I often hear people say “less is more,” and a pet peeve of mine is when the phrase is used to mean cheaper is better. The theory of less is more isn’t about spending less. It is about achieving better design through simplicity. It is about getting the greatest impact through careful editing and restraint.
In my own design work I lean toward the minimal, not the monastic. I like spaces to be serene and uncluttered, but not cold and sterile. I like to let objects have some breathing room, the better to be appreciated. There is a real art to creating spaces that have no excess, but that exude warmth and beauty. I thought you might enjoy seeing designs that beautifully illustrate “less is more” at its best.
1. Choose high-quality and beautiful material, then let it stand on its own. In this entryway, the wall is simply stunning in its own right. The gold leaf wall treatment glows with warmth. No need for art or console table in front of it. It is complete all by itself.
The luscious gray wool on these ottomans is sensual and warm in front of this minimal fireplace surround. For both the fireplace and the ottomans, the clean lines assure that the material is what you will notice.
2. Choose a single stand-out piece and then let it … well … stand out. One red accent table has all the more impact in a room with a monochromatic gray color scheme. Adding any other red in the room would dilute the effect.
This suspension lamp is called Big Bang, and in red it definitely lives up to its name in this white room. I have the Big Bang in my own entryway, but I have dark gray walls, so I chose the white version. It has such an interesting arrangement of angles and planes that it needs to be in simple surroundings.
3. Choose objects or furnishings that are simple and pure in design. Less is more isn’t always about a single object. Although there are eight chairs around this dining table, their black silhouettes and spartan design create an almost sculptural feel to the collection. Combined with the simple wood table, they have an austere beauty.
I am not a fan of stacks of throw pillows. The two coral color pillows provide a lovely dash of color. Along with the white bedspread and clean lines of the platform bed, they give a feeling of serenity. This would be a great bedroom for letting your mind clear at the end of the day.
There isn’t a lot in this bedroom, but each thing is chosen with care. The textures of the bedding and soft throw are so warm and inviting. They beautifully complement the soft neutral colors of the stone fireplace, and it all harmonizes with the beautiful view.
4. Give things plenty of space. In this entryway, the neutral walls and ample space allow the spare collection of a beautifully crafted table, simple bowl and intricate sculpture to be fully appreciated. Each piece has some breathing room.
5. Use restraint in furnishing styles. Okay, so this room does go pretty far into the monastic realm, but by using such restraint in the bedding and side tables, see how amazing the ceiling and windows look!
6. A little accent goes a long way. The fireplace in this room is such a beautiful piece with lovely patina creating subtly shifting tones. I like the small cluster of vases on the mantel. Just enough to give it a little punctuation.
The door handle is a single strong rectangle with beautiful texture. It’s a perfect accent against the beautiful wood grain. This is also a good example of choosing beautiful and high quality materials.
So, do you think less really is more? Or are you like the TV character, Frasier, who once said “If less is more, just think how much more more would be”?
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