Your Reading List

A simple, uncluttered space can have a calming effect

Just because a room doesn’t have vivid focal points doesn’t necessarily mean that the space is without interest or character.

Sometimes we need to get back to basics and home is a good place to begin the process.

The photo shows the calming attributes of a monochromatic, simple space. There are no colours, patterns or accessories that jump out at you and this can have a calming effect on the psyche.


Just because a room doesn’t have vivid focal points doesn’t necessarily mean that the space is without interest or character. This photo shows subtle accents that are noticeable but not too flashy. The interesting chandelier is a great feature over the dining table and gives the room sparkle. The decorative cabinet knobs provide interest and texture to the plain cabinets. The beadboard cabinet fronts offer a cottage feel and subtle pattern while maintaining simple lines. The lovely sink is vintage in design but has a lovely scallop detail on the face that adds pattern without being overpowering.

The kitchen door is highly detailed and adds tons of personality. If the cabinets had flat fronts, plain hardware and the door was a slab door the room would be quite boring. By adding these understated details the room maintains a calming presence but still offers visual interest.

The table and chairs have been stripped back to almost raw wood. (You can’t get more basic than that.) The caning on the chairs adds an earthy element as well as delicate pattern. At the same

time a lovely cake pedestal houses vintage espresso cups as an unusual centrepiece for the table. The open shelving is filled with simple white dishes which make a lovely monochromatic display. Having the dishes within easy reach makes life simpler in the kitchen. The plain-white dishes are stacked in a visually interesting display and the larger pieces have decorative scalloped edges.


In a monochromatic room you want to not only pay attention to detail but also to shape. The cabinets, door and table are sharp squares and rectangles which can make a room look hard. Adding curvy vases, pitchers, the cylindrical chandelier cover, round-backed chairs and domed cake pedestal balances the hard edges of the square elements and provides visual interest. The subtle swirl in the marble countertop and backsplash offer a similar effect against the rigid lines of the beadboard cabinet fronts. If you chose to install square, white tiles instead of the marble you’d be adding to the square elements which are already overpowering. Keep these things in mind when planning your space.


The marble countertop and backsplash are eye catching but still subtle in design and colour. It’s clutter free which makes the room easy on the eyes. No countertop appliances; no tea towels or oven mitts hanging on hooks (Im guilty of that myself); while we can’t see the fridge I’m sure there are no magnets and notes cluttering its front. Clutter creeps up on you and you don’t really notice it until you see a room like the one in the photo and realize how serene a space could be without the visual chaos.

To help keep clutter out of sight consider gluing a sheet of cork on the inside of a cabinet door on which to pin notes. You could also paint the inside of a cupboard or pantry door with chalk paint where notes and reminders can be written and erased at will. This is a great idea if you’re trying to go green in your home. Less paper, less waste.

A simple décor can be interesting and elegant. Just pay attention to the little things to keep the space from feeling dull.

Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Winnipeg, Manitoba

About the author



Stories from our other publications