Published on September 15, 2023 by Marcello Kline
In the ever-evolving world of interior design, the mantra “less is more” has reigned supreme for some time. However, for those who believe that richness, depth, and a touch of extravagance can create truly captivating spaces, maximalist design beckons. This audacious style celebrates abundance, where every piece has its place, and rooms tell a story of personality and passion.
This Redfin article, filled with expert tips, will guide you on a journey through the vibrant world of the maximalist design. Whether you’re a design novice styling your Brooklyn, NY, apartment or a seasoned decorator revamping your La Jolla, CA, home, get ready to dive into a realm where boundaries are pushed, and imagination knows no limits.
What is maximalist design?
Maximalist design is a bold and unapologetic approach to interior styling that celebrates abundance, vibrancy, and eclecticism. In contrast to minimalism’s pared-down and simplistic aesthetic, maximalism revels in layering patterns, textures, colors, and art. It’s characterized by a mix of period styles, rich color palettes, and a profusion of décor items, creating personal spaces, rich in narrative, and often bordering on the theatrical. Far from being chaotic, a well-executed maximalist space is a harmonious blend of elements that reflect the inhabitant’s passions, travels, and personality.
Creating a maximalist aesthetic is a true form of art that Vicki Weixlmann with Home Decor Consulting says “exhibits bright energy and playfulness.”
1. Start with a trophy fabric, wallpaper, or rug
When venturing into the world of maximalist design, beginning with a standout ‘trophy’ item can set the tone for your entire space. This could be a sumptuously patterned fabric, an eye-catching wallpaper, or a statement rug. Let this piece be the anchor and inspiration for your design, drawing colors, patterns, and textures from it to inform other elements in the room.
Hollis Loudon Puig, principal/owner of Hollis Loudon Interiors, shares how she starts her designs “with a ‘trophy’ fabric of multiple colors and a hint of texture, a whimsical wallpaper with a fun pattern and a great deal of interest.” She adds that the wallpaper or rug should have some serious “main character energy.”
2. Choose your color palette wisely
Diving into maximalist design doesn’t mean indiscriminately mixing all the colors of the rainbow. The success of a maximalist space often hinges on a well-thought-out color palette. Start by selecting a dominant hue that resonates with you, then build out complementary, analogous, or contrasting shades around it. Remember, in maximalism, you’re not limited to just two or three colors – you can play with multiple, but there should always be a harmonious relationship between them.
Heralynn Jones with Orlando Furniture Expo shares the importance of choosing a color that will be more pronounced than others. This primary color will be noticeable within furniture elements such as a sofa or a bed. Jones encourages having fun with the design and introducing décor items such as lamps with metallics to add a pop of sparkle.
3. Cultivate a maximalist space with different design styles
One of the many beautiful things about maximalism is that you aren’t barred to a specific style. While minimalism often adheres to a singular, cohesive style, maximalism encourages the union of the old with the new, the East with the West, and the classical with the contemporary.
Jonathan Rachman with Jonathan Rachman Design in San Francisco, CA, recommends utilizing a mixture of styles within the space you’re creating, think Art Deco mixed with the classical and refined Louis XVI. Rachman adds, “The juxtaposition of these styles and eras makes your maximalist style unique.”
Julie Swann, author and designer of Gone Minimal, adds that “efficiently designing a maximalist space involves integrating personality, objects, and organization to create a visually inviting and exciting aesthetic.”
4. Assign a single space to be Maximalist
Maybe you aren’t fully ready to embrace maximalism, but you’re tempted. The good news is that one of the most effective ways to introduce this bold style is by dedicating a single room or even a nook to fully embrace the maximalist spirit. Whether it’s a reading corner filled with layered textures, a study with walls adorned in vibrant art, or a powder room transformed with bold wallpaper and eclectic fixtures, assigning one space for maximalism creates a concentrated burst of design energy in your home.
Interior designer Merav Frenkel, who tends to design minimalist interiors, believes that “the home should be a reflection of its inhabitants.” Striking a balance between having open and freeing spaces throughout your home while having a dedicated space that embraces more pronounced décor and furniture can be a great way to test-drive a new style or even embrace both.
5. Create a gallery wall of eclectic art
A gallery wall is one of the quintessential elements of maximalist expression, offering a platform to showcase art that spans genres, periods, and mediums. To start your eclectic gallery journey, gather art pieces that resonate with you — these could range from vintage prints and contemporary paintings to personal photographs and even sculptural elements. The key is diversity, but with intention.
Kristy Craig Anderson, owner of Dwell Home Market in Tampa, FL shares that achieving a creative art installation can occur by “adding varying sizes and styles while keeping a consistent color story.” She adds how, for extra maximalist points, “choose a bold wall color underneath.”
6. Be thoughtful about how you display items
One of the most daunting parts about maximalism is the preconceived notion that it’s cluttered, unorganized, and messy. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, maximalism is all about embracing an abundance of objects and decorations. Still, John Ross, principal designer of Spaces by John Ross, shares how, “creating designated areas for your items is essential to prevent the space from feeling cluttered and overwhelming.” He continues, “utilizing stylish shelving, elegant bookcases, and sophisticated display cabinets to showcase your unique collections and curiosities.”
Final thoughts: don’t be afraid to explore a maximalist interior design style
The beauty of maximalism is that it is a unique style that allows you to showcase more and is “fearless and unapologetically bold,” says Stacy Markow, a Dallas Fort Worth interior design and architectural photographer. “The composition of maximalism is refined, balanced, layered, and sophisticated,” says Hutton Wilkinson of Tony Duquette Studios in Beverly Hills, CA. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the intricacies of this design style, Wilkinson assures you’re not alone. Reaching out to a renowned maximalist designer can be instrumental in bringing your vision to life, allowing you to truly experience the joys of living maximally.