The maximalist decor trend is all about embracing excess. Think large doses of color, exuberant pattern and plenty of textural elements. While 'more might be more', the current trend for maximalism doesn’t equal mess. Think of your space as a carefully curated Aladdin’s cave of treasures, with each item on display even more fascinating than the last.
We asked the experts to weigh in on the recent revival of maximalist decor by sharing their favorite interior design tips and advice.
Maximalist decor trend
The key to this interior design trend is decorating with vivid hues, luxurious pieces and exuberant patterns. Invest in lavish looks that wouldn’t look out of place in the grandest of palaces.
1. Add maximalist decor to your living room
To make the most of a modest space, the rule of thumb has traditionally been subtle decor. However, we are seeing interior designers throwing out the rule book, creating joyful maximalist schemes in compact rooms.
‘People often believe smaller spaces call for more pared-back design, but I disagree,’ says designer Sophie Ashby. ‘Your living room ideas should feel like a cocoon that gives a sense of who you are, and smaller spaces are often better for creating this heightened sense of character.’
In this small living room, the carefully considered color clashing combination truly sings with joy. ‘Pink and green is one of my favorite color combinations for rooms – they play really well off each other and it’s a great way to add a maximalist aesthetic to a space,’ says Lucy Barlow, founder, Barlow & Barlow (opens in new tab).
2. Use color to enhance your space
The right color trends are key to our mood and how likely we are to feel connected with our homes. If you’re unsure, start by looking at your wardrobe as we’re usually better at expressing ourselves with fashion choices than our homes. Is it a riot of color and pattern? Then you’re probably something of a maximalist.
'If in doubt, be bold,' advises Tiffany Duggan, founder and director of Studio Duggan. 'Clients hardly ever regret strong color choices but I am forever being asked how to rectify and inject personality into rather dull characterless spaces,' she says.
'Focus on the room at hand, what will it be used for, its size and height. To create atmosphere, opt for more intense contrasting shades, and for a calmer space, paint your skirtings, walls, and windows in the same shade. This technique will also create the illusion of a larger room if used on rooms with low ceilings. Finally, consider paint ideas alongside fabrics and at the same time as adjacent rooms to ensure a sense of cohesion.'
3. Embrace the power of pattern
'I’ve always been a maximalist, a lover of ornamentation,' says renowned designer, Matthew Williamson. 'I want to create things that make others feel happy. I’ve never been able to get my head around minimalism or flat color. When I start a room design, I think about how I can make an empty space give joy.'
'To achieve a more accomplished maximalist look include more than one pattern in a space. Florals work well with stripes; using a floral sofa – or blind – with a striped rug is a knowing clash and works especially well when you mix a figurative floral with a graphic contrast.'
4. Mix the old with the new
We're aware that contemporary chintz is among the vintage staples enjoying a thoroughly modern makeover. However, Matthew Williamson suggests that we don't need to fill our interiors with modern furnishings – but should combine new features with timeless pieces to create a unique maximalist setting.
'I like all the classic patterns – the florals, ikats, stripes and animal prints – but I bring in unexpected color for a modern look,' says Williamson. 'You might use Delft pottery or old chintz but combine it with colors and patterns that catch the eye, so the old rubs along with the new.'
5. Curate an enveloping bedroom
'Enhancing a small space bedroom with maximalist pattern is the way to go on creating an enveloping bedroom,' says interior designer, Flora Soames. 'It captures that jewel-like sense of coziness and comfort.'
Dahlias have been enjoying a wild resurgence in popularity, so Flora Soames’ wallpaper was a bold, on-trend choice here. ‘It sets the tone for the layering of antiques and fabrics, from Soane’s Jajim Stripe curtains to an antique cushion on the chair,’ she says.
6. Make a statement in an entryway
‘Entryway ideas should make a statement about the house and owners as well as being a welcoming space,' says Mike Fisher, creative director and founder, Studio Indigo.
'Small entryway ideas can be treated in a grand way – “be bold” is my advice. Painting the space a light color will not make it feel bigger. Use strong color to make a statement and give personality. Large details can open up the space.'
7. Don't forgo pattern on window treatments
‘There are a range of practical and aesthetic considerations when choosing maximalist curtain fabric for your window treatment ideas,’ says Emily Mould, design director Romo and Black Edition. ‘Consider how much of a statement you want to make with a strong color, pattern or contrasting texture. A bold, large-scale design can create a striking focal point and will work best when used for large windows where the repeat can be fully appreciated.'
'If you have smaller windows, opt for a small-scale pattern to create a more refined look. Color is also important; rich shades of plum or scarlet create an intimate space and luxuriant tones of ochre or burnt orange can induce a feeling of warmth.'
8. Decorate with dark florals
Use florals on all walls and floor to blur the boundaries of the room and create the illusion of infinite space,’ advises Paula Taylor, color and trend specialist at Graham & Brown.
Build your confidence by looking for a design that uses pale whites and pinks as a contrast to the dark background. ‘The presence of softer tones within the pattern helps balance the moody appeal,’ explains Poppy Godley-Miller, marketing and design manager at Galerie Wallcoverings. ‘It also allows you to introduce other aspects of white and neutral furniture pieces to the room.’
Cultivate a cohesive look by taking a couple of colors from the wallpaper and carrying them through to furnishings and accessories. ‘Don’t forget to add more masculine, edgy pieces to your scheme as it offsets the floweriness and looks far cooler and less one dimensional,’ suggests designer Abigail Ahern. And introducing statement materials such as suede, cashmere, wool, knit and silk is a good idea, too. ‘Dark prints tend to lack movement, so you need to pack a punch through texture,’ adds Ahern
Want to be extra bold? Then channel the maximalist trend by juxtaposing floral room ideas with a contrasting print (think stripes or even an animal motif). ‘The best way to execute this decorating choice is with one print on the walls and another within your textiles,’ suggests Joa Studholme, color curator at Farrow & Ball. Go on, live large.
9. Max out with decorative lighting
‘I like to think of decorative lighting in the same way as art,’ says Mark Holloway, owner of Holloways of Ludlow. LED technology has had a huge impact on lighting design in the past few years, which means more potential for unusual shapes than ever before – the Soft Architecture range by Flos, for example, allows you to build statement lighting into plasterwork. Don’t feel you have to match everything – designer Shalini Misra loves a mix of minimalist and maximalist styles – however, do match lamp trims, switches and door fittings for a harmonious look.
10. Go big in the smallest room
Stunning wallpaper ideas can turn a room from blah to beautiful. Wallpaper is a brilliant way to add interest to your home and help distinguish areas, giving them purpose and personality, while belonging to an overall scheme.
If you’re easing yourself into the world of wallpaper, perhaps start with the smallest room of the house – the powder room or cloakroom. There are no rules here; go bold and give the mini space a well-deserved design moment! If you’re not ready for the maximalist plunge, go for a smaller scale design to ease yourself into wallpaper. It’ll add texture and restrained elegance to any space, without feeling overwhelming.
'Wallpaper brings personality, energy and whimsy to a space,' says Matthew Williamson. 'It can function as a focal point or as a backdrop. I prefer wrapping rooms as opposed to using a feature wall.
What is maximalist design?
If you want to express your personality in your home, maximalist decor is the way to do just that. Clashing patterns, riotous color palettes, impressive (and enormous) collections of objects, this decor trend is having its well-deserved moment in the spotlight.
Maximalist design has been a part of the design world for centuries, and for good reason, but the ways in which it has manifested in our homes has evolved over time into 'curated chaos' as we like to call in at Homes & Gardens. With proper curation, maximalist decor ideas are easy to achieve in the home.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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