I’m Maximalist, My Partner’s Minimalist — Here’s the Decor We Agreed On

published Sep 27, 2023
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Living room with large gold cozy sectional, disco ball planters, marble round coffee table with flowers in vase, Lots of plants
Credit: Erin Derby

The best part about moving in with my partner is, well, getting to live with my partner. But the worst part? Having to mesh decor styles. 

For the most part, I’ve always loved my boyfriend’s minimalist sense of style. From a sartorial standpoint, he’s a sharp, classy dresser — and from a home decor standpoint, I knew he wouldn’t be the type to beg me for a man cave. Plus, his clothing is so curated, he immediately offered me the bonus closet in our space as additional storage for my constantly overflowing maximalist wardrobe. Talk about a win!

While we didn’t bicker about closet space, we did go head-to-head a few times when deciding on our apartment’s overall aesthetic. Put a minimalist boy and a maximalist girl together, and what do you expect? Luckily, our strong communication skills (big relationship flex) allowed us to compromise on home decor buys that excited us both. The resulting picks helped us transform an empty two-bedroom into a home that strikes the perfect balance between our bold and conservative styles.

When it came time to start shopping for home decor and make the space our own, our great neutralizer was the color palette. Bright, vibrant colors inspire me, but my partner prefers a classic black, white, and gray combo. We ended up settling on an elevated neutral color scheme of tans, browns, and golds, with a few fun pops here and there, and played-up textures to give these understated tones a little more edge.

And that was just the start of a series of successful compromises. After a month and change of living together, we’ve nearly put the finishing touches on our space, and I genuinely think combining our styles has allowed us to make our apartment look even better than if we’d followed just one of our respective tastes. Check out the below for a look at some decor buys that are minimalist and maximalist approved.

Credit: Bella Gerard

One Big Piece of Art Instead of a Gallery Wall

I’ve always been a lover of art, and my last few apartments featured massive gallery walls. My boyfriend, however, prefers one small print or poster to an overwhelming collection of frames. Unfortunately for him, our nine-foot-long couch required a little more oomph overhead.

Our compromise was just one piece of art, but a big one — and while we worried this would cost a ton, we found incredible tapestry options from Anthropologie that did the trick. We settled on a 5’x8’ printed paper tapestry that matched the colors of our living room perfectly, complete with elevated wood accents and hanging hardware for just shy of $200. 

This piece covers 40 square feet in the way that a large gallery wall might, but it’s far less distracting. Still, it garners compliments from everyone who enters, and really sets the calming vibes for our living room.

Buy: Anthropologie April Sky Tapestry, $198

Credit: Bella Gerard

Fewer Decorative Objects — But Make ‘Em Count

I don’t know a maximalist on this Earth who isn’t a fan of knickknacks. I want as many little doodads as I can get my hands on — all lined up on the nearest shelf or side table. And as you can probably guess, my boyfriend wants absolutely zero.

Imagine my surprise when I showed him Jonathan Adler’s collection of spectacular acrylic animals, and he jumped at the chance to get one. I couldn’t believe my luck! The lesson here, I’ve learned, is that narrowing down your selection of decorative objects is fine, as long as you make the ones you do get count. 

Our gummy gorilla (as we affectionately call him) is a splurge, but he’s the perfect playful statement-maker for an otherwise neutral living room, and I’d take him over a dozen knickknacks any day. If my minimalist boyfriend has taught me anything, it’s that quality over quantity rings true in the form of acrylic statues that hit the light juuuuust right.

Buy: Jonathan Adler Acrylic Gorilla Objet, $895

Credit: Bella Gerard

Neutral Wallpaper with a Metallic Sheen

Because our apartment has an open floor plan, we knew right away that we wanted to wallpaper our dining room nook to separate it from the living room. When I offered up a few peel-and-stick options, I was shocked to find we agreed on a gold crosshatched iteration from Target. 

The metallic sheen felt so maximalist to me — but as it turned out, my boyfriend favored it over larger patterns in less metallic colorways. “Even though there’s more pattern, it actually feels like less,” he says of the crosshatch design, and he’s right. It sort of blurs into the background of our dining room table and vintage chairs, and does the job of making a tiny corner of the apartment feel like its own special room. Plus, putting it up was the kind of ~bonding experience~ living together is all about, am I right?

Buy: Threshold Metallic Crosshatch Wallpaper, $34

Credit: Bella Gerard

Spacious Coffee Table Book Storage

I’ll be the first to say that sometimes maximalism leads to clutter. I have an unreasonable amount of coffee table books, and in my previous apartment my table was essentially unusable because of the space they took up. From the get-go, my partner warned me that he wanted to be able to use our coffee table as such — a reasonable request I couldn’t deny him.

So, I set out to find a better way to store my coffee table books, and a trip to Housing Works, one of my favorite New York City thrift stores, yielded me the ultimate solution: a large wicker basket that fit perfectly beneath my vintage gold and glass table. 

Rather than stack the books on top of the table, I was able to pile them underneath in the comfort of the basket. Thanks to the table’s glass top, we can still see and enjoy the books, but they don’t take up any space when it’s time to put out snacks or light a candle. We call it controlled chaos, and while I do leave one book out every now and again for aesthetic purposes, even I can admit that the under-table storage option is easier in the long run.

Buy: StorageWorks Jumbo Wicker Basket, $42.99

Credit: Bella Gerard

An XL Bed with Crisp White Bedding

There was just one thing that our minimalist/maximalist dynamic agreed on in totality before we even debated decor: We wanted a huge, comfy bed with hotel-inspired bedding (aka, the fluffier and whiter, the better!). I believe that maximalist taste needs contrast to be truly appreciated, so a simple, clean bedroom is the perfect foil to the funkier accents in our living room and dining area. Plus, what’s more maximalist than sleeping on a cloud?

The most game-changing item in our home is our Earthfoam mattress, made of natural rubber, organic wool, and soft organic cotton. We decided to go big with a California king (quite the maximalist choice for a 5’1″ gal like myself, but totally practical for my 6’4″ boyfriend) and I’m not being dramatic when I say that I’ve never slept so well in my life. Minimalist or maximalist, you should be investing in your mattress!

We popped ours on a simple bed frame from Amazon and added our favorite pillows from Purple and West Elm’s European flax linen duvet — filled with two inserts for extra fluff, thanks to a hot tip from a West Elm sales associate — and the Parachute organic Cloud Cotton quilt on top. 

Buy: Lucid California King Bed Frame, $319