Design Dilemma: How to do Maximalism
According to design enthusiasts, 2017 is the year of the maximalist. It is perhaps an appropriate sign of the times, after all, exaggeration and braggadocio seem to rule the day. Or perhaps maximalism reflects a desire to retreat from the bitter acrimony out in the cold, hard cruel world to our own safe, insulated, highly-curated cocoon. Or then again, perhaps the turn toward maximalism is simply a response to years and years of bland beige. Whatever the reason, maximalism is the word of the moment.
How to do it right? There are just a few basic tenets to keep in mind if you are dipping your toe into maximalism for the first time:
- Collect. Maximalism is all about feeling free to build up what others might refer to as “clutter.” The difference, though, is that while clutter is not intentional, curated or orderly, collections are. A sure-fire way to warm up a cold minimal space is simply to choose something to collect, and then create an orderly display of whatever you’ve chosen. Anything at all can take on a special significance and become a design element when arranged just so.
In the first picture, colorful lunch pails are arranged like art and set off against a collection of blue bottles and china bowls. The color and texture provided by all the collections work well against the leopard print table and the magenta blown-glass chandelier. Now that’s maximal! In the second photo immediately above, a room that might have otherwise been taken out of a Mid-Century Modern catalog is injected with personality, thanks to a collection of War figurines.
In the two photos above, traditional interiors get a dose of maximalism, thanks to a collection of vases and to a collection of wind vanes. The collectors have kept things looking orderly by choosing similar colors for collector’s pieces (as in the white vases in the first photo) or by keeping pieces in a similar size, as in the collection of wind vanes.
2. Use Color. Explosively bright color is a secret weapon in Maximalism. Feel free to paint walls in vibrant hues, to buy jewel tone furniture, or to otherwise indulge in color where you can.
Above, brightly colored couches boosts this living room into the Tropical sphere. The black accents help to tie all the pieces together and to tone it down just a bit.
And here, it’s the bright yellow walls paired with the velvet violet couch that makes this interior feel so lusciously rich.
In the room below, the bright red shelves, again housing a collection of Pez figures, paired with an antique celery-colored Chinese cabinet add up to a delightfully sensual mix.
3. Use pattern. Pattern is another way to guarantee that you will bring a space into maximal territory. Patterned curtains, rugs, sofas and chairs should be freely mixed and match, as you see below.
You get a similar effect in the room below:
And in the room below, pattern in artwork, sofa and chair are vivid, yet restrained, allowing this room to walk a fine line between neat, uncluttered MCM and lush maximalism.
4. Add photos and artwork. Both photos and artwork add a personal touch that is so important in maximalism. Maximal is about individuality and there’s no better way to show it than in photo collections or in choice of artwork. For instance:
Or sometimes just one big piece of art:
Maximalism connotes having lived a full life. And living a full life connotes travel and exposure to many different things. A maximal interior should reflect this by using furniture from various eras and cultures, and mixing differing styles with abandon, as you see in the interiors below:
And there you have it, our basic guide to maximalism. The key word is FREEDOM. Maximalism means you no longer have to exercise restraint in home design, opting for beige because it goes with everything. Get what you like and make it work. Let whimsy and desire rule. Your home will look like nobody else’s and you will be stimulated and soothed by all the color and pattern around you.