Five Tips for Creating a Maximalist Décor

Our taste has evolved over the last couple of years.

We used to be all about rooms with whitewashed walls, mid century modern furniture and so many plants that they could be described as verdant without a hint of sarcasm.

Lately, we have been drawn to block colour, voluminous shapes and playful design. 

We’ve struggled to find the best term to describe this look (we’ve tried 80’s interiors, postmodernism, chubby furniture and more) but we think we’ve finally found one that works: maximalist décor.

Now, before anybody gets upset, we are not saying that we have abandoned our love of, and commitment to, the best mid century furniture. We’re still on this kick.

In fact, we consider our current obsession to be an extension of the work we have been doing over the last five years.

Some of the best maximalist furniture is from the 60’s and many of our favourite themes combine mid century and late twentieth century design to perfection.

It’s just that things move on and we thought it was about time we shared what we love about maximalist décor and how you can achieve the look in your home.

Colourful furniture

What is Maximalist Décor?

As happy as we are to have found it, this term is far from perfect. It means a lot of things to a lot of people.

For example, we’ve seen it used to describe any theme that is the at odds with a minimalist set up.

This could be, then, a home without an inch of free wall space or an interior that is dominated by, for want of a better word, stuff.

That’s not what we’re into and it’s not what we’ll be talking about here.

What we are into, however, is fun. This means playful design elements, sweet-shop colours and outrageously comfortable furniture you can dive into. 

The golden age of this brand of maximalism is the 1980’s and it incorporates everyone from the Memphis Milano group to the Vignellis.

How to Create a Maximalist Décor Scheme that Works

Here are five things we have noticed about the interior themes we love.

1) The Jump from Minimalism to Maximalism Isn’t All that Big

There is a notion that a maximalist interior has to be a colour fest. We don’t agree.

In fact, some of our favourite themes feature white or neutral walls.

If you take the core elements of your minimalist interior and add some playful, colourful furniture, you’ll be pretty close to achieving the look.

And what’s more, everyone will know where to focus when they walk into the room because there won’t be any competing elements. 

Your new furniture will be the star of the show.

This is a sensible approach if you’re decorating a space you use often as you’ll be less likely to tire of it quickly and it’ll be easy to update if you do. 

It’s also worth noting that the inverse of this look (colourful walls, white furniture) is another very strong look.

Maximalist 80's interior

2) Go Bold but Don’t Go Everywhere

Another preconception about maximalist interiors is that there are no rules when it comes to wall colour.

Yes and no.

There is a host of examples in which designers have gone to town with colour and pattern and hit the mark. 

Problem is, this look is easier to get wrong than right. It’s also not necessarily what you want to see every day when you come home from work.

Our advice would be this: absolutely use bold, block colours. Just don’t use them all in the same room. 

It’s probably worth sticking to a maximum of three (two principal colours, one accent) and we would also recommend keeping within the same family.

Light pinks and dark pinks look great together. Greys will also sit well in that palette.

When it comes to adding colourful furniture into this mix, we suggest you do it one piece at a time. 

This will ensure you don’t wind up making some costly mistakes.

And don’t forget, black and white are still colours when it comes to furniture.

Colourful playful interior design

3) Do You But Not Every Facet of You

A minimalist décor is, more often than not, about restricting the influence of personality; a maximalist interior is about unleashing it. 

The theme you create should be fun and it should contain a collection of artifacts that come together to form an expression of your identity.

We’ve found plenty of examples of people hitting the right note here. One living room we saw had even stacks of magazines throughout. That’s a strong, personal and playful look (this theme also had some full-frontal male nudity on the wall but that’s another story entirely).

However, you don’t want your scheme to look like a nervous breakdown so avoid displaying every memory you’ve ever had.

Show your guests the edited version of you. Leave your best items of furniture with some space to breath; don’t paint a wall an amazing colour and then hide it.

Maximalist furniture

4) Shape Up

Mixing incongruent shapes is perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective way to achieve this look. It’s also where you can really have some fun without worrying about the consequences. 

Put a colourful triangular mirror above a spherical lamp and a very square headboard and you’ll be so close to the 1980’s you’ll taste the hairspray.

Mix straight edges with curves until your heart’s content. Look for pared-down totems and embrace uneven breaks. Square grid motifs also work well.

This advice doesn’t just apply to homewares and decorator items. It applies to your furniture, too.

Shop for the likes of tubular chairs, cascading desks and tables that rest on broad columns. Then, put them all together and enjoy.

chubby furniture 2020

5) Get Comfortable

Our favourite maximalist décor schemes scream comfort in all the ways Nordic themes do not.

This is voluptuous cushions, deep supports and wide rests. This is gluttony and we’re unashamedly into it.

It’s also where achieving this look can get expensive as this kind of seating is rarely cheap.

If you’re buying vintage then you should factor in the cost of re-upholstery as these pieces almost always need work and that process is usually quite complicated (shop with us and we’ll have done all the leg work in advance).

But it’s worth it when you end up with something that feels as good as it looks—and in this instance that counts for a lot.

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