How to Make a Minimal Home Feel Warm, Cozy, and Inviting (Yes, It's Possible)

Updated 05/03/19

Julie Van Daele is the founder of Well Received, a creative consulting agency for design-driven brands. She has extensive experience in the home and design space, working with brands that include Stephen Kenn, Klein Agency, Morrow Soft Goods, (Wh)ore Haüs Studios, and most recently luxury brand Audemars Piguet. With a minimal yet warm aesthetic, she is able to offer original and refreshing interior styling services for residential and commercial projects in both L.A. and New York.

minimal home
Monica Wang Photography

When describing a home as modern, many people immediately think stark, pristine, cold, not for everyday living, expensive, unapproachable, and so on. While I understand the perception, I’m here to show you that modern can be clean yet warm, carry strong lines yet still be cozy, and look designer-worthy without the designer price tag.

A modern lover’s color palette typically tends to be black, white, and gray, right? But how do we make those three colors warm and approachable? As someone who lives in a modern, monochromatic home (where I’m raising a young family), I know firsthand that it is possible—step inside and see for yourself.

Texture Is the Hero of the Room

creating a minimal home
Monica Wang Photography

When designing a space, it’s important to mix up your finishes and textures. If you have a dark coffee table, try adding some brass sconces in your living room. The brass gives you a pop of color, warming up the room in a subtle way.

Or if you fall in love with a leather accent chair, where leather can be a bit cold, make sure that you soften up the room with a linen couch that induces that cozy feeling. Think Restoration Modern and get yourself its dreamy cloud sofa, as opposed to a shabby-chic option.

Make sure you invest in rugs, rugs, and more rugs. They can really change the feel of a room. When you’re designing with black, white, and gray, it’s important to choose a rug that is soft to the touch and welcomes an occasional lie-down but, and more importantly, warms up the room.

Another simple and affordable way to texturize a room is with throws and pillows. Add a few anywhere you want to add warmth and coziness.

Ronel Jordaan Felted Rock Cushions Light Gray $175
Shop
Injiri Rebari Khadi Pillow $125
Shop
CB2 Abele White Cowhide Pillow $90
Shop

Mix Your Highs With Your Lows

minimal interior
Monica Wang Photography

I often find my clients want a certain look but realize their budget doesn’t allow for every designer piece they’ve put on their Pinterest board. Invest in those big-ticket pieces that will sit in the room you spend the most time in and then accessorize with more affordable items.

If you choose your living room, find that dream couch, an eye-catching coffee table, and a beautiful entertainment console to serve as some of the best (and maybe priciest) pieces in your home. Then accessorize with things that won’t break the bank but still give you the aesthetic you want like side tables, books, lamps, and artwork.

Two of my favorite stores to accessorize with are CB2 and West Elm. They both have great side tables, affordable rugs, cool statement chairs, decorative accents, and so much more.

Norm Architects for Menu Marble Plinth $2200
Shop
Restoration Hardware Cloud Modular Sofa $2995
Shop
Curve Gold Side Table
CB2 Curve Gold Side Table $399
Shop

Choose Pieces That You Aren't Afraid to Use

minimal kitchen
Monica Wang Photography

The last thing you want to do is spend too much money on designer pieces and then have a panic attack every time someone walks on your rug or sits in that special chair. No matter how modern or expensive you decide to go, pick pieces that are durable and inviting, not just pretty to look at.

This becomes especially important if you want to start a family. Children do not differentiate between what’s cheap and what’s expensive, so make sure you’re okay with each piece being drooled over, jumped on, or potentially spilled upon.

Danish Design Store TS Console $1500
Shop
Vapor Rug
West Elm Vapor Rug $699 $479
Shop
Industrial Concrete Side Table
West Elm Industrial Concrete Side Table $399
Shop

Bring in Greenery

minimal dining room
Monica Wang Photography

Plants are the easiest way to warm up a house or a room. Some of my favorite indoor plants include the Ficus tree family or succulents. Plants are also great for your health, reducing dust and carbon dioxide levels, increasing humidity, and keeping air temperature down—these indoor plants are the best for clearing the air.

Shop more of my minimal décor picks below to create a warm, textural, and cozy home.

Alfredo Haberli for Nikari April Tables $3475
Shop
Croft House Brooks Credenza $6100
Shop
Thea Chair
West Elm Thea Chair $699 $559
Shop
Injiri Rebari Khadi Pillow $110
Shop
Formation Rug
West Elm Formation Rug $1199 $319
Shop
Maisie Side Table - Tall
West Elm Maisie Side Table in Tall $179
Shop
Kaishi Black Chair
CB2 Kaishi Black Chair $599
Shop
West Elm Distressed Foliage Rug $599
Shop
Cube Side Table
West Elm Cube Side Table $199 $159
Shop
Croft House Marquina Coffee Table $1995
Shop
CB2 Loop Black and White Fringe Rug $400
Shop
Barefoot Dreams Heathered Throw $165
Shop
20
CB2 20” Jersey Interknit Grey Pillow With Down-Alternative Insert $80
Shop
CB2 Hex Cement Pedestal Tables $219
Shop
Croft House Bronson Credenza $3550
Shop
Brass Bird Side Table
CB2 Brass Bird Side Table $229
Shop
Jaime Hayon JH25 Palette Lounge Table $4049
Shop
Black Wire Side Table
CB2 Black Wire Side Table $149 $99
Shop
CB2 Trim Grey and Natural Rug $211
Shop
Tri Brushed Bronze Side Table
CB2 Tri Brushed Bronze Side Table $229
Shop
Parlay Black Leather Lounge Chair
CB2 Parlay Black Leather Lounge Chair $699
Shop
Croft House Bronson Sofa $8100
Shop
Matthew Philip Williams Basic Bitch Credenza $3380
Shop

Related Stories