Interior designers share 10 ways to embrace maximalism without creating a cluttered, messy space

Maximalism
Maximalism is a popular interior-design trend. Photographee.eu/Shuttershock
  • Interior designers told Insider their tops tips for embracing maximalism for your living space.
  • As with most things, it’s best to start small at first, working on spaces like nooks or hallways.
  • It’s important to balance the color palettes and the symmetry of the room.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The opposite of minimalism, maximalism embraces the “more is more” philosophy.

Bold textiles, patterned wallpapers, decorative items, and intense colors are all hallmarks of the maximalist trend, but poorly executed decor can make a space look messy rather than chic.

So Insider asked interior designers how to pull off this popular decorating trend without making your home look cluttered.

Start with a small space

Maximalism
Play around with the design technique in a bathroom or hallway first. FotoHelin/Shuttershock

Interior designer Andra DelMonico, home-design writer for Trendey, told Insider that it’s smart to start small if you’re experimenting with maximalism for the first time.

“Start with a small area of your home to prevent yourself from going overboard,” DelMonico said. “The smaller space forces you to make smarter choices about which items to include.”

Try playing around with maximalism in a bathroom, breakfast nook, guest room, or hallway before going all-out in the rest of your home.

Focus on curating perfect pieces instead of collecting clutter

Vase and chair
It can be better to use one standout decoration instead of several lackluster ones. Followtheflow/Shuttershock

Instead of filling every inch of your space with stuff, focus on curating items that complement each other or draw the eye.

“Maximalism is about making a bold statement with a few key pieces, not overwhelming the senses with tons of stuff,” DelMonico said.

Hang a single piece of eye-catching art on the wall instead of several smaller works or opt for one large vase on a coffee table rather than multiple decorations.

Add extra rugs

Interior designer Courtney Sempliner told Insider that strategic rug layering can give your space a maximalist feel without the mess.

“Try adding a smaller, colorful rug on top of a larger neutral one, for example,” Sempliner said.

Using thinner rugs with a nonslip underlay can help prevent tripping or uneven furniture.

Swap your simple lampshades for bolder options

Lampshades
Colorful or patterned light fixtures can transform your space. Anna Berdnik/Shuttershock

You can add maximalist vibes to your space by tweaking your existing furniture and accessories.

“Get a quick maximalist look by swapping out your neutral lampshades for colored or patterned shades,” Sempliner said. “You’d be surprised how much energy this can bring to a room.”

You can also easily swap throw blankets or pillow covers to match this aesthetic.

Showcase your collections

A cheap way to try out the maximalist look is to bring your collections or mementos out of storage and display them.

“Use some spare shelf space to highlight travel souvenirs, family heirlooms, or whatever you find joy in collecting,” Sempliner said.

Make sure to arrange your collections in groups to keep things looking neat.

Create a gallery wall

Maximalism
Make sure to choose an aesthetic for your gallery wall. Photographee.eu/Shuttershock

If you don’t like the idea of a cluttered living space but want to create visual interest, a gallery wall could be the way to go.

“Mix and match the sizes of the frames and focus on one primary wall space versus covering all the walls in one room,” Sempliner said.

You can choose to build your gallery wall around a central theme, like family photos, or hang a mismatched collection of your favorite prints.

Add more plants

Plants in living room
Opt for real plants of different sizes and colors. Photographee.eu/Shuttershock

Joanna Smeeth, founder and principal interior designer of INDA Interiors, told Insider that one foolproof way to add maximalist flair to your space is to incorporate more plants.

“Layering and stacking [plants of] different shapes, shades, and sizes can create visual interest that’s striking but not overwhelming,” Smeeth said.

Play around with grouping plants of different heights and shades of green until you’ve achieved a varied, yet cohesive set.

Mix different textures

Combining different types of fabrics is a shortcut to a maximalist look.

“Layering different textures and materials is an easy way to bring maximalism into a space without making it feel cluttered,” Smeeth said.

You can easily combine textures in your room by adding pillows of different fabrics or opting for a duvet set with contrasting textiles.

Limit your color palette

Maximalism
You can follow the 60-30-10 rule. united photo studio/Shuttershock

Using too many different colors in one space can feel visually overwhelming, so make sure you plan accordingly when choosing your palette.

“Beautiful maximalist rooms actually use a limited number of vivid colors,” DelMonico said. “You don’t want your space to look like a kaleidoscope.”

To create visual interest without too many palettes, DelMonico suggested using the 60/30/10 rule – choose three colors and use them based on the percentages of 60, 30, and 10.

Keep things balanced and symmetrical

DelMonico advised that a room with patterns and colors that are well-balanced will feel less chaotic and cluttered.

“Choose pieces with similar colors or pieces that use the same pattern on different scales,” she said. “Try to spread these around the room to give a sense of symmetry.”

For example, you could add throw pillows of the same color to seating on opposite sides of the room.