Many of us dream of achieving that minimalist aesthetic we see on design blogs—clean lines of counters and shelves unmarred by clutter, closets and drawers that reveal just a few perfectly displayed items. In a world filled with so much stuff, it totally makes sense that we want to pare down.
Still, though, there’s a fine line between the calm serenity minimalism can bring, and the sad echo chamber that results from taking your purge too far.
Hellloooooo?! Does anyone actually live here in this living room with one couch, one chair, and one (empty) vase? Sure, it’s nice not to face piles of magazines, books, and family photos crammed on surfaces and to simply sip your tea in a serene space—but after a while, it can get a little lonely.
The fix? Don’t go overboard with minimalism in the home. If you’d like to create a living space that’s more like a home and less like a hospital, here are 10 minimalist moves to not try at home.
1. Empty kitchen
Guess there’s no coffee allowed in a minimalist kitchen, right? If you can’t leave out a single appliance on your countertops, you’ve drunk too much minimalist Kool-Aid. Ditto for the lack of dish towels. These kitchen workhorses don’t have to be bright orange, but you do need a couple on hand. Rethink the efficacy of your look here, and then get back to us.
2. Cold bathroom
Um, where are the towels here? And without a bath mat, you’re guaranteed to slip on that tile floor every time you exit the shower. Perhaps that single square of fabric that’s supporting your back in the bathtub is meant to pull triple duty as a wash cloth and hand towel as well? Even so, this look is a complete and utter fail. But at least the lone pot on the window sill adds a tiny bit of color.
3. Barren home office
How nice that your thoughts are always organized in that simple journal, and your No. 2 pencils are sharp and ready to go. Plus, nearly all the books sport matching white spines! This plain office is a fantasy, of course, and it’ll likely strike fear in the hearts of most work-from-home drones who need two or three coffee mugs, dozens of scribbled-on sticky notes, and files bursting at the seams in order to be productive.
4. White on white
Minimalist fans will tell you that 50 shades of white (or gray or greige) is your goal for walls and floors, but we’re here to say that living in this type of space is no picnic. It’ll show scuff marks, crumbs, dog fur, and every single dust bunny. A simple rug is an easy solution here—just vacuum it and you’re done!
5. Fiddle-leaf figs
What is it with that single bamboo leaf in a tall glass cylinder? Or a lone fiddle-leaf fig tree standing sentry in an empty corner? These forays into the natural world are sad attempts at “life” in a lifeless home. Flowers from your local Price Chopper are allowed once in a while, people! Get thee some tulips or daffodils—or at least add a few other stalks to your vases.
6. No storage
Single-use furniture is a big minimalist mistake in the home, in large part because it doesn’t allow you to take advantage of drawers, shelves, nooks, and hidden compartments. With this glass console and tables, you’re stuck with just the top surfaces—and, of course, you’re cowed by the stark style you’re clinging to so you’ve cleared away every possible item.
7. Bare shelves
You get to put one thing on that sideboard or book shelf, so take your time and think carefully. This single piece has to express your life’s goals and personality, yet also look chic and simple. Will you pick a glass bowl or a piece of knotty wood? Stay tuned for next week’s episode of #minimalismisnofun.
8. Uninviting rooms
Can’t wait to watch the big game in this TV room, said no one ever. How much fun is it to jockey for a few inches on the single side table and hear the room echo every time you put down your beer? Don’t expect folks to clamor for an invitation to your house once we’re done with this pandemic.
9. Furniture with missing pieces
Minimalist furniture has simple lines, whether curvy or straight, but it doesn’t have to mean that pieces are missing, like sofa backs or chair arms. Something happened to this set of green leather seats along the way, but we’re not sure exactly what.
10. Empty entryway
This homeowner’s got one hat—and one hat only—and no coats, scarves, dog leash, or other clutter shall grace this threshold. The plant, however, is there to greet her at the end of a long day. This lonely foyer is enough to make you cry out for an Amazon box, some junk mail, or just a mat on which to wipe your minimalist feet. Alas, it’s not allowed here (clean ’em off outside).