How to Create a Maximalist Home
This blog post was written in conjunction with Feathr and you can also find it on their website.
The good thing about a bohemian, maximalist style is that there are no rules when it comes to decorating you home. Whether you follow, the white wall, “jungalow style” or the dark cocooning look of Abigail Ahern, you ability to interpret the look is endless. If you have never tried this look, or are new to decorating, this look may be intimidating or look cluttered, but part of the fun is to discover how things go together, to make mistakes, to build up slowly and if you really do not like it, you can always change it back to how it was before.
Moreover, is does not have to be expensive. Some of my biggest furniture items have been bought for a fiver at auction, and the endless ways in which you can style a room leave lots of options open to shop and source home treasures or to change things up when you get bored (something I do a lot). Eventually when you have curated a good collection of treasures, you can "shop you own home" sourcing items from other rooms when you feel like a change.
I have not always aspired to this look in my home; when we first moved in I painted the house in light, bright colours and kept furniture and accessories reasonably minimal, always with an eye to selling the house. Then it slowly dawned on me that actually we had bought well, with a bit of knocking about we have a six bedroom Victorian home, and we were not likely to move anytime soon. Around this time I discovered Abigail Ahern and her dark style, which drew me to this interior look and so the house has gradually been painted darker as I grew braver in my design choices.
Paint choice is not the only aspect of the maximalist style; it is, to me, the whole “feel” of the space that furniture, art, lighting, accessories and plants bring together to the mix, regardless of whether you are a dark or light home lover. Many maximalists are avid “thrifters”, and I also fall into that category, having restored and renewed second hand furniture for a very long time, and with a love of shopping; items bought in car boot sales, or through auction. Naturally not every piece in my home is second hand, I have many new pieces too. But getting that balance of the new with the old and a sense of history helps create an interesting space in which to live.
So, for those of you keen to create this look, how do you go about it?
I regularly buy new for large expensive items such as sofas and beds (although my last sofa was a 50 year old chesterfield bought for 25 quid, which lasted really well until my boys started jumping on it); my green velvet sofa from MADE is one of my favourite pieces. The key to this look is then to mix the new items, with older pieces (next to my new sofa I have old apple crates as side tables, for example) or if buying new chairs, to have them complimenting not matching. In my living room, I have a cream sofa, a black Eames rocking chair, a brown leather armchair in addition to my velvet sofa; all go together but do not match.
This theme continues around my house.
2. Layers and texture
I then add layers, such as textiles; throws, sheepskins, cushions, rugs, curtains all of which add warmth to a room, in different colours and patterns. If you reign in the colour pallet, you can work with more pattern and texture.
I am naturally a very cold person, so having things to snuggle down under is key for me. It has been said that my sofa's are stuffed with cushions; very true and my boys often throw them on the floor so that they can sit down, but this also makes for a fantastic pile in which to dive off the sofa and to build cushion dens so it is a win win for all.
I love to collect art whether old pieces I pick up at antiques fairs, on eBay or bits of photography. An art gallery wall is another good way of bringing in the maximalist theme into you home. Here in my bedroom I have shown how to mix up older pieces of art with newer finds. I personally find that darker wall emphasise the art on display, as you can see here against the black wall, it also hides the pin marks when you move your art around as much as I do. My hallway shows a different mix of art but still with a gallery style as a theme, against a dark wall.
You can source art from so many places and instagram is full of young companies selling art, enough to feed a shopaholic's addiction for a lifetime.
I always add wallpaper to my room schemes, usually just as a feature wall, as in this bedroom shot, or covering a fireplace wall. I like this to be as dramatic as possible and perhaps a move to far for some of you. However, there are a wide variety of wallpapers available and choosing a wood effect one to add some texture to you home would work just as well.
In my bedroom a dramatic painting hangs above the bed drawing you eyes as you walk into the room. It creates a real focal point and it is the item in my home that I get asked about the most, even more than my green sofa.
Lighting is key to any scheme but especially so in a dark maximalist home. I always have interesting and dramatic ceiling lights but I rarely switch them on, preferring a scattering of table and task lights some new, some industrial, and some quirky. These help to create an atmosphere that harsh overhead lighting simply does not. Of course when my husband is reading or the kids are playing, every single light in the house is usually switched on, but later in the evening, I prefer to switch off the overheads and light some candles; it helps me relax
Finally accessories, knick knacks (I have even had mine referred to as Tat!) if you like, but also plants and flowers, books and candles all build layers over the different aspects I have discussed before. They add interest, warmth, colour, and smell and you will find examples through all the pictures in this piece and throughout my home. These little pieces, collected and sourced over years, are what make my home complete.
So I have described in a few short paragraphs how I have created my home, naturally its ever evolving (much to the frustration of my husband, but I would be bored otherwise) and to collect some of the vintage pieces has taken me many years. So do not be daunted or put off if it does not work for you first time or if you want to change things; that is after all, for an interior lover like me and hopefully you, if you have chosen to read this, most of the fun.
The Girl with the Green Sofa