I am not a monochrome minimalist.
And you don’t have to be either.
It’s been said hundreds of times that minimalism looks different for everyone.
Just because many Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube accounts are dedicated to the monochrome aesthetic of minimalist interiors, fashion and art, it doesn’t mean you have to adopt the same style in order to be a minimalist yourself.
The aim of minimalism needn’t be living in a perfect, empty, white-walled apartment, wearing a go-with-everything wardrobe of black, white and grey clothing.
(Although I think I could be quite happy living like that too.)
In her book Joyful Ingrid Fetell Lee discusses how design and architecture can bring joy and happiness into our lives. She discusses how “uptight” minimalist decor can be repressive and drain a space of joy.
In contrast, she claims that maximalist interiors can create pleasure, and that abundance makes sense from an evolutionary perspective; citing peacocks feathers as evidence of maximalism being a signifier of vitality.
Both of these theories seem extreme to me. But I suppose it depends on just how minimalist or how maximalist a space is.
Clutter would cause stress for me but, on the other hand, I don’t plan to live in an entirely empty, soulless space either.
Fetell Lee provides an example of famous interior designer Dorothy Draper’s design of the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. The lobby is painted in green, aqua and pink and when the author visited this space she was filled with pure delight.
This just goes to show how colour can be important in bringing happiness into our lives, in the same way that a simple, clutter-free home can also be.
HOW TO BE A NON-MONOCHROME MINIMALIST
What’s your favourite colour? Would you feel happier with more of this colour in your life?
If you like a rainbow of colours, go for it! Wear them, decorate with them and bring vibrant pieces into your home.
As long as it doesn’t affect you negatively to be in a space with rich or bright tones, feel free to decorate your home in any way you wish.
Do you enjoy pattern? Then bring it into your home and wardrobe.
If you like white spaces but want to stay away from the clinical, add just a splash of colour with a vibrant feature piece, such as an armchair or headboard.
If a colourful interior feels ‘too much’ try adding natural textures such as wooden furniture and plants instead to add personality to a white room.
You may have noticed that there are a few splashes of colour in the photos on my website. That’s my way of putting a little personality into my website. While I DO want it to look clean, simple and (mostly) monochrome, I also want to inject some excitement too.
Likewise, my home is both minimalist and colourful in difference spaces.
My all-white bedroom is exactly what I need when I want to feel calm and relaxed. I can read, write and do yoga in peace.
While the walls of my living room are white, I chose the brightest blue sofas, and hung artwork in orange and yellow tones. It’s a happy entertaining space that I enjoy spending time in during the evenings.
My kitchen is a full-on homage to the 1950s with colourful cabinets, patterned melamine table and retro prints on the walls. It’s an uplifting room that provides an energetic start to the day.
Each room in my home feels different and suits the activities I do in the space.
Similarly my wardrobe has a neutral base of black, grey and navy, with colourful additions.
I like things simple and fuss-free, yet I need colour in my life. It makes me happy.
…Yes, I’m definitely a non-monochrome minimalist.
Fetell Lee, I. (2018) Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, United Kingdom: Ebury Publishing.