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  • Writer's pictureGrace Cousins

Maximalism & Minimalism

In the past few years there has been a huge boom in highlighting Maximalist and Minimalist design. What if you are a little bit of both? Read more and see how you can embrace your style of more is more or less is best and even see how design style rules can be broken! Also, get insight on companies who can help you achieve these looks at home!

What Is A Maximalist?

So what does this mean? A Maximalist lives on the philosophy of "more is more". Patterns are everything and the bolder the better. Some great examples of this type of design are

Dorothy Draper and House of Hackney. These are two designers who have greatly influenced my work for their fearlessness in the design world.

Dorothy Draper is known for her bold, Alice In Wonderland like spaces. In 1923 she was the first to "professionalize" the interior design industry by creating Dorothy Draper & Co. One of her most famous projects is The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia.

Dorothy Draper's designs are one example of how to create the look of a maximalist by using color and pattern. This is a great way to accomplish the maximalist style without having too many decor items and clutter. My favorite way to complete this look in a more minimal way is to use bold colors, large art, oversized furnishings, and full draperies. Hang draperies higher than your window and use fuller materials to add depth to the space. Velvets and silks are great fabric options when designing in this style because they add a hint of elegance. They are also an ode to The Victorian and Medieval times when more was always more!

House of Hackney is an amazing company who creates beautiful patterned wall coverings, fabrics, home furnishings and accessories. They are one of my favorite maximalist designers and I love using them to pull inspiration for my own home as well as my client's homes. Their use of velvets, fringe, pattern, color and detail all make them a maximalist's heaven. Detail is what they do best and if you are a pattern lover this is the place to shop!

House of Hackney's designs are a great example of true maximalism. Their design style is head to toe detail. Any element that can have a little extra pop of something does. Fringe trimming the base of furniture, lamps and curtains can be an easy way to add a little extra something to the space. For lighting look for intricate details on the lamp base and a unique shaped or patterned shade. Hardware is another great place to add interest in your space in an unexpected way. Look for unique shapes, and animal or floral motifs. Anthropologie Home can be a great source for these types of knobs, pulls and hooks.

Don't forget about those floors and ceilings! They make for a great opportunity for some fun whether your a maximalist or not! Wallpaper or lime washed walls are a fun way to add interest to your ceilings. Molding and ceiling medallions around your lighting fixtures can add texture and charm. For a custom one of a kind feature have a mural painted by a local artist! Explore options in flooring by incorporating parquet floors or bold tile. Layer several patterned rugs for interest and texture.

What Is A Minimalist?

Minimalism is based on the theory that less is more. Minimalists feel at peace in a home filled with simplicity and function, free of trinkets and strictly decorative items. Neutral and natural colors are usually the go to palettes for Minimalist design. This type of design requires less furniture. Think of the only the bare necessities. For example a living area may only include a large conversational sofa, a chair or two, a side table for a drink, a coffee table with a few books, and a floor lamp. Since you won't be using many decorative accessories to pull the space together, the furniture, lighting and textiles need to be strategically placed and planned. I love to include simple, unique and functional pieces in my designs that tell the story of the space.

Batten Home has a great selection of simple and unique designs to use in your minimal home. They have great simple furniture options for a clean, neutral look. Also, if you are a minimalist you probably detest bright colored labels on your household and toiletry products. If the soap in your bathroom doesn't fit your aesthetic, they got you covered. They even carry cleaning supplies all with attractive packaging.

Some of my most used and favorite minimalist pieces come from Gathre. They sell tons of neutral leather products that are great for homes with young kids. Their leather mats are perfect in playrooms, kids' bedrooms, and kitchens, especially under that highchair! Try using their mats as a table cloth. They are easy to clean whether on or under that table after messy lunches and even fancy dinner parties. Function meets style as they also create a simple way to pull your space together. Gathre also carries wall art and tapestries that fit this look so perfectly. My absolute favorite thing about this company is how they made kids play items of good quality, yet stylish, and so pretty that you'll want to leave them out!

To create a beautiful minimalist home focus on your basics. Strong furnishings and lighting are key to a successful design for any style but especially important in minimalist space to give you the biggest impact. I like to start with the largest items such as couches and chairs and work around them. My favorite places for shopping beautiful sofas and couches are Poly & Bark and Crate & Barrel. Next up I shop for lighting. Lighting is what ties the space all together. I like to select a few types for the space including both task and mood lighting help make the room more comfortable and inviting while being purposeful.

If you need extra touches to a coffee table or shelves, incorporate purposeful yet stylish items like candles, candle snuffers, books, magazines, vases, coasters and decanters. When styling a minimal room the three group rule is a great option to go by since it's classic and simple. Read more about the three group rule here: Organizing and Styling Using The Rainbow Method! Avoid too many objects of different textures and sizes on shelves. Keep a clean look by selecting items in a neutral color palette or all one or two colors.

Can You Incorporate Other Design Styles?

Yes! When looking at design styles you will find that some seem to go all out embracing textures, patterns and color while others avoid it and are strictly neutral, functional, clean and simple. So does this mean that an art collector can not have a Scandinavian Home? Or that a strict "only one item on the counter at all times" person can't have a boho or eclectic home? I'm here to tell you that if there is a rule in design it can always be broken. It's all about trying new things to get the result you love! That's the beauty of design. We know that every client is different so every home should be too!

If you are wanting to achieve a typically more minimal design such as Modern or Scandinavian but are more maximal than just add more! Just because something is typically done a certain way doesn't mean you can't add your own spin on things. A way to complete both is just add more of what you love! If modern is your style then add modern vases, sculptures and frames to your book shelf. Add a few more furniture pieces and maybe more modern and funky patterns.

Can You Like Both Styles?

Absolutely! Just because you enjoy a minimal home does not mean you aren't fun and just because you love detail doesn't mean you love chaos. You can have a bold, funky or fun home while also having a simplified home. Since these styles are primarily about less is more and more is more it doesn't matter what style speaks to you, you can achieve it!

What if I told you I was a minimal maximalist? Yup, that's right you can be both! If you are like me you love qualities of both. I love mixing patterns, layering textures, fun shapes, color but I also feel like a lunatic if there is too much on my shelves. I want my home to look lived in but in a beautiful curated way. I feel that having elements of both design styles creates a cohesive, well balanced and very homey, inviting space for me and my family.

Someone who is both a Maximalist and Minimalist embraces their love for balance. Whether their home is colorful or neutral they style, decorate, and display in an organized way. On their shelves you may find neatly stacked or lined books with a few treasured items displayed within. You may also see lots of symmetry on the walls, in furniture selections, and pillows. If walls are wallpapered there will likely be only a few simpler pieces of art hung neatly in a row. Or simple walls with a more neutral palette may have a gallery wall of frames and artwork of all sizes.

Something you may like to try if you like to balance both styles is pairing items. If your living room has lots of patterns and color, balance it by adding symmetry. I love adding in twin pieces to add harmony in a room. Twin pieces can be identical chairs side by side, matching pillows on bedding and couches, artwork and decorative items such as book ends. When hanging artwork, twinning pieces are one of my favorite things to add interest to a wall. Add the same size artwork next to each other and hang art in 2's and 4's. Play around with finding artwork that is from the same artist or try mix and matching art styles and mediums for a little more interest. If your furniture is mostly maximal with high contrast patterns than use more neutral rugs and curtains. If your flooring and large statement pieces are mostly neutral than have a little fun with unique ceiling lighting fixtures, textured rugs, fun throw pillows and art that pops.

Maximalist, Minimalist, or a little bit of both, there are tons of ways to show off your personal style. Stay tuned for more ideas, tips and tricks to transform your space into something that truly reflects who you are!


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