What is Warm Minimalism?

Clean lines and comfort seem to be trending now. Modern design might focus heavily on the form but can miss function in relation to comfort. In British Columbia there are many instances of glorious modern design (love Arthur Erickson) but if you’ve ever had to sit on those concrete bench/ledges for an extended period of time you’ll understand my comfort proposition. There is a maximalist response to stark modernity, a loud cacophony of mixed patterns, textures and colours.

Maximalism, as it pertains to style and design, is loud, composed of mixed patterns, bold and saturated colours and is often repetitious. Elements of maximalism filtered into interior design through textured wallpaper, textured paint, wall graphics, eclectic collections of personal treasures, and vibrant colours. On occasion one might find that wonderful space that is bold and chaotic yet still makes sense; a wonderland of personal expression that utilizes the space fully. Clutter but with pattern, precision and purpose (I understand “clutter” might be pejorative) making a delightfully over the top design.

There’s a café near my office that was possibly once a maximalist icon. Now I just notice dust on and around the displayed plants, typewriters, chess pieces, lamps, ornate cornices… The grand space with 4-meter-high ceilings (13 feet) would feel cavernous in cold monotones and minimalist appointments. I understand the intention but the energy to keep the composition alive seems to have waned. Maximalism requires a conscientious curator to clean and maintain staving off the mad hoarder motif. Today, minimalism and efficiency have pushed back in the form of “maximizing space”.

The constant cleaning of the current climate has helped many see the utility in simplicity. Once you’ve stored away your Star Wars action figures or tokens of decades-long global travel, how do you cope with the vast surface area? NOTE: the biggest room in my house is 16×12… not exactly vast! The opposing pillar of course is this minimalistic approach, where function is favoured and only one or two colours are used. Sometimes austere or laconic, the space is divided and open area is favoured. Is warm minimalism the perfect marriage of these modalities?

How does one make this a reality? One coping strategy is to upgrade! Tables that were once staging areas for troves of tactile delights can be upgraded to pieces that speak for themselves. Swap melamine for wood or concrete. Upgrading the sofa so it’s the most comfortable one possible. Making home a sanctuary. Decorate with useful pieces that add a bit of comfort and volume.

Still sounds boring, right?  Pure, simple, open…like the frozen tundra? It doesn’t have to be. The illusion of space is really what most people can make by simplifying their surroundings. The silhouette of the sofa may be sleek while the throw pillows upon closer look can be fluffy and soft. The neutral tone of an area rug (without busy pattern) again can have clean lines and deep softness.

Layered styling through a mix of textures, materials and styles adds character and depth. The cohesion of these elements creates a warm harmony in the design. Colour is key in this harmony. Working in neutral tones with well built pieces and natural materials can inform the wall colour choices. A delicate curated pallet of neutral colours will weave a thread of simplicity through a home that people aren’t afraid to live in. This is something your painting contractor should be able to speak to and help you with.

So, what exactly then is warm minimalism? The softness and acquiescence to the delicacy of inhabitants are the two main additives making warm minimalism its own thing. Gone are the rigid bench seats dictated by modernists. Gone are the eye melting hyper-colour patterns of maximalist expressions. Clean, de-cluttered interiors with soft natural tones invite inhabitants to be. Natural fibers and materials gain a patina, growing and changing with the users. Versatile and sustainable interiors that get better with use. Warm minimalism might be here to stay.

Interested in learning how your interior paint colours can help you achieve warm minimalism? Give us a call for your complimentary quote today!