Etsy Journal

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4 Iconic Minimalist Interiors — and How to Get the Look

Think there's only one way to embrace minimalist decor? These four iconic interiors — each with its own distinct style — prove otherwise.

Although design junkies need look no further than Pinterest and Instagram for an endless supply of fresh interiors ideas, there’s no denying the enduring inspiration of a truly iconic space — one that’s stood the test of time, continuing to captivate even decades after its completion. Today, we’re taking a page from the past by focusing on four minimalist homes that have made a lasting impact with unique, thoughtful, and innovative design. And while no personal space can be replicated, defined, or understood through physical objects alone, we’re paying tribute to these four with curated selections inspired by elements we love from each. Take a look — and if you find yourself in New York City, Abiquiu, Plano, or Mexico City, pay a visit to the original sites for yourself.

The Inspiration:

Donald Judd's New York Apartment

judd_via_curbed The New York City home of Donald Judd, restored and opened for tours in 2013 (image via Curbed)
Purchased in 1968, artist Donald Judd’s five-story New York City loft building served as both home and workspace until his death more than 25 years later. Located in what’s now shopping-centric SoHo, the building is open to visitors interested in Judd’s art, lifestyle, and groundbreaking approach to space and installation. (“Too often, I believe, the meaning of a work of art is lost as a result of a thoughtless or unsuitable placement of the work for display,” the artist — who disliked being called a Minimalist — once said.) Among the 2,000 items housed at 101 Spring Street: furniture by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto; Judd’s platform bed, one of many wooden pieces he designed himself; and an extensive art collection that includes the Dan Flavin light sculpture that spans the sleeping area.

Get the Look:

platform-bed Hedge House
Hedge House solid wood platform bed, $1,249 and up; buy it here.
kiss-my-neon-target Kiss My Neon
Kiss My Neon Soft Target Number 1 neon art sign, $1,500; buy it here.
alvar-alto-side-table Home and Homme
Vintage Alvar Aalto laminated birch side table from Home and Homme, $950; buy it here.
fleamarketrx-steel-towel-bar Flea Market Rx
Flea Market Rx industrial steel towel bar, $132; buy it here.
siosidesignandbuild_sangfroid-coffee-table Siosi Design + Build
Siosi Design + Build Sangfroid coffee table, $680; buy it here.

The Inspiration:

Georgia O’Keeffe's Home and Studio

okeeffe-pulled-back O'Keeffe's Abiquiú, NM, home (photo via Georgia O'Keeffe Museum)
Having once described it as a “house that grew,” artist Georgia O’Keeffe moved into her Abiquiu, New Mexico, home and studio in 1946, shortly after purchasing it for $10. She then set to work restoring the adobe structure and creating a space well-suited to reflection, art, and an appreciation of the encompassing environment. The house as we know it today — open to visitors March through November — is simple, stark, and statement-making. Borrow from its considered blend of modern furnishings and natural accents with finds that include a Saarinen chair, sun-bleached cattle bones, and a mobile similar to the Calder that hangs in her living room.

 Get the Look:

teakhound-womb-chair Teakhound
Vintage Saarinen Womb chair and ottoman from Teakhound, $4,000; buy it here.
highdesertdrygoods-cow-skull High Desert Dry Goods
Vintage cow skull from High Desert Dry Goods, $160; buy it here.
umbrellafant-midcentury-pottery-bud-vase Umbrellafant
Vintage ceramic bud vase from Umbrellafant, $24; buy it here.
comometalworks-brass-mobile Comometalworks
Comometalworks abstract brass mobile, $240; buy it here.
lovelylittlesongbird-vintage-southwestern Lovely Little Songbird

Vintage wool rug from Lovely Little Songbird, $85; buy it here.

goldenwhistlerwood-floating-shelf Golden Whistler Wood
Golden Whistler Wood Western Australian Sheoak floating shelf, $100; buy it here.

The Inspiration:

Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House

Farnsworth_House_by_Mies_Van_Der_Rohe_-_interior-2 The Farnsworth House in Plano, IL (photo by Victor Grigas via Wikimedia Commons)
Now a public museum, the Farnsworth House — an iconic steel-and-glass house in Plano, Illinois — was designed in 1945 as a private residence for Chicago physician Edith Farnsworth. Architect Mies van der Rohe, to whom the words “less is more” are commonly attributed, designed the home both to showcase the surrounding natural environment and to exist harmoniously in the midst of it. Appropriately, the space is outfitted with only a few select (and exquisite) pieces, including furniture of the architect’s own design. Adopt a few of Farnsworth’s trademarks with accent tables made of glass and teak or a set of Barcelona chairs upholstered in chocolate leather.

Get the Look:

barcelona-chairs-front Hearthside Home
Vintage Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs from Hearthside Home, $1,749 for the pair; buy it here.
photonic-midcentury-brass-lamp Photonic Studio
Brass floor lamp by Photonic Studio, $379; buy it here.
leedas-rug-closeup Leeda Ots
Handmade upcycled cream cotton rug by Leeda Ots, $79; buy it here.
holy10-magazine-rack Holy10
Vintage leather magazine holder from Holy10, $79; buy it here.
julesmoderne-brass-side-tables Jules Moderne
Vintage X-base brass and glass side tables from Jules Moderne, $275 for the pair; buy it here.

The Inspiration:

Casa Luis Barragán

barraganlarge The Mexico City home of Luis Barragán (via Arch Daily)
Large but unobtrusive, bright but not overbearing, the former home of celebrated Mexican architect Luis Barragán (now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mexico City) provides the perfect example of the architect’s tendencies toward vivid color, striking angles, and natural light. Reference its concrete walls with modern, block-like bookends; its pops of radiant yellow with a handmade throw; its understated furnishings with simple wood staples; and Barragán’s well-known affection for horses with a brass figurine molded in mid-stride. 

Get the Look:

fmcdesign-concrete-bookends FMC Design
Concrete bookend set by FMC Design, $27.50 for two; buy it here.
jgartisanwoodworks-leather-chair JGArtisanWoodworks
Leather and birch sling chair by JGArtisanWoodworks, $950; buy it here.
seveonesixdesigns-lemon-yellow-blanket Seven One Six Designs
Plush-lined fleece throw by Seven One Six Designs, $60; buy it here.
daphnebleu-brass-horse Daphnebleu
Vintage brass horse figurine from Daphnebleu, $22; buy it here.
dsartereno-dining-table DSARTE
Vintage teak dining table from DSARTE, $1,499; buy it here.
babybeswick-brass-sphere BabyBeswick
Vintage brass container from BabyBeswick, $50; buy it here. Lead photo via Daikonic.
Shoko Wanger image
Shoko Wanger

Shoko Wanger is a writer living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She is the author of the blog Sho & Tell, which features a mix of quirky art, thoughtful writing, and a carefully-curated assortment of unique Internet finds. She loves books, cheese, and her friends; has an incurable case of wanderlust; and hopes to one day live in a treehouse.

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