Articles Interior Design Minimalist Vs. Maximalist Interior Design

Minimalist Vs. Maximalist Interior Design

Minimalism and maximalism represent two ends of the interior design spectrum. What are the key differences between the two styles, and could there be a way to use both in your personal space?

Minimalist interior design highlights functionality and necessity in a space, while maximalism looks to the opposite and follows a "more is more" philosophy. Minimalism creates an appreciation of the little things, while maximalist style is a mood-booster thanks to the abundance of home pieces that relate to the expansive beauty of the environment and the multitude of life's experiences.

In theory, minimalism and maximalism represent two ends of the interior design spectrum. One focuses on simple cues and bare essentials, while the other thrives in intricate décor and visual accents. Here are the four key differences between the two styles — find out what aesthetic suits you best, and if there even is a way to use both in your personal space.

  1. Curated Essentials VS Organized Clutter
  2. Neutral Color Palette VS An Array Of Colors
  3. Simplicity & Efficiency VS Variety & Character
  4. Relaxation & Calm VS Active Energy

Curated Essentials VS Organized Clutter

Gray couch in boho maximalist style living area filled with plants

Minimalist interiors put a highlight on what is essential, and tend to limit ornamentation as much as possible. This is because minimalist designers believe that a simplified home offers a sense of calm and freshness that cannot be replicated in a cluttered space. By focusing on bare necessities and natural materials, minimalist spaces allow homeowners to invest in high-quality pieces, have clearer headspaces, and enjoy the freedom to think and do what matters most.

Aside from the freeing experience born from a simple lifestyle, there is still a design element to the utilitarianism of minimalist style. Less is more doesn't have to mean cold and uninviting. There's a way to make a minimalist space feel warmer — and that's with beautifully-crafted furniture, intentional décor, and the use of natural cues (e.g. plants and large windows).

Maximalist design, on the other hand, thrives in attention-grabbing visual elements and textures. Designers and decorators who subscribe to this design style use a multitude of items — in varying sizes, colors, and makes — and layers to show a loud and bright character that's unique to the homeowner.

Much like in minimalism, one has to be intentional with the décor and "clutter" in a maximalist space. There's a fine line between a creative space filled with complementary design pieces and an excessive aesthetic that's just messy.

Neutrals VS Vibrant Hues

Oval bathtub in minimalist style bathroom with single sink

In terms of color choices, minimalism and maximalism cannot be any more different. Minimalist style is characterized by the use of neutral color palettes — whites, grays, and beiges - while interior design doesn't shy away from saturated colors and polychromatic palettes. In the off-chance that minimalist designers do use color, they tend to stick to muted shades found in nature (e.g. blues and greens) versus the vibrant options that are in a maximalist's disposal.

Neutrals make a minimalist home bright and visually relaxing. On the flipside, an array of colors makes a maximalist space stand out and evoke visual interest.

Another visual element that highlights the differences between minimalism and maximalism is pattern. Minimalist designers — if they even choose to — incorporate prints that are made with clean lines or simple geometric shapes, and favor repetition. Maximalist style is all about intricate details and busy patterns. Examples of maximalist prints include chinoiserie and natural landscapes, bold graphics, and cartoonish design.

Understated VS Full Of Character

Brown leather couch and gallery wall in maximalist living room

There is an understated elegance to minimalist interior design, what with the focus being on high-quality materials. Many minimalist designers will confirm that it's quite difficult to make a simplified space look stunning and feel artful - because every design decision has to be deliberate and hold its own without being distracting and frivolous.

Of course, minimalist designers do their best to make simple spaces look stylish and be anything but boring. They achieve this by playing with a variety of textures in a monochromatic palette and looking to non-traditional shapes and cuts for furniture and large-scale items instead of bringing in home pieces with extravagant detailing. The idea is to veer away from heavy elements that create a distracting aesthetic.

Character is easily built in a maximalist home by not limiting what goes on in a space and being open to how interior design can involve. Personal mementos are looked at as artistic décor versus unnecessary clutter, and mismatched ornaments add a captivating aura to a space versus a careless impression.

Calm VS Energetic

White and gray minimalist bedroom with queen size bed and black chaise

Spaces with a ton of character tend to evoke a sense of active energy while spaces with simple features tend to feel more relaxed and calm. Maximalist interior design makes a home radiant versus dull, and expressive versus reserved. There's a lot of freedom in designing a maximalist home, as there are fewer limitations as to what goes into a space.

That said, many minimalists will argue that the sheer amount of items in a maximalist styled space makes for a constricting home life. Maximalism, in its energy and vitality, tend to demand attention and attachment to the items that make up a space. This is in direct contrast to minimalism that allows the homeowner to have a clearer mind and focus on other life aspects that may bring them more joy than just material possessions, like activities and relationships.

Understanding the key differences between minimalist and maximalist design styles can help you determine the best way to decorate your home. If you prefer tranquility over activity then you might find that neutrals and simple visual cues work best.

On the other hand, you might opt for bright organized clutter if you want a highly creative and dynamic space. Interestingly enough, you can also decide that you like both styles and atmospheres, and favor the happy medium. (Need a space to make minimalist or fill with maximalist elements? Look through our properties for sale here.)

Because minimalist design looks a lot like a blank canvas, it's fairly easy to inject bright colors and graphic patterns through accent décor or wallpaper. The trick is to not overwhelm the space with heaps of ornaments scattered across the entire space. Oftentimes, it's enough to design a dedicated area filled with vibrant objects and stand-out pieces that create an intentional contrast to an otherwise plain space.