Though maximalism of the Victorian era was often accomplished through decor and objects that weren’t accessible to everyone—think jeweled chandeliers or hand-carved furniture—none of this is a necessity for modern interpretations of maximalism. Now largely defined by brighter colors and bolder patterns, the principle of maximalism is easier to incorporate regardless of status or class, making the look both more approachable and gratifying.
Defining elements and characteristics of maximalist interior design
As Hopp says, “Nothing is truly maximalist if the palette is neutral; bright show stopping color is an absolute must.” Perhaps the most important element—and arguably the most fun—is the bold colors and intense scale of the rooms. “Maximalist design should evoke the woah reaction, and that is often because something is just not what you would have ever imagined,” Hopp says, adding that scale is often the most common cause of a wow reaction.
It’s not exhaustive, but consider this list of design elements when planning a maximalist room:
- Bold colors
- Bright wallpaper
- Mixed patterns with contrasting motifs, like animal print, geometric shapes, or florals
- Ornate accents, like chandeliers
- Layered fabrics
- Statement pieces
Of course, it’s also important to remember what maximalism is not: simple, subdued, or understated. “A maximalist design would never incorporate a simple gray couch,” Hopp says. “But rather opt for something very bright, patterned, or interesting in shape.”
Examples of maximalist interior design
To better understand maximalist design—and get a few decorating ideas—consider these projects from Hopp and DeLapp.
Maximalist dining room
Maximalist living room
How to bring maximalist interior design into your home
Maximalist designers and decorators are certainly afforded more liberties when it comes to what can go into a home—especially compared to midcentury or minimalist styles—but curation is still extremely important. “If you’re thinking of trying the maximalist look, start slowly,” DeLapp advises. “The style can quickly become overwhelming if it’s not edited properly.” By pacing yourself, you avoid veering away from artfully bold into cluttered and messy. “Pick a few patterns that you like, and mix them together through accent pillows, rugs, and wallpaper,” DeLapp suggests. She also recommends picking out a few pieces of vintage furniture and customizing them with a bright colored lacquer. Finding ways to highlight things you love, like a collection of objects or artwork, is another way to incorporate the look into your home. “These are all easy ways to get started and finding unique pieces along the way only adds to the personalized feel,” she says.
How do you make a maximalist interior?
“Using wallpaper with bold and bright patterns, glossy finished furniture, and a variety of accessories are key to pulling off this look in your home,” DeLapp says. Still, as Hopp explains, if you’re thinking of going maximalist, you must be ready to commit. “Be brave,” she says. “You cannot dip your toes into maximalist design.” In fact, whenever she’s working with a client who expresses an interest in maximalism, if they show a bit of restraint or second-guess the decisions as too big or too much, she’ll often advise they pivot into a much more conservative direction. “Diet maximalism is no good,” she says. “So if you want green in your space, paint it green, not gray green, but green. And while you’re at it, make it high gloss and throw in the trims and ceilings too!”