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Minimalism vs. Maximalism: Which Interior Design Trend Is In?

During the last two years of pandemic lockdowns, homeowners have taken a closer look at their living spaces, determining whether they’re a true reflection of who they are.

Two designs that best describe us are minimalism and maximalism. Some people prefer the less-is-more look, while others display their appreciation and love for all their favorite items they’ve collected throughout the years.

Is one design aesthetic more on-trend than the other, though? Ultimately, does it really matter?

Home decor
Home decor

What’s Trending: Minimalism and Maximalism?

Recent data from Pinterest found that the term “maximalist decor” was searched five times more than the year before. This is especially true for those living in smaller spaces — and a quick scroll through social media proves maximalism is certainly trending.

Fittingly, for the design that alludes to “more,” maximalism aims to make a house feel homier. Perhaps our desire to be comforted by our most precious items or surrounded by colors and pieces that bring us joy has made maximalism the more popular decorative style in recent years.

However, home decor is a personal choice, and the interior design you choose should always speak to your personality and what makes you feel most comfortable.

6 Minimalism and Maximalism Ideas for Your Home

If you’re wondering how you can transform your home interiors into a minimalist or maximalist design, here are a few ideas for each.

Simplicity of the decor complemented by accents of nature
Simplicity of the decor complemented by accents of nature

1.   Minimalism: Neutral Tones

Walking into a minimalist home should feel like you’re taking a deep inhale. Neutral tones, from whites to greiges and subdued grays, give rooms a crisp, airy look while natural sunlight warms the space.

If you still want to introduce a bit of color, consider shades that are easiest on the eyes. Colors that match best with neutrals may fall into earthier categories, such as saturated blue or green, deep brown, charcoal or tan.

2.   Maximalism: Lots of Color

The first step to mastering a maximalist look in your interior design is to add generous pops of color. Don’t shy away from bold and beautiful palettes that include emerald greens, royal blues and other dark, rich shades.

Tie in colorful elements to offset a moody wall, such as furniture, textiles and accessories. Rules are thrown out the window in a maximalist home, and just about anything goes.

3.   Minimalism: Accessorize in Moderation

Clutter-free is the goal in a minimalist home design. When you decide to display certain accessories, make sure each item serves a purpose.

Open shelving in a modern kitchen design is a great way to showcase kitchen accessories like dinner plates, herbs, or one or two cookbooks. Just be sure to do so sparingly.

In other areas of the house, let decorative items support the look of furniture rather than steal attention away from it. Concentrate on sleek or muted pieces that the eye may not gravitate to immediately.

4.   Maximalism: Walls of Artwork

Artworks on the wall
Artworks on the wall

A maximalist home is often a work of art itself, so creating widespread gallery walls is on-trend for this look.

If you have an accent wall in your home, consider adding floor-to-ceiling artwork, photography or mirror collages. Opt for different frames rather than a unified look and arrange them in a way that feels right to you, not necessarily what’s the norm.

Creating balance is still important, even for a maximalist look. Be sure to space frames evenly when assembling a wall of art. Experts suggest 3-6 inches is an ideal uniform spacing despite having artwork in various sizes.

5.   Minimalism: Focus on Natural Elements

Home decor inspired by autumn
Home decor inspired by autumn

Incorporate natural elements into your minimalist design to balance the white space of your home. Wooden pieces, such as bowls, baskets or benches, are excellent options and could provide additional storage to hide clutter, as are ceramic or clay urns.

Natural-tone textiles like woven blankets or greenery — succulents, a potted plant, etc .— are other ways to add color without going overboard.

Place a few succulents throughout your living room or put a snake plant in the corner of your bedroom to tie the area together.

6.   Maximalism: Personalization

still life with home decor elements on the table
still life with home decor elements on the table

Perhaps most important for a maximalist design is staying true to your style and tastes. An eclectic arrangement of periods, decor themes and colors are entirely acceptable for maximalism, as long as the overall look depicts you.

For example, when picking wall colors, what best represents your personality? A yellow palette could be an option if you’re best known for your sunny disposition. A passionate person may opt for fuchsia or strawberry tones instead.

Likewise, adding old antiques or photographs in classic frames with midcentury modern pieces is another way to add intrigue to the space. Every design element in a maximalist home should tell a story about the owners. It’s an innovative way to share with others who you are and what you love the most.

Design Between the Lines

Minimalism and maximalism are opposites on the design spectrum and it’s perfectly fine to fall somewhere in between. Maybe you like the idea of neutral tones throughout your home with a gallery wall of black-and-white family portraits in the living room. Trust your instincts and design your home according to what suits you best.


Evelyn Long is a Baltimore-based writer and the editor-in-chief of Renovated. She publishes home decor advice and product roundups for readers in spaces both big and small.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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