How a minimalist color scheme can be cozy

Normally, when I think of minimalism, I think of angular lines and chrome, which is probably neither a complete nor fair definition. Cozy would not have been the first adjective I would use.

Yet, when the world turns topsy-turvy as it has in the past year, people begin to think differently about what makes a cozy home. In COVID-19 polluted world, the idea of living in a space that’s free of excess—one that fosters a sense of calm—has become more appealing to homeowners.

One of the hallmarks of minimalist home design is a monochromic color scheme, and even though I’m not a fan of minimalism (at least in home design), I can wholeheartedly endorse a monochromatic color scheme.

It’s one way to reduce visual clutter, Kelle Dame of Kelle Dame Interiors in Kenosha told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently. Lowering the color contrast can result in a clean look as opposed to contrast which creates energy, tension and stimulation.

I’ve chosen paint colors for two homes in the past three years and went with monochromatic colors in both, and I can attest to the calming nature of a clean look.

In every other house I’d owned, I (or my husband) painted every room a different color mostly because that’s what everyone does, especially in cardboard box-type houses when paint color was usually the most distinctive design feature of the room. But in the chome, I had all kinds of other distinctive features vying for attention—etched windows, high ceilings, a dramatic spiral stairway and original wood floors. I decided I didn’t need a bunch of different paint colors muddying up the canvas. I had every room painted in the same colors to create a cohesive backdrop to everything else going on.

  • For the walls, I chose a light gray inspired by Behr’s Evening White but mixed by Sherwin-Williams. It makes me happy just walking through the rooms any time of day.
  • The trim, a white inspired by Behr’s Bleached Linen, pops against the gray.
  • And the wainscoting, a tan inspired by Behr’s Arid Landscape, brings warmth to the scene (and also is reminiscent of the color it was originally painted).
  • Most of the ceilings in the church are painted in Behr’s Sleek White in eggshell.

More recently, we repainted our condo in Texas.

After painting the entire church in one color scheme, I knew I would do that again in this condo. I decided to switch the dark and light of the original condo paint job by painting the thick, beautiful trim a darker color than the walls. This had the added benefit of saving money on the paint job because we had the ceilings painted the same light color as the walls.

  • I adore the is-it-gray?-is-it-green? vibe of the trim color, called Sensible Hue from Sherwin-Williams Nurturer collection. It calls attention to the most interesting architectural elements of the room—the doors and windows. And the windows become beautiful frames for the view of the lake.
  • A darker color on the wainscoting is Illusive Green.
  • The walls and ceilings were painted in Oyster White.

As a lake home, the condo needed a calm and watery theme (rather than Spanish Revival or whatever was going on before). These paint colors coordinate with the blues and greens of the furniture and accessories we invested in.

How to amp up the coziness value? When monochromatic colors are used, such as whites, creams and other neutral colors, texture will boost coziness, that Kenosha designer Kelle Dame says.

I did that in both homes with jute rugs, baskets, fuzzy throws and textured pillows.

At the church, I mix textures of natural wood, jute rugs, glass and metals.
At the condo, I recently invested in all new bedding, including throw pillows that sport shiny, furry and sequined textures.

An added benefit of going monochromatic throughout an entire home is that it eliminates constant decision making. Once you decide on a scheme, every room is the same. Easy-peasy. And a homeowner needs to save only a few cans of paint in the basement or utility closet for touch-ups.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t admire the paint job in our home. Someday, I expect I’ll go in a completely different direction, but for right now, monochromatic gives me peace and comfort.

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