“Minimalism is dead.” If you’re up to date with interior design dialogue, you may have heard this phrase. Of course, such claims need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Minimalism is still loved by some, but its dominance is definitely, let’s say dormant, rather than dead. It’s taken a long time, but many are finally growing weary of minimalist design’s stark surfaces and neutral palette, swinging back towards a newly adapted concept known as modern maximalism. Many echo the cry of style guru Arlyn Hernandez, “Enough with white walls already!”[2] She posits that “with minimalism and maximalism, one is usually born from the other.” After almost a decade of minimalism reigning supreme, it’s time for some design diversity.


But why have people finally had it with this enduring trend? It may just be a knee-jerk reaction and a desire to change it up, there are other factors steering people away from minimalist style. Its critics complain that it can tend to be boring, cold and plain unwelcoming. Cool and bland colours, while calming, can also feel depressing. A lack of colour falsely exudes a lack of occupant personality and minimalism doesn’t allow space for a house to look lived in. Whether it’s a New York flat or home designs NSW wide, there is always pressure to be magazine-ready. Interior designer Laura Houldsworth says, “If you want to express your personality to the full, maximalism is the way to do it[4].”


The fact that when you type the word ‘maximalism’ into a document it asks you, ‘Do you mean minimalism?’ proves that our collective brain may need some retraining. This daring new trend can sometimes be seen as controversial, but includes much positive feedback. Those who jump for joy at this emerging craze might be doing so because colour makes them feel happy, alive, and at home. David Alhadeff, founder of the design gallery and retail store The Future Perfect, even associates maximalism with a healthy economy[6].

So what is modern maximalism? Maximalism champions the sentiment ‘more is more’, in plain defiance of the minimalist regime and popular style dialogue today.

Here are some main defining elements of maximalism:

  • Personalisation – choose what you love, regardless of whether it’s ‘in’
  • Celebrate colour – usually incorporating a multitude of rich, saturated hues
  • Comfort and livability
  • Plenty of artwork – often in the form of a coloured feature wall with more than just one or two pieces (while design, look and frame can vary, spacing should be consistent to avoid looking messy)
  • Books and more books (and maybe some records and CDs)



Maximalism is comforting, because it allows you to surround yourself with things (colours, textures, artwork) that make you happy. The best news is that there is no wrong way to decorate your home in this style. It works well with boho and country style, as well transitional style (blending traditional and modern) which we discussed in our last blog post.

For years hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’) has traditionally been associated with scandinavian minimalism but actually works quite well for maximalism too. This cosy philosophy and maximalism have one crucial thing in common – a focus on happiness.


So does maximalism have to mean a return to the old fashioned, antique, or kitsch decor of the 70s, 80s and 90s? While it’s understandable that many consider the original style to be over the top, modern maximalism is a new twist on the old style. If it embraces colour, comfort and artistry, then this trend can be interpreted in almost any way you like. You may not want to fully embrace it, but can use aspects of it to beat the boring out of your minimalist space. Modern maximalism is all about bringing some life back into your home – without giving you a headache.


Whether you’re onboard with the style or not, Dulux colour predictions for 2019 are undoubtedly embracing colour. For a more subtle approach you could also get on board with Arlyn Hernandez’s adapted idea of ‘colour maximalism’: simple design elements combined with bold colour choices. To prevent this style from getting out of control or looking messy and confused, try to repeat a few colours or patterns/textures to show consistency and premeditation. Home styling expert Diana Hathaway says, “You don’t have to commit 100 percent to maximalism, but you can borrow the best of the trend to transform your space[10].”


Minimalism or maximalism – neither is wrong, and perhaps you don’t have to make a choice. Sometimes blending the two styles is the best way to achieve a homey, calming house that you won’t be tempted to redecorate every six months. What some find soothing is boring to others; what is exhilarating to one person is another’s headache. Love it or hate it, maximalism is barrelling its way towards dominating our design sphere. The only thing left to wonder is how many exciting ways this trend is already infiltrating the home decor scene, from Sydney display homes to Melbourne warehouse conversions or revamped Queenslanders.


[1] https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/modern-maximalism-support-colored-walls
[2] https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/modern-maximalism-support-colored-walls
[3] https://renoguide.com.au/interior-design/maximalism-vs-minimalism-beauty-in-extremes
[4] https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk/gallery/maximalism-trend
[5] https://freshome.com/maximalism-trend/
[6] https://www.fastcompany.com/90109697/minimalism-is-dead-hello-maximalism
[7] https://freshome.com/maximalism-trend/
[8] https://freshome.com/maximalism-trend/
[9] https://renoguide.com.au/interior-design/maximalism-vs-minimalism-beauty-in-extremes
[10] https://freshome.com/maximalism-trend/
[11] https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/modern-maximalism-support-colored-walls