This Emerging Style Combines the Best of Both Minimalism and Maximalism

published Apr 11, 2019
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A white Victorian fireplace with vases, candles, and artwork on top
(Image credit: Sylvie Li)

Is it just us or does minimalism feel so yesterday?

Don’t get us wrong: We love a sleek and clean space as much as the next design enthusiast; however, we have to admit that the neutral color palette and lack of funky details feels, well, sterile.

“I think the move towards ‘more’ is because practically there’s only so much you can do with a minimalist aesthetic; It’s beautiful, but it really limits your color palette and design options,” says Stephanie Dixon, editorial director at Society6.

But while we’re craving color, pattern, and a slice of boldness, maximalism seems a little more than we bargained for. Fortunately, there’s a new design trend that’s acting as a happy medium. We present: Maximal minimalism.

Um, what? Maximal minimalism is exactly what it sounds like: The intersection of the spaciousness of minimalism and the personality of maximalism.

“It relies on simple shapes and clean lines illuminated by bold colors with strong callbacks to mid-century modern art and design,” Dixon adds. “Think about Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, or Matisse’s beloved collage work.

You may not have heard the term “maximal minimalism” before, but you’ve probably seen (and loved!) the style in your co-working space, local café, or that hotel you just crashed at last month.

Maximal minimalism is on the rise—and honestly we couldn’t be happier. Simply put, it’s a great way to add some personally back to your otherwise sleek space. And although everyone is obsessed with decluttering their space (thank you, Marie Kondo), maximal minimalism proves there’s still room for fun.

“The concept of shedding excess and creating peaceful spaces feels like it’s here to stay, especially in our increasingly chaotic world,” Dixon explains. “But, personal expression is on the rise and our culture is only becoming more and more visually-oriented.”

Just as excited about maximal minimalism as we are? Here are five easy ways to bring the style to your home:

1. The Big Leagues

ICYMI: Nobody ever makes a statement by playing it safe. Maximal minimalism embraces the go big or go home mentality —especially when it comes to your art.

“The bigger the better,” Dixon says. “You know that energetic feeling you get when you step in front of a huge piece of abstract art? Recreate that glow by choosing a large print or wall mural to be a statement piece in any room.”

Looking for the perfect large-scale art for your place? Check out these sites stat.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

2. Color Me Happy

Thanks to maximal minimalism, you can finally kiss that neutral color palette goodbye.

“Colorful furniture is a great way to pull off this vibe,” Dixon shares. “I love the idea of a primary colored couch with minimal throw pillows or a set of blush pink reading chairs with clean lines.”

Revamping your space some can be as easy as adding cheery accents like vases or throw pillows. But if you’re looking to give your place a major overhaul, complete with new furniture, might we suggest something colorful and curvy?

(Image credit: Sylvie Li)

3. A Blank Canvas

Just because you’re adopting the maximal minimalist trend doesn’t mean you need to repaint your walls. According to Dixon, white walls are here to stay.

“Because this trend is so art-centric, you can really get that gallery look by showcasing bold artwork against the blank canvas of a white wall,” she explains.

However, if you’re craving walls that will wow, Dixon recommends focusing on one or two accent walls that can stand on their own.

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

4. Show Off Your Stuff…

When you hear the word “minimalism,” you probably assume it’s best to keep your mementos and collectibles in a cabinet, right? Think again. Not only does maximal minimalism call for you to show off your stuff, but it can actually keep clutter at bay.

“Overwhelming a dedicated area with objects instead of trying to spread them out throughout your space can actually decrease the feeling of clutter and is a cool way to exhibit your favorite finds,” Dixon argues. “Just make sure to keep the other areas in that room relatively clear of stuff so that you’re creating an intentional contrast.”

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

5. … But Have a Gameplan

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can go free reign on your decor. At the end of the day, maximal minimalism is still minimalism so it’s important to be strategic about your design game.

“This trend really is for everyone, but the key to pulling it off is intention,” says Dixon. “Avoid putting up overwhelming gallery walls or adding too many decor accents. When it comes to choosing art, furniture and design elements think thin, but impactful.”