The Maximalist and Minimalist Home Interior Design Debate

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Minimalism and maximalism are two rival interior design trends with distinctive and contradictory features. The ‘less is more’ vs ‘more is more’ mentalities contest for the home interior style winning prize every year. The vibrancy of maximalism that dares to resemble the passé Rococo and Baroque styles seems to gain popularity lately while the strict lines of modernism are no longer the home décor champions.

On the other hand, even the most fanatic advocacies of either style would agree on one thing: both interior design trends are extreme. Can’t we really join the calming qualities of minimalism and the flamboyant expressions of maximalism under one roof? I am here to show you that we can.

Why Should Care About the Minimalism and Maximalism Fusion?

Unless your heart is one hundred percent set on either interior style, the fusion of both will bring balance. And keeping a balance within the house is fundamental when it comes to interior decorating. Don’t forget that each trend has its advantages and disadvantages. And no extreme is good. On top of that, you get the chance to build-up an interior that won’t need to be changed when the style currents fly with the annual interior design winds. Who has the money, time, or energy to remodel the house year after year or every time interior designers point their fingers into one specific direction!

I’ll stop here. It’s time to get a closer look at each interior style separately in order to discover their main features and then explore the ways to fuse the best they have to offer together.

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism in interior design is a movement. Minimalist homes are defined by the uninterrupted spaces, the clean lines, and the neutral colors which serve as visual cleansers. Minimalism involves ditching excess in just about anything: textures, intense colors, mouldings, decorative items etc. The idea is to enable both the mind and soul to rest in a calming environment after they have been bombarded by the outdoor chaos. Influenced by the reductive Japanese interiors and the serene Scandinavian design, it celebrates simplicity and perfection.

Minimalist Interior Design: Main Features

Limited colors

The serene environment of minimalist homes is created with a neutral base color. White usually rules. Accents are limited to a few wooden tones and low-key hues to form a fresh space without stripping harmony. The intention is to create uniformity and calmness, not boredom. While it’s important to pay attention to the base color and choose whitish tones, you can use variations of white and greys but also blacks or earth-tone greens or blues. The important thing is to use solid colors – no patterns, no textures.

Empty spaces

 

Minimalist houses are clutter-free. This doesn’t mean the house is empty; it means that the space is empty. You don’t see junk mail, newspapers, toys, or decorative objects lying around. The necessary stuff is hidden behind closed cabinets. Let me make a very brief stop here. A true minimalist keeps the cabinets in order and free of unnecessary things too. So the idea is not to stuff cabinets and push the doors to hide clutter from plain sight but keep the less is more mentality throughout the house.

Clean lines

Minimalist spaces have symmetry. There are no interruptions as far as the eye can see. Clean lines rule. Homes are defined by limited furniture to let space stand out. And everything within space is defined while the style is refined. You won’t see ornate tables in minimalist homes. Where’s a dining table, there’s a dining table and chairs – no tablecloths or decorative objects on it. If you like artwork on the wall, choose one large one as the focal point or several framed pictures of the same style and color.

Simplicity

 

Quality wins. Quantity has to fall. Part of the minimalist home’s sophisticated look derives from the high-quality of objects. Since the idea is to celebrate space by keeping a limited number of items in each room, each sofa and every table must be of the finest quality. Furniture is modern to sustain the expected clean lines and attention is paid to the simplicity of things. That’s why materials are usually natural and plain – wood, iron, brick etc. Nothing will stand out unless you want to create a focal point with a design item or yellow sofa. And this brings us to one more important feature of architectural minimalism.

Controlled accents

If you like the idea of having a yellow sofa in the living room, go for it but don’t add extra accents in the same room. If you add more accents, you run the risk of ruining simplicity and symmetry. Rooms become calm when the eye can rest in the environment and is not interrupted by a series of accents.

Focus on function

 

Function is key to living as a minimalist. Minimalism embraces the essentials which make life easy without the stress imposed by excess decorations. And so although homes lack superfluous elements, they have the basics that enable people to function, relax, work, cook, and enjoy. In fact the whole idea of minimalism is to create functional spaces that will make life at home easier and more comfortable. It’s not a coincidence that one of the dominant focal points in minimalist homes is modern lighting fixtures whether in the form of pendants, floor lamps, or recessed lights. Minimalist homes are not only defined by open spaces but also large openings which let natural light pour in while lighting fixtures become some of the few decorative objects in the space that will add charm and function.

The Pros and Cons of Minimalism

The advantage of minimalist homes is the enhanced feeling of calmness and freedom. The ambiance doesn’t add extra pressure to one’s soul or mind. The space feels airy and relaxing. It’s well-lit and provides the comfort needed to function within the home while it stands out for its high-quality and balance.

And although it’s easy to live in minimalist homes, it’s hard to keep them minimalistic. Does this strike you as odd? Well, it’s not easy to keep the home in order unless you are a minimalist at heart. A few books left on the table or dirty dishes in the sink will immediately break the style and act negatively on your psychology. One more thing. Some are under the impression that minimalist homes are cold and unfriendly. They are not. And this is what makes it so hard to decorate in accordance with this interior design style. It seems easy but it’s actually very difficult to create the perfect balance between colors, furniture, and structural elements in the first place – let alone maintain them.

What is Maximalism?

Maximalist homes are married to pattern and have an affair with color. They bring excess to another level. It’s an interior movement which began when the neo-expressionism was embraced in the 1970s as a reaction to the simplicity of the previous decade. People felt the need to bring into their homes layers, colors, textures, and patterns at maximum levels. And hence, the love for maximalist gained in popularity. This movement doesn’t restrain you from indulging in decorative items that bring you happiness. It doesn’t limit your choices when it comes to focal points, statement mouldings, accents, and stand-out pieces. It allows you to express yourself through your decorating choices.

Maximalist Interior Design: Main Features

A wide range of colors

 

Fuchsia, purple, blue, black, white, and any color in the palette dominate even if they don’t seem to be perfect for each other. That’s the glory of maximalism. The rooms are vibrant by excess in color. Since maximalist homes are heavily decorated, each item brings one more layer of color in the room. Objects are not necessarily monochromatic either. The color of the upholstery is not necessarily the same. Bright colors and freedom to let hues meet under the same room is a classic representation of maximalism.

Maximum decorations

 

The decoration of maximalist homes is heavy but the space is not cluttered. There is a difference here. The interior design movement opens the door to all possibilities. It invites in decorative objects and ornate interior trims, ranging from crown molding to ceiling medallions. The rooms can easily become overcrowded but overcrowding them in purpose is not the idea here. Since each room has plenty of chairs, sofas, tables, and objects and is decorated with heavy drapes, statement lamps, and textured designs, they will all create the visual impression that they are crowded, anyway.

Architectural elements

One common feature in all maximalist home decorations is that they are loud. And this is enhanced by the presence of architectural elements. One advantage when you are trying to pick decorative crown moldings, wainscoting, baseboards, and window trims is that you don’t have to play eeny-meeny-miny-moe. You are free to incorporate any trim and millwork in your interior without worrying about making the décor heavy.

Excess textures & patterns

 

Since nearly everything is allowed, you can mix interior design trends from different architectural periods and add as much texture as you like. Patterned rugs and fabrics cuddle with animal prints and play with sculptures and embellished lighting fixtures. Nothing is plain and simple in maximalist rooms. Texture reigns. Patterns rule.

Materials matrimony

All materials find their corner in maximalist interiors. You can feel free to combine natural and manmade materials, ranging from iron, lacquer, and wood to clay, suede, velvet, and plastic. Vintage tiles can find their way onto the floor while patterned wallpapers will enhance the vivid scenery. You can bring in marble slabs and match them with metal tables and leather sofas.

Amalgamation of themes

The beauty of the maximalist interior trend is that you don’t have to restrain yourself from the pleasure of inviting in different styles or limiting your décor expressions to one sole theme. Rooms are literally doused with patterns and styles borrowed from all periods. Victorian, bohemian, art deco, and modern styles can all work well in one room.

The Pros and Cons of Maximalism

The advantage of maximalism is that it pushes your interior design possibilities to the max. Unlike minimalism that limits your redecoration appetite, maximalism allows you to keep adding new pieces and create rooms with personality. The interior décor becomes powerful and is inspired by your own surroundings. Nothing restricts your creativity! If you want to marry antiques with modern art, go right ahead. If you like vibrant colors and patterns that will appeal to your senses and impulses, you are free to decorate exactly the way you want to.

Maximalism is so intense, it runs the risk of becoming an atrocity. The rooms run the risk of looking disorganized and overwhelming to the point that tire you instead of relaxing you. They suck your energy instead of increasing it. And let’s face it. Maximalist homes are the camouflage of capitalism. Although minimalist homes cost to decorate, there is a roof. Not with maximalist houses. There’s no roof. No ending.

The Solomon Solution of Maximalism & Minimalism

Since neither interior trend is politically correct, the answer stands right in the middle. What if we borrowed the best features of each trend to create our own space?

What’s the best feature of maximalism? Freedom of interior decoration expression and homes with personality.

What’s the best feature of minimalism? Functionality and serene environments that help you relax.

Let us have a matrimony here.

What should you do first? Define whether you home is inclined towards the one or the other trend. If it’s maximalist, start cutting down in terms of textures, colors, and patterns. If it’s minimalist, add stuff that makes sense in terms of functionality and help you express your inner décor desires.

Maximalist Interiors Cut Down to Meet Minimalism

  • Match upholstery and colors – if you like patterns, please do incorporate them in the room but settle for the same pattern in each room. And choose hues from the same color family. If you like red tones, add orange, camel, or pink. Black & white hues are also allowed as accents.
  • Choose between floor and wall textures – if you like vintage tiles on the floor, don’t place wallpaper too. Instead choose one color for the walls to cut down texture.
  • Keep displays to the minimum – if you like decorative items, place them in display glass cabinets and not all around the room.
  • Settle for only a few focal points – if you like patterned curtains but also love textured floors, at least keep the rest of the decorations simple. Wouldn’t a soft orange sofa look good? Throw a few patterned pillows on it and that’s it.
  • Let pluralism speak through wall panels and mouldings – they make excellent decorations and if they are not too ornate, they can meet minimalism half way.

Minimalist Interiors Driving their Way up to Meet Maximalism

  • Prefer glass cabinets – let your dishes or books in plain sight but still properly organized. They will add as much volume as needed to make the room more interesting.
  • Get one more accent chair – don’t settle for just one yellow sofa. Bring in an orange armchair too. As long as the color belongs to the same tone family, it won’t upset the minimal environment but add more character to the space.
  • Add a pinch of texture – Getting a fur blanket or hanging a chandelier won’t kill your minimalist style. As a matter of fact, bits and pieces like that will become the salt and pepper needed to enhance the personality of your home.
  • Invest in warm materials & add drapes – nobody said that drapes should be patterned. Sandy colors will look splendid and won’t overwhelm the space. In fact, they will make the ambiance more inviting while velvet upholstery will add warmth and coziness.
  • Make your home more honest – free yourself from the restrictions the trend dictates. If you like the idea of creating a cozy corner with a comfy chair next to a small table, where you will keep your favorite books and table lamp, do it.

Strict minimalism is like strict diets. You never satisfy your hunger. On the other hand, maximalism is the interior design chameleon that will end up devouring you. Stay in the middle. No need to either starve your interior décor appetite or become surreal. Forget about more is more and less is more. You are more. So follow your instincts, welcome all that you think it is essential, and voila your home will have a character. Yours.

 

Alexia

Alexia studied sociology at Essex University and did postgraduate studies at Sussex University in the media field. In Greece she worked for many years in printed and electronic media. She has written and illustrated the children's book "Little Bobby Steps Into the World", which is available on Amazon. Today she is spending endless hours with homedearest.com, regularly writes articles for websites in America and Europe, and is a top rated content writer on Upwork. Alexia has always been interested in interior design and has written relative content over the years.

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