I’m no historian, but the parallels of the Roaring ’20s and the ’20s of today are not lost on me. Both involved reactions to a pandemic that kept folks pent up for months. In the 1920s, the Western world responded with an era known for excess, luxury and Great Gatsby-like parties.
Today, a similar explosion is happening in our homes, say top designers. We may not be running out to speakeasies or sporting flapper dresses, but home design trends are far from tame.
“Having fun is back on the agenda across all aspects of our lives and that includes at home,” said British interior designer Benji Lewis.
“Restraint is giving way to permission to live larger and not play it safe all the time,” said Courtney Sempliner, a designer based in Port Washington, New York. “People are keen to get on with life and live to the fullest. Everyone is ready to push it a bit.”
Hello, maximalism. Good-bye, minimalism. We are ready to show “less is more” the door.
After a long, drab spell, where gray minimal interiors dominated home decor, this explosion of color and abundance feels rather like rain in the desert. Here Lewis and Sempliner share their top tips on how to make the most of maximalism:
What’s driving the trend?
“It’s a reaction to the events of the last 18 months,” Lewis said. “People found themselves stuck in their homes and wanted to find some joy in their living areas, so they began treating themselves to more color, pattern and texture.”
What defines the maximalist look?
“Maximalism means more of everything — more of your favorite colors, fabrics and accessories,” Sempliner said. “Everyone is open to embracing color and pattern and the ornate. They’re layering pillows and blankets and area rugs. It’s about full drapery and sofas with trim.”
Lewis agreed: “The more-is-more approach gives us freedom to be loud, chaotic, and colorful and to create a collision of styles. Think traditional floral wallpaper with a supersized photograph of Jimi Hendrix playing live at Woodstock. It’s using heritage items and period pieces, and reimagining old items in new ways, so everything is not brand new. It’s gallery walls and a drink trolley.”
What’s the difference between maximalism and clutter?
“Maximalism does not happen by accident,” Lewis said. “It is not chaos or disorder, but rather controlled, curated chaos that incorporates balance.”
“To keep your decor from looking too random, find a few common colors or patterns to repeat through the room,” Sempliner said.
How is maximalism different from traditionalism — or is it?
“Maximalism is more about pushing boundaries and being a bit over the top,” Sempliner said.
“You can incorporate maximalism into all styles, traditional, contemporary or even modern interiors,” Lewis said. “Mix it up. Put antique French armchairs with a modern glass cube table. If I were doing a modern maximal space, I would think in terms of layering textures and tones.”
How can home decorators introduce maximalism in their spaces?
“Don’t wing it,” Lewis said. “Build a room scheme with a well-planned furniture layout. Once furniture is in place, add pattern, maybe a floral chair or striped wallpaper. Then look to see which of your existing possessions you could add to dress the space. Edit what doesn’t make sense. Don’t fixate on making everything match. Be prepared to clash a little. Don’t be shy. Think floral chintz, woven geometrics, bullion fringe.”
What are five décor moves that say maximalism to you?
To Lewis, it’s “a drink trolley to bring the illusion of entertaining in grandeur. Layers. Prints and patterns, especially an animal print. Leopard is so much fun. Strong jewel tones, like garnet, sapphire, turquoise, emerald. A portrait of an ancestor. If you don’t have one, buy one. Who will know?”
For Sempliner: “Clusters of three items in a vignette, instead of one. A move away from gray toward a colorful palette. More whimsy, less restraint. Larger scale everything. Collections of plates or artwork hung on a massive gallery wall.”
You’ll know you’ve created a successful interior, Lewis said, “when at the end of the day, you go into the space and all those elements we discussed are in place, the emerald and the garnet, and this fantastic feeling surrounds you, and the room feels so dramatic, you say, ‘I love this! I am going to have a really good time here. I could dance here all night.”
Sounds like the Roaring ’20s to me.