7 Ways to Add Warmth to a Mostly Minimalist Space

published Mar 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

What is it about minimalism that always makes us a little weak in the knees? It doesn’t matter if it’s one of Philip Johnson’s iconic glass houses or a set from our favorite movie, there’s something about those clean lines, pared-down details and neutral color palette that makes us feel like we’re in a stylish sanctuary.

But while there’s no doubt minimalism oozes luxury, the lack of colors, prints, and quirkiness can make the covetable style feel a little, well, lifeless.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Your home is a reflection of yourself and, regardless of the style, it should feel warm and welcoming to you and your guests.

If warming up a minimalist space feels like Mission: Impossible, relax—we asked a few design experts how to do so like a pro.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

1. Welcoming Walls

“Adding decorative accessories can instantly brighten and bring warmth to a space. Try incorporating pieces that are both functional and stylish, like a tapestry. Tapestries create depth and add visual appeal to a wall, but can also be used as a room divider for a small space. The best part is that they are easy to swap out when you are ready for something new.” —Allison Spampanato, SVP of product development at Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen

“Great art. When art is your statement piece in the room, you create a focal point that distracts one from focusing on the minimalist vibe. Use art to create a central, conversation piece.” —Alessandra Wood, interior design expert and vice president of style at Modsy

(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

2. Back to Basics

“To warm up a minimalist palette, keep a monochromatic color palette and load up on varied textures. Incorporate warm natural grain wood and style with living things, like branches, flowers, and trees for a more inviting space. Look at your appliances, and try to swap out cooler-toned materials like marble and nickel for warmer options like limestone and brass.” —Brittany Zwickl, principal partner at STUDIO LIFE.STYLE

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

3. A Touch of Textiles

“Textiles, textiles, textiles. I really love a lived-in minimal look and adding layers of functional comfort, if you will. Floor pillows for coziness, beautiful drapery for added warmth, layered bedding in the right materials. Linens are lightweight and breezy where wool-blends can add some heaviness, paired together you get the best of both.” —Michelle Dopp, textile designer and founder of Fabric & Steel

4. Pared-Down Patterns

“Add layers of subtle color and pattern to your space. You can use minimal and of-the-moment patterns like our terrazzo removable wallpapers, layered with other neutrals in the space. Terrazzo has a slightly warmer tone, so it warms up a space, especially paired with camel and tan hues.” —Elizabeth Rees, founder of Chasing Paper

(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

5. Warm Whites

“To ensure that your space still feels warm, I’d start with the room’s biggest canvas: the walls. Choose a white that isn’t a stark white and instead has some depth to it. I recommend EasyCare Paint Coconut Milk.” Camille Styles, lifestyle expert and EasyCare Paint brand ambassador

(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

6. Get Lit

“Color and light play a major role in our comfort in minimalist spaces. These days, LED is a huge trend but often casts a cold, blue tone on our environment. If you want a warmer entertaining environment in a minimalistic home, my suggestion is to select beautiful simplistic lighting with low wattage Edison bulbs. Selecting a fixture with warm filament bulbs will not only create the ‘mood’ you seek but will also demonstrate your personal decorative style.” –Ben Marshall, creative director at Hudson Valley Lighting Group

“Candles might seem like an obvious answer for all the glow and warmth they bring, but because they typically have such clean and simple forms, they often aren’t doing much visually to break up the minimalism. These Areaware ones are an exception, though: They have great shapes, and, since they don’t need holders or containers of any kind, you don’t have to worry about added clutter.” —Erica Cerulo, co-founder of Of A Kind

(Image credit: Federico Paul)

7. Seeing Red

“Paint one thing a warm-toned color; it could be bright red such as Emperor’s Silk, a warm brown like Coco, or an earthy coral like Scandinavian Pink. Paint anything; the floor, a piece of furniture or even the ceiling. This will create warmth without clutter.” Annie Sloan, color expert and founder of Chalk Paint