If you prefer the crisp white walls, muted color palates, and understated décor of minimalist interior design, avert your eyes. Those with a penchant for experimental colors, bold patterns, and unexpected textures are breathing new life into the OTT (over the top) maximalism trend. While it's never clear which styles will stand the test of time and which will change with the seasons, Jessica McCarthy, celebrity designer at Decorist and Director of Interior Design at Blueground Co., predicts that maximalism is just getting started (and we're here for it).
Meet the Expert
Jessica McCarthy is an interior designer known as the creative director, editorial stylist, and founder of JAM Creative Studio. She is also a celebrity interior designer at Decorist and the director of interior design at Blueground Co.
"Minimalism has been all the rage for the past decade, so naturally I think everyone is ready for something new," the interior design expert says. A far cry from minimalism, maximalist décor follows a more-is-more approach to design, according to McCarthy. Although similar to the popular eclectic design style, which calls for the blending of different design styles, maximalism is about how you mix the décor. "You can be eclectic but still have a minimalistic way of styling your space," she explains. "Maximalism is all about mixing styles with colors, patterns, and textures to create something over the top and a bit eccentric."
What is Maximalism?
Maximalism is a design style characterized by a bold mix of color, pattern, and texture with special emphasis on layering, collections, and eccentric design choices. The philosophy behind the trend is "more is more."
Ready for bold design? Here's everything you need to know to bring maximalism to your home, according to McCarthy.
Mix Colors, Patterns, and Textures
"There are no set rules or guidelines," McCarthy explains. Instead of perfectly matching styles and décor elements, maximalism gives you the freedom to mix and match as you see fit.
"It’s truly a mix of fabrics, different patterns, lots of textures, [a] variety of materials and unlikely color combinations, and furniture styles," she says.
Find Some Cohesion
Just because maximalist décor often includes a wide range of styles doesn't mean your space has to look cluttered or over the top. McCarthy recommends finding ways to connect pieces throughout your home. Consider tying a room together by coordinating a bold wallpaper with similarly colored throw pillows, for example.
"No matter how many different styles, items, or patterns you include in your space if you find a way to connect them to one another your space will always look cohesive," she says.
Play with Different Design Eras
According to McCarthy any and all styles of furniture can work in a maximalist space. In fact, she believes that sticking to just one furniture style is the worst thing you can do when creating a maximalist environment.
"Try combining furniture from at least three different time periods to create a really interesting and maximalist space," she suggests.
Display an Over-The-Top Gallery Wall
When it comes to hanging art in a maximalist space, McCarthy says the more styles, the better. That's why a gallery wall is the perfect way to express your artistic style and feature all the various kinds of art that speak to you, rather than selecting one or two works that seem to go together.
"I suggest creating a gallery wall using different styles of art, a mix of frames, and a range of sizes," she says.
Choose Colors You Love
As with every other aspect of maximalist décor, there are no rules for which paints to use or avoid (although McCarthy does recommend to be daring with color).
If you're still wrapping your head around the bold design style, you may want to stick with a neutral paint color and let your furniture and décor speak for themselves like above.
Think "Big Impact" With Paint
If you're comfortable experimenting, McCarthy suggests thinking outside the box. "Try painting your ceiling or using high pigmented colors and different finishes," she says.
Be Bold Everywhere
Think maximalism is only for bedrooms and living rooms? Think again. This bathroom proves a major design statement can happen in a small space. Mix quirky kaleidoscope wallpaper with dark tile for an instant wow factor.
Try a Statement Wallpaper
"Wallpaper can really make a maximalist space come to life," McCarthy says. "Don't be afraid to wallpaper your entire space and not just one accent wall to create the most impact!"
If you're a little hesitant to commit to a full room, McCarthy suggests wallpapering the ceiling or the insets of shelves to make a big impact in a smaller area.
Learn to Layer
How can you make all of this mix of color and style feel cohesive? McCarthy suggests starting with a foundation.
"What is the one thing in your space you love the most?" McCarthy says. "Use that as your foundation and then start layering around that. Be sure to consider all of the different layers of design. Color, contrast, texture, movement, form & function, furniture, lighting, accessories and architecture!"
Be sure to consider all of the different layers of design. Color, contrast, texture, movement, form & function, furniture, lighting, accessories and architecture!
One of the best parts of maximalism is displaying your favorite collections. McCarthy recommends layering in vignettes throughout your space on surfaces like coffee tables and dressers.
"Start with your largest books and use those as your foundation," McCarthy says. "Start layering additional smaller books and accessories. Layer in decorative boxes, trays, vases, objet's and candlesticks. Always stick to the rule of three, contrast colors and find balance."
Focus on Three Colors at a Time
"Color is the anchor of maximalism, the more color the better!" McCarthy says. "I always recommend not choosing more than three colors as the foundation of your space and layering additional colors through accessories."
As you can see in the above living room, purple, blue and orange anchor the space while pops of neutrals, pinks, and teals add dimension and whimsy.
Not shy about bold wall colors? Try a risk-taking shade like black or a deep emerald green. McCarthy also recommends playing around with paint finishes such as lacquer or ultra matte to make a major statement.
"Take risks and express yourself, design does not have to be perfect!" McCarthy explains.
This design style is perfect for those who want to abandon perfectionism and embrace everything that makes you uniquely you. Your home is a reflection of your personality, so don't be afraid to embrace a more lived in and whimsical look if that's your true vibe.
Forget Matching Sets
If you're going for a maximalist look, avoid matching your couch to your chairs or buying a set of two identical nightstands. This quirky living room mixes several design styles, colors, and furniture pieces to create a bright and poppy aesthetic that doesn't feel too "done."
Don't "Edit" Pieces Out
Fans of eclecticism, maximalism may be your next favorite trend. If you love collecting books, trinkets, vintage finds, records, souvenirs from travel, keep collecting! Everything is welcome in a maximalist home.
"This allows you to not think too much about having to edit out pieces that you love because they may not 'match.'" McCarthy explains. The more the merrier!
Ready to embrace this trend? Check out our some of our favorite maximalist finds to bring this style to your home.
The easiest way to bring lots of color into a space? Incorporate a rug with every color of the rainbow already included.
This poppy print would be a great collection to any maximalist gallery wall. Mix and match frames to create an over-the-top gallery wall.
No maximalist retreat would be complete without statement lighting. This bold pendant would go perfectly over a dining table.
A jewel-toned chaise is the ultimate mix of luxury and maximalism. Pair with layers of colorful throws and pillows to nail the trend.
Grow your collection of quirky objets with this funky planter by Justina Blakeney. Use it to house your favorite plant or as a conversation-starting bookend.