Go Big in Your Home: Maximalism Interior Design
Interior design (and even architectural) styles in the 21st century have largely been marked by a 'less is more' approach that values negative space and simplicity above all else. (Marie Kondo, anyone?) But, have you ever felt that that kind of aesthetic is a bit cold or clinical? Do you long for rooms that are homey, welcoming and joyful?
You're not alone! Maximalism is the perfect choice if you crave a space that's truly individual and lets you decorate with wild abandon, unconstrained by any rules. Does this sound up your alley but a little bit intimidating? Have no fear, we're here to walk you through how to become an effortless Maximalist.
Understanding Maximalism's History
As with many other artistic and design styles, Maximalism has a rich and varied history. Let's take a look:
Some people argue that Maximalist interior design can be traced back to the Victorian era in which the upper classes decorated their homes with opulent fabrics, intricate patterns, exotic objects and deep colors. This type of interior was meant to display wealth and luxury in a manner that can't exactly be described as subtle.
The style came back into popularity a few decades later during the 1920s, a time marked by glitz and glamor in what many people call the "Hollywood Regency" period. Similar to Art Deco in many ways, interiors during this age were adorned with elaborate metallic designs and details, extravagant lighting and lush materials.
Mid-20th century Minimalism
The 1950s and 1960s saw the rise of the Minimalist movement, an aesthetic defined by clean lines, simple forms and shapes, monochromatic color palettes and, well, minimal decor and decorations. (You can see this in styles like Japandi and Scandinavian interior design). It was, itself, a reaction to what artists, musicians and designers considered to be the previous generation's gaudy Maximalism.
Naturally, the following generation of creatives reacted against Minimalism by embracing Maximalism's over-the-top look once more throughout the 1970s. For example, the Memphis Design group became extremely prominent and popular shortly after in the 1980s, exhibiting rooms filled to the brim with bright colors, busy patterns and pieces made from mixed materials.
The Maximalist style we know today can be described as a combination of Victorian splendor, Art Deco pizzazz and Memphis brilliance. So, now that you have an idea of where modern Maximalism came from, let's dive into what it looks like in the 21st century.
Maximalist Design Characteristics
Searching for a definition of Maximalism you could fit on a postcard? "The opposite of Minimalism" is a good place to start. Imagine Minimalist design's clean curves or straight lines, and now picture the complete opposite — that's Maximalism. This eclectic interior design style is often a bit chaotic, sometimes clashing and always interesting.
The Maximalist approach is fun, playful and a little indulgent. It's a way to showcase as much of your uniqueness, personality and preferences as you want, and to do it in comfort. Let's unpack all those descriptors a bit more by looking at each element of this interior design style.
As you might expect, a Maximalist color palette is anything but neutral or subdued. It's marked by bright and bold colors ranging from fire-engine red and hot pink to almost blinding yellow and neon orange. You won't find many blacks, grays or whites unless they're creating an often jarring contrast.
When it comes to fabric and designs in Maximalism, things become a little more interesting. There's no one descriptor for Maximalist patterns. Rather, they're a dazzling mix of geometric prints, organic squiggles, softer florals and filigrees, polka dots — anything and everything, really!
When it comes to Maximalist materials, anything goes. You'll find a mixture of lush fur, leather and velvet; lighter cotton and heavier wool, cool metal and stone and warm wood. Again, the only limit when choosing Maximalist fabrics is your imagination.
Choosing Maximalist Colors, Patterns and Textures
Although Maximalism is largely about giving people free rein, there are still a few tips and tricks you can use when decorating your home in this style. We'll discuss some methods for selecting color schemes, fabrics, furniture and decorative items. Let's start with your color palette, prints and materials:
Despite being at liberty to mix any shades you want, it might be a good idea to create some sort of bold color palette for the room you're decorating. Select two or three main colors that you can use as a common thread within a room or across multiple spaces.
While Maximalism steers clear of neutral color schemes for the most part, you can still incorporate them to highlight more vibrant colors and make them really 'pop' (just don't use that word around artists or designers). That said, remember that your room doesn't need to resemble an 80s disco in terms of color. It's entirely up to you to decide your color-to-neutral ratio!
Many fashionistas consider mixing prints a design faux pas, but that's certainly not the case in Maximalism. If you don't want a firm color palette to restrict you, simply pick a similar number of patterns (such as horizontal stripes or paisley) that can tie everything together.
Using a pattern (or several) to add dimension works well if you want a Maximalist vibe without overloading your space with color. Remember that patterns aren't restricted to your linen and upholstery — decorative wallpaper and tiled floors are Maximalist staples!
Beyond colors and patterns, the fabrics and materials you choose can also create depth and intrigue. Nothing is out of bounds here, so feel free to combine velvet, leather, steel, wood, stone and cotton (to name just a few) across your collection of furniture, drapery, pillows, blankets and carpets or rugs.
Picking Maximalist Pieces
It's now time to dive into some practical ways to go about styling your Maximalist space by discussing furniture, lighting and decor.
Even though colors and patterns are undoubtedly going to draw the most attention, you should strive to choose a piece or two of statement furniture for the room's focal point. For example, you might want to place a plush couch in the middle of the living room, or perhaps use an ornate bed frame as a bedroom's centerpiece. Make sure your furniture is functional and comfortable, too!
How you choose to illuminate your Maximalist room will depend on what mood you're trying to achieve. If you're going for the Victorian style of Maximalism, select lights with a warm yellow glow. Alternatively, bright white light works well for more modern Maximalism, especially if you want to highlight all the colors, prints and textures in a room. Either way, a statement lamp or chandelier works wonders.
With your room furnished and lit up, it's time to decorate it with the final touches! This is where you can truly let your personality shine through by selecting bits and bobs that truly speak to your identity. Antiques like vintage statuettes or picture frames work especially well in this regard. Your room is your personal gallery wall, so hang up your favorite pieces of art.
Bookcases are a fantastic way to show off your book collection, and they help prevent bare or plain white walls (one of the few Maximalist no-no's). You undoubtedly also have at least a few little knick-knacks that might seem strange to display in any other style, but this is your party, so take this opportunity to exhibit your Russian nesting dolls, Himalayan salt lamp, animal plushie or any other treasured item with pride.
Plants (real or fake, not everyone has a green thumb!) also liven up spaces and diversify your colors. Regardless of what you choose as Maximalist decor, though, don't create clutter. Maximalist design shouldn't sacrifice function for aesthetics!
As you can see, Maximalism is all about doing what you want with your living space, giving you the freedom to make stylistic choices that make you happy rather than checking off boxes. But, because of that liberty, it can be a daunting task to decorate a Maximalist home. Our decorators at Decorating Den Interiors are here to help guide you on that journey.
Once you've reached out to us, we'll set up an appointment with you and your dedicated decorator to discuss your vision. After that, they'll visit your space to get an idea of what they're working with. Then, your decorator will draft a design plan to make your dreams reality, and once you're happy with their ideas, they'll get started. Contact us to begin your design journey.