A maximalist living room
A maximalist living room

Take it to the max: Is clutter really so bad, and what if you don’t want a minimalist home?

Move over, minimalists. Maximalism is the way forward, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Sam Wylie-Harris
Tuesday 06 July 2021 07:30

We’ve been collecting things from time immemorial. Whether it’s hoarding family heirlooms, rifling through market stalls for bric-a-brac we may not really need but somehow can’t live without, or just that innate urge to fill every space in the house with something showy and decorative.

Quite apart from being essential, we just love to look at our objects of desire. But somehow, somewhere along the line, minimalism and simplicity has weaved itself into our world of interiors – and we’re missing the wow factor!

With this in mind, here, designers share their thoughts on why embracing your inner maximalist may not be such a bad thing…

It suits our lifestyles

“As an interior design style, minimalism has been a leading trend for several years now, with a pared-back approach and a light and airy décor, often influenced by Nordic design,” says Ben Stokes founder and interior designer for KAGU Interiors.

“Although beautiful, this style isn’t for everyone. With a less is more approach, it isn’t always necessarily realistic for busy families, or for modern-day homes having to adapt to become multi-use spaces, now so many people are working from home.”

Being surrounded by things we love is good for our wellbeing

In the quest for minimalism, with bare walls and a downscale on personal items, Stokes says people are often sacrificing the things they treasure the most: “From travel mementos, their book collection to family photos and cherished heirlooms. There is, however, a balance between the two contrasting styles of minimalism versus maximalism, which incorporates the best of both elements.

“We love our homes even more when we’re surrounded by the things we love,” adds Stokes. “Whether that’s bold and cheerful patterns across upholstery or the walls, plenty of cushions for extra comfort, or a gallery wall of loved ones, your home should speak to you and your lifestyle. And by releasing the pressure to strive for perfection, you’ll find the joy in decorating.”

More-is-more is on the up

Jenna Choate, co-founder of Interior Fox, says: “We’ve noted a pivot in homeowners ditching a minimalistic scheme to embrace a more-is-more aesthetic, with bold uses of colour, pattern and texture in the home. People are looking for ways to create a space that cocoons them at the end of a long day, a place to display their possessions, and a way of expressing their individuality.”

As Choate point out, the maximalist trend can feel a little daunting at first, but not every piece of furniture or accessory needs to be ‘out there’.

“To master the modern take on the more-is-more look, choose a bold base colour which can be balanced by a neutral colour,” Choate suggests. “Embrace embellishment and upholstery, and put your favourite thrift finds on show.”

You can put your creativity under the spotlight

Nina Tarnowski, founder and designer for Woodchip & Magnolia, notes: “Maximalism is a trend loved by interiors enthusiasts, it allows creatives to showcase their personality through bold and daring design.”

She says the key to this scheme is decorating with you in mind; showcase your favourite colours and patterns and display quirky ‘out of place’ items that you love, rather than storing them away.

“Pattern is a great starting point for the go-big-or-go-home approach to interior design,” adds Tarnowski. “Whether you’re looking for a bright and tropical scenic wall mural, luxurious velvet upholstery, or want to envelop your room with clashing designs across all four walls, throw everything you have into your design, then add more!”