How do you design a maximalist living room that feels playful but still chic? 6 simple tips from interior designers

Embrace the "more is more" philosophy of maximalism with these decor ideas

maximal living rooms
(Image credit: Jon Day / Matthew Williamson, Photography Cassie Nicholas, Matthew Williamson)

Maximalist decor is making a comeback, and what better room in the home to channel this more is more approach to design than in the living room? A social yet relaxing space in the home, living rooms can often benefit from a maximalist decor scheme to aid in their feeling of coziness and warmth.

While maximalism isn't for everyone, and some prefer the understated nature of minimalism, this decor trend is being embraced for its ability to channel personality in the home, with a less strict approach to design rules than other popular trends.

The best part about decorating with maximalism is its opportunity to fill the living room with sentimental and personal items, that can mix color, pattern, and texture to create an eclectic look. 'Our homes are a reflection of our personalities and our tastes, so if I had an empty living room and no idea where to start, I would pick a couple of things that I loved and let them spark inspiration,' says interior designer Matthew Williamson. 'Something personal, rather than following a trend.'

Matthew Williamson
Matthew Williamson

Matthew Williamson is an award-winning, British interior designer known predominantly for his unique use of pattern and color. Alongside his growing residential and commercial design portfolio, Matthew has also launched a series of homeware collections in collaboration with John Lewis, Pooky, Roome London, Obeetee, and more.

Maximalist living room ideas

Below, designers explain six different decorating ideas that embrace the maximalist decor trend for a cozy living room – perfect if you're feeling inspired to create a vibrant and uplifting space that still feels incredibly chic and liveable.

1. Decorate the walls

maximalist living room with teal feature wall

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson, Photography Cassie Nicholas)

You will rarely see a maximal living room with plain white walls. Since maximalism is all about embracing contrasting color trends and patterns, opting for bold-colored paint ideas or patterned wallpaper ideas on the walls is essential.

There are many living room color ideas to choose from, whichever you're most drawn to. But if you're looking for some inspiration, Niko Rasides, Design Director at Nicholas Anthony advises: 'Maximalism thrives on a diverse color palette; jewel tones, vibrant reds, deep blues, and lush greens which can coexist harmoniously in a maximalist living room.'

If you prefer to decorate with wallpaper, designer Soledad Alzaga explains: 'Maximalism thrives on the clash of diverse patterns like florals, animal prints and geometric shapes that work together harmoniously.'

While it can feel daunting to decorate with loud patterns, Niko reassures that it's all about layering them intentionally for a balanced look: 'The key to embracing patterns and incorporating them into your space is to layer them in a way that creates visual interest without overwhelming the space. Mix large-scale patterns with smaller ones for a dynamic effect.'

2. Add mismatched decor items

maximal living room with console tables with candles on

(Image credit: Future, Mark Bolton)

Key to creating an eclectic and maximalist look is having mismatched items that add character to the space. A good way of doing this is to embrace decorating with vintage, which adds a mix of different materials, as opposed to the more polished look of shopping new. 'Use collections of personal things, travel findings, prints, and patterns to showcase a layered and eclectic personality. Think of accessories and decor as a form of storytelling,' says Soledad Alzaga. 

Interior designer and founder of VERDE Interior Design Luis Carmona recommends a similar approach, saying: 'As you are designing, be sure to incorporate a lot of your personal belongings, items you have collected, photography and family heirlooms. A maximalist aesthetic is best executed when the personality of the person using the space shines through the design. Showcasing photography from past travels and vintage furniture pieces and mixing them with textured patterns and bold colors is a sure way to reach maximalist design goals.'

Luis Carmona
Luis Carmona

Luis Carmona is the owner and lead designer at VERDE Interior Design. With almost two decades of experience in the creative space (interior design, advertising, and marketing), Carmona gets to blend his many passions into one design studio, offering services to commercial and residential clients in both Houston and Dallas.

3. Layer cozy textiles

maximal living room with pink wall, gold sofa and gallery wall

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

Another easy way to create an eclectic feel in the living room is to consider layering textiles. Not only does this add interest from a visual perspective with contrasting materials between throws and pillows for example, but it's also a good way to create a cozy feel in the living room. 'Adding textured elements like rugs, ottomans or window treatments and wooden pieces will help to soften the space and absorb sound which is always good when designing a living room,' explains Luis Carmona. 

When selecting textiles for a maximalist living room, the trick is to opt for contrasting colors and patterns, as pictured above, to ensure the overall look is dynamic and unexpected. 

4. Make the coffee table a focal point

Blue living room by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

'Make your coffee table a moment by grouping your favorite curios over stacks of interesting books and pretty trays,' advises Nicole Cullum, founder of Color Caravan. 'Divide your coffee table into four quadrants, and treat each section as its own display.'

While incorporating many decorative items is key to a maximalist look, Luis Carmona advises against a cluttered look: 'The great part about maximalist design is that more is more and the more personality a space has, the better. However, there is a way to design with intention so that the space doesn't appear cluttered.' 

'Use the rule of three when it comes to decorating shelves and other flat surfaces. Decorating in odd numbers always helps to balance out the space. Use different-sized accessories, candles, books, and collectibles to give the space some dimension and overall depth. If using books, stack them horizontally and vertically to add some directional interest to the room.'

5. Mix furniture from different eras

Green open plan living room

(Image credit: Jon Day)

'The maximalism style celebrates the beauty of diversity, so when incorporating furniture pieces think about how these pieces from different eras, styles, and materials will work with each other,' says Niko Rasides.

'For example, combining a vintage velvet sofa with modern metallic accent chairs could offer a truly eclectic look. Despite the apparent randomness, a well-designed maximalist space is carefully composed. Consider the layout of living room furniture, the arrangement of decor items, and the flow of colors to create a cohesive and inviting environment. Introduce a variety of textures through plush rugs, velvet upholstery, satin pillows, and fringed throws. This adds depth and a sense of opulence to the living space,' explains Niko. 

6. Layer accent lighting

Living room with fireplace, antique chandelier and wall sconce lighting

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Lastly, consider layering different types of lighting to set a cozy ambiance in the living room, whilst further creating an eclectic look and feel: 'Maximalist spaces also benefit from layered lighting,' says Niko Rasides. When choosing the best living room lighting ideas for a maximal look, Niko advises: 'Combine ambient, task, and accent lighting to highlight different elements and create a visually dynamic atmosphere. Chandeliers, floor lamps, and table lamps can all contribute to the overall aesthetic.'

There are so many ways to create a maximal feel in the living room. This look is less about following rules, and more about having the freedom to experiment with decorating with items you love. You can find more inspiration about this popular interior trend, where we explore: Is maximalism more on trend than minimalism?

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.