Colour and the minimalist home

Paul Klee via

Colour has long been a fascination for people who have studied and written about it from a variety of perspectives. Consider the great Impressionists whose shimmering, glorious paintings – aimed at depicting the changing qualities of light – were studies in colour perception.

As I love colour, I began to consider about how it related to a minimalist lifestyle, especially in the home.

A minimalist home

When we think of minimalism in the home, our mind jumps to images of sleek, white spaces, perhaps with a cool retro vibe. For inspiration, just type #minimalisthomes into Instagram and you’ll see what I mean.

In reality, every home will be unique, but those of aspiring minimalists may share some of the following attributes:

  • an uncluttered space
  • clear surfaces
  • everything in its place (most of the time!)

There’ll often also be a bag, drawer or box containing things to let go.

But what about colour?

Choice of colour

In the home, our choice of colour can have a huge impact. I was reminded of this recently when doing some decorating to refresh a space that hadn’t been painted in almost 5 years. In doing this slow and painstaking work, I realised how much our choice of colour had made a difference to our living space.

Paul Klee, whose painting features above, told his students:

To paint well means only this: to put the right colors in the right spot.”

How much more daunting, then, is the choice of colour for your home when the ‘spot’ you will be painting is one in which you live?

Colour and meaning

On her website, writer Judy Scott-Kemmis describes the meaning of specific colours.

If you have a favourite colour, check out yours but beware the good sides and the bad!

I love green, which Scott-Kemmis describes as “the color of balance and growth”. So far, so good. However, she then goes onto say, “It can mean both self-reliance as a positive and possessiveness as a negative, among many other meanings”. 

Colour and our home

When we first moved into our house in 2012, it was a very colourful place indeed. The walls of our family room were a sunny yellow; the curtains red (see below). Likewise, our little study was pink, with lilac curtains!

The Midlands Minimalist household summer 2012

Over time, we developed more of a blank canvas using lashings of brilliant white emulsion. Our goal was to create a greater sense of light and space, especially as we had come from a house (called a ‘sunshine house’) whose expansive and unusual corner windows were its key feature.

The family room

Our family room has evolved considerably, as you can see in the following photos. The image from 2012 (bottom, right) shows how much darker the room appeared with its heavy drapes and yellow paint.

Once the room was decorated (top right) and dressed with light linen curtains, there was an immediate sense of light and space.

The largest photo shows how the room looks today. Some of the furniture has been replaced and we’ve changed the covers on the sofa that you can see in the foreground. The room is also less busy. We have added colour with a picture and soft-furnishings but the rest of the space remains neutral.

We still use comfy throws on the sofas, not least because Ollie-the-cockapoo likes a snuggle with us; we are not so keen on paw-prints for sofa fabrics!

The impact

Creating this simpler backdrop for our lives has contributed to a sense of being lighter and freer – a positive trait of minimalism. Indeed, our use of colour has certainly contributed to our enjoyment of this cosy space.

We feel that our family room is relatively easy on the eye. It’s certainly simple to maintain. This is where we spend the most time; it is the heart of our minimalist home.

Does a lighter backdrop inspire minimalism?

I wouldn’t say that a lighter, more neutral backdrop has inspired us to become more minimalist. Rather, it has contributed positively to our overall goal to live more simply, to pare back and to focus on what matters. In our home, we have retained only those objects that we enjoy and which add value. The result is a living space can be enjoyed by us and by those who visit.

What about you?

What colours have you chosen and why? Would a change in colour create a change of mood in your home? Has the choice of a certain colour had an impact on you? I’d love to know!


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4 thoughts on “Colour and the minimalist home

  1. We just moved my son into a new room and painted it first. We went for a neutral off white colour, with some built in shelves that we painted bright blue (he chose the colour, he’s four so that was a bit risky). The room lay freshly painted, but empty for a couple of weeks while we waited for some furniture to arrive. Wow, it was the most amazing thing to have a completely bare room. I often went in there to work as there were no distractions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love colour! Deep bright jewel colours, deeper shades of grey and white. I find them very relaxing, whilst washed out colours have the opposite effect. I like pops of bright pattern too. I think an overall sense of space and light is the most important thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I stick to light neutrals. I think this creates a more natural type of environment. There is no red in my home. I save vibrant colors for natural elements like the occasional flowers in a vase but never on my furniture or textiles.

    Liked by 1 person

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