to when and where the light lands in your client’s space as well, and preserve existing natural elements. Advise clients not to uproot foliage unless absolutely necessary: minimalism doesn’t necessarily speak to a starkness, but rather an interest in working with what is simplest. When it comes to landscaping, minimalism may mean leaving a towering oak exactly where it is. Working greenery into a recessed wall façade or interior courtyard is also a good way to easily invite in the outdoors.

Source local materials

Time and again we hear of fine materials being sourced from all over the globe. While craftspeople and artisans are not always easily centralized for our convenience, there is something to be said for going on a hunt for local raw materials. It’s an investment of time, but one that can result in a rewarding design scheme that reflects a home’s true surroundings. Eco-considerations also come into play in sourcing — the materials your clients choose have the ability to make an impact.

Additional design direction may seem more obvious: with pared-back color and a commitment to neutrals, natural materials will shine. Carry this style throughout a space via metal accents, subtle lighting design, and breezy fabric choices. In these simple spaces, distraction is gone, giving your clients room to breathe and tap back into themselves.

About Sotheby’s International Realty

Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty® network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 22,000 affiliated independent sales associates located in over 960 offices in 72 countries and territories worldwide. In 2017, the brand achieved a record global sales volume of $108 billion USD. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, each brokerage firm and its clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.