Whether you’re renovating your kitchen or creating the space from scratch in a new build, one of the latest trends in kitchen design is minimalism. A design style that really takes its cues from other parts of the world, minimalism prioritizes the “less is more” philosophy. When it comes to your kitchen, you might be wondering what you need — or don’t! — to really nail the whole minimalist-kitchen-thing. Here’s how to design the minimalist kitchen of your dreams.
Minimalism vs. Scandinavian Design
Over the years, many people have confused minimalism with a Scandinavian-style design. Of course, there are many similarities, and it’s easy to see why people could get confused. With minimalism, the focus is only on the essential items. Of course, the essentials might look different from person to person. Some might find that giving up their 2,400 square foot home for a tiny home that can mobilize is how they achieve minimalism. Others might find that driving a hybrid is much more minimal than driving a gas guzzler. Either way, minimalism takes it back to the essentials, prioritizing the idea that using only what you need will fulfill you more than using the things you want.
On the other hand, a Scandinavian design is just that — a design style. Because Scandinavian design focuses on simplicity, many people confuse it with the essentialism of minimalism. However, a Scandinavian design tends to take simple colors and products to create a unique design aesthetic. For many, a Scandinavian design is one that prioritizes bright, clean spaces without much clutter (or clutter that’s hidden away!). Not to be confused with hygge design — where individuals create a cozy atmosphere through interior design — Scandinavian designs tend to focus on contrast and functionality more than others. Kitchens with a Scandinavian design will often employ using white base cabinets and a dark marble countertop or even inverse it with a light countertop and dark base cabinets. The use of contrast and other elements in Scandinavian design is partially what gives it its name.
Minimalism as a Way of Life Rather than a Style
Minimalism isn’t about decluttering your space. Instead, it’s about decluttering your life. From Marie Kondo’s “if it doesn’t bring you joy” mantra to asking yourself to create lists of needs vs. wants, there are lots of ways to incorporate minimalism into your lifestyle. It’s much more a way of life than a style. While styles come and go, minimalism is a philosophy that requires much more commitment. Minimalism is more than just a small amount of items. It’s about ensuring that your footprint is light and, quite literally, minimal.
Aspects of Minimalist Designs
No matter whether you’re looking to design your kitchen minimally or you’re looking to integrate a minimalist design into other spaces you frequent, there are a few constants amongst a minimalist design that everyone should follow.
Space: Space is useful in minimalism. It signifies open space and free thought, which is perfect for the philosophy. A good rule of thumb when working with space is to think of its functionality. Is this blank because you have nothing to put on it, or is it because you want to leave the space there for a particular function? Answering this question can go a long way in ensuring that you’re using space in the best way that aligns with minimalism.
Practicality: Items in minimalist designs need to be practical. This is because they are essential to your everyday life. Items that aren’t essential can’t make the cut into your new minimalist lifestyle. Every piece in your living space should have a purpose and a practical application to your day-to-day life. One of the most difficult things for humans to do is break a habit. If you’ve gotten into the habit of doing things or have a variety of items that you use but they don’t necessarily provide you with essential outcomes, then you might want to revisit your minimalist approach. Of course, you can always take advantage of our free kitchen design feature to determine whether or not your ideas for your space will work well with your overall design aesthetic! Our experts can provide you with quality feedback to ensure that you receive the perfect design for your space.
Functionality: Functional items are a must in minimalist designs. It’s important that every item in your space be functional. Functionality differs in practicality in that functional items are items that actually work. Ensuring that all the items in your kitchen are functional is a great way to declutter. Items that aren’t functional and are instead purely decorative or haven’t been around for a while can instead be donated or tossed out. Hoarding isn’t healthy — and an unfunctional kitchen isn’t, either!
Can Traditional Spaces Be Minimalist?
In short, the answer is yes! Many kitchen designs include traditional features, such as crown molding. This is a great way to make your space unique. And, before you ask, a minimalist kitchen can also be luxurious and include the latest in technology. Again, the point of minimalism is to limit the amount of excessive items in your possession. If a smart oven is something you will use frequently and isn’t wasteful to your lifestyle, then it should be part of your design.
Others often don’t realize that elements of other design styles can be incorporated into minimalist designs. While minimalism is all about eliminating excess, designing for it can include adding elements of other designs. Iron or brass hardware can make a space feel like a minimalist industrial design, while you can easily give the cottage feel of your home a minimalist twist by decreasing the amount of artwork on the kitchen walls.
Another aspect that many people don’t consider as they create a minimalist kitchen design is the flooring. Many homeowners choose bright, bold flooring that serves no real purpose in their traditional kitchen space. Of course, flooring in your kitchen should be durable, water-resistant and scratch-resistant. Luckily, all these aspects are featured in our luxury vinyl flooring! FirmFit and Stonecreek Luxury Flooring look great in any kitchen design, but they really shine in the minimalist ones.
Minimalist Kitchen Design Ideas
Unsure where to begin with your minimalist design? Here are some of our favorite ideas!
Neutral cabinets: Neutrals are big with minimalism. Since the concept of “less is more” is so important in the movement, most minimalist kitchens feature neutral color schemes. But, many homeowners like to see the colors and patterns in-person to ensure that they will fit well in the space, or if the shade matches what they thought it did in the catalog. We provide kitchen cabinet samples to all our customers because we know how important it is to get the cabinets that look perfect in your individual space. When in doubt, choose a neutral, especially if you’re going for a minimalist kitchen design.
A bold backsplash: Like we mentioned earlier, minimalism isn’t about removing bold, bright things. It’s about ensuring that the things you use are practical and functional. One of the best parts of a bold backsplash with a fun pattern rather than a simple subway tile? You’re less likely to see stains! That’s right — homeowners who love to cook will tell you how quickly subway tile and other light backsplashes get dirty and filled with food splatter. A backsplash that incorporates darker tones or has a vibrant pattern is a great way to mask the mess.
Metal Hardware: Using metal hardware is a great way to add some variation to your minimalist kitchen design. Whether you incorporate cup handles or use a wiry light fixture, incorporating mixed metals gives any minimalist design a leg-up, if you will. The type of hardware you use in your kitchen design impacts it greatly. Using a certain knob shape can change the look of your kitchen completely. Focus on putting hardware that really speaks to minimalism in your kitchen design. It’s the little details that count!
Comfortable bar stools: Most modern-day kitchens have a bar area. Whether you’ve installed an island, peninsula or simply cut out space in the wall for a bar, you’re probably in the market for bar stools. While you might be tempted to go for bar stools that feature minimal padding or are even backless, you can’t expect people to sit in them for very long. Then, your bar stools become less about functionality and more about looks. And, as we’ve covered, that’s not very minimalist!
Recessed or minimal lighting: Sometimes, it’s best to let the windows do the talking. Determine where the best natural light in your kitchen is, and let that guide your design. Whether that means rearranging some of the appliances or even increasing the amount of recessed lighting you install, finding ways to limit the amount of artificial lighting in your kitchen will really enhance the minimalist kitchen design. Recessed lighting is great for kitchens because you can easily flood the space with light without needing too many fixtures. Plus, since the lighting is higher up, it creates less shadows in the overall space. Perfect for kitchens! Consider having your recessed lighting tied to a kitchen fan so that whenever the recessed lights are on, the kitchen fan starts, too. Perfect for cooking!
Add appliances to your island: Whether you install a kitchen sink, a cooktop, an oven or your dishwasher, adding appliances to your kitchen island gives it a huge upgrade in the functionality department. This way, you still have lots of seating and storage space, but you don’t lose out on appliances. This can actually free up prep space in other areas of your kitchen. Pro tip: Always try to have your sink and dishwasher next to each other. Many dishwashers require installing a line from your sink, so it takes less effort to get them set up. Plus, it’s so much more convenient for you.
Natural textures create variation: When you’ve gone with the same color for almost every part of your kitchen (counters, cabinets, floors, etc.), you need to create some texture and contrast. That’s where natural textures come in. Whether you install wicker pendant lights or use bamboo bar stools, natural textures can really take your minimalist design to the next level. Of course, they have a practical element, but they also serve as a design feature, too. For some homeowners, these natural elements are great ways to reuse old items they found while renovating. Say you’re uncovering wallpaper and you find beadboard or its wider cousin, shiplap. Why not add the usable pieces for the front of your kitchen island? That way, even if you paint it the same shade as the rest of your kitchen, you’ve added a natural element that gives one of the largest parts of your space — the island — some texture.
Create a focal point: Focal points are all about where your eyes land. A focal point can be natural or created. It’s entirely up to you! Some spaces lend themselves naturally to focal points, whereas others need a little encouragement. Take a look at your kitchen and find where you feel the focal point should be. The upper cabinets above the stove? Maybe it’s the wall that visitors will see as soon as they walk into the space. Either way, locating that focal point — or the place you want to create the focal point — will help you determine the best way to design it. Maybe you need to put some floating shelves to store pantry items or flatware. Or, maybe you can put your hanging herb garden there.
A minimalist kitchen is about more than eliminating clutter. It’s an entire way of life! But, as you design your kitchen space, you’ll find that you will probably want to enact minimalism into all the design areas of your home. You wouldn’t be alone in that.
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My name is Scott Wienert and I am the owner of Wholesale Cabinet Supply. We are a family owned supplier of quality kitchen and bath cabinetry across the United States.
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