Maximalism has become more popular over the last year, particularly in small spaces.
It brings personality and depth to a home, according to experts.
The key to making maximalism work in your small space is to be intentional about your design.
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Before the pandemic, there was a period of time where nothing was everything when it came to decor.
Whether it was Kim Kardashian West’s all-beige home or your friend’s new affinity for throwing away things that didn’t spark joy, minimalism was definitely “in” throughout 2019.
But over the last year, people have grown less interested in the less-is-more lifestyle, especially those who live in tiny homes or apartments.
According to Pinterest data, people are searching for “maximalist decor” five times more and “maximalist decor small spaces” three times more often on Pinterest now than they were a year ago.
Likewise, a quick scroll through Instagram or TikTok will show you a plethora of small spaces filled with color that are much more in line with maximalist decor.
Experts told Insider that the rise of maximalism is likely a result of people spending more time at home – and it’s a change they’re excited about.
Maximalism is a ‘more is more’ design style
As the name suggests, maximalism is a design aesthetic that leans into “more” to make a house feel like home. You can expect to see brightly colored walls covered in artwork, an abundance of plants, and statement furniture in a maximalist space.
It’s the polar opposite of minimalism, which was popular in 2019 thanks in part to shows like “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”
And while there’s certainly something to be said for decluttering, Michelle Fahmy, an interior designer and one of Apartment Therapy’s Changemakers for 2021, told Insider she thinks maximalism is often more practical for people in their day-to-day lives than minimalism.
“Minimalism is quite beautiful when done right, but there is also a starkness to it, an unlived-in and museum-like quality which makes it much less practical when you are living your everyday life, making your home your place of refuge, trying to raise a family, or setting up an impromptu home office,” Fahmy said.
“There is something about maximalism that allows people to be free and experiment, to have fun with the items and design choices in their space,” she added. “Maximalism gives people the freedom to express themselves through their surroundings.”
Megan Zietz, who decorated her space with maximalism in mind, echoed Fahmy.
“For me, maximalism encourages utilizing our small space in the boldest way possible,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to play with colors, prints, and textures you wouldn’t necessarily think to use together.”
Maximalism has become more popular in the last year
Experts think it’s no coincidence that maximalism started trending during the pandemic.
“While stuck at home, people want to decorate their homes in a way that makes them feel good and reminds them of special moments, hence the rise in maximalism,” Swasti Sarna, Pinterest’s senior insights manager, told Insider.
Danielle Blundell, Apartment Therapy’s home director, agreed, telling Insider maximalism has a “cozy factor” that makes sense for people spending more time at home.
“It’s the idea of layering and filling a space with the things that you love in a way that can make you happy,” she said. “When your home is full of all the things that you like, it can actually boost your mood and make you happier and provide lots of different stimuli to let your eye wander around the space.”
Fahmy also said maximalist decor can actually make a home feel larger when done right, which makes it a great design style for small spaces.
“Your eye only has so much ground to cover in a smaller space, so packing it in with thoughtful elements helps to actually make the space feel larger,” she said.
Experts told Insider that people who live in small spaces often pair maximalism with mid-century modern decor, as the latter can be a grounding style.
“The mid-century serves as a strong grounding presence in a small space because of its streamlined aesthetic,” Karina Lameraner, a creative stylist for the online interior design service Modsy, told Insider. “Maximalism beautifully contrasts this by inviting playful and adventurous elements into the space.”
The key to making maximalism work in your small space is intentional design
Maximalism is effective in a small space when the things in a room don’t look haphazard or thrown together, so it’s important to focus on the overall effect of a room when picking out pieces for it.
“The trick to achieving maximalism in your small space is ensuring that colors, textures, and patterns all work together – and not against one another,” Lameraner told Insider. “Small spaces require layering as opposed to spreading, which means that the pieces you choose need to play off one another.”
She suggests picking items that have similar patterns or shapes to create a sense of cohesion. For instance, your couch and your bookshelf might both have rounded edges, or you can pick pillows that match the pattern on your rug.
Blundell said it’s important to keep in mind that even maximalist spaces need to have some negative space, which can help ensure the room doesn’t feel too busy.
You can create negative space by leaving some parts of the walls blank, by having open space on shelves, or by making sure flooring is visible under a rug, according to Blundell.
Blundell also suggests buying simple furniture to ground a room, leaving the maximalist touches to more decorative pieces.
Fahmy encouraged people who want to embrace maximalism to decorate slowly rather than all at once. You can add one statement piece to the room, and then see what you might need from there.
“As you add more, take a moment to stand back and look at the space,” she said. “There is an element of just the right amount of restraint that is needed when being a maximalist.”
Likewise, Fahmy thinks it’s important to remember that maximalism gives people the opportunity to put things that are important to them on display.
“Bring out those tchotchkes from your travels that have been tucked away and group them as a fun display on your mantle or shelf,” Fahmy gave as an example.
Maximalism can help you turn your home into one giant keepsake, quite literally turning a house into a home.
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