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Making maximalism work for your home

From the Resene decorating blog

When we talk about maximalist design often our thoughts turn to the type of over-the-top, decadent design you might find in the Versace mansion or the palace of Versailles, all bold gold, glitz and garishness.

Try thinking of maximalism simply as ‘more’ rather than the minimalist ‘less’ – suddenly it can become a fun decorating approach that works in any home. No mansion or palace required.

A red maximalist bedroom

Layers of warm colour and furnishing give this quite simple room an opulent, maximalist finish.

Walls painted in Resene Pohutukawa with a painted circle bedhead in Resene Sakura, bedside table in Resene Sakura, floor in Resene Rice Cake. Throw, cushions and pillowcases from Adairs, velvet round cushion from Shut The Front Door. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.

A lounge with bold colours

Bold colours, mixed patterns and quirky art make this sitting room a real expression of personality.

The simple DIY artwork is painted in Resene Midnight Express onto a Resene Rice Cake wall. Tongue-and-groove panelling painted in Resene Smoke Tree, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, coffee table, large pot and round case in Resene Felix and coasters in Resene Bunting. Sofa from Nood, rug, basket and plants from Freedom, cushion covers, throw, brass candleholders, brass keepsake dish and brass bookend from H&M Home. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

Marie Kondo has made a huge mark on our interiors with her minimalist approach and the mantra of not needlessly holding on to things that no longer bring you joy. It’s a worthwhile and timeless approach that can make your home a simpler, relaxing place to live. But it’s not for everyone.

What if you have a lot of things that bring you joy? They might be travel mementoes, clothes, art, family heirlooms or cool collections. How do you incorporate those into your home without it turning into a museum of clutter? Or you might love bold colours and clashing patterns. How do you incorporate your personality and exuberant taste into your design without it becoming overwhelming?

It can be done. With a bit of thought and curation you can have rooms that celebrate your true style and bring you joy, without becoming overwhelming.

Layers, layers, layers

To create a maximalist space that feels cohesive rather than just cluttered, clear everything out and start with a blank space.

Choose the colours that will make up your completed room. It’s a good idea to keep the colour palette to about three colours to avoid things feeling too overwhelming. And think about the 60-30-10 rule, using your main colour over 60% of the room, a second colour for 30% and an accent colour for the remaining 10%. But go for bold Resene colours you love that are unexpected or even clashing combinations and opt for subtly different shades to add extra variation for the eye.

When you choose your colour palette keep in mind the colours of the furniture and key pieces you want to feature in the room, to make sure they’ll work together. It’s cheaper to replace a paint colour than a couch!

Now you have the bones of your space, it’s all about layering. Add in smaller pieces of furniture, stacks of books, art, sculpture, mementos – all the things that bring you joy.

When it comes deciding what to include, look at your collection and work out what links items together. Is it a specific colour? Is it a style or pattern? Are they all from the same part of the world or do they all fit to a particular theme. It doesn’t need to be obvious to anyone but you, but if you understand what connects the pieces, your design choices will flow from that and the space will come together.

Add another layer of textures. It might be throws, rugs, cushions, screens, wall hangings or mementos, together they’ll really emphasise the deliberate abundance of your space as well as create plenty of talking points and focus for people in the space. Think about where you can mix hard and soft textures like wood and concrete with velvets or wools.

Top tip:  Animal prints add real glamour to a maximalist space and though they’re patterned, they work like neutrals so don’t create chaos in your colour scheme.

The great thing about layering your feature pieces and furnishings is that anything that’s not working will become obvious and is easy to remove or switch out for something else.

As you work, look for bare spots that need filling. If you have a full space, any neglected corners will start to pull attention from the rest of the room. And if you don’t know what to put in an empty spot, try a plant. Leafy greenery gives busy spaces a fresh note and can be the finishing touch that ties things together.

A green lounge with a muted colour palette

The muted colour palette makes this layered design style relaxing rather than overwhelming.

Walls painted in Resene Waiouru, floor in Resene Bubble N Squeak, chest of drawers in Resene Napa topped with colourful plant pots in Resene Sunbaked and Resene Double Ash. Armchair and lamp from Freedom, hide and artwork from Shut The Front Door cushion from Lapco. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Bryce Carleton.

A rich and bold maximalist lounge

Maximalist-led design need not mean a lot of colour. It can simply mean embracing richness and a bold mix of patterns and colours for dramatic effect as in this sitting room.

Walls painted in Resene Atlas, with the door and architraves in Resene Indian Ink, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, coffee table in Resene Wild Thing, tray in Resene Yowsa, yellow case in Resene Cleopatra and turquoise vase in Resene She’ll Be Right. Sofa and ottoman in Contempa, rug from Designer Rugs, cushion from Katrina Hobbs Design. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

Paper the walls

Wallpapers can be an easy way to add different patterns, textures and designs to your room. Try a dramatic botanical feature wall in Resene Elodie Wallpaper Collection 1907-135-05 or the florals of Resene Kent Wallpaper Collection DGKEN101. Or experiment with a mix of patterns in designs like Resene Sanctuary Wallpaper collection FJ40511 and Resene Amiata Wallpaper collection 296166.

Anaglypta wallpapers are another way to add textural shapes to your space, that you can paint over in any colour. Resene has a mix of organic designs such as Resene Anaglypta Wallpaper collection RD80005 or more geometric shapes such as Resene Anaglypta Wallpaper collection RD576.

If whole walls won’t work for your style of maximalism, try stretching a section of a wallpaper design you love over a canvas for a unique, affordable piece of art.

Top tip:  For that little bit of extra patterned pizzaz consider patterned or textured light fittings, either on lamps or pendants.

Add bling

A maximalist interior is all about opulence and abundance and an easy way to add the final polished layer is glass. Those reflective surfaces, whether it’s big mirrors, windows, or small glass ornaments help throw light around the room, and will make your colours pop.

The same is true for metallics, whether it’s more traditional gold like Resene Gold Dust metallic, silver like Resene Proton, copper like Resene Bullion or more exuberant metallic pinks like Resene Enchanted or blues like Resene Sputnik.

Use these ‘bling’ touches sparingly as accents rather than as dominant features to accentuate your maximalist style, rather than compete with it. Use them the same way you might add jewellery or a nice watch to a dramatic evening outfit.

The rules

The only rule you really need to think about when going maximalist is: do you like it? It’s a much more personal design choice than going down the minimalist route. It’s also remembering you don’t have to go all or nothing.

Start small with a space like a work area or a sitting or reading area and play with ideas. You don’t have to go all in with a full living room. Find a corner or a piece of furniture that inspires you and start to play with colours and fabrics.

Maximalism is probably one of the most fun design philosophies there is! And it’s a chance to indulge in your love of colour and your treasures.

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Bubble N Squeak

Resene Sunbaked

Resene Cleopatra

July 17, 2021

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