The Art of Maximalism: How to Nail the “Eclectic” Look in Your Space

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

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WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on October 27, 2021

Maximalism is having a moment in 2021, and we are absolutely here for it. This bold, eclectic style is a long-awaited antidote to the Kardashian-inspired minimalism of the 2010s, and we couldn’t be more ready to dive into all things moody, colorful, and patterned.

But of course, designing a maximalist space is more difficult than what meets the eye — it requires careful consideration, thoughtful planning, and a bit of know-how to pull off this bold design style with (many) flying colors. While it may look effortless and just random enough, we’d argue that it’s more difficult to curate a maximalist home than a minimalist one (how does one mix all of those patterns?!).

Never fear — we’re dishing on all things maximalism, including our pro styling tips and the most design common mistakes:

maximalist wallpaper ceiling

First Things First, What is Maximalism?

Simply put, maximalism is the diametric opposite of minimalism: bold, colorful, and chock-full of pattern. The aesthetic is rooted in excess and embraces a “more is more” philosophy to its core. But rather than accumulating stuff for stuff’s sake, maximalists artfully express their personality through a curated (but bold) ensemble of color, artwork, pattern, texture, and more. If maximalism was a music form, it’d be jazz — it’s basically the scatting of the design world.

colorful maximalist bedroom

Why We Love It (and You Will, Too)

While minimalist interiors can run the risk of leaning boring or stark, maximalist spaces are bursting with originality — they’re very layered, very personal, and very soulful. Each one is unique, from the design fundamentals like color palette and pattern play, to the details, like the artwork and tchotchkes. Maximalist homes give the eye so much to not only absorb, but delight in — it’s like a little visual dance throughout a space.

maximalist living room

Key Elements of a Maximalist Space

While maximalist spaces may look busy, they’re actually incredibly curated down to every last throw pillow. Because there’s so much going on, it requires a shrewd eye to select the right design elements that look cohesive, yet fun and unpredictable. 

Generally speaking, maximalist spaces have a few things in common: they feature plenty of color, pattern, and artful layering. Statement pieces are plentiful, whether in the form of graphic wallpaper, daring artwork, sculptural furniture, or a combination of the three. There’s typically a lot of complementary pattern play going on — think tight florals alongside oversized linear prints, or geometric set against the abstract.

Finally, maximalist spaces don’t fall into one design category —they’re a little of this and a little of that, for a lot more oomph altogether. Maximalism truly marries design styles, eras, and influences for a distinctive but deliberate look. It’s not just luxe, though it may have a bit of that glam vibe. It’s not just boho, though it may embrace global inspiration and a free-spirited quality. In a way, it defies categorization altogether, and that’s what makes it so breathtakingly beautiful.

How to Bring the Maximalist Look to Life

True to form, there’s no definitive rule book when it comes to curating a maximalist home. But considering that bold pattern play could be considered an art form unto itself, we’ve outlined our pro tips to help you kick off on the right track: 

  • Start with a bold color palette that incorporates some jewel tones. It helps to work off of a must-have piece for the space, like a rug. 
  • Anchor the look with a unique, architectural furniture element (we’re looking at you curved sofas
  • Layer in a few complementary prints via rugs, pillows, curtains, and even furniture. Generally speaking, pair tight, small prints with oversized prints to create eye-catching contrast. The same goes for symmetrical and asymmetrical patterns — they’re different enough to appear complementary. 
  • Add in a touch of animal print — we’re partial to cheetah or leopard! 
  • Proudly display family heirlooms, personal mementos, books, and collected vintage treasures — they add personality and bring a room to life.
  • Don’t forget the artwork, whether it’s an oversized, eye-catching statement piece, or a layered gallery wall featuring all sorts of subject matter (tied together with a cohesive palette)

When all else fails, bring the drama with a statement wallpaper!

maximalist dining room

Common Maximalism Mistakes

Before you pull the trigger on that vintage rug that’s been sitting in your cart for months, a few words of caution. Remember, maximalism is not noisy or haphazard — it won’t work to simply throw random pieces together and call it a day. All of the design elements, from the furniture to the decor, should play off each other to create a harmonious look. While yes, more is more, you still have to edit, play, and curate to create balance and flow. When in doubt, ask yourself: what’s tying this with that?

Ready to curate the maximalist home of your dreams? We can help you with that. Take our style quiz to get paired with your professional design soulmate.

Words by Kelsey Clark