For decades, minimalism has reigned supreme in the interior design world. With the revival of Mid-Century Modern architecture in the late nineties came the re-emphasis on neutral colors, clean lines, and nominal furnishings. While minimalism will never truly go out of style, the recent rise in demand for all things granny chic—vintage wallpaper, chintz, and pleats aplenty—indicates that the pendulum is swinging back toward a more-is-more aesthetic.  

While the most compelling maximalist interiors are undoubtedly wild, they also integrate careful curation to create visual cohesion and balance. Read on to discover how you can successfully emulate the maximalist method and create the delightfully over-the-top home of your dreams.

Design by Cocollected / Photo by Sarah Natsumi Moore

Show your true colors 

Maximalism presents a thrilling opportunity to fill your home with the garish and glorious. However, it’s important to cultivate cohesion between your decorative elements. An easy way to create a sense of harmony is to pick out pieces that operate within a specific color palette. The guiding principle of working with colors in interior design is the 60-30-10 rule: 60 percent of your space should share a dominant, usually neutral or subdued shade; 30 percent should go to bolder, secondary color; 10 percent should go to an accent color—your most daring and vibrant shade. 

Design by Summer Thornton / Photo by Nick Johnson, Brittany Ambridge, Josh Thornton

Even though all traditional rules of home decor go out the window with maximalism, there are still some helpful tips to be culled from the beloved 60-30-10 principle. Out of the must-have decor elements in your space, consider the most dominant color. Do those pieces have other secondary or accent colors? If so, highlight those with similarly hued accents. 

Even though color is considered to be an underlying tenet of the maximalist style, rules were meant to be broken. Designers like Sean Anderson and Sarah Walker have perfected the art of “the busier, the better” with subdued—some might even say “restrained”—color palettes.  How do they pull it off? By packing a room with texture and shapes, such as an array of wood tones, leather upholstery, and shapely rattan elements.

Design by Sean Anderson / Photo by Haris Kenjar

Although Mid-Century Modern accents are usually synced minimalism, these designers prove that your maximalist dreams can be realized within any aesthetic. Partner a leather lounge chair with an overarching floor lamp and Noguchi coffee table. The result is a chic, softened space that still maintains maximalist principles.

Design by Sarah Walker / Photo by John Ellis

Accumulation, the smart way

A no-fuss way to achieve maximalist style is to incrementally add pieces to an already furnished space. Inch your way to pure maximalist bliss by slowly incorporating elements like unique collectibles, treasured books, travel souvenirs, family heirlooms, and accent pillows. By taking a more measured approach, the gaps in your space are slowly revealed, making it easy to shop with purpose. As you browse vintage and antique shops, flea markets—and even Chairish!—you can amass items that perfectly fit in those holes. 

Design by SKIN LLC / Photo by Andrew Miller

Shopping slow also allows you to hold out for those funky and personalized items that really make a room. Think: a uniquely-shaped lamp, a handmade, one-of-a-kind rug, or a piece of oversized art that evokes an emotional response. If you already own plenty of accessories, consider a bookcase or étagère, display cabinet, or wall-mounted shelf to proudly exhibit your doodads. Open shelving is a great way to showcase your items while still maintaining a level of organization and order. 

Design by Jonathan Rachman Design / Photo by Suzanna Scott

Work the Walls (and the Floor)

With maximalism, every horizontal and vertical inch of your space presents an opportunity to stand out—and that includes the walls. Wallpapers splashed with colorful paisley prints, foliage, animal prints, or even chintz-like cartoon figures can set a bold tone. For those in search of color inspiration, a wallpaper color scheme can make a genius jumping off point.  

Design by Haus of Meeshie / Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle

Contrary to popular belief, floors can be just as lonely-looking as walls. An antique rug from China, a vintage Moroccan rug, or a faux Cheetah hide can make a room feel more lively and decorated—just as the maximalists intended! 

Above all, remember: there is no wrong way to approach maximalism. It’s all about showcasing what you love and how much you have of what you love. Don’t hesitate to push the boundaries; layer mismatched textiles, incorporate every art piece you can get your hands on. In a phrase: Make. A. Scene!

Get the Look: Maximalism >>

Featured image: Design by Meredith Ellis Design / Photo by Grey Crawford


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September 18, 2021

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