The Dirty Little Secret of Spare Minimalist Interiors

Sally Schneider

When Houzz featured our friend Laura Handler’s Harlem renovation on their site, we spotted the great secret to maintaining a spare, orderly space.

You either need to have a LOT a of storage and places to hide all the stuff you use/collect/love…


don’t have a lot of stuff, that is, edit the hell out of it, constantly. Take everything away you don’t need or love. Then tidy up what you do.



Sally Schneider


These photos we took at Laura’s space tell it all. The floor-to-ceiling closets act as a neutral background that bolsters the illusion of minimalism. But when you open them, you find….STUFF: Laura’s collection of unique pieces for entertaining, clothes, materials for her work….including a bolt of fabric tucked into a niche.


Sally Schneider


But a  modern/minimalist look is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people thrive better with lots of things around. The most sublimely-packed space I’ve ever encountered was the studio apartment Fritz Karch, co-author of Collected: Living with the Things You Love  and self-described “maximalist” lived in years ago. Filled with fantastic chairs stacked with fantastic things and books Fritz had collected, I was struck by how orderly it was, and how pleasurable it was to “be” with so many marvels in one place.

I like my spare white space because not seeing a lot of things helps me think and write. Like Laura, I have tall closets where I store a lot of stuff. Its order is only ever temporary.

Sally Schneider

I let things fly out of control a lot as I work on projects, like this aftermath of a sewing day designing the penultimate bag. It’s really a map of all the ideas and experiments tried.

Sally Schneider

Then I clean it up and start all over.

A cycle of joy.


Note: When you start to wonder why your space doesn’t look like the slick interiors you see online, it’s helpful to remember that they were most likely bullied by a stylist, who neatened, hid, straightened and propped them to look just right.

AND, most spaces looks bigger, brighter and cleaner in a professionally made (and styled) photo.


One Response to The Dirty Little Secret of Spare Minimalist Interiors

  1. susan dworski 08.09.2017 at 11:35pm #

    Yes. Mess it up bigtime while creating. Then finish and clean it up bigtime before the next project.
    Cycling creativity from minimalist to maxi-mess helps ferret out innovations.

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