Putting your finger on exactly what minimalist furniture is can be a bit tricky. This much is certain, however: It involves simple, elegant, functional pieces without unnecessary adornment.

Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess exactly what the term “minimalist furniture” means.

For some people, the idea is to include as few pieces as possible in a home’s design, but that’s something a bit different. And it’s a topic for another article on another day.

Understanding Minimalist Furniture Design

There’s no rulebook that minimalist furniture designers must follow, so there’s no precise definition of the style. You won’t find any particular set of characteristics that causes a piece to be included in the style nor any characteristics that automatically excludes something.

There are a few things that minimalist pieces have in common, however.

First, pieces are simple. You won’t find any carefully turned wood carving on a minimalist chair, any unnecessarily tall posts at the corners of a minimalist bed frame nor many finials or doodads. Fabrics are likely to be unpatterned or involve only the simplest geometric designs.

Second, pieces will almost certainly be elegant. Many minimalists are also very concerned with flow -- the flow of their work as well as the flow of their lives -- so they won’t stand for furniture that contains distracting or discordant elements. If it doesn’t swoop, swish or at least stand firm and proud, it isn’t simple enough for this style.

Third, unnecessary pieces are almost certainly excluded. That means glass doors that close but hide nothing could be eliminated. It also means that chairs may not raise or lower, leaves may not be available for dining room tables and lamps may not swivel unless they really need to.

Finding Good Examples Of Minimalist Furniture

A number of chains and manufacturers claim to focus on simple pieces, but many of them make lots of items that aren’t very simple at all.

If you’ve ever visited an IKEA store, you know that the company’s furniture has a certain look. Generally speaking, that look is minimalism. Some pieces are overly complicated and others involve too many colors or fabrics, but simplicity is the general idea behind the chain and its furniture.

If you look around the furniture stores near you and the ones represented on the Internet, you’ll find many others selling groupings of furniture they claim are minimalist. Whether you need a minimalist living room or a whole house full of simple furniture, someone will be glad to sell it too you.

I suggest, however, that you choose your furniture pieces based not on what the company that makes them specializes in but on what function the pieces can serve in your home.

Minimalist home decor is about much more than choosing minimalist furniture pieces. It’s about making smart furniture choices that will serve you for years to come.

If you think minimalist furniture has a certain look, you’re right. If your friend has a different look in mind, he or she is probably right too. If the piece has a simple design, performs its function elegantly and doesn’t have too many bells and whistles, it’s minimalist -- and it could be just right for you home.