Maximalism: 12 Ways to Translate This Look with Confidence

To quote Jonathan Adler, "Minimalism is a bummer.” Thank goodness we are seeing a shift toward more colorful interiors. I tried the minimalist approach. I dumped out my closet and did a capsule wardrobe (that didn’t last). I read and purged after reading “The Magic Art of Tidying Up”. Don’t get me wrong, I still keep things pretty streamlined mostly for my sanity but also because I live with a would-be monk.

The revival of Maximalism, I believe, is a reflection of the bigger shift we’re seeing in individual expressionism. People look at their homes as a way to share their personal stories, travels, family history, belief systems, and character.

But just like most people wouldn’t wear what they see on the runway, I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable in the over-the-top interiors often seen in luxury interior magazines like Elle Decor or House & Garden. Nor would my clients. However, I do find those spaces immensely inspirational.

One last thought. If you are a rule follower, prefer symmetry, or crave a tightly edited interior, this is not the look for you. And that’s okay too! Those space have a place in my heart as well. Today’s post is an ode to the other side. Let’s dive in.

Here are my 12 favorite characteristics of Maximalist interiors. Consider taking 2-3 of these ideas to incorporate into your own home.

#1 Playful art galleries that abide by no rules

No tape measures needed. When it comes to hanging art, Maximalist interiors throw out all the rules. No perfectly-measured widths between frames, nothing perfectly centered, often seen hung floor to ceiling with mis-matched frames, and a daring mix of art and photography of all styles. The beauty is in the bravery.

#2 Unabashedly mixed patterns 

Gingham, Animal print, Plaid, Stripes, Batik, Ikat, Floral, Chinoiserie, Flame Stitch, Toile, Paisley, Kilim, Houndstooth, all live happily together. If you want to mix several of these and still maintain a little order, pick 3-5 and vary the scale of the prints from small to large. You can also pick one color to tie them all together.

#3 Not afraid to mix eras and styles

A Maximalist interior is sure to have objects, art, and furniture from a wide range of eras and regions. This room boasts a French Provincial table, and Egyptian side chair, along with Middle Eastern influences and modern art.

#4 Statement Walls

Can I just say, I want to be friends with Melissa Rufty who designed this fearless room starting with the gorgeous paint color, Coat of Arms” by Benjamin Moore.

Via  Sunset

Via Sunset

#5 Books - Lots and lots of books!

No Maximalist Interior is complete without an overflowing library. These can be books you love, read, and collect over time as well as beautiful vintage and antique books collected simply for the way they look and feel. For collecting books inexpensively, try these options: Half Price Books, Books By the Foot, Black Octopus Books, or contact your library and ask if they do an annual book sale. Many do. Of course, don’t forget thrift stores and garage or estate sales. Happy Hunting!

#6 Opulent Details

Add touches of glamour such as a gilded mirror, lacquered furniture, crystal glassware, or ultra-formal upholstery details such as seen in this to-die-for vignette. What keeps this particular space from feeling like a palace are the down-to-earth touches like the grasscloth rug, the woven basket, and playful mix of colors.

Via  Decorisme

#7 Bohemian vibes

To me Maximalism is a luxurious bohemian look. Play-up the boho with natural elements such as houseplants, rustic wood, or woven rattan furniture.

#8 Dashes of whimsy

One of the things that makes Maximalism fun is the irreverence for rules. If you want to do two kinds of wallpaper on one wall or go bananas with animal motifs. Friggin’ do it. And no apologies when you do!

#9 Fearless Color

This particular room may make some people come undone. Personally I find it playful and fresh. The rainbow of saturated jewel-toned colors are tempered by the live plants and grounded by the neutral colored rug.

Via  Curbed

Via Curbed

#10 Inspiration from nature

Add found objects from nature such as seashells, porcupine quills, ostrich eggs, feathers, and other natural curiosities. Just be sure to obtain these items responsibly.

#11 Statement Trim

Colorfully painted trim is a beautiful way to add character to any space. This cheerful yellow adds wit and charm to an already playful room.

Via  Southern Living ; Designed by  Meg Lonergan , Photo by Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Barbara Schmidt

Via Southern Living; Designed by Meg Lonergan, Photo by Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Barbara Schmidt

#12 Mix High & Low

I’ve saved my favorite room for last. Designed by the ultra-talented Meg Lonergan, this room blends high and low design elements done with perfection. For example, an Ikea sofa topped with luxe pillows looks right at home. The ceiling features a Kelly Wearstler wallpaper layered with a paper lantern. And those black painted doors with brass hardware are everything.

Hey if you’re still reading, chances are this post sparked something in you. Maybe it’s a creative urge to do something daring, offbeat, edgy, and unapologetic. Start with one thing. Hang a group of pictures floor to ceiling. Go to a thrift store and collect items that speak to you. Next time you’re traveling, carve out time for a little shopping. Reupholster that old chair. At the end of the day, life is too short to take our homes too seriously.

In the words of Mae West, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”


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