Why “Intimate Minimalism” Is the Real Estate-Approved Living Room Trend You Should Know About

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Credit: Apartment Therapy

Minimalism isn’t done having its moment yet (especially as home dwellers continue to KonMari their entire existence). But if you find the tidy, bare-bones style a bit too cold for your tastes, you might warm up to the idea of “intimate minimalism,” or minimalism with a dash of personal style, featuring colorful items and statement pieces that show off who you are and what kind of experiences you’ve had.

We asked real estate experts how they define this new living room trend and what kinds of pieces you can implement to create an intimate, yet sleek space.

Pick items thoughtfully

While the conventional wisdom of minimalism (and real estate) is to keep it neat and refrain from displaying personal items, intimate minimalism is all about curating the right items.

“Instead of having that store-bought furniture catalog look to everything, it’s nice when people take the time and make sure those belongings are thoughtful, whether they’re things that have sentimental value to you or something you picked up while you were traveling or a great piece of art,” says Beatrice de Jong of Opendoor.

The main idea, she says, is to have your favorite objects tell a story.

To get that balance between cozy and minimalist, Debbie Cederlind and Lora Lindberg of Urban Squirrel Residential Restoration suggest hanging one oversized photograph or piece of art, or grouping together items from a collection. Having less, they say, will make a bigger statement.

“You get one shot to make that impact,” Lindberg says. 

It takes trial and error

If it’s been your habit to hang up and display every single one of your knickknacks and prints, it can be difficult figuring out how to pare it down to just your favorites. But intimate minimalism is all about editing, and to get that right balance of tidy and personal, it takes a process of putting things out and taking them away. The most important tenets to remember are color contrasts (keeping objects darker and colorful and walls and furniture neutral) and negative space, says Cederlind.

“You need negative space. When every inch is covered—even if they’re all wonderful objects—your eye can’t rest. You can’t appreciate each object,” she says.

Keep things fresh by switching your items, such as artwork, throw pillows, or tchotchkes out seasonally, which will give you a chance to show off all your favorite things without overwhelming the space.

Buy furniture you really love

Another way to create an intimate minimalist space is to invest in timeless pieces of furniture that you love. Trends are fun (we love a good rattan chair as much as the next person), but it’s best to think long-term when buying furniture—and to be sure not to overwhelm the space with too many pieces. “Determine what pieces of furniture are absolutely necessary to use for living and conversing with family and friends,” says Rebekah Schaaf of ReeceNichols in Kansas City.