The love for minimal interiors has been unwavering for years now. They're calming and tranquil and last through the ebb and flow of trends. Because of this, it can be tough for a minimalist to admit it if and when beige and other neutrals start feeling a little dull. As timeless and stylish as they are, a lack of color can go from chic to slightly boring.
Cathie Hong, interior designer and founder of the namesake boutique interior design firm, has managed to master the idea of balancing colors with interiors that are minimal at heart. It's true—the satisfaction of a sleek, minimal room can still be coupled with colors outside of gray, white, cream, and beige.
Meet the Expert
Cathie Hong is an interior designer and founder of Cathie Hong Interiors, a boutique interior design firm.
"As a minimalist and one who gravitates toward the Japandi aesthetic of clean, neutral, minimalist interiors, I like to start with a base of warm whites, taupes, and soft oiled oaks in differing textures and materials," she says. "From there, I love to add hints of color either through upholstery, tile, textiles, or even accessories."
There's no replacing the comforting and visually appealing atmosphere minimal rooms provide, but there's no harm in introducing a fresh palette if you're feeling called to one. Sometimes, all a hesitant minimalist needs is a gentle nudge and a bit of inspiration to start infusing a new color or two into their space.
Opt for Subdued
Bringing colors into a minimal space without entering maximalist or traditionalist territory may sound difficult. Luckily, it's much simpler than you might first think. Hong says it's simply a matter of picking the right shade. For instance, if you adore pink or orange, just turn down the saturation.
"My key to adding color is to go for the muted version of a color—dusty taupe pinks, sage greens, brownish ochres, and subtle slate blue-grays," she says. "These tones help to complement and bring a little contrast to the space without overwhelming it visually."
Bring in Texture With Wallpaper
Rather than trying to source new decor items or picking out a brand new paint color, wallpaper is a fantastic method for breathing a little life into a neutral room. It adds depth, texture, and color in a way that paint can't, and with the seemingly endless options available, it's not a challenge to find one that's still relatively simple and clean.
Wallpaper also makes for the perfect accent wall, which really keeps minimalism alive by only creating a little visual action in one section of a room.
Complementary colors (like orange and blue) picked out in the right shades and used in just the right amount work wonders in a room. When the foundation of a space is white or neutral, it's easy to bring in a handful of more splashy hues without it feeling loud or obnoxious. If you play your cards right in choosing accent colors, you'll be left with a room that satisfies the minimalist in you as well as the tiny voice that wanted a little more pizzazz.
Reinterpret Expected Colors
Creating an unpredictable pop of color doesn't have to be flashy or bright—all it takes is rethinking an expected color. A perfect example of this is a brick fireplace. These features are often pictured as bright orange, but painting it navy or olive green instantly adds a unique finish and unexpected little bit of color. Wooden cabinets, floors, and window frames are other examples of places that are often a standard color and can be fun to change up.
Reconsider Flooring and Rugs
From tiles and wooden planks to rugs and carpeting, there are a multitude of ways to bring in color to a minimal space through the floor alone. The floor is easy to forget since it's beneath us, but a splash of blue tiles or a colorful, patterned carpet bring in foundational color and allow the rest of the room to stay toned down in terms of palette.
Play With Pops of Tile
All-white or fully neutral kitchens look fresh but can lack originality. If a space is feeling a touch stale, take a peek at the backsplashes. Replacing a section of painted wall with subway or penny tiles can break up the sameness and provide a design-savvy twist to a minimalist kitchen. Admittedly, even if it's in the same color, the finish of the tiles can provide ample visual interest as well.
Rely on a Coat of Paint
An entire room doesn't need to be repainted to feel different, as this entryway proves. Small closets, powder rooms, or nooks are the perfect spots to splash a little paint onto the walls to influence the surrounding spaces. This room is primarily white, save for the rug, floor, and accents. What really makes it pop though is the peach-colored archway that peeks out and gives it color but allows it to remain minimal.
Add One Pop of Color
When a space already has texture or patterns, a sole pop of color will do the trick to really elevate it. In bedrooms and living rooms, this can be done through something like a throw blanket or throw pillows. Curtains and lampshades will also standout in a shade that differs from a monochrome palette. For bathrooms or laundry rooms, a tile backsplash or even a colorful sink basin are ideas worth implementing, too.