How to Go From Minimalist to Maximalist Without Chaos
There’s no denying that minimalist design has its appeal: it’s clean, calm, and streamlined.
But it isn’t right for everyone, particularly those who enjoy an eclectic variety of design elements and decor styles.
Minimalism may not fit with the environment you’re trying to create — particularly if you enjoy collecting pieces from travel adventures or finding unique items at vintage markets.
And that’s okay. You can still design your space with charming flair, appreciation for an array of colors, patterns, and fabrics without clutter and chaos.
Maximalist design may sound like a fancy term for a mess, but that’s far from the truth.
While maximalism does make use of a wide variety of styles and textures, the idea is to make it work without going overboard. It’s a great way to include everything you love and create a space with character as long as you have a vision and a plan.
In most cases, minimalism uses certain constraints on a color scheme, organization methods, furniture style, decor concepts, and art to create a specific interior design aesthetic.
It is intentionally pared down. Colors tend to be neutral or limited, items are stored out of sight, and decor follows a specific theme so it looks right in a minimal environment where mismatched items are uncomfortably noticeable.
The minimalist approach boasts clean lines and a calm color palette.
This aesthetic follows a specific theme that looks right in a minimal environment where mismatched items would stand out.
Minimalism in interior design means a bare minimum in regards to:
- Color scheme
- Furniture style
- Decor concepts
Maximalism, on the other hand, is the antonym of minimalism. As the opposite of minimalism, it gives you permission to choose more than one color and combine it tastefully with patterns for wallpaper, paint, fabrics, and art or accessories.
Storage is flexible; you can organize your items in plain view without feeling that they intrude on your design ideas. In fact, the way you organize your possessions can contribute to the look and feel of your space.
Minimalistic furniture doesn’t necessarily lack character, but it is based on functionality over aesthetics. You may not find it creatively satisfying if you’re looking for richer textures, bolder patterns, brave styles, or vintage gear.
Maximalist design allows for a greater variety of choices when it comes to interior design. You can choose more than one and combine them for a look that’s eclectic on purpose.
Maximalism is a very flexible design term in that there isn’t one typical aesthetic you need to subscribe to. It’s all about you and what makes you comfortable and happy, in addition to reflecting your unique personality in every corner of a room.
Collections and Books
If you enjoy a wide variety of decor styles or have collections of things like books, travel mementos, ceramics, plants, or art, a maximalist room embraces this variety and quantity. You have plenty of options for keeping special things on display in a cohesive manner.
There’s no need to pack away unnecessary things where you won’t be able to see or enjoy them. Instead, make them a part of your design plan, even if there are quite a few.
Maximalist Display Ideas
Books and collections look best displayed on shelves, not arranged haphazardly on tabletops. They don’t need to be aligned in neat rows, though.
Feel free to stagger items according to what looks good in your opinion. Books might be alternated in stacks and rows or arranged with bookends for added charm.
For mementos and decorative items, place taller things behind shorter ones so they’re all in view.
Select shelving you like and get as many as you need of the same style to house items. The same shelf will help tame the chaos of variety when it comes to showing off a large number of different things.
However, you can choose different shelving units for different rooms depending on what looks and feels best for each distinct environment.
If floor space is limited, you might invest in floating shelves that you can mount higher on your walls. These are beneficial even when space isn’t an issue because you can add as many shelving units as you want without taking up too much space in a room.
And in any case, they look fantastic.
Colors, Patterns, and Textures
Maximalism doesn’t fear color, even if it’s different tones of the same color or a playful display of everything. There isn’t a color scheme, but be your own interior designer and ensure your combinations work well visually.
While there aren’t many rules when it comes to combining colors, it’s a good idea to choose one or two pieces that inspire you and build around them.
For example, say you select a couch with a purple pattern on it. Now you need to decide what items (maybe an orange vase and a matte black Victorian mirror) might “go” with it. If you think about items in context with your focus piece (the sofa) you’re sure to choose a variety of items that work together.
Patterns are free to mix and mingle in maximalist design.
A plaid pillow is acceptable on a striped couch, for example, as long as there is a common texture or perhaps a shared color somewhere in there. The color can even be of a differing tone or subtle in the overall design. Think about what draws the two things together or just makes them belong where they are.
Playing with texture is possibly the most fun aspect of maximalist design because the options are limitless.
- Faux fur can contrast richer fabrics like velvet
- Metallic finishes complement matte and glossy ones in mismatched harmony
- Rugs aren’t dependent on the color of the floor
- Likewise, carpeting doesn’t need to match the drapes perfectly
Variety is the essence of maximalist charm.
Keep your focus piece in mind every time you choose something with texture, whether it’s a permanent fixture or an accent piece like a blanket or pillow.
Furniture and Accessories
Don’t be afraid to include different kinds of furniture in a room, particularly in the case of vintage and antique pieces. Think ornate rococo and baroque pieces, which are about as non-minimalist as it gets!
Again, choosing a focus piece to build the room design around is the best way to make sure an eclectic array of items will work together. Each time you select a piece, think back to your focus item and think about how well the two play together.
What Doesn’t Work With Maximalist Furnishings
While there are fewer restrictions with maximalism, some rules do apply.
Avoid extremes that don’t work, such as pairing ultra-modern shelving units with antique chairs and end tables. Lean toward one general visual art time period or another, such as furniture classified as antique, vintage, mid-century modern, or modern.
Accessories, like pillows, blankets, art, and decorative items also have room to breathe. It’s also crucial to consider the bigger picture when selecting what to include.
You can certainly be creative: a vintage pillow can look great next to one that’s brand new. Nothing needs to match, but it should make sense.
It’s a good idea to ask yourself what ties each piece to the overall feel of the room before making final decisions.
What’s too much?
That’s a great question to continually ask yourself when working with maximalist design concepts. While it’s a trending design style that embraces consumerism, there is such a thing as too many things in one place at the same time.
With maximalist design, there may be some trial and error. You may end up moving items from one place to another or rearranging things as you see fit repeatedly during your free time.
And that’s okay. Ultimately, the space needs to work for you as an individual and reflect what looks right to you personally.
When to Pare Back
If you’re knocking over your collections or losing important items because there just seems to be too many things in your space, you may need to do some decluttering and decide what can be stored carefully elsewhere.
And while maximalism does defy the stringent rules of minimalism, floor-to-ceiling displays of knickknacks in every room do end up looking gaudy, no matter how clever the arrangement!
Consider storing the excess in easily accessible bins so you can rotate your pieces seasonally (or however often you like). Otherwise, you can sell or donate pieces that aren’t a must to keep around.
Phone a Friend
Take a trustworthy friend or relative shopping with you to select paint or shop furniture markets, if possible to gauge their opinion.
Be willing to accept constructive criticism, but remind them what you’re aiming for with your design. While their taste may differ from your own, it’s helpful to get a second opinion when it comes to the overall feel of a space.
Take Your Time
For bigger decisions like paint, wallpaper, and blinds or drapes, it can be helpful to sleep on your options before making a final call. These are more difficult and more expensive decisions better made with as little impulse as possible.
See also: The Modern Day Hope Chest: What to Store
If you’ve been trying to go minimal in your space and it just hasn’t been working, this idea of maximalist design might seem pretty appealing.
But how can you design a space this way without creating chaos?
Make a Plan
The first step is to have a plan.
Just like you would overhaul a room any other way, the same is true for maximalism. It isn’t a free-for-all that doesn’t require thoughtfulness. Instead, it’s a way to let your style breathe and live comfortably in a way that works for you.
The trick is to embrace charm and character without going completely overboard. Consider each decision with care.
Figure Out What You Want by Answering Questions
It’s crucial to continuously ask yourself questions as you pick and choose maximalist pieces. This allows you to really figure out what you like and if it works in your scheme.
A few questions you might ask yourself are:
- Do I want to focus on vintage pieces? Bright colors? Inspiration from a certain time period?
- Do these different graphic designs complement one another?
- While they are different, do these pieces have anything in common?
- If my focus piece is an entire collection, what styles of design work best for showcasing it?
- If these colors were clothing, would someone be able to wear them together?
- Do I like looking at these two things together?
Collect and Carry Your Inspo
If you’ll be out shopping for items to decorate a room, bring along photos of your focus pieces and ask yourself these questions before making any purchasing decisions. Take your time and go slowly; while some fantastic items may be impulse purchases, try not to make every decision that way.
If you need inspiration to keep you on track, find blogs and social media accounts that help you create a streamlined vision for how you’d like your space to look. Save pages, follow accounts, and subscribe to updates for blogs and publications that align with your taste and goals.
Bring it All Together
When it comes to collections, decor, and mementos, be sure to group similar items together on shelves. You can cluster small groups of pieces on end tables, using vintage doilies, pieces of fabric, or even placemats underneath to create a designated area that draws them all together visually.
And most importantly, remember that maximalism doesn’t mean clutter. Make sure you have a space in mind before you buy anything new, or ask yourself if you already have something like it. It can become too easy to obsess over one type of item and overdo it.
Staying organized with a maximalist design plan doesn’t have to be tricky. Your eclectic array of possessions are part of the charm, as long as you arrange and organize them the right way.
Get creative with storage by using baskets and fabric storage bins that fit the feel of your space, and ottomans with hidden storage.
Luckily, such storage hacks come in a huge variety of style options at almost any price point these days. If you’ll be working with a tight budget, check out apps and websites where people are selling used items in good condition at reduced prices.
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The maximalist design concept has so much potential for those who vibe with the opposite of a minimalist lifestyle. Maximalism offers flexibility and the opportunity to be endlessly creative in a way that still showcases taste and reason.
Still have questions about how to go from a minimalist to a maximalist design without chaos? Contact us today for personalized advice.