5 Methods of Designing with a Maximalist Mindset

 

It is no big secret. We’ve been spending a lot of time in our homes over this past year. We’ve had so much more time with our spaces learning what we love most and, maybe more importantly, what’s missing. For the longest time a minimalistic style was the dominant design trend focusing on neutral colors and little risk. But now many are realizing we crave more than the very basic design needs; more decoration, more art, more personality, more life. Maximalism has arrived and it’s on the rise.

 

But what exactly is maximalism? In the simplest terms, a maximalist design style is all about excess. It’s a style that takes your design ideas and pushes them to an extreme. While minimalism uses very little color and sticks to only simple natural finishes, maximalism features bold colors, varied patterns, and one of a kind furniture and decor. When you enter these fearlessly designed spaces, it hits you, tantalizing your senses. Your eyes are filled with wonder, darting all around the room sending image after image to your brain. After a few moments of taking in the overall room, the details start to emerge. Layered textures, delightful decor, and intricate pieces come to the forefront, each themselves is a new little story to explore. Your left dazzled by the prospect that the more you look, the more you will find. 

 

And this isn’t just an idealized concept, there is real science at work here. Our minds love patterns and visual rhythms. When we detect a pattern in our surroundings we get a tiny reward of dopamine. When you add a level of personal connection, the dopamine reward gets bigger. The more you look, the better you feel. In this sense maximalism is much more personal than minimalism. We and the world are complex, multifaceted, full of different thoughts and emotions. Maximalist decor embraces that. 

 

So how does one start adopting a maximalist mindset and jump into bold style? The quick answer is to build upon what you’ve already started. Maximalism is all about taking your already preferred design style and pushing it further. It can be a little intimidating to stretch beyond your comfort zone, but with these design tips in mind, you’re sure to love the outcome.

 

Vignette of a bright room with a light blue console table and a soft white sofa.

1. Use a Variety of Textures

Textures are an easy way to start designing your space with a maximalist mindset, especially when bold patterns and colors seem too daunting at first. Mixing different textures adds a lot of depth and visual interest to the room, and it’s also a delight to run your hand over. Instead of just one soft throw blanket over a leather or woven fabric sofa, try incorporating other textures through throw pillows, baskets, and even lighting.

 

 

Interior shot looking into a cheerful, colorful living room through an archway.

Photo by Anna Rafferty | Barbie Roadkill 

2. Experiment with Bold Colors

A colorful room is almost a trademark of a maximalist design. Color is a topic that seems intimidating, but in practice is fairly easy! Designing with bold colors takes a small commitment to work well in any space. Find a color palette of three to seven colors that speak strongly to you and look harmonious together as swatches. Stick to those colors about 80% of the time throughout all of your decor and furniture and voila, you’re golden. You won’t even need every object to be a perfect match for the magic to work. When in doubt, you can always build a color palette through a painting you love or a rug you know you want in your space.




Wall mural of tigers and tropical leaves painted by Syd Veverka with a piano in front.Photo by Anna Rafferty | Barbie Roadkill; Mural by Syd Veverka

3. Upgrade your Accent Wall with a Mural

Maximalism is all about taking your design ideas to the next level. If you are feeling the urge to add an accent wall, take it further by creating an mural. Whether you hire one of your favorite artists to create a one of a kind piece of art or you paint one yourself, a large-scale mural won’t just grab your attention, it’ll keep it. This takes a simple accent wall and turns it into one of the best views in the house.

 

 

Green and orange living room with lots of patterns

4. Layer in More Patterns

If bright colors and large scale murals aren’t speaking to you, you can still take your design to another level by adding in a mix of patterns both in your decor and on your walls. The different patterns not only add visual interest, they also move your eye around the room. In true maximalist fashion, don’t be afraid to mix different types of patterns for extra excitement. Geometric, floral, traditional, modern; they can all work together so long as the colors are harmonious with one another.

 

 

Group of gold and black decor on a shelf in front of a blue wall.

5. Maximize your Decor

Great maximalist decor is a mix of new and found objects that all speak personally to you in one way or another. This lets you live with items that are full of memory and delight. The downside is that all these pieces may not always go with one another. Fortunately you can help them coexist happily on your shelves. A trick to keeping all of that decor “charmingly eclectic” and not “chaotically hectic” is placing your pieces into groups that visually work well together. This lets your most loved objects tell their visual story together, rather each piece constantly competing for your eyes’ attention.

 

 

Reflecting on the past year, it makes complete sense why maximalism is gaining popularity. Humans crave connection, and it was only a matter of time before we looked at our homes and felt the desire to fill it with our favorite things, connecting with the walls around us. Maximalist design is very personal. The great thing is, bold design comes in many unique forms and it all lies on a sliding scale. You can take it to whichever level you want, from an extreme mix of colors and patterns to thoughtfully displaying the treasures you have. Push your style a bit beyond your comfort zone and you’ll be surprised just how expressive your space can become.

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