A Minimalist Shares One of the First Things That Makes a Room Feel Overwhelming

published Jan 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Huyen Do)

When designer Erin Roberts and her husband moved into their 440-square foot small rental apartment in San Francisco, the first design task they tackled was figuring out the best way to lay out the space, “making sure we had enough furniture for guests to sit on, round trays for eating dinner on the sofa, and plenty of desk space for both of us to work side by side.”

(Image credit: Huyen Do)

According to Erin, “a crowded floor plan is one of the first things that makes a room feel overwhelming, so figuring out which pieces you use everyday and which you never do is a great step.” For the couple and their small space’s bedroom, that included positioning their desk under the window to get the best light while working. She explains that they also placed their dresser inside their closet so that the bedroom would have less furniture clutter.

“By optimizing all the furniture in the room and letting there be plenty of breathing space, we already felt like it was bigger and lighter,” she wrote.

Of course, nailing the perfect furniture plan is only part of how they mastered minimalism in their compact apartment. They also completed a number of design tasks aimed at maximizing space and minimizing clutter. And the best part is… they’re tasks anyone could do in any size space to push their home in a more minimal direction:

(Image credit: Huyen Do)

They cleared all the surfaces

From the dressers, to coffee tables, desks, and the kitchen island, all flat surfaces were cleared of clutter as the first step on the road to more minimalism. “We added baskets and trays to organize lots of little items needed for everyday use, and tucked everything else in drawers and cabinets.”

They kept only what they wear

“We cleared out our closets and kept only the clothes we wear all the time, and donated everything else.”

(Image credit: Huyen Do)

They only left out items on display that they really really love

“Each item we left out on display was one we loved so much we couldn’t live without it. Occasionally when something would break or we realized we needed a new this or that, like a salt shaker, water pitcher, or broom, we purchased something that was made of a beautiful wood or had a special shape, and displayed it openly like art.”

(Image credit: Huyen Do)

They opted for fewer wall art pieces

“Over time, each functional piece ends up telling a story and is as beautiful as sculpture, so much so that we actually keep very little painted artwork on the walls.

When so many functional pieces are noticeably unique in shape, the walls can be left unadorned to rest the eye, making the ceiling seem higher, and the room overall seem more peaceful.”

(Image credit: Huyen Do)

They purchased with intention

“Having a small space can inspire you to collect with care and purge often, but the same principles work with any size home. Purchasing with intention and love creates a space that feels as good as it looks, and that simplicity is an amazing feeling to come home to.”

See Erin and her husband’s full tour: A Small and Minimal Apartment in San Francisco