5 Myths About Minimalism You Need To Stop Believing

Minimalism is so misunderstood.

6 Myths About Minimalism You Need To Stop Believing
Photographed by Amy Bartlam.

You don't need to be a design expert to know that minimalism is one of the hottest design styles around. We see it everywhere (literally, everywhere), from of-the-moment restaurants, to picture-perfect movie sets, to posh hotels. 

But you might be surprised to learn it's one of the most misunderstood design styles, too. While plenty of people love minimalism for its clean and simple aesthetic, a lot of people give it flack for being cold and devoid of any personality. Sound familiar? 

Truth is, minimalism is a far cry from the sterile, soulless reputation it often receives. To help put the rumors to rest, two interior designers are sharing the most common myths about minimalism — and what the popular style is really like.

6 Myths About Minimalism You Need To Stop Believing
Photographed by Ana Kamin.

Myth 1: Minimalism Is Cold 

It's no secret minimalist rooms are not as vibrant as, say, a shabby-chic space filled with various colors and patterns, but don't call it "cold."

"I will admit that some people love the monastic quality of a minimalist, space in stark materials," shares Ryan Gordon Jackson, principal at LA-based firm Studio Jackson Design. "That said, the selection of the right materials such as wood paneling and stone can offer the same edited charm with warmth and texture." 

In addition to those organic surfaces, incorporate in some soft, tactile textiles in a neutral color palette. A white sheepskin rug or chunky throw blanket will make your place feel inviting, not extra. 

6 Myths About Minimalism You Need To Stop Believing
Photographed by Julia Sperling.

Myth 2: Minimalism Is Boring 

Neutral colors, sleek silhouettes, scarce details — we've seen it all before, right? While it can be so easy to file minimalist quarters under "snoozefest," they still have the ability to surprise.

"In my opinion, minimalism allows for the important pieces in each room to get proper attention," shares S.F.-based interior designer Kristen Peña. "It allows your eye to gravitate to what might be the hero and the rest of the space provides context, texture, and support."

Want to up the ante on your minimalist space? Add a "wow" factor with some artwork, pop of color, or sentimental items. 

6 Myths About Minimalism You Need To Stop Believing
Photographed by Ana Kamin.

Myth 3: Minimalism Only Works With Contemporary Spaces

Convinced a minimalist aesthetic is no match for a pre-war home with crown molding? Think again. The good news is the style works in all types of environments — you just need to know how to decorate it. 

"The selection of well-balanced materials, a good sense of scale, and the right art can work in any period or design style," Jackson says. "The sophistication of a smart, edited, and thoughtful space runs the design gamut."

So go ahead, add those sleek pieces to your e-cart — we know you want to. 

6 Myths About Minimalism You Need To Stop Believing
Photographed by Erin Kunkel.

Myth 4: Minimalism Is Masculine

Philip Johnson. Dieter Rams. Christian Grey. Let's face it: Minimalism is often times associated with masculinity. Or so we thought. Fortunately, it is possible to infuse some girl power into your minimalist space. 

"I believe, with any good design, there needs to be elements of both masculinity and femininity," notes Peña. "If there is a slick masculine chair in the design, you also need to offset it with something like a textured blanket on the sofa or a softer feeling drapery choice. A room can feel more masculine overall, but should also have some nods of femininity to balance it out."

Our advice? Embrace a maximal-minimalist aesthetic. The combination of feminine pastels infused with sleek silhouettes offers the best of both worlds.

6 Myths About Minimalism You Need To Stop Believing
Photographed by Maria Del Rio.

Myth 5: Minimalism Is So Unrealistic 

We're all guilty of looking at a person's perfectly minimalist space and ask ourselves, "How?!" It doesn't matter how many times you've watching Tidying Up With Marie Kondo or often you donate your old clothes to charity — you still have a lot of stuff lurking around your home. Minimalism might seem like a far-fetched design dream, but in reality? It's actually possible.

"To create minimal interiors you have to get rid of all your 'stuff,' right?" Peña says. "Not true. If you love books and have hundreds, you can still have a minimal interior."

The key to faking your way to a minimalist home, she says, is about investing in a smart storage system. Closed armoires and cabinets can hide the clutter, while organizing your tomes by color or size will help streamline your bookshelf.

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