Design Trend – Modern Minimalist
For years, I have been integrating traditional architectural details in my designs and it is fantastic to see that finally this trend is picking up more steam. Being a traditionalist at heart, I am always trying to bring some warmth and layering into my designs. But the designer in me loves the clean lines that contemporary homes have. That is why I am happy to see a design hybrid that straddles both ends of the spectrum.
Traditional Minimalist design plays with the juxtaposition of architectural layering and streamlined furniture, or the direct opposite with a slick backdrop featuring traditional furniture and accessories. Whichever way you work this theme, you will end up with a timeless home that shows personality, has warmth and doesn’t go out of style.
To achieve this look, you need strong editing skills and be a curator of design. I know this is hard, because when you have a blank canvass, you want to bring in as many elements that you fall in love with. Often this results in overdesigned homes that don’t really work together. I recently had a project where all the inspiration images presented by the owners featured a Chesterfield sofa, and it was an integral part to achieve the overall look. But the owners did not want to get a Chesterfield sofa – as they did not like it as an individual piece. But design is not about individual pieces, it is about a total look that cohesively comes together.
Creating a design, you bring together a few elements: architectural detailing, furnishing and décor pieces. Key is to bring contrast in styles so each element stand out more. Since my preference is to work on a more detailed backdrop with clean lined furniture, I am going this route in explaining how to create a traditional minimalist home.
For the architectural detailing, use edited traditional elements. For the floors, you could use a chevron wood flooring, which is timeless and unique. While a chevron floor is costlier to install, you could opt for a herringbone variation. Either way, make sure that your planks are not too long, so the design really shines through. Pick a traditional floor, like oak, that shows off the wood grains and don’t go too industrial or raw with the finish. Keep it polished and elegant.
For the skirting boards opt for a painted version – ideally much taller than the normal 7cm you find in the market. My preference is 15cm and it can have some subtle detailing to add interest. The walls should be neutral in colour, and if possible have some texture.
Arch trim around the door frames are key to bring more texture to the design. Especially for smaller apartments, I would refrain from using wainscoting or beading on the walls, as it makes the room feel much too heavy. For the doors, use a classic pattern or a variation of a classic pattern. A safe bet is to keep all woodworks white, but of late I am drawn to walnut finished doors with white trim, so I am sure we will be seeing this combination in a few years.
Finish at the ceiling with a cornice and if your ceilings allow, you could add some beadings along the ceiling parameter. Only if your ceilings are over 2.7meters I would recommend a ceiling rose, otherwise keep the ceiling clean and neat. Curtain pelmets are ok to finish the windows, but I don’t recommend cove lighting.
Once your template is set, you can focus on the furnishing. Modern and clean lines will work the best – but the furniture should have a traditional proportion. Symmetry and balance are also important. You could include a modern Italian sofa, but have two end tables on either side, or a credenza behind the sofa, if you are placing it in the middle of the room. Texture and colour is important – if your flooring is wood, do bring some marble or glass into the design with the coffee table or other surfaces. This will break the mould and creates an up to date look.
My preference is to keep the big-ticket items neutral and work with accents that have a punch of colour. Maybe because I am a bit fickle and like to change colour palate from time to time. Having said that, if you fall in love with a bold colour sofa, go for it and neutralise it with neutral support elements like a side chair of throw cushions.
Never underestimate the importance of window treatments. Time and time again, owners neglect this important design element. Inexpensive curtains look cheap and it does affect the overall design. I know that nice fabric and quality sewing comes at a cost, but it is money well spent. So when planning your budget, keep this in mind.
Through the décor you can show your personality. Artwork, lamps and lighting and other elements in the home are the little jewels that catches the eye, creates that homey feel and add texture and layering. Take your time building up the deco pieces. In my home, I am building it up over time – so the story of our lives is told through these pieces we find on our travels or that we get on special occasions.
You can also find great statement pieces in second hand shops, on line auctions and artisan boutiques that specialise in one off pieces. I have a passion for heirloom pieces, items that have passed down generations through my family. They might not be perfect or up to date or even show the patina of life, but these are the things that make a house your home. Take your time and select items that go against the grain and ideally are not from a big box store. Bring in elements that are quirky, fun and unusual. Have at least one feature light, ideally over the dining table and I carry a soft spot for wall sconces – they are super accessories to bring a statement to your home.
Artwork is crucial to make the overall look. If you are on a tight budget, look for quality art prints and have them properly framed. In some cases, we spend more on the frame than we do on the print. But that extra texture is important to bring it all together. Finally, always add some flowers or plants to your home. It adds a freshness and a sense of luxury.