As Mark Shigei’s interview on streamlining “best practices” shows, a minimalist design can bring state-of-the-art functionality into your kitchen and a fresh, contemporary feel into your home. However, minimalism can often be perceived as too simple, sterile and void of personality and therefore many refrain from choosing this style. This is a very common design challenge but one that can be solved creatively in a variety of ways.
All of the following tips can easily work alone or in combination. When used thoughtfully, they will help turn your cutting-edge minimalist kitchen into a warm, inviting and “livable” space for you and your family.
Personalize it with accessories
This is the most cost-effective solution. Accessories are easy because they are not permanent and can be changed with the seasons. If you hold social events in your home, you can even accessorize the kitchen slightly differently every time to create a distinct mood depending on the occasion. Flowers bring beauty and nature into the room and nature always equals life and warmth. The use of vases, a rogue antique cookie jar, large ceramic plates/bowls, or anything with a splash of warm color will help tone down the minimalism and give personality to the space.
Paint it warm
You can choose hues such as yellows, oranges, reds, and gold. It all depends on the amount of warmth you want to create. You can go with a very light buttery hue or a deep gold tone; the darker the tone, the warmer the effect. You can paint all the walls with the same color. Alternatively, you can choose a light shade for all the walls except one, which would be your accent wall, painted with a deeper shade of the same color or even with a completely different color.
Bring in a natural material like wood
Adding elements in any of the dark or warm woods will automatically bring earthiness to the design. Besides the color and finish, wood is a natural material that has texture and depth. The best dark woods for this purpose are Wenge, Dark Rift Cut Oak, Mahogany, and Cherry. Depending on how much warmth you want to achieve, you can bring in larger wood pieces such as cabinets or tables or you can simply add subtle wood accents such as prominently displayed, chunky cutting boards or open shelves.
Create texture with tiles
As an alternative to stainless steel, glass or slab material, which can increase the sterile look of a minimalist design, use mosaic or subway tiles for the backsplash. The grout lines of the tiles help create texture and give the overall design an earthier look and feel. Natural stone tiling is a better option than a polished ceramic finish.
Add a unique piece of furniture
Furniture can be used to add personality and make a statement. Placing an antique table or a chunky wood or carved table in an otherwise sleek kitchen will transform the room from cold and austere to eclectic, sophisticated and bold.
Smoothen it with a rug
Rugs soften hard surfaces and make the room more welcoming. You can add accent rugs, either in contemporary designs or more traditional Persian designs. This will take the edge off the cold, hard effect of stainless steel, stone, glass, concrete, and any other popular material often found in modern minimalist kitchens.
Use lighting to change the mood
Lighting is a key element in creating ambiance and warmth, though its importance is often completely overlooked or not given nearly enough attention. Overhead and fluorescent lighting can be too bright, harsh and unflattering. On the contrary, recessed halogen under-cabinet lighting can create a soft feel in your kitchen. Also, consider LED lights: they are available in warm tones and can be used quite effectively; plus they last much longer than halogen and are an energy-efficient solution. Finally, pendant lighting and interesting chandeliers can add personality and warmth.
Warm it up with a fireplace or candles
Fireplaces are an ambient light source and bring a natural element into your kitchen. If you have room for one, it will likely be all you need to bring warmth to the space. If you don’t have room for it, then ample use of candle light will add a tremendous amount of warmth and ambiance to even the sleekest and most minimal designs. Scented candles are always a nice touch as they engage your sense of smell too. The more senses you involve in the experience of the room, the more comfortable and personal it will feel.
How would you add comfort and personality to a minimalist design?