Minimalist living room ideas are all about taking the less-is-more approach to decorating.
In this busy modern world, having a restful sanctuary to return to has never been more important, so it’s no wonder that homeowners are turning to the principles of minimalism and creating pared-back spaces perfect for switching off and unwinding.
But what is minimalist design, you ask? Minimalism itself is rooted in the principle of ridding your home of clutter. It is about harnessing the power of a 'clean' space that is limited to just a handful of key pieces and meaningful items.
This design philosophy also centers around a sustainable and more efficient way of living.
Minimalist living room ideas
Minimalist living rooms can be tricky to get right. Creating a pared-back space that also exudes luxurious comfort can be a hard balance to strike, but with careful consideration it can be achieved. To help get you inspired we’ve rounded up a host of living room ideas with a minimalist aesthetic along with some expert advice.
1. Embrace a warm neutral palette
Decorating with white is often the default for a minimalist living room, however, this can often leave spaces feeling cold, especially if the white is a brilliant or cool white. Opting for a scheme of warm neutrals such as stone tones, beiges and creams will ensure a the room feels relaxed and inviting, which is important when it comes to living rooms.
In this space the light, exposed plaster walls create a pared-back yet textural foundation while sculptural furniture with sinuous shapes take center stage including a curvaceous living room sofa from Ligne Roset (opens in new tab) which is upholstered in a soft, tactile fabric to bring an element of coziness.
2. Add structure and depth with dark tones
While minimalist living rooms often conjure bright, streamlined spaces, you needn't be limited to a white palette – decorating with black or deep shades of charcoal grey and brown as part of a neutral palette can create real impact and bring depth to the space whilst still feeling serene.
In this black and white living room, the dark grey Mark Alexander (opens in new tab) wallpaper, striking black chairs and black coffee table all add drama but are balanced by equal amount of white to keep the scheme feeling fresh. Living room furniture with simple and elongated silhouettes ensures the scheme remains feeling sleek and minimal.
3. Furnish with sculptural pieces
To maximize the feeling of space in a minimalist living room, furnishings are usually limited to a handful of essential pieces and living room wall ideas are pared right back. In place of artwork, color and accessories furniture often takes the lead and serves more like pieces of functional sculpture. When choosing furniture, opt for striking forms and iconic designer which will create a focal point and don't be afraid to mix up styles from different eras as demonstrated in this mid-century modern living room idea.
'I am a firm believer that in every era there is incredible design and I pull from lots of different periods – I love mixing deco, Bauhaus, mid-century; sticking to one era can be a bit one note,' says interior designer Kelly Wearstler (opens in new tab).
'I start sourcing furniture early on in projects, and taking time to find the right pieces makes all the difference. I’m always looking for a balance between vintage and contemporary. If I buy a new sofa maybe I’ll look for a vintage coffee table, so they offset one another.'
4. Opt for recessed shelving
Minimalist living rooms are all about maximising the feeling of space. Opting for recessed living room shelving over freestanding pieces of furniture and storage ideas is a wonderful way to keep the the walls and floorspace clear so that the room feels more streamlined and open.
When decorating shelves, 'it is important to consider the spaces you leave empty just as much as the spaces you fill,' says Simon Temprell, interior design manager at Neptune (opens in new tab). 'Try to avoid lots of small objects and instead concentrate on more considered items that have presence and form.'
'In a contemporary interior, consider arranging your books in blocks of colour for an abstract effect. Alternatively turn your books around, putting the spines to the back, to create a textural effect that works best with books you don’t need to find in a hurry! And if you are looking for something sleek and modernistic, you can cover your books with white craft paper and create a stylish antidote to the traditional library,' he adds.
5. Pare-back art and accessories
When creating a light-filled and relaxed living room it's always best to remember remember less is more says Genna Margolis, interior designer and founder of Shapeside (opens in new tab).
'You don’t want furniture that is going to fill the entire space. You want pieces that that still leave a lot of room so size of pieces should be a little bit smaller than usual to get the look. And, when it comes to wall decor, 'do not over do it,' she says, 'you want to have decor on the wall without over covering the wall space.'
Here, artwork is limited to a single dramatic mountain scene, carefully chosen to balance the dark charcoal chairs opposite. As an alternative to accessories and wall decor a statement living room ceiling light acts as a piece of hanging sculpture overhead.
6. Paint and decorate in a muted color palette
Minimalist decor and small living room ideas go hand-in-hand, so it pays to keep your color choices simple.
‘The color palette and materials that are chosen can also have a huge impact on the overall design,’ says Simon Tcherniak, Senior Designer at Neville Johnson (opens in new tab).
‘A minimalist combination of neutral, muted tones and rich wood finishes will display simplicity that will remain timeless, even as the style of the home evolves.’
7. Stick to a monochrome scheme
Black and white living room paint ideas always look smart. A monochrome decorating scheme is a minimalistic choice that requires an element of bravery, as it requires careful editing and a strong design eye.
This type of interior can also appear ‘flat’ if you don’t introduce texture and subtle tonal variety. But put together carefully, it’s a great way to enhance a minimalistic living room.
Tone and texture are important. Remember that the most successful monochrome interiors combine movement and depth with tactile pieces to create a warm and inviting minimal scheme.
8. Chanel a Mid-century modern aesthetic
With their timeless aesthetic and pared-back style, mid-century modern living rooms are enduringly popular with minimalist enthusiasts.
Characterized by clean, straight lines and flowing organic curves, mid-century style and minimalism complement each other beautifully. Simplicity in design and styling is key, along with a lack of ornamentation and a limited color palette.
9. Experiment with texture in a minimalist scheme
If you think you can't use texture in a minimalist living room, think again. Embrace warm minimalism by introducing luxurious furnishings coupled with streamlined furniture for a cozy feel that still feels contemporary.
'The layering of materials, colors and shapes all amount to give your interiors an overall texture which can define the look and feel of a space,' says Martin Waller, co-founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab). 'Glossy surfaces like polished chrome, shiny marble and smooth leather, all in tonal shades, give a room a sleek, modern appearance.
10. Take inspiration from Scandinavian design philosophy
Wondering how to design a living room that is minimal yet warm? The soft minimalism and mixed colors of Nordic design are perfect for creating chic, understated interiors.
Scandinavian style has become something of a conventional design staple – ubiquitous, mass-produced and endlessly reinterpreted. However, in its original form, the clean Nordic aesthetic never loses its appeal.
To create a Scandinavian living room, choose beautifully crafted forms, natural materials and a pure, pared-back color palette. The essence of the look lies in its clean lines, repeating shapes and a soft minimalism that aims to be crisp without feeling stark.
Consider whether every element is essential and take away those that are not. Minimalism, it turns out, is not just about objects. It’s a mindset that helps you let go of the things that don’t matter, and no longer serve you.
11. Decorate a small minimalist living room to perfection
Most palettes feature white, grays, sky blues and cream: muted basics that work well together and can carry a brighter accent color in moderation.
Balance this with layers of wood and texture. Furniture and flooring in pale timbers, such as maple, adds classic warmth. For a richer look, darker woods can be substituted. Alternatively, try using a gray oil to tone down the yellow in woods, such as pine and oak.
Pattern follows similar rules. Minimalist style in a small living room calls for geometric abstraction, prints inspired by nature and line illustrations. But it’s possible to incorporate more detailed motifs across fabric and wallpaper, as long as you stick to your original palette.
12. Think about the position and location of your living room
If your house is located somewhere cold, include a column-style wood burner, but tuck it into a corner.
And don’t forget to emphasize the importance of light, a key feature in the minimalist movement. Simply-designed living room lighting ideas with visible bulbs will be both practical and attractive.
13. Dare to go for a pure white scheme
Designed by Joyce Downing Pickens of JDP Interiors (opens in new tab), this modern home in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco is a minimalists dream.
If you can't make up your mind color-wise, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going for an all-white living room and adding color and texture with your decorating choices, as Joyce has done here.
There’s nothing cleaner or crisper than a pure white scheme. Whether it’s a high gloss design or a traditional country one, it’s a look that lasts, no matter what the latest craze is.
14. Embrace Japanese simplicity and elegance
A mash-up of elegant Japanese minimalism and rustic Scandinavian simplicity, the Japandi living room trend is a hybrid of the best elements of two much-loved styles.
Go for a Japandi aesthetic if your home is your sanctuary and you take a less-is-more approach with uncluttered spaces, clean lines and a calm, subdued color palette.
At the same time, you want your living room to feel relaxed and comfortable, lived-in and homely, so finding a balance between minimal decor and cozy living room ideas is key.
This pared-back look will work in any setting. Plus, choosing quality over quantity will give small living rooms space to breath,.
15. Be selective with storage in a minimalist living room
Another element to consider is functional storage. It is important to be selective when choosing furniture. Storage is key to help create this pared-back look – a wall-hung unit will keep floor space open and clear.
‘Working clever, personalized storage into your living room will allow for a streamlined design, with the option of discrete open and closed storage,’ says Simon Tcherniak, Senior Designer at Neville Johnson.
‘This enables rooms to feel uncluttered so that statement finishes and architectural features can take center stage.’
How do you style a minimalist living room?
Minimalism used to mean stark, glossy furniture with a sleek, mid-century vibe. Now, it’s warmer and earthier, with a blend of Scandinavian and Japanese accents.
Take the clinical edge out of an all-white scheme by working in some bohemian living room ideas, such as rattan lighting, artisan-style vases, a chunky wool rug and rustic raw wood furniture.
Color comes in the form of neutrals inspired by natural earthy tones – brown, caramel and dusty sienna.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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