Less is More: Mastering the Art of Minimalist Interior Design

Less is More: Mastering the Art of Minimalist Interior Design

Minimalist interior design is more than just a trend; it's a philosophy that embraces simplicity, functionality, and calm. It's a common misconception to think that minimalism is easy or cheap to achieve. The truth is that crafting a minimalist space requires skill and careful planning. Stripped-back designs and clean lines might look simple, but creating such a space demands experience and a keen eye for detail.

The essence of minimalist design is the principle of "less is more." This means stepping back, evaluating every element, and questioning its necessity. At Stewart-Schafer, our design process involves constant scrutiny and refinement. We ask ourselves whether each element adds value, serves a purpose, and contributes to the overall vision. This ongoing process allows us to strip back where we can, achieving a balanced blend of form and function.

In many traditional home designs, builders often rely on elaborate molding and trim to hide imperfections. These elements can mask uneven floors or walls, offering a quicker, cheaper build. However, true minimalism strips away these extras. Instead of using base molding to cover gaps, we design and build spaces that are flawlessly level and straight. This approach demands a more skilled contractor but results in a genuinely minimalist home that needs no concealment.

Understanding the Philosophy of Minimalist Design

Core Principles of Minimalism

Minimalist design revolves around the idea of simplicity, functionality, and creating spaces that are free from clutter. The core principles include using a limited color palette, prioritizing open spaces, and selecting furnishings and decor that serve a purpose. By emphasizing these fundamentals, we aim to create environments that evoke a sense of calm and order. This approach encourages mindfulness and intentional living, where every item in the space has a clear purpose and place.

The "Less is More" Approach

The phrase "less is more" is at the heart of minimalist design. It means stripping away excess and focusing on what truly matters. This philosophy challenges us to reconsider our choices and eliminate anything that does not contribute to the overall vision. In our studio, we constantly ask ourselves questions like, "What does this element bring to the table?" and "Do we really need it?" By engaging in this process, we manage to create streamlined designs that maintain beauty and functionality.

Simplifying without Compromising

While minimalism emphasizes simplicity, it doesn't mean sacrificing quality or comfort. Simplifying spaces involves thoughtful decision-making to retain essential elements while removing the unnecessary. High-quality materials and well-crafted furnishings can elevate a minimalist space, making it both inviting and enduring. The goal is to create a harmonious balance where simplicity coexists with elegance, ensuring that the space feels complete and refined.

Challenges and Misconceptions

The Complexity of Minimalist Design

Minimalist design often appears effortless, but achieving this look is anything but simple. The process involves meticulous planning and an eye for detail. Creating spaces that are free from distractions requires a deep understanding of design principles and a strategic approach. Each element must be carefully curated to ensure it adds to the overall coherence of the space. This level of precision makes minimalist design a complex art form that demands expertise and experience.

Common Myths About Cost and Ease

One of the biggest misconceptions about minimalist design is that it is cheaper and easier to achieve than other styles. In reality, high-quality minimalist design can be quite costly because it leaves no room for error. Unlike traditional designs that use trim and molding to hide imperfections, minimalist spaces require perfection in construction. This means investing in skilled labor and premium materials to achieve the desired seamless look.

Importance of Skilled Contractors

Skilled contractors play a crucial role in bringing minimalist designs to life. The absence of decorative elements like base molding or trim means that walls and floors must be impeccably level and straight. Achieving this level of precision requires a contractor with a high degree of craftsmanship and attention to detail. The minimalist design leaves no room for cutting corners, making the choice of contractor critical to the success of the project.

Practical Steps to Achieve Minimalist Interiors

Stripping Back Unnecessary Elements

The first step in achieving a minimalist interior is to strip away unnecessary elements. This involves removing anything that does not serve a specific function or add to the aesthetic. Start with a thorough decluttering process, eliminating items that do not contribute to the overall design. Evaluate each piece of furniture, artwork, and decor to determine its necessity. This process helps create open, airy spaces that breathe simplicity.

Balancing Functional and Aesthetic Needs

While minimalism focuses on simplicity, it is important to balance functional and aesthetic needs. Functional furniture and storage solutions are essential in maintaining a clutter-free space. Choose pieces that offer both utility and style. For example, opt for multi-purpose furniture like a bed with built-in storage or a coffee table that doubles as a workspace. This ensures that every item in the space has a purpose, contributing to both the functionality and beauty of the room.

Techniques to Avoid a Cold, Stark Feel

One common concern with minimalist design is that it can sometimes feel cold or stark. To prevent this, incorporate elements that add warmth and personality. Use a neutral color palette as a base and introduce textures through rugs, cushions, and throws. Add natural elements like plants and wooden accents to bring life and warmth into the space. Additionally, consider the use of soft lighting to create a cozy ambiance. The goal is to achieve a minimalist look that feels inviting and lived-in.

The Role of Precision in Minimalist Design

Necessity of Perfect Execution

Precision is key in minimalist design. With fewer elements to distract the eye, any flaw or imperfection stands out. Achieving a minimalist look requires perfect execution in construction and finishing. This involves ensuring that walls are perfectly smooth, floors are level, and joints are seamless. Any deviation can disrupt the clean lines and simplicity that are central to minimalist design. This level of exactness demands a skilled and attentive approach.

Working Backwards from the Finished Product

When building minimalist spaces, it is essential to work backward from the finished product. This means envisioning the final look and planning every detail meticulously. For example, consider how electrical outlets, light fixtures, and HVAC systems will integrate seamlessly into the design. Each aspect must be carefully planned to ensure it aligns with the minimalist aesthetic. By adopting this approach, we can anticipate challenges and address them proactively during the construction process.

Importance of Level, Straight Lines, and Small Reveals

Level, straight lines, and small reveals are vital components of minimalist design. These elements contribute to the overall sense of order and simplicity. Achieving perfectly level surfaces requires precise measurements and skilled craftsmanship. Small reveals, such as a minimal gap between the floor and wall, add depth and definition without the need for decorative trim. These subtle details are what set minimalist design apart, creating spaces that are both simple and sophisticated.


Minimalist interior design is a journey of simplicity, precision, and intentionality. By understanding its core principles, tackling the complexities, and executing with care, we can create spaces that are both elegant and functional. Stripping back unnecessary elements, balancing function with aesthetics, and focusing on precision allow us to turn a minimalist vision into reality.

At Stewart-Schafer, we specialize in mastering the art of minimalist interior design in Brooklyn, NY. Ready to transform your home into a masterpiece of simplicity and elegance? Contact Stewart-Schafer today, and let's embark on this minimalist journey together.

More articles

03 . 10 . 23

Budget-Friendly Adjustments for Your Kitchen Remodel

Floor plan for Interior design project by Stewart Schafer
03 . 10 . 23

Budget-Friendly Adjustments for Your Kitchen Remodel