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how to use color when you're a minimalist

A minimalist living space with bright green console/Photography: Art Gray/Dawnsknoll, a house in Santa Monica, California, designed by Minarc, is grounded in 3 concepts: color, space, and sustainability. 90 percent of the furnishings are reused!

Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir, who heads the Iceland-influenced and California-based design firm Minarc, knows how to balance meaningful colors with "creative minimalism." She shares a recent project—a modular, net-zero efficient residence in Santa Monica, California, called Dawnsknoll—along with her take on incorporating color (even if neutrals are your comfort zone!) 

How do you approach the color selection process?

"Like all that we do, we utilize concepts from nature. Inspiration is derived from sunsets, sunrises, snow in the winter, black lava, and desert. Each project shares an emphasis on the blurring of distinction between interior and exterior spaces through the exploitation of natural light, creation of outdoor living rooms, and artistically framed views of nature. The paint we select plays an important role in this vision."

A blue and white backsplash in a minimalist kitchen/Photography: Art Gray/A bright, and efficient, kitchen maximizes storage and provides pops of color.


How do you choose between warms and cools?

"A healthy contrast is always welcome. Like Icelandic nature: fire and ice. An example would be the burst of color from a yellow flower blooming among the desolate black lava fields."

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A patio with colorful accents/Photography: Art Gray/A heated outdoor patio and fireplace provides indoor/outdoor living space.

Are there any timeless colors—hues that won’t feel dated within the next few years?

"If the colors are used as a concept, rather than a trend, we feel they are never out of fashion, and provide a timeless backdrop for your home to last over time. We encourage our clients to explore new hues, outside what they had originally visioned."

A minimalist wine cellar/Photography: Art Gray/Dawnskoll's efficient—and elegant—wine storage.

Any examples of rooms where you opted for an unusual paint choice — perhaps a bold color, or an unexpected use of neutrals?

"In one of our previous projects, the Dawnsknoll residence, [pictured here] we used bright orange countertops. The design and use of color is inspired by dramatic Icelandic landscapes to create contrasting stimulating interiors. The orange creates a multi-functional gathering point in the heart of the house. The swimming pool has a blue lagoon color, and the cabinets are the colors of glaciers and lava."

start sampling!

Ready to play with color? Get started by sampling! Shop some of our favorite hues and see what they look like on your wall.

Blazing OrangeBenjamin Moore

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