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Design issue: 7 ways to achieve a maximalist living room

From glamorous fabric sofas to clashing patterns, textures and colours, read on for everything you need to know about creating a maximalist living room.
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Whoever said ‘less is more’ has clearly never delved into the heady world of maximalism. In fact, we bet they’ve never even heard of such a concept. If you haven’t either, don’t worry. It’s nowhere near as well-known as its stripped-back sister, ‘minimalism’, but we have a sneaking suspicion it will be by the end of 2018. For this is the year of ‘going big’. Of bold patterns, giant cushions, overflowing collections and oversized lamps. This is the year of ‘who cares whether it clashes?’ and ‘let’s add more of it!’. And what a refreshing change that makes after a decade of ‘barely there’ interior design.

Ready to dip your toes into the world of maximalism? Living room need an overhaul? Great. Let’s get started on creating a lounge that’s loud in the loveliest of ways.

maximalist_jungle theme

1. Go wild

Think jungle-themed wallpaper, over-hanging house plants and animal print accessories. Maximalism loves all things wild and wonderful so don’t hold back on injecting a globe-trotting vibe into your living room. We love zebra print which works well on scatter cushions, rugs or even wallpaper. Leopard print works too and is back in, trust us, but must be paired with block colours (sky blues, bubblegum pinks, rich maroons) if it’s to feel current. If you’re more Jane than Tarzan, go for deep green plant prints (these would work well on an accent wall) paired with exotic florals, for a look that’s wild but less full on.

2. Colour it in

A maximalist living room should incorporate tons of colour – but you don’t have to go bright and garish to nail the trend. If you layer rich tones and add some clashing colours into the mix, you’ll get that busy-chic feel (yes, we’re coining the term) that’s so integral to maximalism. Experiment with richly coloured sofas and chairs, curtains and rugs to make the room feel textured and full. But don’t shy away from introducing elements of white – all that colour will need breaking up a little, even if it’s in pale finishing touches such as lamp shades, cushions or pictures on the wall.


3. Get to know your fabrics

Maximalism celebrates rich textures, so you’ve plenty of scope to play with contrasting materials and, in particular, fabrics. This trend cries out for fabric sofas over leather ones; heavy, opulent curtains over blinds. Think luxurious crushed velvets, smooth silks, tassels, pom-poms and patterned cloths. And while ‘normal’ interior design dictates you should aim for a balance of different materials, maximalism says you can go all-out on fabrics. Take this Wellington Glamour 3 Seater Upholstered Sofa, for example. In the world of maximalism, its glamorous crushed velvet upholstery is simply begging for, well, more crushed velvet, and a mix of other fabulous fabrics.

maximalist_close up

4. Collect and display

Maximalism isn’t so much about carefully curating decorative items that work in harmony as it is collecting, collecting and then collecting some more. And that’s the beauty of it. Anything that you’ve already got can be used to add to that eye-catching, eclectic feel. So, if you’re hiding away a stack of Vogues, keep half your scatter cushions in storage or have your books boxed away under the bed, it’s time to bring them out – with pride! The more collections on show the better, making this a cheap (free!) way to get the maximalist look at minimal effort.

maximalist_wall art

5. Fill up the walls

There are no blank walls when it comes to maximalism. You must see every inch of wall-space as a canvas to be filled with artistic expression. Whether it’s a dozen mis-matched mirrors, photos of the family, watercolours of plants or prints of animals, unusual artwork or intriguing tapestries, go big… or accept that maximalism is not for you!

6. Let go of space

It may be hard to get your head around at first, but this trend requires a complete shift in mentality – especially if you’ve spent the last ten to twenty years trying to make your home feel as spacious as possible. Maximalism is all about making the space feel full. But that’s not to say you need to resign yourself to a life of shimmying awkwardly around furniture and banging your knees on tables. This is more about layering up on patterns, textures and colours to create a feeling of refined chaos. Go for an ornate or antique feeling coffee table instead of a sleek or streamlined one. Choose both the wallpapers you love instead of just one, for alternating walls that clash in a good way. And break the rules when it comes to lamps, too, choosing a range of styles, heights and sizes to create that over-flowing, over-the-top feel of maximalism.

maximalist_cluster shot

If you’re ready for a complete design overhaul and are feeling daring, maximalism might just be the way forward for your living room makeover. But be sure to do plenty of research for inspiration first – get used to the trend and accustom yourself to its quirks and characteristics. Because if one thing’s for sure, this is one interior design style that’s not for the faint-hearted.


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