Ten modernist living rooms that celebrate minimalist open-plan interiors

Open layouts, functional and adaptable furniture, and minimalist designs are some of the hallmarks of modernist interiors. For our latest lookbook, we’ve rounded up 10 living rooms that allude to style.

Modernism emerged as an architectural movement in the 1930s and has influenced the streamlined appearance of many interior design projects since then.

Renowned designers and architects who pioneered the style include Charles and Ray Eames, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, all of whom created designs and buildings that became hallmarks of the trend.

For this lookbook, we took a closer look at modernist-inspired living rooms, which often feature low furniture in spacious, flexible layouts, sometimes framed by large windows.

This is the latest roundup in our Dezeen Lookbooks series offering visual inspiration for the home. Previous lookbooks feature kitchen extensions, homes with indoor trees, and purple interiors lit by Pantone’s 2022 Color of the Year.

Above: the photo is by Joana France. Above: The photo is by Anton Gorlenko

Barbican Apartment, UK, by Takero Shimazaki Architects

London office Takero Shimazaki Architects has renovated this apartment within the Barbican Estate, known for its brutalist architecture – a style that emerged in the UK in the 1950s.

Located in Shakespeare Tower, the apartment intends to merge its original design elements with Japanese aesthetics, including tatami flooring that contrasts with the surrounding concrete walls.

“For our inspiration, we looked to many of Japan’s early modernist architects, who faced similar identity issues when European modernism was entering Japan at rapid speed,” the architectural firm explained.

Learn more about this Barbican apartment ›

Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Valley Ho Hotel

Renovation of the Valley Ho Hotel, USA, by Anissa Mendil

Originally designed by American modernist architect Edward L Varney in 1956, the Valley Ho Hotel in Arizona has undergone an interior makeover by local designer Anissa Mendil in recent years.

Guest suites nod to the hotel’s opening period, with elements like open-plan kitchen-lounges featuring low, streamlined furniture and functional cabinetry.

Learn more about Hotel Valley Ho ›

Villa Weinberg
The photo is by Mikkel Mortensen

Villa Weinberg, Denmark, by Weinberg Architects and Friis & Moltke

Another renovation project, this 1940s cottage in Denmark was stripped down by owners Mette and Martin Weinberg of Weinberg Architects and fellow Danish office Friis & Moltke.

Villa Weinberg’s living areas are lined with floor-to-ceiling oil-treated oak planks that are only interrupted by large square windows that add natural light to the interior spaces.

Learn more about Villa Weinberg ›

Modernist drawing room at Kew Residence
The photo is by Trevor Mein

Kew Residence, Australia, by John Wardle Architects

Australian firm founder John Wardle Architects has reworked his 25-year-old Melbourne home to include interiors clad in Victorian ash – such as bespoke functional bookshelves and plinths that hold eclectic ornaments.

Framed by large windows, the living room at Kew Residence also features distinctive Take a Line for a Walk armchairs by product designer Alfredo Häberli in a pale blue hue.

Learn more about Kew Residence ›

Whidbey Island Living Room
The photo is by Kevin Scott

Whidbey Island Farm, USA, by MW Works

Composed of three rectilinear volumes arranged around a central courtyard, Whidbey Island Farm was designed by MW Works in Washington.

The house’s geometric shapes are also carried over to its interiors, which include a large open-plan living room in soft colors and earthy finishes that overlooks a meadow where cattle graze.

Learn more about Whidbey Island Farm ›

Biscuit Loft by OWIU (Only Way Is Up)
The photo is by Justin Chung

Cookie Loft by OWIU Studio

A distinctive Pierre Jeanneret Chandigarh armchair is among the modernist design elements added to Biscuit Loft, a downtown Los Angeles apartment housed in a converted factory building.

Local firm OWIU Studio’s project draws inspiration from minimalist Asian design and features a spacious living space with functional furnishings including sleek wooden shelving in a variety of shades.

Learn more about Biscuit Loft ›

Teton House Chimney
The photo is by Matthew Millman

Teton House, USA, by Olson Kundig

Almost panoramic in its views thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, the living room at Teton House hosts a collection of dark-hued geometric seating arranged around a central fireplace.

Located in Wyoming for its mountainous landscape, the residence was designed by American office Olson Kundig, who covered the facade with large wooden shutters that could be opened or closed using pulleys.

Learn more about the Teton House ›

Apartment 308 by Debaixo do Bloco Arquitetura
The photo is by Joana France

Brasília Apartment, Brazil, by Debaixo do Bloco Arquitetura

Local studio Debaixo do Bloco Arquitetura created an open-plan layout in this Brasilia apartment, originally designed by Lucio Costa and Burle Marx in the 1960s.

While the studio transformed the space by carving out its exposed concrete walls, Debaixo do Bloco Arquitetura was also careful to preserve original modernist design elements such as the granite flooring that complements the low wooden shelves that wrap around the living room. .

Read more about this apartment in Brasilia ›

Edith Farnsworth's modernist country house
The photo is by William Zbaren

Farnsworth House, USA, by Mies van der Rohe

A notable example of Modernist architecture, Farnsworth House is a rectilinear glass residence in Illinois that was completed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951.

In recent years, the house has been redecorated for an installation that featured furniture and personal effects of the late research doctor Edith Farnsworth, her original client.

Curvy woven lounge chairs and a black and white rug with a simple geometric pattern have been placed in the spacious living room which overlooks the lush grounds.

Learn more about Farnsworth House ›

Smith Residence by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple is a
Photo is by Doublespace Photography

Smith Residence, Canada, by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The main living areas are accessed by a set of wide exterior steps at Smith Residence, a group of gabled Corten steel structures by Canadian studio MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple that have been designed to resemble traditional fishing huts.

The low-rise nature of the buildings allows for open-plan interior spaces, such as a living room with tan leather sofas overlooked by a light wood paneled ceiling.

Learn more about Residence Smith ›

This is the latest in our series of lookbooks providing curated visual inspiration from Dezeen’s image archive. For more inspiration, check out previous lookbooks featuring home gyms, retro green bathrooms and colorful kindergartens.

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