Maximalism: What It Is And How To Get The Look
Melody Johnson5-Minute Read
February 13, 2020
Watch out Marie Kondo; it may be time to rethink minimalism. While minimalist enthusiasts encourage a bare-bones approach, the exact opposite is true of maximalism. See why many designers believe "bolder is better."
What Is Maximalism?
Maximalism is big, bright and bold. Say yes to cheetah print, Hollywood Regency furnishings, midcentury decor and everything in between. With maximalism, nothing is off the table. While minimalists seek to pare down possessions and simplify design, maximalists seek to create a space that speaks volumes in terms of personality. During its heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, this countermovement adopted a "more is more" approach to art and life. Adorned with fringes, sequins and diva-like hair, music moguls like Cher and Diana Ross glamourized a larger-than-life attitude toward life and fashion. Now, this grandiose design approach is making a comeback with a fresh twist.
Maximalist Design Trend
The opposite of minimalists, maximalists prefers ornate designs with a touch of the eccentric. Unlike the neutral color tones and matching furniture of the past, this lifestyle has a flair for the dramatic. Audacious patterns and colors are a direct reaction to minimalist enthusiasts who believe "less is more." But it's not always about luxury and high-fashion couture, in its purest form, the movement emphasizes holding on to the things you cherish most. In an interview with Spaces, interior designer Luke Edward Hall, said, "We are spending so much time looking at screens that we want our homes to be more 'real' – more layered, more textured, full of objects we've collected and loved."
Be a unicorn among a field of horses. Trendsetters often stand out from the crowd, and this style is no different. Maximalist fashion leans towards the eccentric. From the runway to the street, fashion designers are pushing the boundaries of traditional form and color. Designers like Richard Quinn work to reimagine classic silhouettes and shapes. With oversized elements like puffed sleeves, over-the-top tulle, and juxtaposed designs, the aesthetic is anything but cookie-cutter.
With this fashion trend, it's all about the textiles. Maximalist style is all about attitude. Take these floral separates by Julie Heuer out for a spin or go for a bold print with Zuri's frocks made from sustainable fabrics in Africa. Sometimes getting into the right mood requires the right outfit. In a recent interview with FastCompany, fashion designer Mapate Diop said, "there are some consumers who really love to use color and patterns in their clothes to express their personality and mood. I know because I am one of them." Diop co-founded his company in Detroit in 2018 and sources the same Ankara prints his mother used to make his childhood clothes.
Maximalist Interior Design
Maximalism brings together the allure of high fashion, art and even literature off the magazine spread and into your living room. It's a celebration. Why settle on just one color, when you have an entire palette? Try your hand at making a scene with these vibrant decor trends.
There's nothing subtle about this maximalist interior design trend. Let bold furniture and paint colors take the spotlight. Don't be afraid to make a statement. Fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee created an artist's getaway in his Calcutta mansion. By contrasting dark green walls with a gallery of one-of-a-kind art pieces, Mukherjee blends the lines of modern and classic. "This house is going to change the way I live and, more importantly, change the way I work," he said in an interview with Architectural Digest. The best way to bring this bold look is by choosing the right paint color for your home. Try deep forest green or dark blue on the wall or mix things up with a bright red shade.
Mix and match with layered prints and patterns. There's nothing too diverse when it comes to decorating your space. Change things up by mingling your grandma's wallpaper with these modern designs. We love this Pinterest-worthy forest green wallpaper mural from Rebel Walls. You can also pair these funky throw pillows with a vintage ottoman or loveseat. Bring your luxury up a notch with this bright antique-inspired rug from Urban Outfitters.
If you fawn over abstract designs and internationally inspired textiles, you might be a maximalist at heart. Curators of art and culture, bohemian chic fans will feel right at home. Add a little luxury with unique textured pieces like this fringed pouf or this Azul wall hanging to give your home that Jungalow look and feel. It's not boho without a touch of green. Break up the excess of decor with greenery-infused vertical wall planters, handcrafted potted containers and repurposed antique vessels.
Bring In The Art
Gallery walls have returned to cheers from vintage enthusiasts. You don't have to pay excessive amounts of cash to pull off this design. Display family heirlooms or unique thrift store finds that depict a story. Art lovers can play with selecting different canvas and frame sizes to create a one-of-a-kind arrangement. Maximalism in art encourages the use of a wide variety of colors and textures. So, mix and match your decor with ceramic busts, abstract paintings and a vast array of books to create a distinct look.
Turn Back Time
Relive history by bringing back iconic pieces from different eras. While chandeliers may be a thing of the past, our love for awe and grandeur is not. That's why the revival of the greatest periods in history can shed new light on old designs. Who can forget the Art Deco influence of the 1920s or the vibrant neons of the ’80s? Don't make the mistake of confining inspiration to only one decade. Art Deco-inspired mirrors, midcentury seats, and groovy wall decor all have a place in the maximalist home. Bring everything together with a cohesive color like Pantone's color of the year. Don't worry too much about trying to match everything, but keep in mind that a harmonious color palette will help tie historical pieces together.
More Is More
Luxury items are key centerpieces for a larger-than-life style because playing it small and safe isn't as fun. Become a connoisseur of rare and fabulous finds. Embellish your home with opulence by adding lavishly comfortable pillows, throws and rugs. Add unique light fixtures like modern chandeliers or antique floor lamps. Lastly, no great home is complete without an impressive set of books. The onset of maximalist literature brought about a love for long novels and poetry. Writers like David Foster Wallace used finely tuned details and elaborate stories to pique their audience's interest. With this in mind, a functional library is both stunning and enlightening. Bring in some elegance and charm to your home with vintage book sets by heading over to your nearest library or by finding unique books online.
In art, literature, music and interior design, maximalism is experiencing a comeback. Adopting a "more is more" way of lifestyle is less about excess than it is about holding onto the things you love the most. Bold colors, gallery walls, layered designs and multidimensional textures curate a picture of light and warmth. By using these design tips, you'll be able to grab onto the beauty of the moment while also reliving the glory days. With maximalism, luxury living never felt so right.
Table of Contents
What Is Minimalism? 5 Tips For Living A Minimalist Lifestyle, From ActualMinimalists
We reached out to interior designers, financial experts and those who identify as minimalists. Learn how you can adopt this famous fad into your everyday life.
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