Updated: Mar 15, 2022
“Maximalism is an opportunity to create a living space that conjures up good feelings, memories, and moods. This trend is about grounding yourself in the material and beauty of your surroundings—embracing color, patterns, and textures to go big, bold, and beautiful!”—Alison Draper, BHS Agent
Gone are the days when minimalism was the trend du jour of interior design.
While clean lines and contemporary décor will always have their place, current design trends indicate many are choosing to express themselves, their styles, and even their dreams and desires through bold colors, furnishings, and more.
Perhaps it is a widespread, emotional reaction to quarantine, causing many of us to grow bored of our spaces and long for more vibrancy in our homes and lives. Or, it could be our society’s love of nostalgia and the glamour of yesteryear, with shows like The Gilded Age, Bridgerton, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel reminding us of times when homes were rich with art, patterns, textures, and colors.
Reasons aside, maximalism has re-emerged as a top design trend and is likely here to stay, encouraging many to be bold and daring when decorating their homes.
“When I work with clients, oftentimes it seems they need permission to step outside of the box and embrace a bolder style,” said BHS Broker Louise Phillips Forbes, a design expert who often counsels clients on how to stage and decorate their homes for selling. “We go into homes and curate vignettes and moments with spaces that people have almost been afraid to let themselves have."
A common misconception is that maximalism begets clutter and chaos, but that is not necessarily true. If approached thoughtfully, maximalism can allow you to express your personality through home design while still exuding refinement—think “curated messiness,” as Forbes calls it. It can also be a lot of fun!
Here are some ways you can take a maximalist approach to your home’s interior design scheme. These are only guidelines, as the true beauty of maximalism is that there are few if any rules. Just remember that, no matter what you choose to “maximalize,” cohesion and intention should always remain top of mind so as to prevent a space from looking crowded and overwhelming.
Bright, Bold Colors
If this year’s Pantone Color of the Year was any indication, bright colors are in high demand, providing an easy way to bring a space to life and inject your own personality into it. Let’s face it, there’s just something about vivid hues that lifts our moods and makes us smile. For those just starting out, consider incorporating pops of color through pillows, artwork, and accent pieces.
“You can have purples, reds, and yellows anchored with a neutral tone that won’t make the space look too busy,” explained Forbes.
Those taking a more audacious approach can “theme” rooms around certain color schemes, with both furnishings and wall paint showcasing bold hues like pink, emerald green, and violet. Colors that contrast help create a livelier environment, while monochromatic themes can convey a sense of calm and can even make a smaller room appear larger.
Art and Photo Walls
“Walls need art and art needs walls,” said Forbes. “I love an entire wall that is filled, intentionally, with all kinds of wild art. I think it gives a home a sense of soul.”
What better way to showcase your passions and interests than through art and photography? Consider dedicating a wall (or several) to photos and artwork that lift your mood, inspire you, or tell your story.
With many of us halting our travel plans over the last two years, this could also be a great opportunity to include worldly paintings and maps that transport you to other countries and cultures. Arranging photos and paintings strategically with complementary frames can keep the space looking clean and streamlined.
Vibrant Patterns and Textures
"Don’t be afraid to layer in texture with curtains, patterned pillows, rugs, art, and things you love while keeping a common thread with the color mix, theme, or style," said Draper.
Did that zebra print loveseat you saw in the furniture store catch your eye? Are you drawn to the opulent, old-Hollywood feel of satin, velvet, sequins, and furs? Go for it!
Our society’s penchant for nostalgia has paved the way for mixing old and new, so bolder or vintage textures and patterns can be juxtaposed with clean, modern furnishings to keep things current while still appealing to your personal tastes.
Libraries and Reading Nooks
Despite the rise of e-books over the last decade, market trends indicate that print books are still the most popular, and nothing screams traditional, nostalgic décor like a home library or reading nook. It provides a great opportunity to not only express your interests, but also imbue a room with warmth and sophistication. Bookshelves can also offer an ideal space to display tchotchkes and other precious items.
“If you have collectibles from travel, for instance, you can mix the various artifacts together on a designated shelf to create a travel memorabilia nook,” said Draper.
One common trend in modern home design is separating and distinguishing spaces within a home. Wallpaper can be a great way to accomplish this without any renovations whatsoever.
Additionally, pattered or textured wallpaper is an easy way to enhance a space and make it stand out, particularly if it is small.
“A great place to start is the powder room,” said Draper. “Pick a pattern you are drawn to and go bold with colorful stripes, geometric prints, floral or tropical patterns, or a repeated pattern of an object or something from nature you love.”
Remember that unlike minimalism, maximalism is all about self-expression, rather than conforming to strict rules and ideals. In a society where so much of our behavior and style is influenced by social pressure and norms, maximalism is a great way to thwart constraints and take some cathartic risks.
“You do not need permission to embrace maximalism,” said Forbes. “Take the opportunity to loudly express who you are and don’t be afraid to be playful or sentimental. If it wakes your heart up, then showcase it. That is the essence of home, after all; it is the place from which we build our lives."