The New Maximalism – It’s Not What You Think

We’ve heard for years now that minimalism is a mark of noble character. Those of us who are maximalists have been called materialistic, hoarders, or shopaholics. Minimalists believe they have the moral high ground. Is it a crime to enjoy the “stuff” of home? I, for one, am tired of being shamed for my appreciation of things (many, many things). Is it wrong that I have a dresser full of oddities from other eras that I pull out on occasion to adorn my table for a dinner party? Should I be embarrassed that my fireplace mantel is packed so tightly with pretty little things that I can nary fit a thimble on its edge? I boldly declare that maximalism is a wondrous thing!

But wait. That’s not exactly what we’re going to talk about today. We need to discuss the NEW Maximalism, and it’s not what you think.

Miles Redd

Who else is going to preserve history if not maximalists? We are collectors and appreciators. Every bauble has a story, which in turn makes it a conversation piece. We treasure old books. Not only do we read our beloved books, but we stack them like teetering side tables and employ them as a pedestal for our favorite great aunt’s chinoisserie lamp. While the New Maximalism certainly honors history and elevates the humble brick-a-brack, it’s actually concerned more with CURATION than collection.

Miles Redd

Michelle Rufty

The New Maximalism isn’t about hoarding useless or unattractive junk, but living life within the walls of our homes to the fullest. It’s about embracing color and pattern and beauty from across many eras and styles.

Melissa Rufty

The New Maximalism is creative and courageous. I’m so much more inspired and invigorated by images like these than I am a monochromatic interior that looks like every other monochromatic interior . . .  Sure, beige is “restful” and “peaceful,” but when’s the last time it turned you on?

Melissa Rufty

Michelle Nussbaumer

The New Maximalism encourages us to be daring, to make the unusual choice, to embrace the enchanting. To not be afraid of being “too much.”

Eddie Ross

Colorful and scenic wallpaper plays big in the New Maximalism, as are painted doors and ceilings in colors other than white.

Miles Redd

Justina Blakeney

Asian motifs and animal prints live along side mid-century furniture and Grandmother’s crystal chandelier. And if The New Maximalism is defined by a metal, it is DEFINITELY gold!

Michelle Nussbaumer

The New Maximalism encourages reusing and recycling. Rather than throwing out things when we tire of them, maximalists find new ways to restore them to good use. We rescue the unappreciated treasures cast off by minimalists who no longer see any value in them. Slightly-off color matches just adds to the quirky beauty. All styles and periods are perfectly at home with each other, like things collected over a lifetime of adventure.

Alex Papchristidis in House Beautiful

Nick Olsen

Maximalism delights in the small pleasures. It is nostalgic and big-hearted, hungrily feasting on the tiniest of details in a vintage fabric, patinaed brass, and colored glassware. Setting the dining table is an adventure – each time never the same as the last.

via House Beautiful

The New Maximalism isn’t without restraint. There is method to the madness, and (dare I say?) a controlled chaos about it.

Nathan Turner

Nick Olsen

The New Maximalism is infinitely more fun than minimalism. It’s unapologetic in its love of nostalgia and the stuff of life. And it’s a great place to cuddle up and read a good book.

Jorge Vazquez

Nathan Turner

Nick Olsen

How many of you have been watching the new Netflix series with Marie Kondo called Tidying Up? It may shock you to know that I actually watched the first episode while I was editing this blogpost. A little ironic, don’t you think?

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about the New Maximalism? All in, mixed feelings, or no way?

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oya
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oya

Lovely post! Amazing images!

RM
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RM

I love this. This look is rich and satisfying. I agree with you when you said that there is a difference between maximalism and clutter/hoarding. A maximalist room is curated and has an overarching concept and strives to make a particular impression, but clutter/hoarding is random collecting with no vision or goal. I am tired of sterile rooms that tell you nothing about the people who live in them. I have some keepsakes displayed and am told this is clutter. I told some relatives I was putting up wallpaper in my bedroom and oh the shocked comments I got, about… Read more »

Joanna
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Joanna

I believe everyone should live in the home they love, not be a slave to trends. Trends are changing constantly and to keep up is futile.
I like classic pieces and those that tell a story of a life lived. But, I could not live in any of the above homes. Too much color, too much stuff, just too much! My mind would never rest. I would feel anxious and discombobulated.

Nicole
Guest
Nicole

Agreed!!! I could not be comfortable or feel at peace in any of those spaces!!!! Homes should reflect the people who live in them. One isn’t better than the other. This post felt a tad judgemental using words like boring etc. but I do agree to each their own!

Karri Dick
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Karri Dick

I am totally “All in” the Maximalism movement. I have tried editing so that I can keep up with the latest minimalist craze, and it makes me sad to remove my beloved treasures. Now, I’m off to go find some bold curtains for my naked windows.

Jacquie
Guest
Jacquie

Kristie, I agree with you in the theory and believe that as the last commentator mentioned, we all need to surround our selves with the things that we love and feel comfortable with, whether that is a little or a lot of “stuff”. I have lived with what I call a “retail mindset” for over 40 years and that is that things need to appear “fresh and new”. It doesn’t mean they have to be, “appear” being the operative word here. I frequently move things from room to room to give a different look to a space. My husband laughs… Read more »

Emily
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Emily

I like a lot of color, history, and meaning to the objects in my home but I am also a minimalist in the sense that I don’t like a crowded home. I prefer a few fun items on my mantle rather than an overflow. Like you, I have a place for items that I rotate out: I don’t throw away, I just let them rest for a while. That’s why I like Marie Kondo; in her book she writes that we shouldn’t only focus on the things we don’t want, but the things that bring us joy. She is not… Read more »

Susie
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Susie

Although I don’t begrudge anyone for their style preferences, I wish I could live as a minimalist. After cleaning out my dad’s home after his death, I became a “less is more” gal. I strive to keep from having too many accessories, using only items that are meaningful to me. I do love art, but even that can be too much. Although I love most of the colors in these rooms, the amount of stuff would overwhelm me emotionally. I definitely don’t love buying tchotchke for the sake of decor. I am currently forcing myself to have some beautiful throw… Read more »

Lesli
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Lesli

I think it is perfect for some personalities, but those pictures above cause me to feel anxious. There should be freedom for people to decorate with what they love, whether minimal or max. The era of Pinterest and the internet has dictated a lot of what a person feels brave enough to do in their own home. It has squelched creativity as much as helped.

Marilyn
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Marilyn

I like the Nick Olsen bedroom!

Sara
Guest
Sara

It sounds like Maximalism is just the new way to sum up “British Country Manor House”. (Which I love and live in myself!)

Kay
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Kay

Kristie, I am not a minimalist, but I do get overwhelmed by multiple patterns and/or strong colors in a single space. I say no to sterility, but yes to serenity; no to clutter, but yes to complexity. Anything does not go. I’ve seen rooms in House Beautiful that are filled with totally unrelated patterns and colors. To me, that is the reverse of beauty. Symmetry and related elements have been marks of beauty for thousands of years, for good reasons. Miles Redd is very talented, and gets away with a lot, but his rooms above skate close to the edge.… Read more »

Shirley
Guest

Love the content and pictures! So happy to add my name to the list of maximalism lovers… Living confortable and surranded by things you Love is always on Trend!!

Stephanie K
Guest
Stephanie K

I love this blog post! I think i fall somewhere in between. It’s these nostalgic/historic/sentimental items that truly make a house a home and give it soul which so many interiors seem to be lacking these days!

Pam
Guest
Pam

Most of these pictures are a bit too much for me, but I am not a minimalist either. One thing I have to have around me is some color. So many bloggers homes look like a white out in a blizzard, and oh so boring. I like certain old things , but I also mix it with new things, preferably something unique and hand made, not Chinese mass produced things. I’m not going back to wallpaper again though. Been there and done that. Too hard to remove!

Kathy
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Kathy

Those images make me think of English Country House crossbred with Dorthy Draper or one of her designer colleagues with some 60s haute chic thrown in. Some are not quite my thing, but I like color and the unexpected and mixing styles. I have always been a more is more type of person, but and a home needs specific places for specific things to function. There is a limit on how much one can handle. and that varies from person to person. Didn’t realize this until I went over the managable limit for me in my current home and will… Read more »

Sandy
Guest

I LOVE the part about keeping books! I had to downsize a lot of mine when moving from my 4-bedroom house to a shared apartment. What was left had to live in storage for a year, but I just brought them out and it’s so good to have them back.

Lisa W
Guest
Lisa W

I must be a “medium-ist” :). More than minimalist, but way less than almost all of the photos. My stress level went right through the roof just looking at them. I feel like my eyes don’t have anywhere to rest and that they are ping ponging around trying to figure out what to land on lol. I also think very few people (particularly non-professionals) have any idea how to curate so many diverse items, colors and patterns. So while I agree this can be a very successful look (even if I’m not a fan), I think many people who attempt… Read more »

Pam Clark
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Pam Clark

You are speaking my language! My motto is more is more.

Kira
Guest
Kira

Wow! Some of these rooms are gorgeous! They’re a bit too much to live in day to day for me personally. But there are definitely elements to the rooms I really love.
I find it kinda funny that minimalists claim nobility. The rooms often look so emaciated that I often thought they were merely a reflection of their owners inner deadness. You know because beige is so restful and peaceful and all….

Risa
Guest
Risa

Interior design has been so homogenized by HGTV cookie cutter design! People think there is only one bland, gray/beige way to decorate their homes, and unfortunately it has also carried over into prospective home buyers’ expectations.

There has always been a portion of the population who has continued to live with pattern, color, and beautiful , classic (and expensive) wall coverings regardless of what is being sold to the general public on television.

Regina
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Regina

Love this post. It makes me feel okay with classic looks that may not be popular right now. I have grown to love a serene feeling ( and off white walls) in my home, but that doesn’t have to mean no color in my rooms.

Michelle Roth
Guest
Michelle Roth

Opulent comes to mind when I look at the photos in the new maximalism post. Some people prefer that others prefer minimalism (I happen to). There is no right or wrong. Your home has to reflect your own style whatever that is. Trends come and go sTyle never goes out of fashion !!!!!

Anna Milan
Guest
Anna Milan

A MINIMAL amount of MAXIMALISM works for me – if that makes any sense !! Lol

Christine Kohut Interiors
Guest

I think all of those images are inspiring! You know I love colors and patterns, but I think I’m more of “Edited New Maximalist”. I like bigger, bolder, more singular pieces rather than a lot of smaller things on tables and display areas. Does that make sense?

Sheri Bruneau
Guest

I can see why this is a favorite post of yours. First of all, the photos are so beautiful and stunning. They really showcase the art of curating a maximalism space. For me, I personally fall somewhere in between. While a full, cluttered space (disoragnaized) makes my shoulders move right past my ears, all of your images did not do that. You can clearly see how well the spaces were curated. We recently purchased an investment property that would fall in the maximalism category. I was drawn to the home for a number of reasons however when we did the… Read more »

Lisa Peck
Guest

Love this post! While minimalism might be right for some, if we were all alike it would be a boring world! Love the point about curation not collecting and the reuse of things!

Rhonda Knoche
Guest

Kristie – Great post and very timely for me! I enjoy reading g psychological responses from others, which is what design is all about, isn’t it? I guess I fall into a split personality camp. I love and embrace both minimal and maximal. After seasonal change-outs that take me from the holiday hubbub (displaying my old Charles Dickens books, hats, old silver sets, greens, lots of layers, etc.), I peel it back to what my kids laughingly call my Starship Enterprise look (white on white with a few select pieces, roll up the rugs). I have lit glass cabinets above… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Wow such a plethora of excellent images!!! I’m fully on board for embracing color, pattern and new maximalism in the home.

Janet Lorusso
Guest

I love it! Nicely done post, Kristie! I’ve found everyone has their own levels of tolerance for either maximalist or minimalist interiors. I have no problem with any style as long as it is well done! What is appalling and lazy is when sheeple don’t think through what will bring THEM joy, and just do whatever the crowd/media/HGTV deems is currently IN. That’s always a losing game (not to mention wasteful!) since what’s in is constantly shifting. Unless you are staging a house for sale, there is no excuse not to make it a reflection of your taste and likes.

Angela
Guest
Angela

This is why I love your blog. I just spent the weekend with a couple whose London apartment was full of gorgeous objects each with a history and memory. We also visited the V&A which was chockabloc full of ceramics from every era across the globe and I head home, now, with a head full of ideas because these “things” are a visual feast and soothe a busy mind. A good Kondo clear out makes room for better stuff! Love your ideas Kirsty x

Trulaine Hough
Guest
Trulaine Hough

Very nice post! As someone else commented, I think I’m somewhere in between minimalist and New maximalist! I love my new white kitchen, but my Roman shade and breakfast nook has a very strong modern floral that is mainly aqua, black, and white! My daughter and son in law like no color other than a warm gray. Their apartment is extremely pleasant though!

Deborah Main
Guest

Such an inspiring post with gorgeous images!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this hot topic!

Beth L
Guest
Beth L

I appreciate this! While I am probably firmly in the middle between max & min, I’m preparing to move across country, so I want to get rid of it all, lol. I like this positive spin on collecting and curating stuff!