Clutter, Clutter, Everywhere? The Maximalism Trend 2018
Maximalism is bang on trend for 2018. I’d argue, actually, that maximalism never really goes out of trend to those of us whose sofas will always groan under the weight of a thousand cushions, whose bookshelves resemble our own personal museum of mismatched knick knacks, collected with love, over years, just stopping short of becoming a full-blown hoarding habit.
Maximalism is the ultimate expression of personality and individuality, and so while we all remain different, and have a wish to express ourselves, our personalities, in our interiors, maximalism will always have a place, whether deemed on trend or not.
Because, those of us who are self-confessed maximalists, love out “stuff”. We love to collect things, to mix up our interiors, to feel the joy of finding an item tucked away at the back of the charity shop that we just know will fit into our home, even if we need to rearrange an entire room to fit around it. We see a white wall as a missed opportunity to add colour, wallpaper or a gallery wall. We have collections of collections. We rarely find a pattern we don’t like.
Maximalism is, after all, how our interiors become our homes (rather than just designed spaces), homes that are not soulless bland boxes or entire room schemes ordered from one shop, but filled with mismatched items, carefully and purposefully thrown together that give us our own unique style.
As William Morris stated, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” And, Maximalists follow this ethos, aplenty.
Now, the maximalist visual cacophony might be said not to be restful (I’d argue differently later), some may say we surround ourselves with things to block out our thoughts. But who needs to think all the time, especially after a long day at work?
Might we not be better staring at our beautiful wallpaper or snuggled under our mounds of cushions and blankets? Might the history we add to our homes, the uniqueness we create, not be restful? It will certainly tell a story, be a talking point when people visit your home, and vintage and aged items add a depth to your interiors, that no newly bought item can.
Maximalism is aptly summed up Iris Apfel as “more is definitely more”. But don’t translate Maximalism to chaos. Maximalism just hints at chaos, but never tips over into it.
It’s about a huge movement in self-expression in interiors, allowing oneself to express power or joy or passion or whatever other emotion or personality you wish to bring into an interior without the need to feel held back.
Maximalism, can be more flamboyant perhaps than you or I wish to live with; those of us with real homes. Clashing colours and patterns on every surface, which I actually love visually when you see it on Pinterest or Instagram, but which I think would give me a migraine, if I actually had to live with it, is one end of the maximalism spectrum. But, you don’t have to create this style for you. As always you can sit somewhere on the sliding-scale of Maximalism.
Perhaps ironically, if you are more minimalist than me, I like to think of my style as more “paired back” maximalism, compared to some of the images in this post. A home created to be cosy but which expresses my personality and because I like to collect “stuff” rather than a flamboyant take on the trend.
I tend to keep my colour palette restricted (i.e. not too many colours or patterns per room, see the corresponding Maximalist Bedroom Update for what I mean here) so that I am creating a relaxing room for me. And so, I’d argue that this makes “my Maximalism” relaxing. It is the colours and the vintage items I use, that give a certain “feel” to a room, that allows it to be both maximalist and a place to sit back and relax. And frankly, a sofa without a mountain of cushions, is not a relaxing place to sit at all.
I like to think of maximalism as a journey, a collection of my life; items not all thrown together in one go, but built upon, changed, extended as I find new things I love and make them work in a room and dare I say it, I never set out to be a maximalist, I just became one over time.
And that is the joy of maximalism, and actually what can make it intimidating when starting to create a home.
It is also the hardest thing to explain, when you decorate with your emotions, as I do. I don’t ever plan a room scheme fully. I have some rough ideas of what I want it to look like and usually a colour scheme, but I can never map it all out on paper, because I have to see and feel the final room, to work out if it is too cluttered for me, or if certain items are jarring or just in the wrong place. And I will move things, and move them again, until it looks and feels right.
Then I will go away with work for a few days, return home and realise that something just isn’t working and start the process again. For me, it is part of the fun of interiors, to have what I fondly call a good “faff”. It is also what keeps my interiors fresh and interesting to me.
How to Create a Maximalist Home
So, you like the idea of a maximalist home, but are intimidated about creating one, or getting it wrong. Let’s start by saying that there is no “getting it wrong” with maximalism, because it is an expression of you, it is about what stirs your emotions, whatever they may be.
Assume you are creating a home that makes you happy, that makes your heart sing as you walk through the front door, or to relax in after a long day, and that is your starting point.
That doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. I’ve gone with colours or bought items that I thought I’d really like, ignored my gut, and then regretted it. But I learnt a lesson on the way; I will never like a lurid orange kitchen masquerading as terracotta!
Try starting in small doses. As I’ve said maximalism is a journey, so pick an item you love, be it wallpaper or bright cushions and add it to your room. Choose a main colour for your home. In my bedroom, I chose a deep green, but you can go with a more neutral colour, as I have in my living room. Then build on it. Add a second colour, in my case yellow in my bedroom. If that works, perhaps you want to add in a third; green, pink and yellow for me in my bedroom, grounded by the rich wood that comes from the vintage items I collect.
Decorate slowly. It is so tempting in this day and age, stimulated by so many ideas in magazines and on social media, the ever changing trends, to rush your decor. But that is, I’d argue, how Maximalism can go wrong. Edge into Chaos, become cluttered. Take your time. Breathe.
If you don’t want to wallpaper a whole room, start with one wall and work from there. In my bedroom, I added panelling first. Then I realised I was missing something else. Pattern. Here, I didn’t want to wallpaper the entire room, it would have been too much for me, especially with texture already present through the panelling, so I chose to wallpaper just one wall. But, I used the colours I had already chosen in the room, yellows and greens, to keep the look cohesive. Mismatched, but cohesive in colour.
Now, this is different to the current Maximalism trend, which is about using clashing patterns and colours, but as I’ve already said, I don’t sit at that end of the sliding scale. This is what works for me.
In my study, a much smaller room than my bedroom, I chose to wallpaper the entire room. Why? Because it gave a cohesive look all round the room. It actually makes the study feel larger (I know this seems like the wrong thing to say, but it does), because you eye is not drawn to any one individual wall, rather it follows the room around. It’s rather like painting your ceiling and skirting boards the same colour as your walls. It doesn’t break up the space, especially important in a small room.
Once you are comfortable, bring something else you love into that space, does it work? If not what is missing? My bedroom has changed visually since I first showcased it here. I’ve added more texture, in the same colour scheme; fringed lampshades, for example which you can see below.
If it doesn’t work in this room, can it work in another? Do you have items in other rooms that might fit better with your new scheme? I’m often known to “shop my own home” for things that look better elsewhere and items in my home cycle round as I change up room schemes. This also saves me having to buy new every time.
Take your time and trust you. A maximalist home isn’t created overnight. My rooms are often created in their first pass, several months, sometimes years, before I feel like I’m done and I’m still adding to my bedroom; a velvet bed will be my next and probably last addition to this room. But, it won’t stop me changing around what I have on the surfaces, the items I chose to display because I love them.
Have fun with the details, mix it up on surfaces from your tables to your walls to your ceilings, even the kids rooms look good with details added in. Mix vintage items with new, add texture with plants and flowers and don’t be afraid to use colour. Play with height and mismatched objects.
And remember, that if you are using items from your own home, or bought for very little at a vintage store, often the cost to you is the materials you are using, such as paint, wallpaper (which granted is more expensive) and you, if you DIY. My bedroom panelling only cost me £50 pounds, the paint around the same amount, so if I made a mistake and didn’t like it, it isn’t too costly for me to change, often just the price of another pot of paint and some more elbow grease.
So, have fun, take your time on the journey to creating a maximalist home, and remember that your style is yours, and no-one elses, which is why as trends come and go, your home will always be unique to you. And, in my opinion, that is why Maximalism is here to stay.
The Girl with The Green Sofa