Never a Dull Space: Collections and Decor in Minimalist Design

I think a common misconception with minimalist interior design is that walls are to remain bare, shelves are to have as few things as possible on them, and everything should be clean and white. None of these ideas make a space really feel like home--I certainly do not want to dwell in a sterile-white house that's been stripped of personality due to the conflation of minimalism with austerity.

A search for "minimalist interior design" yielded rooms that fit the same pattern: white walls and ceiling, light grey or white furniture, no art or photos on the walls... just blank, fairly empty rooms. It's minimalism taken to the extreme where every room is clean and pretty, but incredibly dull. That, to me, is when collections and decor are necessary in minimalist design.

Some might think that minimalism means you can no longer collect a kind of item that you appreciate aesthetically. I disagree. Collections of objects can bring us joy, and when put on display those items can breathe life and personality into a room. If we live somewhere that doesn't have some aspect of our personality on display, then we're just existing there, not truly living there. Personally, I collect gold-framed mirrors and decorative handmade papers. I use these items as decor to break up large walls that threaten to make spaces feel small and devoid of energy. The handmade papers are put in simple frames and displayed like posters. Having something on the walls has always just made a place feel like home to me--whether that something is just a framed sheet of decorative paper, a movie or game poster, or just a mirror.

At the start of this post, I stated that I don't like the conflation of minimalism with austerity. No one should be shamed by some upper-middle-class minimalists into getting rid of a collection of objects that makes one feel at home, all for the sake of having less. Although having less is the general goal of modern minimalism, it's pointless if having less of a particular thing makes you feel like less than yourself. I love having books. They've been a defining element in the designs of my spaces for my entire life. Although I no longer buy books just for the sake of having them, I like to keep those that I've actually read and genuinely enjoyed so that I can enjoy them again in the future. I will always have my books prominently displayed because they show new friends that constantly learning and constantly delving into new worlds are important activities for me. Many of my friends collect figurines of their favorite characters from video games and shows. My advice even if they want to become minimalists is to keep their collections and put them on display.

Our homes should be just that: homes. They should not be treated as blank canvases forever. Bookshelves, shelves on the walls, the walls themselves are some of the greatest and most accessible spaces for us to use to turn apartments and houses into homes. You can be a minimalist and still have collections. Minimalism today is all about lessening the things you don't want or need in your life to make time and space for the things that matter. I encourage every minimalist, especially those who confuse minimalism for self-inflicted austerity, to have and display a collection as part of their decor. You're uniquely you--let where you dwell reflect that beautiful fact.