Many interior design styles can be personalized to some degree, but none more so than the maximalist interior design style.
What is Maximalist Interior Design?
Maximalist interior design is the biggest and boldest design style out there.
The over-the-top maximalist design incorporates layers upon layers of vibrant colors, patterns, textures, and meaningful items.
Maximalism takes your personal preferences and favorite pieces of art, furniture, treasures, and decor and dials it up to ten by having it all on display, hopefully in a somewhat coordinated fashion.
This makes each maximalist-styled home incredibly unique to the person designing it!
Some might call maximalism colorfully curated chaos.
Though “more is more” is a core principle of maximalist design, it’s not just about adding more and more things, but embracing your personality and your favorite things and incorporating them into your interior design.
The trick to mastering maximalism is to find your happy medium with a little focus and planning, so it’s elaborate yet not too overwhelming for the senses.
A Brief History of Maximalist Design
The maximalist interior design style has roots spanning back several centuries, with the Victorian era experiencing a particular boom.
Back then, maximalist decor (even if it wasn’t called that at the time) was all about showing off wealth by displaying treasures, luxurious textures, decor, and collections.
In fact, a couple other interior design styles share the maximalist principle of showing off your beloved items, such as English cottage and French country. These design types are all about layering accessories and decor that feel good to you.
Is maximalist interior design popular?
Over the last couple of years, maximalist designs have had a resurgence in popularity due to the vivid vibrancy inherent in the style—it makes for great inspiration on social media.
Maximalism is particularly popular with millennials and younger generations who enjoy making spaces their own, turning away from stark minimalistic styles that can be rigid and lack personality.
Characteristics of Maximalist Interior Design
Maximalist style is a fluid and individualistic style, reflecting the personality and enjoyment of the person behind the design.
With maximalist designs being so personal and layered, there are numerous ways you can turn your home into a majestic, or even mellow, maximalistic tribute to what you love.
Joy is another pillar of maximalist design. Create layers of joy in your maximalist design to make it feel like your own.
Bring your passions and interests into how you style your home, prioritizing comfort and familiarity more than anything else.
While the maximalist designs often feature a charming kaleidoscope of color, layers, and decor, it still should be intentional.
Maximalist design is meant to make your home feel homey and comfortable, so too much clutter might be overpowering in a space that already has a lot of other elements going on.
One way to achieve this is to have one or two leading features to help shape the rest of the space.
These primary eye-catching elements could be vividly colored plush furniture, decked out bookcases, beautifully adorned wooden cabinetry, a statement light fixture, a gallery wall of art pieces, or even plantlife.
Then, add layers you love around them, from patterns, plants, natural materials, art, collections, souvenirs from travels, and whatever lights you up to see adorning your space.
This very individualistic style is easily paired with or added onto interior design styles that share similarities, like openness to color, patterns, and displaying decor while maintaining a cozy vibe.
Bold and vibrant colors are the way to achieve premier maximalist vibes.
Cheerful colors are popular and common. It’s about having fun with colors, tones, and patterns in this style.
Also play with florals, textures, and a variety of shapes to achieve a lovely layered maximalist look in your home.
How you add in color will also play a part in achieving a maximalist style.
Since many colors and patterns are used in this interior design style, it may be helpful to find a common theme to tie everything together, either within one room or from room to room.
To find a harmonious balance, focus on 2-3 colors, finishes, or similar patterns to layer in throughout the space.
The space doesn’t even have to be overly colorful–but it can be if you want it to.
One way to keep a maximalist style that’s not too overwhelming with color is to add dimension and intrigue through textures and natural materials, like wood, stone, metal, linen, leather, velvet, and others.
How to Design a Maximalist Home
Here are some pointers that can help you to personalize and maximize your maximalist-styled home.
1. Show & Tell Your Passions
The most important thing to remember when designing a maximalist space is to tailor it to your personality and your passions through your design choices.
Embrace items you love or that you’ve collected.
Highlight your favorite colors, fabrics, accessories, etc. After all, it’s yours to design and play with!
2. Find a Common Thread
Think of the common thread like the melody of a song, weaving through the rest of the orchestrations and instruments (your decor and furniture).
You can still hear (see) it throughout your design.
Whether it’s a color palette, pattern, or a texture you love, a common theme throughout your maximalist home will add a cohesive element to your space, so it doesn’t feel too haphazard.
Being intentional in this small way helps create a more connected space overall.
3. Choose Comfort First
Make your maximalist design homey by opting for comfortable furnishings.
Plush couches, plenty of patterned pillows, or throw blankets add that cozy feel.
Bring some hygge into the space by prioritizing comfort over just showiness. Choose fabrics and textures that feel good to relax into.
4. Maximize What Matters… Leave the Rest
While “more is more” is the theme for maximalism, some intentional planning is needed to cultivate and curate a harmonious maximalist design.
Keep in mind that this is a personal style that you can build one piece at a time; let it be a process to discover what most matters to you to feature in your home.
Let this be an experiment to discover what works for you and what just gets in the way.
Floors for Maximalist Designs
5. Fl-au Naturale
Floors with a natural look provide a nice baseline for any maximalist design.
This includes hardwood, engineered stone that looks like marble or other stone, or tiles that give the appearance of wood or stone.
6. Patterned Tiles
To keep the maximalist look going underfoot, patterned tiles are another flooring choice that could add color and intrigue to the space.
This flooring option would be particularly effective in maximalist bathrooms or half-baths.
7. Revel with Rugs
Rugs can add many things to a space: luxury, comfort, texture, pattern, color…
Layer your floor up with texture and coziness with colorful or patterned rugs that you love.
Rugs can either be a statement themselves or help tie in other themes within your space with a more subtle design.
Rugs fit right in to maximize your flooring by giving something soft underfoot and something pretty to ground the space.
Wall Treatments for Maximalist Designs
8. No Naked Walls
Bare walls are very uncommon in maximalist designs. From paint, wallpaper, and using the wall as a display,
there are ways to showcase your personality through your walls, whether it’s a supporting feature, neutral canvas, or a main statement.
Don’t be afraid to use your walls in unique and fresh ways.
9. “Wow” Wallpaper
A great starting point to add bold vibrancy befitting maximalist interior design is bold wallpaper, whether floral or patterned.
It can be applied to a single wall, the whole room, or even the ceiling! Bright floral patterns are very popular for maximalist designs.
10. Add Paint or Molding
Paint your walls, ceilings, or even existing furniture to give it more vibrancy and a new look to fit your maximalist style. You can paint an accent wall or make the ceiling the statement.
Deep jewel tones on walls are popular in maximalist style, like forest greens, navy blues, purples, maroons, and other rich tones to allow brighter colors to pop against the dark backdrop.
For another kind of maximalist contrast, a neutral-colored wall can also work if you use that wall as a gallery space, for cool shapes with molding, or showcasing hangable collections.
Lighting for Maximalist Designs
11. A Joyful Light
Pick a ceiling light fixture you love to highlight the space and draw the eye up, like a chandelier or pendant lighting.
12. Layer Lightly
Because a lot is already going on in a maximalist style room, layer lighting with only a couple light fixtures.
If a ceiling light is a feature, then a single lamp on a less well lit part of the room might be welcome.
If there’s no general lighting, then pairs of sconces would be a nice way to light up your walls.
Candles can also add coziness and light.
13. Pick a Light Theme
One way to add a common thread in your maximalist design is to match up your light fixtures in some way.
Pick lighting with similar finishes or similar shapes to add a subtle sense of consistency to your home design.
Showcase Collections & Treasures
14. Booked Bookcases
Bookcases are a popular way to maximize maximalist designs. Stock them full of books and stack contents to add variety to the look.
You can also layer the shelves with your favorite belongings that reveal your personality or your adventures.
15. Hang Your Hats
Show off your headwear by putting your collection of hats on the wall on hooks.
For both decor and to help you find the right hat when you head out!
Maximalist style is meant to showcase your one-of-a-kind treasures.
Whether it’s your furniture, decor, or an accessory—show it off! Make it a focal point for the eye by displaying it solo.
17. Gallery Wall
Fill up a wall with art, paintings, or even just unique frames.
Different sizes will give the wall quirky appeal, or you can streamline the design with artwork and frames of the same size.
Also, consider spacing each frame consistently with the others to balance the visual of a variety of artwork.
Add an art wall above a couch or other prominent feature, or add the gallery to stairwell walls.
18. Play with Plants
Have fun with plants to add more life and vibrancy to the space. If green is a chosen color for you (or you’ve hopped onto the plant parent train), let your green thumb thrive!
Paint the pots or hang them on the wall to add layers and contribute to the color palette you’ve chosen.
The more the better with plants in maximalist styles.
19. Other Accessories You Love!
Records, unique glass bottles, license plates, figurines or plushies, sculptures, souvenirs, or other collectibles are often featured in maximalist designs
More Tips for Maximalist Decor
20. Add Some Shine
Glass, gold, and metals can add shine and opulence to your maximalist space, whether as frames, lighting, mirrors, or other accessories.
If you opt for metals, stick to one metal or metals with a similar finish for a more cohesive look.
21. Try Some Texture
Create dimension and comfort by incorporating your favorite textures, materials, textiles, and fabrics, like velvet, linen, cotton, silk, leather, etc.
This is a great way to add intriguing layers without overwhelming other eye-catching features.
22. Patterned Pillows
For an added dose of comfort and color, add colorful or patterned pillows to your sofa or living chair. Remember, coziness is a priority in maximalistic designs!
23. Wonderful Window Treatments
Curtains and window treatments can be a great way to layer in soft or subtle textures, or to add in bold and bright colors around your windows.
Whatever floats your fancy and makes you want to pull the curtains open in the morning to shine natural light on your interior space.
24. Colorful Portals
Paint your doors a vibrant color that you’ve chosen in your palette to take the maximalist effect to your exterior or other entryways in your home.
25. Clear, Working Surfaces
Keep in mind you don’t have to fill every available surface in maximalist spaces.
In fact, it can create space and make the room feel less cluttered if you keep working surfaces, like coffee tables or desks, relatively clear of accessories or keep it to a minimum.
A dose of practicality helps keep the space liveable and functional.
Maximalism vs. Minimalism
Opposite the “less is more,” form-over-function minimalist design, maximalist design goes to the other extreme where “more is more” is the way.
Where maximalism is about making your home a happy space that displays your personality and passions, minimalism strives to hide away accessories and clutter for a bright, clean, open, and functional space with clean lines and neutral colors like white, gray, and black. Meant to be a soothing space, minimalist designs use negative space to allow the sparse yet functional furniture to be the focal points of the design.
Maximalism is the total opposite and negative space can be non-existent, where the colors are bold and vivid, a multitude of shapes and patterns layer the space, and everything is decor.
In maximalist designs, you’re more likely to see a space filled with beloved artwork, collections, trinkets, and accessories. While everything may not have a function, it all contributes to a homey and comfortable environment.
Maximalist vs. Boho vs. Eclectic
Both bohemian and maximalist designs break style rules and opt for personal taste above others, but maximalist styles do so to a greater extreme. The relaxed bohemian style is more inspired by art and the value that creativity trumps money, where maximalist is more showy and extreme.
And eclectic interior designs more often blend two opposite styles, or old and new, to create something entirely different. Eclectic doesn’t seek to break design rules like boho and maximalist styles, but to bend and meld them with others, still in a balanced and coordinated fashion.
Whereas in maximalist designs, anything goes. It’s not a shy or reserved style, and it doesn’t seek to strike a balance, though it still can be done in an intentional way so the space still works together.
The range of possibilities is really endless with this bold interior design style and you can customize it to your personality to whatever extreme feels most comfortable for you.
The key is to play with your maximalist design, embrace bold colors and layering patterns, highlight your favorite things in layers, and find a common theme to highlight throughout your overall design. You can always build this style one piece at a time. Above all, your maximalist space should spark joy and prioritize your comfort throughout.
If you’d like help to curate a more harmonious maximalist style home, our expert designers are here to help!