Bursts of saturated color. Eye-catching patterns. Statement decor everywhere you look. These are just a few of the elements that make up the head-turning characteristics of maximalism. The polar opposite of the pared-down minimalism style, it's the perfect look for people who want their home decor to be loud and confident. No neutral palettes or plain walls here. It's all about embracing a range of in-your-face aesthetics.
For those interested in turning things up a notch, we're taking a look at the style and how to incorporate it into your own space.
A Quick History of Maximalism
When it comes down to it, maximalism doesn't technically encompass one genre or era. You can trace its roots to at least a couple of aesthetic styles.
The 1930s Hollywood Regency style, for example, was all about glam and glitz. Taking inspiration from Rococo and Neoclassicism — as well as Greek, Egyptian, and Asian culture — the look included gold accents, statement lighting, and satin upholstery. These loud design choices definitely echo today's maximalist decor (although some of the patterns and antique art associated with this look might remind you of traditional style).
Let's fast forward a little. Pattern & Decoration, a visual art movement from the 1970s, is also significant to look at. The movement "saw the sensuous, pleasurable, and ornamental as every bit as legitimate, complex, and sophisticated as the icons of modernism," according to Artsy. It also focused on championing the importance of artwork outside of a male- and Western-centric focus. Pieces in this vein include elements like bold colors, floral patterns, embroidered elements, and collage.
In 1981, the Memphis Design group kicked off its first exhibition as a reaction to modern decor rules. The designs included saturated colors, geometric shapes, and patterns like terrazzo, bold stripes, and cut-outs. High and low were mixed together, such as in pieces that combined marble with glass or laminate.
In today's decor, you can see the enduring popularity of maximalism in the resurgence of interest in Memphis Design. Founder Ettore Sottsass's Ultrafragola mirror, for example, is an Instagram favorite. Major retailers and design influencers alike have embraced an eclectic approach to design, often mixing bright colors with quirky decor and patterned wallpaper. We've also noticed a lot of today's maximalism veers towards a reinvention of European traditional decor. Spaces like New Orleans' Maison de la Luz combine swanky lighting fixtures and classy furniture with bright artwork and Insta-friendly rugs. This boho maximalism look definitely shows a popular direction for the style.
There's also lots of inspiration to be found in modern brands like Justina Blakeney's boho eclectic gems from Jungalow; fabric-focused home furnishings by The Inside; and luxe statement pieces from Jonathan Adler.
How to Decorate with Maximalism
First things first: if you want to layer elements but you're afraid of making a room seem too busy, we've got a few tips for you. Consider incorporating plants so that you can have pockets of green to break up your bright color palette. Match both larger and smaller patterns; switch out coffee table decor as needed throughout the seasons. There are really no strict rules for the style, so just be sure to have fun while making your space welcoming.
If you want to try your hand at a maximalist bedroom, start with your walls. Use a dramatic paint color or wallpaper to set the scene (if you need inspiration check out Jungalow's offerings). Opt for a statement headboard or bedframe and include lots of patterned throw pillows on your bed. Grab an artsy rug (or two) to complete the look.
Even your bathroom can incorporate the style. Add lively shower curtains and unconventional tile to bring visual interest. You can even consider going with jewel toned walls or floral ones. Look for kitschy decor and glitzy hardware to add a couple more special touches.
Again, it's all about experimenting and finding objects that bring you joy. Don't be shy — this is the style where you can really have fun with your favorite colors, textures, and motifs. The more the merrier.
Where to Shop Maximalist Decor
Ready for a maximalist makeover? Start your shopping adventures at some of these brands.