Step into an uncluttered home and the first thing you notice is the calm, tranquil atmosphere. Even if you're not a natural minimalist, the careful choice and placement of furniture, along with a few simple decorating tricks, will help you achieve a pared-back style.
Before buying anything new, assess how much you truly need, and whether it will improve your space. It's also a good idea to plan storage around the amount you own, rather than choosing a piece of furniture and filling it up. By giving every item a home, there will be less opportunity for clutter.
In any new layout for a room or entire home, take a tip from architects and consider the circulation space, thinking about how you move around the room itself and from one area to the next, ensuring the size and position of furniture won't obstruct the route. Draw a scale plan and mark on furniture to be sure it will fit. Large-scale solutions needn't encroach. For instance, it's possible to have a customised media and storage wall that is just 40cm deep.
The sleek, cohesive look of fitted furniture tailored to your home is great for creating a sense of space, but more flexible freestanding pieces and modular options can also be lined up for a streamlined effect. Remember, cupboards and wardrobes aren't the only solution for clutter, as some sofas and beds have secret storage, too. Integrated space in the base of an ottoman bed provides a perfect place for spare bedding or anything else you need to store out of the way.
In open-plan spaces, aim to create zones to section off areas according to how they're used. In a large living space, you could move a shelving unit from the wall and use it to divide the room. An open-back style of shelving, such as Content by Conran's Elmari unit, allows for display without compromising the feeling of space, while a modular sofa can be adapted by adding or moving sections. Set up zones for different activities, then when you want to be close, just push the seats together to make one huge family hangout.
Streamlining is as much about making clever decorating choices as it is about planning furniture arrangements. Concentrate on a calm colour palette for paint and wallpaper, and limit accessories to a few objects in beautiful materials as accents. Make the most of the natural light available, as this will open up a space and highlight favourite pieces of furniture. Stick to simple window treatments, ensuring curtain poles are long enough to allow curtains to be pulled right back to maximise the light, or fit neat blinds that open fully to let in daylight.
Use a mix of open shelving and cabinet styles to create a display unit that's flexible enough to hide the things you don't want on show. Make sure your shelving is deep enough to hold your belongings, but narrow enough that it won't compromise the square footage in your room. Choose shelves that are modular, so they can work in any room size or type, and use to maximise your space throughout, from the kitchen to the bedroom, even the wardrobes. And lead the ultimate organised life with small additions such as box organisers and wall grids.