Maximalism: What Is It & How to Make It Work for Your Life

by Macall Carlsen

Understanding and Embracing Maximalism

Maximalism is defined by excess. Think of an oversized mirror adorned with silver pearls, next to a large bust of a greek woman, across from a hallway cluttered with hundreds of colorful paintings. It is an artistic movement, a type of interior design, and a philosophy.  

Minimalism vs. Maximalism

Minimalism and maximalism are two sides of the same coin — they are opposites yet closely related.


Minimalism places less focus on material possessions and instead focuses energy put toward personal happiness. Minimalists live with few possessions and avoid gathering excess materials. A minimalist room will have monochromatic colors and sparse furnishing. There will be nothing in the room that is unnecessary or unneeded.  


However, minimalism doesn’t mean boring. A minimalist room may have few furnishings, but each piece of furniture will have significant value. Rooms will feel spacious, open, and fresh. Minimalist architecture often has open floor plans and large windows to emphasize the essentials in the room. 

 

                     

 

Minimalism is often connected to:



Maximalists find their happiness in materials. They reject the beige and white walls found in minimalist design and decorate with anything that brings comfort, filling up space in the room with a collage of colors, materials, and textures. 

 

Maximalism doesn’t mean cluttered spaces and hoarded objects, though. Instead, maximalism embraces color and patterns, merging saturation with complexity. Elements of maximalism include: 


  • Repetitive patterns; 
  • Rich, saturated colors;
  • Florals and animal prints; 
  • Mixed styles; 
  • Bold statement pieces. 

Maximalism psychology represents the scattered, noisy thoughts in a person’s mind. Maximalists encourage interior design that has personality and represents everything that the decorator loves. When a person enters a maximalist room, their eyes will wander from one wall to the other and always find something new to hold their attention.  

    

 

The Psychology of Maximalism

As mentioned earlier, maximalism is a response to minimalism. 


Minimalism began in the 1950s and 1960s in art galleries with overly simplified geometric shapes. Minimalist art began to influence clothes and design with simple clothes and few decorations. 


In 2008, minimalism surged as a response to the recession. People began looking for ways to spend less and reuse what they already owned — leaving anything unnecessary out of interior design.  


The necessity for minimalism turned into a trend after the recession. Homeowners painted their walls with muted, monochromatic colors and bought furniture that blended into the walls. Every item had a purpose. Minimalism is defined by: 


  • Muted colors; 
  • Sparse but purposeful furnishes; 
  • Open and airy floor plans. 

To some, minimalism is too quiet to sustain life. There is no personality, no movement, no color to the simplified order. 


Maximalism rejects minimalist ideas and draws personality into architecture and design. It is bold and whimsical, representing individuality that sticks out from monotony. Maximalists look for life in their materials and bring items into their homes that feel alive.   


Maximalism is personalized. Those who find peace and meaning in objects tend to lean towards maximalism and reject the ideas of minimalism. Instead of stripping away possessions, maximalists look for new objects that fill their rooms with color, patterns, and life. 


Bright yellows mix with reds and oranges, while florals compete against animal prints for the looker’s eyes. Maximalism represents life and individuality as a reaction against the muted tone and empty homes of minimalists. 

How to Incorporate Maximalism Into Your Life

Bringing maximalism into your life without creating clutter and hoarding can seem like an impossible task at first. However, by organizing your home and discovering your home’s personality, you can create a space that expresses your individuality through maximalism. 

Stay Organized

Staying organized is essential to a successful maximalist home. Those practicing maximalism could collect too many small items and create a cluttered home, which can be dangerous and impractical for those with pets and kids. However, as long as you stay organized, you can collect colorful items in a decluttered home.    

     

 

You should stow items such as lotion, towels, shampoos, and anything else that draws away from the room’s design. Using colorful storage bins, portable caddies, and other manageable storage items can help you manage your new lifestyle while keeping the clutter organized. 

    

 

If you want color and designs but no change of clutter, consider adopting a lifestyle where you combine both philosophies. 

Be Practical

A maximalist with a family can’t afford to fill every corner of the house with artwork, tapestries, and statues. Avoid gathering impractical furniture and make sure that everything fits in the existing space of your home.  


It’s exciting to build a place that expresses your creativity, as long as you know where to draw the line. Don’t purchase overly large items that could get in the way of your family, and consult each family member to create a space where everyone feels comfortable, especially if family members are working from home.  


Additionally, be aware of the purpose of every room. For example, when designing a nursery, use plush items and colors that fit with the nursery’s design

Get Creative

The key to embracing maximalism is to embrace your creativity. Maximalism doesn’t care what the neighbors think about clashing patterns and incompatible colors. While designing your home, pour your creativity into artwork and try to see the uniqueness in everything you decide to bring into the home. 


A maximalist home is meant to be different from the homes of those around it. It is creative, personable, and sticks out. Embrace your creativity. 

Tell a Story

Your rooms should tell stories, whether the story is your own or someone else's. The story can be told through emotional pieces, visual designs, or cultural objects. Never place an item in a room to simply take up a place on the counter.  


Look for items that blend with the story or theme. Themes can be as subtle as “colorful” or “happiness” and don’t have to be specific like “New York skyline.” 

Focus on Personalization

The purpose of creating a maximalist home is to break away from the monotony and refuse to blend in. Your home should feel personalized to your family and shouldn’t be a conglomeration of designs you saw on the internet.  


Your home should support your health and wellbeing by making you feel at ease, comfortable, and welcomed. When you sit down in the room, the objects shouldn’t overwhelm you because you don’t relate to them. 


Instead, you should feel at home among the objects that you choose to include in the room. Personalization is the difference between a cluttered home and a creative home.


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