Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Claudia Ricciardone, Owner of Claudia Josephine Design, with Minimalist Design Techniques for Maximum Impact

Oct 31, 2023 09:31AM ● By Claudia Ricciardone

We all know what it’s like to live with too much stuff: overwhelming and overstimulating. Visual clutter, even if it’s purposeful like home décor, can produce similar feelings of dysregulation to the nervous system. It may feel like something is “off” even if we can’t pinpoint what’s causing that feeling. Don’t get me wrong- I love admiring maximalist rooms in shelter magazines. It’s the thoughtful layers that make a room interesting and cohesive--but are those rooms livable? I often wonder the same about very minimalist spaces. How do you achieve a beautifully decorated space that balances these two design extremes and soothes the senses?  


When starting a design, the first step to is decide what’s staying. Typically, my clients have already purged clutter (trash, items that are no longer used, outdated décor, etc.) and I’m considering the larger items, such as furniture. If it’s well made, sentimental, or valuable, I try to find a spot for it in my design. However, there are circumstances when items are better off donated or sold, even if they meet one of those criteria. For instance, if the scale of your sofa overwhelms the room and the style is dated, designing around it is putting good money after bad. You won’t achieve your designed space and you may just end up replacing it in the end anyway. 


Once you know what’s staying, you’ll need a design plan. My designs always start with a floor plan so that I can determine the layout and the additional pieces that I’ll need. Besides the obvious, like furniture, the design may also require area rugs, window treatments, art, lighting, and decorative items, like throw pillows and decor. In creating my design, I analyze factors such as scale, color, materials, availability of products, and budget. 

Inspiration is what you need to create your design! Pinterest boards, design magazines, and even a favorite piece of art can serve as a jumping off point for your design. Often, I’ll pull a color palette from a gorgeously patterned fabric or area rug that I want to use in the space. This is extremely helpful when you are sourcing because you will automatically start to exclude items that don’t fit your palette, scale, budget, or vibe. 

Look for high-quality items, preferably locally made when sourcing new or “new to you” items. This so important, especially if you are eco-conscious as the EPA estimates, 9 million tons of furniture is thrown away every year! Much of this is what’s known as fast furniture, which is cheaply manufactured, and mass produced to satisfy consumer demand for fast and inexpensive furniture. Unfortunately, a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality either. Vintage and antique furniture can be a budget friendly way to source items that tend to be higher quality. When sourcing new, get familiar with the factors that are typically equated with better furnishings, such as items produced from sustainably grown hardwood.

When pulling together my design, I often ask myself, “What are the minimum number of pieces/layers that I need to design this space?” I start with the inspiration piece, such as an area rug, wallpaper, or art, and then add furniture, soft finishes, like pillows and window treatments, and lighting. The last step is to accessorize—and I do this sparingly. Unless you have a beloved collection, you do not need an abundance of accessories. Plants, flowers, books, interesting ceramics, and art can be used intentionally to bring warmth and life to a room. Trays and decorative boxes can serve double duty, both as accessories and to corral items that might otherwise become clutter, such as remote controls and chargers. 


The final step: Edit. Accessories that are very small in scale are more likely to look like clutter. Either group them as a collection or find a new home for them. If it’s too hard to keep up with displaying and putting away holiday décor, aim for one or two substantial pieces that represent the season instead of displaying multiple collections. Also, don’t forget to include attractive storage for items you want out of view unless they are in use. 

Do remember-- this is your home so you get to decide what feels right to you. Whether you like muted neutrals or bright jewel tones; clean lines or ornate carvings; shelves overstuffed with books or decorated lightly with minimalist decor--you get the final say in what feels good to your system. I hope these tips help you create the retreat your body and mind need!

Claudia Ricciardone is owner of Claudia Josephine Design and provides full-service, luxury, interior design services. She is a certified GREEN Accredited Professional and member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. For more information or to arrange for a complimentary 20-minute consultation, contact 860-796-3415, email [email protected] or visit

Join Our Email List


* indicates required
What Best Describes You?