Designing a minimalist Indian home that you'll love

6 min read

The Oxford dictionary defines Minimalism as “deliberate lack of decoration or adornment in style or design.” While this definition might sound mundane, everyone is now embracing this "less is more" philosophy.

“Minimalist décor is characterized by clean lines, subtle textures, sober colors, and few or no statement pieces. But in the Indian context, minimalism takes a different form.”

Recently, we've had the pleasure of working on many home interior shoots. While each shoot is unique, an important theme has emerged repeatedly: Indian modern homes are increasingly minimalist in design. With the help of our design experts, we have highlighted some key characteristics of Indian minimalism and how it differs from Western minimalism.

Key features of minimal design

Minimalism is more than just a design philosophy or a visual style; it is an entire way of life. A minimalist design aims to strip away all excesses, concentrating only on the essentials.

Achieving the look is deliberate and often, quite complex. The aim is to keep the room simple while avoiding a cold, sparse appearance. Less is more when carried out in a visually pleasing and elegant way.

Modern minimal interiors utilize well-chosen materials, soothing accent colors, open layouts, and natural lighting to create spaces that focus on functionality, clean lines, and neutral color palettes.

How is Indian minimalist design different from Western minimalism?

Indian minimalism is culturally different. Let’s list down the reasons:

  • It’s hard to find an Indian home without any colours
  • The roots of minimalism can be traced back to Scandinavia (a place of long, dark and cold winters). Hence, there is stress on creating warmth with décor. India, however, has a mostly tropical climate with lots of warmth
  • Culturally, we believe in preserving things be it memories, heirlooms or furniture. Indian homes, therefore, have a lot of storage, which contradicts minimalism's principles

Designing a minimalist home

So, how do you design a minimalist home in India while catering to our cultural and environmental requirements?


One of the most difficult aspects of minimal design is getting rid of excess. Keep your walls bare - instead of multiple paintings, choose one statement piece. In the same vein, consider neutral rugs rather than large carpets, or better yet, no floor covering at all. Replace heavy, traditional display cases with sleek, built-in shelves. The goal is to simplify the space.

Open layout and uncluttered design

Consider civil work to remove walls and create large, singular spaces in your home. A good example is the open kitchen layout that many young couples prefer these days. Adding skylights or floor-to-ceiling windows can also provide more natural light in your home.

Colour as a focal point/ prints and patterns/ use of earthy and muted colours

For Indian homes, colour is usually a non-negotiable design element. The key is to use a few shades, preferably from the same family of colors. Solid colours can be used to create focal points on walls or monochromatic patterns, which is a feature of minimal design.

Although minimalism emphasizes neutral color palettes, there is no rule that says you cannot express your colourful personality. Bring life and joy to your minimalist home by adding vibrant artwork, accent walls, and cushions.

For Indian homes, neutral color families like browns, greys, and beiges work best. They are visually soothing and easy to maintain.

Simple forms and clean lines

India's architectural heritage is characterized by bulky structures that imply grandeur (think Taj Mahal or our beautiful South Indian temples). However, Indian homes today are stripping down more and more designs to their most basic forms. For example, we see compact foyers, straight staircases and wall-to-wall windows quite commonly these days.

Use the same approach with furniture - choose clean, contemporary pieces with straight lines rather than intricately carved wooden pieces. Replace the old crystal chandelier with sculptural pendant lights.

Bare is beautiful

Indian homes rarely have bare walls Leave a wall bare and your guests may believe you are still decorating! However, there is a steady movement towards clean walls so that your statement piece gets all the attention.

Make the largest wall in the room into your focal point by displaying a large, statement piece while leaving all other walls blank. Another way you can design is to opt for smaller figurines placed apart on the same wall giving space for your walls to breathe.

Use of natural materials and textiles

When it comes to natural materials and fabrics, the list is quite exciting. Stone, wood, bamboo, cane, rattan, jute, linen, khadi, silk are just a few. Wood and cane furniture is not new to Indian furniture, but blended with contemporary design lines, it fits into "Indian minimalism" perfectly.

Coarse fabric like khadi is deeply associated with the concept of spartan simplicity (closely related to minimalism) preached by Mahatma Gandhi. The use of such natural and sustainable materials at home is a very desi way of living.

Smart storage

It is inevitable that Indian families will protect a number of items for future generations. It is difficult for us to use and throw because we aren't culturally inclined to do so. We can, however, be smart about how we incorporate storage into our homes. In place of lofts that take up space, we can use space inside furniture or under the stairs.

For clutter-intensive areas like the kitchen, replace open shelving or glass doors with opaque shutters with concealed handles for a seamless look.

Smart use of glass

Glass is a popular substance in contemporary minimalist style. However, it is a material that needs to be used carefully in the Indian context. Large glass windows and panes let in a lot of heat along with the light which can make life uncomfortable in our climate.

Restrict glass use to internal areas (table tops, partitions or railings for your staircase). This will bring in an airy, floating quality to your interior spaces.

It might appear that traditional Indian style and contemporary minimalism are fundamentally opposed, but there is a sweet spot where they mix seamlessly. The idea is to add warmth and texture to minimalist design by paring down the opulence of Indian décor.

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