What is maximalism?
There are many people in the world that adore minimalist interior design. But there are just as many that find it bland and lacking in personality. Enter maximalism.
Maximalism is an all out mixture of as many clashing styles as possible in one room. It offers a whirlwind of colour, personality and patterns and is all about the excess. Think gilding, wallpaper, bright art prints, crazy carpet, clashing chintzes, eclectic vibes and vintage inspired collectibles. And it’s motto? ‘More is more.’
Spurred by the visual culture of the seventies, it’s part revolt against minimalism, part deep expression of a creative identity. It’s even been dubbed potentially ‘expression of nihilism’ and can be found in all areas of design including film, art, fashion and more.
Given its borderline philosophical approach, it’s often the person who has adopted this interior style has the personality and passions to match.
For those who have adopted maximalism, it’s like a little secret waiting to be discovered inside a Narnia-like world of their home, the external façade of the house not giving away any hints.
Although a very individualised décor, the important thing to remember is that maximalism is not hoarding, messiness or chaos, despite first perceptions. It’s just a visual excess that stimulates the imagination and wonder. But without intention or careful planning, maximalism is just a big muddle.
Want to get it right? Step into the quaint and intriguing world of maximalism…
Clashing patterns and textures: It’s a zoo in here
Although this may go against everything you know to be true, it’s time to turn those preconceptions on their head. Layer patterns with more patterns. And then, when you think that’s enough, add another clashing pattern!
Look we love: Animal prints paired with chevron and gold are a fundamental clashing pattern set in the maximalist’s toolkit.
But mixing patterns isn’t enough. It’s time to take it up a notch by hurling together a bunch of different textures. The textures need to be varied and wild: velvet fur, wood, wool, rattan and metal. Yes, all of them and yes, all in the same room.
Your next adventure is to add a mixture of sharp angles, fluffy fabrics and spiky plants.
Furniture: Ms Haversham meets Coco Chanel
When it comes to maximalism, furniture can be fun.
Try to steer away from ‘I’ve just moved out of home and using whatever furniture I found at a garage sale’ and move towards ‘I’ve artfully selected each piece of furniture to tell a story.’
If you can avoid it, none of your furniture should match. So, if you have a matching couch set, break it up and add a funky reading chair and a sinful ottoman in an eye catching shade.
Another fun décor trend rule to break when it comes to furniture is combining decades or eras of styles. Think 1920s art deco furniture won’t go with 1950s? Think again!
Pop art vibes: neon your world
Maximalism thrives on neon colours and pop art vibes. Think of it like an eclectic sci-fi movie with a surrealist component.
Maximalism is, without a doubt, a reaction. An expression of your colourful inner psyche. But it’s not without its glamour or flamboyance.
Just as pop art is a reaction to mass culture and media influx and making it beautiful, as is maximalism. The overly chintzed up and hyper glitzy version of commercialism is a firm – but stunning – statement.
For entry level maximalism a great way to get started is with an eye-catching statement pop or retro art print.
Colour palette: an all you can eat candy buffet
Here comes the fun part…
The colour is the core component of the wild ride that is maximalism. It features bold wall colours in lime greens and fuchsias. Or even black. And mixed with highlighter yellow couches and other touches of bubblegum pink and peacock blues. The colour scheme should be extravagant almost to the point of discomfort.
If this is too overwhelming for you to bring into your own home, start with a common theme: pick one bright colour and work around it. It’s often easiest to begin with the most outrageous colour or pattern first and work backwards.
Ornate fixtures: Time to call the taxidermist
Once you’ve got your bases of colour, furniture and patterns covered then it’s time to add the finishing touches to symbolise lavishness and opulence.
Chandeliers, wall sconces, oversized vases, an abundance of plants, animal heads, busts, floral art, collections of items and vintage inspired pieces all make noble additions. One of each, if you like.
Furthermore, exposed wooden beams, neon signs, feathers, fruit bowls and bell jars will set this jazzy style right off. Think showgirl on drugs.
Not quite ready to go to the max? Jump in slowly with a pattern art print to start layering up your décor.