8 Steps to Create a Cozy Minimalist Home

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I’m a huge proponent of minimalism, but decorating a home with less is tricky. If you look in magazines and through Pinterest, most of the homes are full of stuff. Bookshelves are filled with knick-knacks, books, and artwork. So how do you have a put-together home without adding more clutter?  How can you have a cozy minimalist home that is welcoming?

When most of us envision minimalism, we think of stark white walls, a single sofa, and maybe a lone painting. That may work well for a swanky bachelor pad, but come-on, what does a REAL minimalist home actually look like? Ya know, how about a minimalist family home? We don’t want guests to look at us like we are aliens who lost everything we own in a freak accident. Don’t we all want our homes to have a lived-in welcoming cozy feel?

To be honest, I’ve never felt like I’ve had this decorating sense dialed in. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to spend the excess money, go shopping, or whatever lame excuses I may have. Bottom line, my home works, but I don’t love every look in it. That’s why I read, “The Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff” by Myquillyn Smith. Let me tell you, Myquillyn walks you through her philosophy and how to discover your own style without taking a quiz. I actually took away quite a few new tools in my design toolbelt.

Here are a few of the insights I gleaned from this binge-worthy book… (I read it in an evening). Each step is meant to be followed in order, so you don’t have to over buy items that you don’t need. Myquillyn recommends focusing on one room at a time, so you create momentum. She equates this to Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball.

8 Steps to a Cozy Minimalist Home

ONE

Discover Your Style: 

Myquillyn believes that we all have a personal style, we just have a hard time knowing it and expressing it. She recommends that you create Pinterest boards for each room you want to redo i.e. living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc. You should pin with purpose and passion. The more you pin, the better.  Check out the Pinterest boards I created to give you an idea about how to create your own dream boards: kitchen, bedroom, living room, dining room, kids playroom, and work space.

Sit down with a few friends who have homes with a style you admire and ask them to look through your pins to see anything in common. By having other people look at what you like, can give you a better understanding of yourself and your own style.

TWO

Let Your Room Speak:

Work one room at a time and remove everything- curtains and all. Pay attention to the space and what you have to work with. Determine what are the highlights of the room. Do you have a fireplace, a window with a great view, interesting architecture?

Myquillyn talks about the overall feel of your home. If your home feels rustic, add the opposite. By adding some industrial modern pieces into a rustic home, you create balance. Most of us don’t want our home to look like a movie set, so don’t put rustic headboards in a rustic home unless you want your home to look country.

THREE

Start Slowly Adding in Furniture:

Start with the most important pieces, like the couch. She talks about primary and secondary seating. Don’t look back to where you have put furniture in the past, allow the room to speak and determine where it should go.

Myquillyn recommends leaving space behind a sofa instead of putting it directly against a wall. Then slowly add in secondary seating i.e. loveseat, recliner, chair, etc.

FOUR

Add Rugs, Drapes, and Lighting:

In “The Cozy Minimalist Home,” Myquillyn tells us that rugs, curtains and lighting can add the most style without taking up massive amounts of space. Most of us are buying too small of rugs and and too short of drapes. Small rugs make a room look small, so don’t choose the typical 5’ x 8’ rug. The bigger the rug the better. If you don’t have small children, a jute rug is an inexpensive rug and can come in very large sizes and adds texture.

When it comes to curtains, most people hang curtains right above a window. She recommends hanging them as high as possible to give the illusion of larger windows, hence you need longer drapes.

Myquillyn is a huge proponent of secondary lighting because overhead lighting is harsh and hurts our eyes. Most rooms should have three different lamps, sconces, or some other secondary lighting. Choose the larger lamp to give a stronger visual impact without adding clutter.

FIVE

Paint the Walls:

You would think that you’d want to paint the walls when your room is completely empty, but she doesn’t recommend it. Once you have the drapes, rug, and furniture put together. It is much easier to choose a paint color to match with existing decor than to try to match an existing paint color.

SIX

Put up Artwork:

For a minimalist style, you want the most impact with the fewest amounts of items. So, go big here. Put the oversized painting up, choose the larger mirror or architectural find.

Myquillyn talks about the ⅔ rule. Artwork, a t.v., really anything should be ⅔ of the size of what it below it. If you want to put artwork above your sofa, the piece should be roughly ⅔ of the size of the couch. Most people put something smaller there and then end up having to add more to it because it just doesn’t look right.

SEVEN

Add Accessories:

Instead of filling your home with loads of knick-knacks, choose larger statement pieces. Focus on texture, scale, shape, and mass to create a put-together look.

Add in large plants for added impact. You can even add branches, evergreens, and flowers from your yard. Myquillyn discusses how to decorate your home seasonally without all of the extra items that need to be rotated throughout the year.

EIGHT

Get Rid of the Rest:

Instead of purging to see what is left, this method focuses on what you love and what works. Everything else you can get rid of. Hence, what didn’t make the cut, donate, give, or sell. This is reverse decluttering.

I wanted to use the new techniques I learned from “The Cozy Minimalist Home” with this shelving area above our murphy bed.  The first picture had a set of drums there, I’m not sure why, so forget that was there. I used items I already had in my house to decorate this area. It’s clear to see that my after is much better than my cluttered before photo.  The texture of the bead board on the back of the shelves is so much more prominent once I used the Cozy Minimalist Method. I was surprised with how much more impact these items had when I displayed less.

I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a better philosophy on how to decorate with a minimalist style that is still cozy and welcoming.  

The biggest unanswered question I am left with was how do you decorate like this if you rearrange often? My husband and I love to rearrange our living room at least every other month. The way Myquillyn Smith talks about decorating is that this is going to be a permanently arrangement- at least for a few years. I would love to hear her take on being flexible with rearranging.

But overall, this book is inspirational and thorough. If you’re wanting a decorating book just so you can peruse pictures, this isn’t the book for you. If you want to be taught core concepts, and a step-by-step approach, “The Cozy Minimalist Home” is a winner.

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