After several decades of decorating with minimalism and modernism in mind, the over-the-top ethos of maximalism has made a triumphant return with interior designers and homeowners alike revelling in the joys of jewel tones, statement ceilings and chinoiserie wallpaper designs.
It’s by no means a new concept; wealthy people have used maximalism to showcase their riches for centuries, and the look has become synonymous with royalty, the well-read, the well-travelled and others among the upper echelons of society. But today, the look is no longer out of reach for everyday folks either.
A common misconception about maximalism is it implies the need to jam a space full of a lot of stuff. Some may associate maximalism with rooms belonging to a distant relative stuffed to the brim with junk and clashing chintz that raises both the eyebrows and the heart rate and causes confusion. However, maximalism is much more about using plenty of colour and pattern to pack a room with visual texture.
When decorating in a maximalist style, you become the curator of your space by showcasing collections of things that bring you joy and reflect your personality. Whether you are wrapping your space in botanical Resene wallpaper, piling your bed high with patterned linens or artfully arranging objects on shelving, try to abide by the aesthetic adage of William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” So layered within that should be artisanal objects, mementoes and curiosities that you love with a focus on featuring items that are special over items that simply coordinate with your scheme.
Maximalism is the art of finding an attractive balance between layered patterns, saturated colours, ample accessories and art so that more really does become more. The idea is to create a sense of playfulness through bold and unique choices, but the key to getting a successful look is through a curated colour palette or sticking to a consistent colour family. These hues can be used to adorn everything from your walls, ceiling, floor, windows, doors, joinery, light fixtures, furniture, upholstery and window treatments.
All in all, you’ll want to ensure as many spots in the room as possible aren’t left bare. However, you will also need to leave some surfaces for the eye to rest. This could be through timber side tables and a chest of drawers stained in the same Resene Colorwood hue to provide relief to the room's bolder patterns and colours or it could be choosing to only use a wallpaper design above the dado line and building out wall panelling or wainscotting and painting it in solid matte hues and opting for linens that have tonal or textured pattens rather than coloured ones.
But there will also be plenty of surfaces where you will want to increase the visual texture and add patterns where there wasn’t one before. For instance, while a patterned floor design could be created by stencilling one colour of paint on to another, in this space, a ‘glazed tile’ effect was achieved on our floor with a basecoat of Resene Walk-On tinted to Resene Rice Cake then we applied Resene FX Paint Effects medium mixed with Resene Tangaroa through a stencil using a flat artist’s brush.
Headboards and lampshades can be given a pinstripe effect using a Resene testpot, a narrow brush and a steady hand, or wider stripes by masking off areas with high quality painter’s tape. Rather than painting a piece of furniture in Resene Lustacryl tinted to a single colour, look to clues from the shape where you can paint certain areas, such as the frame or legs, in a contrasting colour from the main body, drawers, etc., use a ruler and masking tape to create a unique geometric design or use glue to cover areas with cut lengths of wallpaper.
But no matter what you do, make sure it makes you happy to look at it and always come back to your same key palette of Resene colours to make sure your look is cohesive.
Styling by Kate Alexander. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2022
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