Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Why Small, White-Walled, Minimally Decorated Homes Rock

We realize many of our readers are not big fans of mostly white, minimally-decorated homes. We know, we know: they’re too pristine, they don’t have any personality, they’re not good for collectors, you can’t put kids in them. All fair points (to some extent). But here’s the deal y’all: living in white-walled, minimally decorated homes is AWESOME! And please note this is coming from someone who lives in a white-walled, minimally decorated, home (with a wife and kid no less), and from someone who has spent oodles of time in the LifeEdited apartment, a very white, minimally decorated apartment. You might rightly say I am a bit of an authority

The above space from Geneva, Switzerland’s FREAKS Free Architects (what a name, eh?) typifies the species. The little white-walled, dark-floored studio is only 376 sq ft, but feels way bigger. It has a good amount of built-in storage, an adult-sized dining and living area, and an elegant bed with more storage underneath. There’s a sliver of a kitchen, which is just right for a single person. The sink area of the bathroom has a glass door making the overall dimensions of the space seem bigger. Most importantly, there is not a single extraneous element to this place. It feels cohesive, clean and actually quite practical (I might put in a more comfy sofa).

If not convinced yet, here is a distillation of why this type of home is so awesome:

  • So easy to clean. With less stuff and area, there are fewer surfaces to clean. Minimal moving stuff around, no nooks and crannies where dust gets logged into. A thorough clean of the LifeEdited Apartment takes around 20 minutes. My place about double that time (which includes cleaning cupboards and stuff like that). For someone who loves clean home but hates to clean, this is a big bonus.
  • Less stuff to deal with. You better believe that living in these kind of homes requires some serious editing of your stuff. You want to keep that backup pair of fishing waders? Too bad. Most extraneous stuff must go the way of the Dodo. What you exchange for the occasional lack of preparation is a home that feels manageable–a place to relax and feel at ease.
  • The home stems the inflow of stuff. When your place is so bare bones, you think long and hard about whether something deserves real estate in your home. Impulse buys become a thing of the past.
  • You appreciate the stuff you do have more. With fewer things, you can give more attention to the stuff you do have. Likewise, you tend to excise things that don’t work or you don’t use.
  • White walls are great. Okay, they get marked up more than darker colors (or show the marks to be more precise). And yes, we keep a can of touch up paint handy for the frequent occasions when our son runs into the wall with his scooter or plays baseball with spaghetti. But this minor inconvenience is more than offset by a space that feels open, bright and larger than its small dimensions might suggest.
  • Great for kids. Surprising right? But having less stuff and furniture creates fewer hazards. When I visit other homes with my two year old son, it can feel like a minefield. There are so many things to grab and jump from and tip over. And no, my son does not have three toys to choose from. He has a bunch, but they are put away every night, which is easy because everything has a place to go.

Far be it from us to say there’s one aesthetic that’s right for small spaces. We have seen successful small spaces with all different aesthetics: from reclaimed to classic modern to Louix XIV. Different strokes for different folks. That said, it is not without reason why we see a disproportionate number of spaces whose walls are white and that seem to be lacking in the personality department.

Via Minimalissimo

  • I don’t mind all the white. And yes, I am single with no children. One can always add a splash of color through artwork and accents, which would really make the artwork pop. I do like the efficient layout and design of this space. It’s functional, spacious, and light efficient.

    • Stefano

      Steve, the color is you.

  • David Bush

    I definitely agree. But I think the problem most people have with being surrounded by white, is that the only other time they are surrounded by white is to have some sort of “procedure” done. While for some it’s clean and calming (me included), for others it’s an anxiety trigger. The other issue is that it’s an all-or-nothing affair. Very few people are at a point in their lives where they would be able ditch all their non-white stuff.

  • Chris

    I think that there are 2 different themes in the article.

    1. Is about only having the stuff that you truly love and / or need in your life. In stuff, I would also include relationships.

    2. Is about living in a monochrome environment. In most cases its white but it could just as easily be yellow or blue.

    I’m definitely a fan / believer of #1. I’m not so much a fan of #2.

    I am a big fan of white or slightly off white walls. In my studio’s sleeping nook, my bed and dresser are wood. Which, in my view, warms the place up and makes for an inviting place to sleep.

    I think that the layout and approach for the apartment is great and is the type of space I could easily live it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable living in it as it is. I’d need to have more colorful bedding and furniture.

  • Monica

    I’ve been looking for a bed like that with storage for ages. It’s the exact setup of mine being against two walls. Do you know who designed it???

  • Lauralei

    I’m all for less stuff, but I need color in my life and on my walls. All white rooms make me feel uncomfortable and bored. I would love to see some homes that combine minimalism and color.

    • Stefano

      Lauralei, you are the color.

  • clarkbennett

    Architects are rarely interior designers. I’ve been to a few architects homes and the reason they have given for the white walls, after they make all the standard arguments in support of them, comes down to simple indecision or it’s the only color they and their wife or husband can agree on. And if the purpose is resale, they say contractor white sells the best.

  • Susan S.

    Just wanted to clarify that according to their website they are French, and are a Paris based firm, but the apartment is in Geneva.

  • Sometimes the space where we live shows the way we are inside of our minds. Perhaps an space like this, help us to be in calm more often.

  • candy

    This is the most inspiring apartment I’ve seen in a very long time. I absolutely love it. There are some minor things I would change (glass door to the bathroom??) but overall, I could move in there right now.