Maximalism, to the Max

Home Sweet

Minimalism has been the buzz for quite some time and although I love the aesthetic, in theory, I could never reconcile my love of objects, texture, pattern and colour with the minimalist ideals that seem to require concealment and pared back clean lines. The cleanliness appeals, but it feels so austere. It’s like getting an arty, but spare amuse-bouche when what you’re really craving is the tasting menu for two, all plated and dropped on your table at once. With that analogy, I realize, is the necessary aspect of sharing the experience. Tasting it and enjoying it all, together, in context. Talking about the many ideas and bouncing between them, rather than just honing in on one. My home is full of visual references, culled from experiences and passions. And I think I like it that way.

I am much happier, I’ve realized, surrounded by maximum visual interest and objects that may not be the singular ‘piece de résistance’ of the room, but which contribute instead to an overall treat for the senses.

Sensory overload and tackiness are the far end of this spectrum. You can take it too far. Subjectively. But, when done well, I’m overjoyed by the idea of maximizing the impact of a space, in as many nuanced ways as possible.

From discreet to over the top, here is an ode… to the max.


This Urban Barn story is more subtle, but still plays with the maximalist ideal: tone on tone, but with big ideas; big texture; perforations, sheep wool in muted jewel tones; amplified size and focal pieces that keep the eye bouncing around the image. Remove a few objects and it could easily change its vibe.


A more elegant take on the Mad Hatter’s tea party with some adult sophistication, monochromatic palette and global influence. Here the ‘more’ is in replicating details: more lantern pendant lights; more candles; more flowers; more pillows. There is a lot going on here, but the colour scheme keeps it feeling cohesive.


Here, the white backdrop creates a clean surface for a lot of detail. Colours pop and no shade is off limits. The colourful bookshelf shares focus with textiles, and painted furniture. Everything is spaced out to keep the eye flowing, and the wood textures help add variety, but at its heart this room is a well curated version of a rainbow, with artisanal and folk influences, housed in an old world shell.


This room relies on paint and fabric to get big impact and to emphasize the importance of every part to the whole. The turquoise wall, crystal and metallic chandeliers, bright artwork and jewel tone hues in the accessories add richness to the already sumptuous velvet couch. Add to that a graphic floor rug, splashy artwork and a side table, sideboard and accessories from a variety of styles and the look reflects a love of many, rather than one specific decor genre. 


This gallery wall, velvet tufted couch, woven stool, statement lighting and movie theatre seats bring every point of reference into one shot. Quirky, classic, playful, modern, beachy, global, retro, mod… the gang’s all here.


From the book ON Maximalism, this cover shot has the same fun mashup as the previous image. Clear trends run towards combining eclectic furniture styles with patterns, texture, books, collections, stand out items (stuffed peacock, anyone?), fur, pieces from a variety of cultures and maximizing both the floor space and vertical space. Take it all the way to the roof.


I’m totally drawn to the texture and bold pattern of this rug, which picks up in the cushions on the couch. There is definitely a palette at play, but the motif is confident and playful. Mixed wood and classic details like the chandelier and Chinoiserie ceramic stool make the eye travel, not unlike the designer/owner who clearly has a love of world cultures.


Handicraft pillows, yellow lamps, sarape blanket, coffee table art books, abstract polka dots, man’s head, stripes, art in a variety of styles. This place screams ‘an artist lives here’. I don’t know if that’s true, but the tone of the room is anything but severe and restrained. Maximum colour and texture. To vet a piece, just remember, … if you like it, the answer is ‘yes’.


Too far? Paintings on the ceiling? Flags and quilt squares hung from the raftes? Every surface covered? Yup. This room is a little much for me, but I think that has more to do with the moody colours and overall darkness. If this were done in cheerful Frida Kahlo inspired pinks, greens and mustard yellow I’d be head over heels.


Here each item is precious and stands on its own. Satisfying. Together, it’s a feast for the senses.


This indoor-outdoor room looks like a film set. Part jungle, part royal love nest, I’d feel transported just reclining into this pile of pillows. The lushness of the plants, the warmth of the lighting, the texture overload… carved furniture and regal textiles. OTT!


The classic bones of this room, molding, crystal and carpets, all speak to old-world tastes, but when you sneak in some Marilyn, floor cushions, sexy velour couches, fancifully upholstered chairs and a seat that cops a feel, you have an unexpected menagerie that makes a maximum impact. Are you a maximalist, minimalist, or somewhere in between? In my heart of hearts, the max is where I’m most at home.


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