HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE A MINIMALIST OR A MAXIMALIST

Personalizing your house and making it feel like home starts with identifying your preferred style. In simplest terms, identifying whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist can set the tone for every interior design decision you make.

Here’s what you need to know about minimalism and maximalism in design and how to identify your style. 

WHAT IS MINIMALISM?

Minimalism is a less-is-more approach to interior design. This style is defined by a clear, open flow within a room. People who prefer minimalism often have fewer furniture and art pieces, gravitating toward clean, simple lines. Rather than having two overstuffed couches with throw pillows, minimalists prefer a single, modern-style seating arrangement and accessory furniture.

Being a minimalist doesn’t mean that someone is plain or boring. People with this preference feel overwhelmed by objects that they perceive as clutter and are more intentional when choosing what has a place in their homes.

WHAT IS MAXIMALISM?

Maximalism is a more-is-more approach. People who prefer this style tend to create more warm, welcoming, and comfortable spaces. The walls in a maximalist’s home rarely have an open space, featuring photos and art that add to the atmosphere.

Color and design choices in a maximalist’s home tend to be brighter and more vibrant. There’s a misconception that maximalism is synonymous with clutter. However, many maximalist designs are well-organized if a little busy. 

DO YOU PREFER BOLD OR CALM DECOR?

If you prefer bold colors and attention-catching decor, you might be a maximalist. If windows filled with plants, shelves teeming with books and treasures, and seating that invites you to while the day away, you have maximalist tendencies. You likely feel at home in a crowded bookshop or cafe that provides warmth and comfort.

Conversely, if you prefer neutral tones and calming decor, you might be a minimalist. If the soothing, sparse spa experience appeals to you, you’ll likely try to capture that in your decor scheme. If you’re a minimalist, your art preferences will be nuanced and straightforward, or you’ll gravitate toward having one central piece on display.

DO YOU PREFER SYMMETRY OR CONTRAST?

Maximalists tend to prefer contrast over symmetry. These are the people who are more likely to have boldly colored kitchen cabinets, mismatched rugs and curtains, and chintz textiles. 

Conversely, minimalists prefer cleaner lines and symmetry. There should be balance in every room and matching accent pieces that come together for a streamlined decor scheme. 

DO YOU FEEL ATTACHED TO THINGS?

Another common difference between minimalists and maximalists is the inherent attachment or disconnect from material things. Minimalists follow the Mari Kondo attachment style, collecting and displaying only that which brings joy or feels necessary. 

Maximalists have more sentimental values attached to material belongings and often view them as memory triggers. In essence, those material belongings also spark joy but differently than experienced by a minimalist. For example, a minimalist might have fond memories of the beach and revisit those thoughts often. A maximalist might choose to have a tangible reminder— such as a jar of shells— displayed in their living room. One is not better than the other; they’re just different.

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ARE YOU BOTH?

Believe it or not, you can have both minimalist and maximalist tendencies. You might prefer an open concept room with minimal furniture but bright and bold accents on the walls and floors. Conversely, you might like a busy kitchen and living room but have a very minimalist style bedroom. 

As humans, we tend to label ourselves and create a dichotomy between preferences. Yet as history has shown, that black and white thinking rarely applies to everyone. 

Identifying your preference toward minimalist or maximalist design is a great starting point when personalizing your house, but it’s ultimately your unique inclinations that will make it a home. 

Guest Contributor: Ashley Lipman

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