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How to Create a Minimalist Apartment: Guide & Ideas

By: Davina Ward
September 21, 2020

From documentaries to Instagram trends, minimalism has been in the headlines for quite a while now. However, many people are still a bit confused about the exact definition of minimalism. Many people incorrectly attribute minimalist to extreme frugality.

Though they may be fuzzy on the meaning, many people are attracted to the so-called minimalist aesthetic. Glossy magazines featuring the white walls and simple coffee tables associated with minimalist decor have captivated people beyond interior design professionals.

Renters are now wondering how they can create the perfect minimalist apartment setup. Don't worry, we've got you covered.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about minimalism and how you can create the minimalist apartment of your dreams.

What is a Minimalist Apartment?

Minimalism is a movement that has gained traction over the years. There are many reasons behind the rise in popularity.

However, it can generally be attributed to the growth of consumerism. We own many things, but they don't necessarily make us happy.

At its core, the minimalist movement seeks to help people live happily by assessing and evaluating their material possessions. "Assess" is an important term here. That’s because many people believe that to be a minimalist, you need to toss out all of your belongings.

However, the truth is that some minimalists have tons of things. Some have fewer than 20 belongings. It's simply a matter of evaluating the reason behind owning the item, whether you consider it necessary, whether it makes you happy, and deciding whether you should keep it.

Now onto the term "minimalist apartment." A minimalist apartment is simply one where the renter seeks to adopt the minimalist aesthetic, which features sparse decor, simple, clean lines, and muted tones.

In short, it means fewer material items and more space, all in a beautifully and tastefully decorated package. Minimalist decor makes for simpler cleaning, efficiency, and more functional space in a small apartment.

Though a minimalist apartment might sound like a dream for many, there are some drawbacks.

It can be difficult to personalize a minimalist apartment. That’s because the aesthetic has become so fixed. Moreover, as minimalism is currently en vogue, decor prices that fit the minimalist aesthetic are higher.

Before making a final decision regarding whether minimalism is right for you, it's important to consider both the advantages and drawbacks of a minimalist apartment.

How to Make Your Apartment Minimalist

If you've decided to adopt the minimalist aesthetic for your apartment, there are some general rules and guidelines that it pays to know upfront. Though no two minimalist apartments are exactly alike, some similarities are abundantly evident with a little searching.

The following tips will help you begin your minimalism journey!

1. Choose a Type of Minimalist Decor

There are a few different branches of minimalist decor to choose from:

  • Eco-Minimalism: Minimalism is naturally aligned with the eco-friendly movement. Eco-minimalist decor includes secondhand or handmade pieces. Every piece will have a story, including thrift shop finds and DIY projects.
  • Functional Minimalism: Does your kitchen table also function as your desk? You might be a functional minimalist. Minimalist decor of this type features pieces that have a purpose. You won't find useless clutter in these apartments. However, you might find a table that transforms into a bench when necessary. This is a great choice for people who want to furnish their apartment on a budget.
  • Aesthetic Minimalism: This branch of minimalism is for those who are committed to style as much as they’re committed to the minimalist movement. These apartments feature an Instagram-worthy setup that sticks to the foundations of minimalism.
  • Essential Minimalism: This sect of minimalism is full of those who are committed to finding rare or valuable pieces to fill their home. You'll rarely find a big-box store sofa in their home. Instead, you'll find a handmade antique chaise or a vintage thrifted couch.

Whether you choose to reduce your eco-footprint or make it your mission to make your home functional is up to you! Regardless of the type of minimalist decor you choose, don't forget to stay true to your personal style.

Everything doesn't have to match the minimalist decor. If you love your massive collection of comic books, don't toss them in the name of aesthetics!

2. Reduce Clutter

Without any reference to the talented Marie Kondo, if you don't want or need something, give it a new home. If you're in the process of moving, consider what you need to bring to your new apartment versus what you're just bringing because you own it. This can help you reduce the clutter you bring to your new abode.

It can be challenging to declutter or purge our belongings, especially since we accumulate so many of them. To help speed the process along and keep things organized, make a list.

Write out everything you need and things that you aren't willing to get rid of right off the bat. This can help you decide where to start and ensure that you don't get rid of anything by mistake.

3. Choose a Color Scheme

Many of the minimalist setups you'll find online are relatively similar in color. A minimalist aesthetic typically features muted earth tones or a simple black and white theme.

That's not to say you can't add a pop of color, but it's best to start with subtle, understated tones. Choosing a color scheme early on can also set the stage for the decor pieces you choose.

4. Work Through One Room at a Time

Avoid a huge headache and an even bigger mess by working on one room at a time. Whether you're decluttering or decorating your apartment, the "one-room" approach allows you to focus on a single room's details.

You can focus on one thing, like the color of the living room walls, without having to worry about whether it’ll match the color of the kitchen's appliances. Once you've gotten through each room, you can iron out the fine details.

Minimalist Apartment Ideas: Living Room

Living rooms can be tricky to decorate. They’re spaces for entertaining, lounging, eating, and more. When it comes to decorating a minimalist living room, it's essential to prioritize form and function.

You want to choose pieces that fit within the minimalist aesthetic but are also functional. This will help you avoid buying a designer couch that's wildly uncomfortable or throwing away your favorite and warmest afghan. Here are some tips that’ll help you style your minimalist living room.

  • Find Simplistic Furniture Pieces: You don't want overdone or overly large furniture pieces in a minimalist living room. Choose furniture pieces with simple lines and flow. Hairpin legs, solid colors, and comfort are all essentials.
  • Find a Rattan or Wicker Piece: Really, any light colored-wood piece would look at home in a minimalist apartment. However, it's most common to find a statement piece with a lighter wood tone. Chairs, woven poufs, and woven baskets are often essentials of minimalist decor.
  • Buy or Grow Some Plants: Opting for a houseplant isn't just the sign of a mature adult living space. It's also the perfect pop of color for a minimalist apartment. Generally, Fiddle Leaf Fig trees, indoor palms, pothos, and succulents are the pinnacle of minimalist decor. As an added bonus, some plants can help to improve indoor air quality.
  • Look into Accent Pieces: Whether it's a simple family photo or a massive mosaic, accent pieces can help to warm up an efficient minimalist space. Bonus points if the accent piece is also functional, such as a geometric lamp or a bold ottoman.

Minimalist Apartment Ideas: Bedroom

The bedroom is your space. So, don't be afraid to give this area a more personal touch.

As for clothing, try to keep it confined to the closet. You want to maximize the open space in your bedroom. So, that infamous chair filled with clothes shouldn't be a prominent feature of your bedroom.

Beyond keeping your clothing organized in your closet, here are some tips to help you decorate your minimalist bedroom.

  • Bedding: Choose a comfortable, solid-colored duvet and sheet set. Avoid overloading your bed with pillows or stuffed animals. Creating a minimalist look means letting the bedding shine in your bedroom.
  • Maximize Your Bed Frame: Buy or build a bed frame that doubles as a nightstand. Aim for a low-to-the-floor frame, as that’ll hold with the minimalist aesthetic. If you want to keep things simple, a pallet platform bed is an affordable DIY option.
  • Paint an Accent Wall: If you're allowed to paint the walls (check your lease agreement!), choose a wall to paint a bold color that’ll serve as your accent wall.
  • Add a Few Accent Pieces: Accent pieces can really help to personalize your bedroom. Whether you choose a cool rug or add a few hanging plants, accent pieces should highlight your individuality, even in a minimalist bedroom.

Minimalist Apartment Ideas: Kitchen

Kitchens are also difficult to decorate. There are so many gadgets, cookware, dinnerware, and other essentials that’ll need new homes in the process of organizing and redecorating your kitchen.

Don't worry, we're here to help. Here are some tips to help you decorate your minimalist kitchen.

  • Choose Appliances Wisely: Do you need a toaster? Is your blender collecting dust? If you have many kitchen appliances, you'll have to make a decision regarding which ones you want to keep out for everyday use. You may choose to downsize your kitchen appliance collection, such as getting rid of your toaster and using the stove or oven instead.
  • Stick to a Color Scheme: Stainless steel and woodgrain are common in minimalist kitchens. However, many minimalist kitchens also choose a single solid color like black or white as their color scheme.
  • Organize Pots and Pans: A quality pot rack or cabinet organizer can help you reduce the clutter that you usually find in kitchens. You can store your cookware tastefully on a pot rack. If they're appealing pieces they can also double as decor.
  • Find the Right Cookware: Speaking of pots and pans, try to acquire pieces that’ll last a long time and have a variety of uses. Cast iron and stainless steel cookware sets are always a great choice.
  • Get a Simple Kitchen Table: Your kitchen table gives you and your loved ones a place to enjoy meals together, so it should be simple. You don’t need a designer table to get the job done. Investing in a solid kitchen or dining table can also give you a space to work from home, if your apartment doesn’t have a home office space.

Minimalist Apartment Ideas: Bathroom

Creating a minimalist bathroom is as simple as decluttering and making some updates to your bath mat selection.

Overall, you want to keep your bathroom looking as clean and organized as possible. That could mean investing in organizational bins to keep in the hallway closet. However, that's not all there is to it. Here's how to decorate your minimalist bathroom.

  • Declutter Your Bathroom: What are some essentials that need to be in the bathroom? What are some things you can remove? Make a list of necessary things, such as a trash can or bath mat. Make another list of things that you can get rid of, such as a magazine rack or potpourri. Strip your bathroom down to the bare essentials.
  • Add a Painting: Though you don't typically head to the bathroom to view art, having a great piece can pull together the minimalist aesthetic of your bathroom without overwhelming the space.
  • Place a Plant: Many plants thrive in the moist environment that bathrooms provide. Additionally, you can choose a scented plant, like eucalyptus leaves or lavender, to keep your bathroom smelling fresh.

Minimalist Apartment Resources

Beyond a quick Google search, there are tons of resources available to those starting their minimalist apartment journey.

  • r/Frugal: Making the most out of what you have and reducing new acquisitions are elements of both frugality and minimalism. That's why you'll find some excellent guidance on this subreddit. From building a simple desk with inexpensive materials to decreasing your wardrobe's size, there's something for all minimalists.
  • r/Minimalist: Another subreddit that's a treasure trove of information for the budding minimalist, this subreddit is dedicated to everything minimalist, including decor. Join the conversation, and you'll find inspiration, tips, and helpful anecdotes.
  • YouTube: The popular video-sharing platform is home to informative and entertaining content about minimalism and minimalist decor. Not only will you find inspiration, but you'll also learn more about minimalism and what it means for others.
  • Instagram: Use Instagram's search feature to search for hashtags. #MinimalistHome and #MinimalistDecor will pull up a curated page of some of the thousands of photos tagged under the terms. You may have to sort through some selfies, but you may find some great inspiration.

Final Thoughts

A minimalist apartment starts with a solid plan. Though you don't have to practice minimalism to have a minimalist apartment, you'll have to understand minimalism's foundations to make it happen. Simply prioritize making the most out of what you have and reducing excess, and you'll be well on your way to a dream-worthy minimalist apartment.

However, minimalism isn’t for everyone. There are many different ways to maximize your apartment's space through interior design. Check out our Apartment Living series for more interior design guides and inspiration.

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Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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