Enamored with gray, white and other neutrals? Then today's Trend Report might not be for you. But if you love immersing yourself in vibrant colors, wild patterns and maybe just a hint of decorative clutter, we've got something fun to share from the interior decorating world: maximalism!
Maximalism is all about more. More color, more objects, more layering, more variety. It's at the other end of the home decor spectrum from the simple, subtle styles found in sparse Scandinavian design. To put it another way: If you adore clean lines, you're probably not a maximalist at heart.
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Maximalism is hardly a new interior design style. (If you've ever toured Versailles or another elaborate old palace, you've seen centuries-old maximalism up close.) It has had a resurgence on social media in recent years, so some people are seeing examples of IRL maximalist design for the very first time. Maximalism is an especially fun trend to play with because there's no one "right" way to do it. Let your creativity be your guide—and draw inspiration for achieving the look in your home from a few of our favorite social media maximalists.
1. The bolder the colors, the better
Embracing maximalism lets you break free from the constraints of decorating with a strict color palette. You might still decide you want to stick to a mix of blues and greens in your living room or design monochromatic maximalist rooms inspired by your favorite colors. But you can also take more of an "anything goes" approach and fill a room with every color of the rainbow. Colors don't necessarily have to "go" together in a way that's pleasing to anyone but you. How freeing!
Instagram maximalist @colorful_kimmes shows us how it's done with a glimpse into her eye-catching dining room, which seems to feature just about every hue imaginable. What a treat for the senses.
2. Get creative with light fixtures
Is it a little over-the-top to have a chandelier hanging in your bathroom like you're Marie Antoinette or something? Yes. Should you do it anyway? Also yes! When you're embracing maximalist ideals, no room is too small for a chandelier. Think about upgrading existing light fixtures to include more whimsical fixtures too.
Instagrammer @reddish_house proves that you can incorporate a few neutrals into maximalist decor with her boho rattan light fixture. We'd like to curl up in this room with a good book and a cup of tea.
3. Pick bright, eclectic art—and lots of it
Decorating in a maximalist way offers permission to surround yourself with art that delights and inspires, even if involves a mix of wildly different styles and colors. Why not hang a kid's finger-painted scribbles next to Picasso prints and woven tapestries? If you love them, hang them where they'll shine.
Veering into maximalism doesn't mean you have to get rid of black-and-white photo prints or other neutral artwork, though. Reframe your toned-down art and photos in eclectic antique frames from flea markets (as @barij appears to have done below). Alternatively, leave them unframed and let subtle art serve as a counterpoint to other vibrant colors in the space.
Hold Up... What About Minimalist Design?
Maximalists might ask themselves, “Do I love this?” while shopping for home decor. Minimalists would be more likely to ask themselves, “Does the room need this?” But what is minimalism, exactly? These five elements are often a key part of minimalist design:
- Neutral colors (brighter shades might be used occasionally for pops of color)
- Clean lines
- Practicality—everything has a specific purpose
- One main focal point in each room, such as a large painting
- Plants and accent pieces used sparingly
So…what do you think? Are you more of a maximalist or a minimalist at heart?
4. Go for a gallery wall
If you hang a single piece of art on a white wall in a minimalist space, it's going to be a focal point—so it had better be perfectly placed and perfectly level. If it's even slightly too high on the wall or a few centimeters off-center, it might draw attention for the wrong reasons.
Maximalist decor offers flexibility. You can crowd a dozen framed pieces together in a gallery wall, making up the layout as you go and not worrying about things being perfectly spaced. @featherandfossil_interiors offers a prime example of the maximalist gallery in their Instagram post, proving that wall decor pieces of all sizes deserve their time to shine.
5. Choose luxe fabrics and bold patterns
Adding a few new patterned elements to a room is a quick way to include maximalist sensibility in your existing space. Things like footstools, pillows and blankets in animal prints and bold graphic patterns will instantly add more visual interest. Choose rich, touchable fabrics such as faux fur, velvet, silk and glossy satin.
Putting up temporary wallpaper with bold chintz or striped patterns is also a quick way to incorporate maximalist style. In smaller spaces, use patterned wallpaper on one accent wall so it doesn't feel overwhelming. @wendymorrisondesign does all of the above in a vibrant living room setup.
6. Fill a wall with shelves
Ever heard of a "cabinet of curiosities?" These furniture pieces date at least as far back as the 1700s and have historically served as a way for people to create tiny museums at home. Cabinets were crammed full of odd and interesting objects that their owners could show off to visitors.
Today there's no reason to hide away all your favorite knickknacks and random treasures in a closed cabinet! Display them on open shelves for you and everyone to enjoy. To that end, fill an entire wall (or multiple walls) with bookshelves or floating shelves for a true maximalist take. Check out this beautifully designed room from @coreydamenjenkins for a unique example of putting shelving to good use.
Maximalist design can veer into mindless consumerism or even hoarding territory pretty quickly. Embracing this style should be about surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy, not about piling a bunch of random stuff into your home.
Whenever you’re thinking about adding a new element, bear in mind a quote from famous 19th-century designer William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be beautiful or believe to be useful.”
7. Mix and match pieces from different eras
In a carefully curated vintage store, you might see Art Deco lamps and old-school pottery perched on mid-century side tables and Victorian-era armoires. Aim for that same kind of century-crossing style in your own home. Mix family heirlooms and thrifted pieces with modern accessories from Target.
Instagrammer @welsh_mill_reimagined embraces the eclectic vibes with a mixture of antique furniture, fun modern finds and everything in between.
8. Embrace quirkiness
Creating a maximalist space is all about celebrating the things you love—even if they're considered a bit weird. This might mean hanging art with random pop culture references that most people don't get or buying those hand-shaped chairs you've always secretly loved. (Check out the set @indigoleopardhome has for an impressively crafted example.)
9. Go green
Greenery and flowers are a staple of maximalist decor. They automatically add life, color and texture to any room. Deck out your space with plants in a variety of sizes and display them at different heights for depth and dimension. Fill corners with tall ferns, hang air plants from the ceiling and put potted plants and vases of flowers on side tables and shelves. You might just feel as if you've crafted a jungle inside your home—take a look at @weeny_victorian_house_in_ware's plant-heavy dining space for inspo.
10. Keep it fresh with frequent changes
Museums change their exhibits on a regular basis—and so should maximalists! Part of this aesthetic's appeal is that it allows decorators to play and experiment with every space. Make changes whenever design elements (or entire rooms) feel stale. Start small by swapping accent pillows from your bedroom with living room pillows and moving artwork around.
Don't be afraid to pare things back if you feel overwhelmed by a room. Maybe you're more of a "relaxed maximalist" than a "full maximalist." Instagrammer @ahometomakeyousmile proves that maximalism doesn't have to be oversaturated with neon colors to be effective and intriguing.
Your tolerance for bold hues, eclectic touches and pretty patterns might not precisely align with that of maximalist design influencers, but it's your space—what matters most is that it feels right to you!