All-American Style: Maximalist Interior Design
Austin Interior Designer Amity Worrel Explains Why More is More in Maximalist Decor
Clean lines, open-concept spaces, neutral color palettes — these are a few of my least favorite things! If I never hear the word “minimalism” again, it will be too soon. I am a maximalist through and through. After all, sometimes more is more. With its layered textures, bold patterns, vibrant colors, and curated collections, maximalist decor speaks to my soul and makes my home feel like, well, mine! There is something intrinsically “American” about maximalist interior design. It’s materialistic, nostalgic, ostentatious, personalized, and above all, diverse.
If you’ve been keeping up with my cross-country road trip to discover all of America’s design styles, you may have started to notice a theme. Many of our interior styles borrow and combine elements from different backgrounds. Maximalism is a prime example. As we break away from the stark minimalism of the 2010s, we see a return to maximalism and a love of things. On this leg of my design journey, I explain the elements and influences of maximalist interior design, why it’s trending, and why this style is so classically American.
My Own Experience with Maximalist Interior Design (AKA the More is More Philosophy!)
Less is more? I don’t think so! More is more: More comfortable, more stylish, more impactful. I abhor bare-bones modern minimalism with its cold colors, cavernous spaces, and pointy furniture. Instead, I find comfort in things and lots of them. I think it’s a bit of a misconception maximalist style is purely materialistic. In many ways, the objects we collect provide opportunities to make real memories in a comfortable space. Maximalism is about cuddling up on the overstuffed sofa, grabbing a photo album from the bookshelf, and pouring over memories by the glow of your vintage heirloom Tiffany lamp. Maximalism uses colors, patterns, textures, and collections to create over-the-top spaces. However, it’s also about creating spaces that reflect you. Personally, I don’t want to hide any of the pieces of my home that make it mine.
Elements of the Maximalist Interior Design Style
Vibrant Color & Pattern
Color and pattern are the cornerstones of maximalist design. While minimalist decors are stiff and buttoned up, maximalism embraces fun and joy. If you find joy in a white-on-white room, that’s great. However, there’s something about bright colors and intricate wallpapers that spark something inside us and make us smile.
Right now, William Morris wallpaper is making a comeback after 150 years. Morris, a leader of the Arts & Crafts movement, created some of the century’s most iconic wallpaper patterns featuring fruits, flowers, and birds. Today, these patterns fit right into maximalist decor schemes like Cottage Revival and Grand Millennial Chic.
Curated Art & Collections
Unlike bare-shelf minimalism that banishes your prized collections to storage, maximalism invites you to display your curios and art in full force. The objects and art we collect carry memories of our favorite travels and showcase parts of our personalities. Why wouldn’t you want to show them off?
Velvet sofas, lacquered wood dining tables, boucle accent chairs, metallic fixtures, and mirrored walls — layered textures which add depth and interest to interior spaces. When embracing maximalism, there’s no end to the number of textures you can include! My favorite thing about layered texture is the power it has to make a space feel cozy.
Unlike other design styles, maximalism doesn’t stay in one lane. Instead, maximalist decor schemes combine an array of styles and periods, often leaning in one or two main directions based on homeowner preferences. Finding the balance when mixing styles can be tricky, but the reward is worth it!
Influences on Maximalist Interior Design
Art Nouveau Movement
I find many maximalist interiors draw inspiration from the Art Nouveau style. The Art Nouveau movement started in Britain in the late 1800s and quickly became popular for its opposition to industrialization, standardization, and those dreaded clean lines. Instead, artists of the movement embraced organic forms. The style is characterized by asymmetrical and curved lines, combinations of dynamic materials, and earthy colors.
During the Victorian era, goods became more accessible thanks to mass production, and Victorians started enjoying the rewards of materiality. Now people could adorn their homes with decorative wallpapers, rugs, draperies, and lavish-looking furnishings. People began portraying a sense of self through their decor choices and maximizing their interiors.
Mario Buatta Interiors
Mario Buatta, known as the Prince of Chintz, is one of my favorite maximalists. His ‘80s interiors channel the spirit of Dynasty, rejecting any form of minimalism and embracing maximalism to the max. His celebrity-grade interiors included everything from curated Regency antiques to 19th-century dog paintings and $100,000 palm tree sculptures. While these maximalist rooms are luxurious, they’re also playful and have just the right amount of kitsch.
There’s been a recent fascination with the Regency period, making appearances in popular TV shows like Bridgerton and even fashion. So, it only makes sense elements of this maximalist style would spill into our modern interiors. The Regency era occurred in the United Kingdom during the early 19th century amidst George IV’s reign as Prince Regent. The style pulls from Egyptian, Gothic, Greek, and Roman architecture, layering ornate elements like rich woods, carved details, metal accents, and luxurious patterns.
Time to Clutter — Maximalist Interiors are Trending
Maximalist interior design is trending for the 2020s which means it’s time to bring on the clutter. Yes, embrace a little clutter and fill up those bare shelves with your cherished collections, photos, books, and anything else that brings you joy. Interior design affects our mood. After spending so much time at home during the pandemic, people have reassessed what a joyful home should look like. In many ways, people want a space that reflects their personality, a room with a sense of vintage romanticism, or simply a spot that feels lived-in and inviting. Remember, maximalism is diverse and adaptable. So, you can lean into the trending Cottagecore style or embrace an antique Regency vibe — or both!
Why Does Maximalist Interior Design Feel So American?
In a decade that proves to be evermore divisive, it’s challenging to find the common thread that unites us. America is a patchwork of different styles, cultures, beliefs, and people. Uniting ourselves doesn’t mean we wipe the slate and fit ourselves into a boring minimalist room. Instead, like maximalism, we should embrace our bold contrasting patterns and colors, coming together to create a cozy space that feels like home.
Like America, maximalism is diverse, with room for any and every style to come together.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.