If you prefer the crisp white walls, muted color palettes, and understated décor of minimalist interior design, avert your eyes. Those with a penchant for experimental hues, 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, 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.
"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, 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 follows a more-is-more approach and is all about mixing styles with color pattern and texture to create an over-the-top look.
Ready for bold design? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know to bring maximalism to your home.
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. McCarthy recommends finding ways to connect pieces throughout your home. Consider tying a room together by coordinating the background color of a bold wallpaper with similarly colored décor, for example.
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 design. "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. 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 design, there are no rules for which paints to use or avoid (although McCarthy does recommend being daring with color). If you'd rather focus the attention on your furniture, choose pieces whose schemes speak to you and keep the walls neutral.
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 room proves that a major design statement is possible in even the smallest of spaces (like tiny bathrooms). 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!"
Learn to Layer
How can you make all of this mix of color and style feel connected? 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." In a living room, that one thing could be your dusty rose-colored sofa or orange striped armchair.
One of the best parts of maximalism is displaying your favorite collections. McCarthy recommends adding vignettes throughout your space on surfaces like coffee tables and dressers. "Start with your largest books and use those as your foundation," McCarthy says. "Then layer in smaller books and accessories." Layering is key in maximalist design.
Focus on Three Colors
"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 pink and teal add dimension and whimsy.
Not shy about bold wall colors? Try a dramatic shade like black or a deep emerald. 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. Maximalism is 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.
Forgo Matching Sets
If you're going for a maximalist look, avoid matching your couch to your chairs or buying a set of identical nightstands. This quirky living room mixes several design styles, colors, and furniture 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, and souvenirs from travel, keep collecting! Anything and everything is welcome in a maximalist home. "Collecting allows you to not think too much about having to edit out pieces that you love because they may not match," McCarthy explains. In other words, the more the merrier!
Make a Connection
There's no need to pick furniture and décor that specifically go together. Instead, pick pieces you love and try to create some sort of connection between them whether it be color, texture, or pattern. "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," McCarthy says.
Consider the Elements
"Be sure to consider all of the different layers of design. Color, contrast, texture, movement, form and function, furniture, lighting, accessories, and architecture!" McCarthy says. There's a lot to think about when outfitting your space, but the best part about maximalism is that you can easily tie the numerous features together with a common thread.
Play by the Rules
For the most part, maximalism is all about defying expectations, but there is one rule that all maximalist design should adhere to: the rule of three. McCarthy says, "Always stick to the rule of three: contrast colors, and balance." Noted.
Favorite Maximalist Finds
Ready to embrace this trend? Bring elaborate and colorful design into your home with these bold pieces.
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.
A bold and colorful wallpaper is an easy way to add a touch of maximalism to your space. Opt for furniture in a similar tone to maintain a sense of cohesion.