Is Minimalism Officially Over? This Trending Style Says Yes

Updated 02/14/19

Minimalism has reigned supreme in recent years thanks to its effortlessly chic, Marie Kondo-approved sensibility. But we're excited to see a brighter, louder, bolder interior design style enter the space. Maximalism is here and it refuses to be ignored.

Compared to minimalism, maximalism is an explosion of colors, patterns, textures, and styles. Although upon first glance it may seem like a cluttered, eclectic combination of mismatched décor, the style is far from random. When done correctly, a maximalist space remains cohesive and comfortable—it's just not afraid to experiment with bold hues, unique art, and a variety of styles. The result is an interior that feels collected, lived in, and full of eye-catching objects.

This might be precisely the reason maximalism has been on the rise as an interior design trend. "I think creating spaces that feel collected has always been on trend," says Abbe Fenimore, interior designer and founder of Studio Ten 25. "But I am seeing maximalism emerge more now," she continues. Specifically, she notes that more and more people are utilizing wall art to create maximalist spaces, along with vintage pieces, unique objects, and a variety of colors and textures with a "more is more" mindset.

"If you are a minimalist, it could be overwhelming to you," Fenimore admits. The one key factor to keep in mind in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed, according to the designer, is organization. "[It's] key when incorporating multiple groupings, especially with so much going on visually," she says.

Get inspired to brighten up your home with a more experimental design style and take note of Fenimore's tried and true tips for nailing the maximalist look below.

It's All About the Layers

Maximalism interior design
Black Lacquer Design

As with any interior space, Fenimore suggests starting with a clean slate and layering from there. "I use the same design principles as I would with a client who is more minimalistic," the designer says. "Start with the basics and go from there."

Only instead of adding one or two decorative pieces like a few throw pillows and maybe a painting for the wall, maximalism often involves piling on the layers in a bit more of a dramatic fashion. That means accent tables, mix-and-match seating, and multiple rugs, for example. "Everything else will begin to find a place once you begin to add draperies, art, lighting, and accessories," says Fenimore. "Just keep going!"

However, the designer warns that this type of layering doesn't just happen. "You have to consider placement, scale, and texture carefully," she points out.

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Think More Is More

Maximalist Living Room
BHDM Design

"I would define maximalism as more is more," Fenimore says. While it's far from hoarding, maximalist spaces do tend to simply feature more pieces of décor, whether that's a collection of vintage accent chairs, colorful rugs, or bold wallpaper. However, there are common pitfalls that lead to a maximalist space quickly going from bold and collected to overwhelming and messy.

"The most common mistake I see is when people use too many sets or collections of the same thing in one room," the designer points out. "You have to pull back and really decide what you are going to go over the top with," she advises. It's all about balance. "For instance, if you have a massive gallery wall and a variety of seating in a room, don't go overboard with pillows, layered rugs, and accessories."

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Experiment with Art

Maximalist Gallery Wall
Elizabeth Roberts Interior Design

Art is a huge part of a maximalist space, specifically in the form of gallery walls, according to Fenimore. "Bold arrangements with a variety of frame styles and colorful pieces of art are even making their way into wallpaper design," she adds.

To achieve the striking style, start by sourcing art that speaks to you, whether it's from world-class art galleries, small retailers, or even vintage outposts. When you find pieces that you connect with, you'll be able to create a unique gallery wall that evokes your personal taste, design aesthetic, and personality.

Of course, a gallery wall is not the only way to incorporate art in a space. You can also feature large statement art or even purposefully lean art against the wall on shelves or a mantle for an effortless look.

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Go Vintage

Maximalist Details
Max Humphrey

When it comes to sourcing the perfect pieces for achieving a maximalism-inspired room, Fenimore usually suggests that her clients start with items they already own. From there, she likes to shop at antique and vintage shops. It's a surefire way to ensure that your look feels collected and one-of-a-kind. 

If you think that this type of approach to design sounds similar to an eclectic style, you're not wrong, but Fenimore explains that the two differ in distinct ways. "Both mix and match in a similar way, but I would say maximalism starts where eclectic design ends," she says. "With maximalism, you continue adding many more layers until every nook and cranny is filled.

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Keep One Cohesive Element

Cohesive Living Room
Catherine Kwong

While it may seem like maximalist spaces could easily get out of hand with so many different design styles and décor pieces in play, there are plenty of ways to keep this style under control. Fenimore recommends keeping a cohesive element with each layer of the design to avoid going over the top. 

"I am a big fan of mixing color, texture, and pattern but maximalist spaces tend to push me over the edge," the designer admits. In order to keep a space cohesive, Fenimore focuses on pieces that work to tie a room together, as well as ways to eliminate clutter. "My favorite maximalist spaces are the ones that put function first, and then consider color, pattern, and great groupings to create a collected look," she says.

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