It’s pretty much impossible to flip open a design magazine, browse Pinterest, or pop into Target without the minimalism manifesto taking center stage.
With the rise of tiny homes, micro apartments, and Scandinavian style (covered in succulents), has come the
brainwashing concept that “less is always more”.
While I hate to be a traitor to my generation and all, I think it’s high time for the fall of this simplistic design regime.
The world is ready for Anti-Minimalism to wash over the design landscape once again, breathing cheer & charm back into our homes.
The Minimalist Mass Appeal
I get it- we all have busy somewhat overwhelming lives. The thought that you can simply prune your material possessions, until you reach a state of bliss is a nice theory.
Especially since it’s challenging to decorate a room, the thought that Minimalism will save you some stress is an attractive notion. But it’s a notion that doesn’t exactly hold it’s weight.
Our desire to have our eyes delighted and entertained doesn’t easily goes away. Minimalism is all about living as your most efficient self, but efficiency doesn’t always bring about happiness.
Often those trying out minimalism will begin to feel a void in their home, and try to fill it again (with stuff), hoping to regain their sense of self.
So why do this to our selves in the first place? Maybe it’s our way of trying to break away from our over stimulated lives. Perhaps an overcorrection after the pre recession days of ‘McMansion’ style homes?
To better understand the Minimalism attraction, and to illustrate alternatives, we have to start at the beginning of this barren movement.
What is Minimalism?
Beginnings of Minimalism
Funnily enough despite it’s popularity today, the concept of ‘Minimalism’ had a pretty lackluster beginning.
The phrase was coined to describe an obscure artistic movement in the 1960’s, and it was definitely not meant as a compliment. In fact it was often used to describe art works that were minimalistic in the amount of actual art they showed.
So yeah, it was pretty much a critics way of saying the “art”in question wasn’t really art at all. Kinda exactly sums up my sentiments on minimalistic interior design….
Today Minimalism has evolved, and has become as a lifestyle approach. It’s an attempt to help people to cut the clutter, and rid themselves of any unnecessary items “weighing you down”. The overall hopes is to get a more soothing, streamlined aesthetic in the home.
The influence of popular Nordic and Scandinavian style designs, with bare walls & simple wooden furniture, were incorporated as a way to reconnect with our ancestral roots, and bring about a calm and serene tone.
And while that idea is all well and good, I have to seriously wonder- at what cost?! Is it really making anyone happier to stare at a such a blank space?
The downfall of Minimalism is that it pushes this concept to it’s limits. Of course it’s great to rid your home of excess clutter, and not hang on to things you don’t use, but throwing out your diploma because you don’t look at it daily, may be going a bit too far.
Perhaps all those people who embraced the minimalist trend and aren’t experiencing the joy they’ve been promised, should have simply had a little garage sale instead of overhauling their entire homes.
Why Minimalism Doesn’t Work
I don’t know about you, but being in a minimalistic space is far from relaxing to me. Without fail, a feeling washes over me of bleakness, as I imagine what could have been in the lifeless room.
Minimalist decor feels dull, generic, and void of any real human expression. But why is that? It’s because our minds crave something when we want to feel comfortable and at ease, and with minimalism that thing is missing.
In the quest for minimalistic style, people sacrifice things they don’t “need”, but that represent their life experiences. Troves of papers, travel mementos, and books you adore but never re-read are usually the first to be down sized.
But that connection to our past shouldn’t always be washed away, because seeing those things can bring us joy. They can serve as a gentle reminder of who we are, and what we value.
And no, I don’t think this means you should necessarily display your grandmother’s clown figurines (lord knows my grandma has a lot). However, there is always a stylish ways to incorporate your important treasures, in an elegant way.
Purging all of you possessions for marble succulent holders may seem like the easy way out, but over time the blankness will become an eye sore.
In design, our eye needs to be carried across the room, and with minimalist design styles they are left wanting- you guessed it- more!
Fortunately there are some great solutions for getting that clean and elegant vibe in your home without tossing out all use of color, fun textures and patterns.
Anti Minimalism: Why More is More
Minimalism is about efficiency, but you’re better off streamlining your office space, or area where you work. Your living areas are best enjoyed when they reflect your style and creativity, as an inviting space.
Because we are used to a fair amount of stimulation in our everyday lives, our eyes are happy when we find the right amount of layers and patterns to carry the eye. Our eyes are used to it, so they have come to expect it.
You can certainly achieve this look without a ton of clutter, and end up with a space that is well balanced and chic.
Anti Minimalism isn’t about going over board for the sake of it, it’s about displaying your taste, and individuality. Its about creating the perfect mood, by surrounding your self with the things that you enjoy looking at! Your space can be elegant and personalized without being minimalistic and bare.
Sure, it can definitely seem like an attractive option to buy everything at Ikea that’s laid out for you. But it feels even better when you surround yourself with your favorite styles, memories and interests that makes you feel at home.
Perfect Alternatives To Minimalism
Anti-minimalism is all about carrying the eye, and there are a ton of elegant ways to pull this off, while keeping the room composed and classic.
Here are a few interior design styles that make simplicity look chic & elegant, instead of empty and bare bones! These looks, are inviting and fun without being over the top.
1. French Apartment Style Interior Design
While it helps if you’ve got some lovely architectural details to work with, the simple chandelier works wonders in this bright and airy space. It’s accentuated with lovely curved furniture, and little antique knick knacks. It achieves a full look without being cluttered.
This stylish Parisian flat room incorporates muted tones like beige and cream, with pops of color from the pillows, throw, and plants. It’s crisp, clean, and classic- a perfect balance of french apartment perfection. For easy tips on how to recreate this look, visit my guide: 5 Paris Apartment Decor secrets to steal for your home.
2. Farmhouse Chic Style Interior Design
The ever popular Farm house design (a la Fixer Upper) can be refined to give off a European country look. The classic motif on the wallpaper adds a pop of pastel blue, and ties in beautifully with the other curved pieces.
These unique mirrors and the ceiling medallion are perfect for adding vintage character to a dining space. We all know a dining space is nothing without comfy chairs, and this elegant shape with a burlap finish, makes the space feel elegant yet down to earth.
3. Relaxed Glam Style Interior Design
This contemporary take on “Glam” interior design is much more relaxed than glitzy. The tufted headboard and pillows give the bed a comfortable and refined look, while the modern lighting fixtures add a contemporary chic touch.
The lovely walls have a soothing color palette of grays, blues, and creams without looking drab or washed out. Pops of color and texture come from the decorative accents on the nightstand and the bench at the foot of the bed, giving this boudoir a modern glam vibe.
Maximalist Interior Design Ideas
Some times, you just want to be in a room filled to the brim. If your tastes include lot of bold color, knick knacks, and other signs of a well lived in and well loved space- check out these bright ideas for Maximalist design inspiration.
1. Elegant Bohemian Style Interior Design
This cozy family room takes the classic bohemian color palette and gives it an elegant edge. The wallpaper has a vibrant yet relaxing green color and floral motif, which really compliment the dandelion lighting fixture.
Though the furniture and accents have a traditional shape, they are beautifully contrasted by the fun pillows, and decor pieces. This room is the perfect pairing of traditional elegance and bohemian maximalism for an inviting sitting area.
2. Eclectic Chic Style Interior Design
This modern home office has a beautiful blend of eclectic color, and classic shapes. The glossy finish cobalt paint is the perfect choice for the panel moulding walls, and lovely arched window. Vibrant texture comes from the light fixture, a modern take on a classic chandelier with a quirky “branch” texture.
The curved shape of the modern desk, with the classic King Louis chairs are a match made in design heaven. All these pieces liven the space, but the show stopper is the zebra rug, adding a touch of the unexpected.
3. Playful Shabby Chic Style Interior Design
Some times shabby chic consists of far too much white and distressed items, but not in this colorful kitchen. It’s got a dainty 1950’s vibe with the soft pink accents, and teal walls.
The distressed vintage mouldings on the island, and above the sink are a elegant addition to the charming chandelier. It’s the ideal mix of whimsical and inviting, and looks like an lovely place to entertain.
Bringing Anti-Minimalism Home
As you can see, there are beautiful ways to make your both home calm and relaxed, or bright and fun, without resorting to a minimalistic approach.
Crafting the perfect look for your home should be a fun and enjoyable experience, that helps you better understand the interests of you and your family.
Make the experience less stressful by giving yourself plenty of time to finish the project. It’s tempting to wanna over haul a room over the weekend, but if you give yourself the time to browse and consider what is right for your space, you’ll be so much happier in the end!
Are there any other Anti-Minimalistic interior designs styles that you’ve been crushing on lately? Let me know in the comments, I’m always looking to learn some new ones
Omg loves it
I agree with this post. Minimalism restricts your creativity and it’s an overkill with the interior design industry. Your space should be about what puts you in your happy place.
AMEN! And who can be happy with all that blankness?! Thanks Jasmin!
I have definitely noticed a backlash to the minimalism culture lately. Even though I love tiny homes ( I would love to have a She-shed in my backyard one day) I could never be a minimalist. I love collecting, and I am terrible at getting rid of things that are sentimental to me, even if for a silly reason. I used to save my old rehearsal schedules from favorite plays I have done. And I definitely like those last few pictures more than the first one.
I totally agree, I think people have realized it’s not the magic pill to solve everything! Thanks for your lovely comments Trish! A she-shed is def on my list too!
Torche' Nash says
Thanks for this! We all want something more to look at, eventually. A nice ambiance in our homes certainly fills voids and stimulates most of our senses! As you stated, we don’t have to go overboard with ‘things,’ but we don’t have to be bored either.
YES! So many people think it means you’re covered in clutter, but not the case! Thanks Torche!
Love the photos and I completely agree that minimalism leaves a lot to be desired!
Couldn’t have said it better, I’m so much happier surrounded by color! Thanks Angela!
Sharon Hankins says
Oo, great post. I’m liking your thinking. From a Farmhouse meets Industrial chick, I do love the “at home” feel that a minimalist room seems to lack. Found you via Boss Girl Bloggers. x
Thanks Sharon! Agreed- with minimalism- that “lived in home-y” feeling is really missing! And I love a good farmhouse look too 😉
La Shell says
Love this article. I recently wrote a post on how minimalism brought me joy. Minimalism is different for everyone and means different things. In my post i explained that I consider myself a minimalist but I have candles, mats, buddha heads, books, plants, empty jars, paintings etc all over my little apartment. For me its not about having less of everything, it means having less of things I do not value. I too love a home with character, but every single thing in my home should bring me some sort of joy. Which most of them do (I’m human at the end of the day). I loved your article. Different point of view 🙂 You can always check mine out here – https://www.onepotliving.com/minimalism-how-i-found-joy-living-with-less/
Hey La Shell! I think you make a great point, that you should keep the things that bring you joy! I think a lot of people feel the need to purge anything that isn’t “necessary” or doesn’t fit in with their “minimalist aesthetic”, and they overlook this important point. It’s all about balance 😉 Loved reading your article, and hearing another point of view!
I guess minimalism and industrial looking homes can come across as being less cozy but it can be different things for different people 🙂
Hey Fiona! I think even people who like industrial and minimalistic homes can try to use fun colors and textures to make it a more inviting space! Thanks for reading!
I am not a minimalism by any means. I have a very creative mind! I just don’t like the look of clutter! This is a great post and argues some great points!
Thanks for reading Ell!
Dee Ervin says
I totally agree. I don’t want uncomfortable furniture that I can’t curl up on. Or a house that looks like a freaking art gallery. Great points and good read!
Totally agree! Thanks for reading Dee!
Nice change in point of view. I’m not against any style. Whatever a person likes. Plain and simple or wild and crazy. Me personally, I just prefer clutter free.
I agree with you, but I think there are so many lovely clutter free looks that we have to choose from! Thanks for reading LaToya!
This post is so refreshing! I am totally a maximist and I never had anything to relate to. Thank you so much for this, I really enjoyed it!
Hey Marissa! So glad you liked it! I haven’t seen enough people rebelling against the minimalist trend, so it makes me so happy to connect with some like minded folks! Thanks for reading!
Sosi's Mom says
I like the idea of minimalism for keeping organization purposes but I really like splashes of colour here and there!
Totally agree that it makes sense in your office or organized spaces, but it doesn’t mean you’ve gotta leave the room a blank canvas! Thanks for reading!
amanda legault says
i personally prefer minimalism over maximalism; i think it looks cleaner, more sophisticated, and allows statement pieces to stand out more. however, i do think that in order to have a house you’re proud of is to design in a way that makes you happy and at peace, whether that’s with white walls and plants or a million pictures and pillows strewn about. a great thought provoking piece! good job.
I agree you’ve gotta go with what makes you happy! Thanks for reading Amanda!
Crystal Simmons says
The minimalist look is pretty, but it is definately not for me either. I like my stuff, I like color, I like art!
Same! I love it when a room can do both, not be filled to the brim but be lively enjoyable space! Thanks for reading Crystal!
Charnel Graham says
Great post! I like the concept of minimalism, but I don’t think that my ideal space could ever completely fit the bill. I definitely like simple with a twist. I always have to have a unique twist in every part of my life including how I decorate.
Hey! You’ve gotta find whatever works for you, but luckily there are so many pretty styles that are simple without being boring! Thanks for reading Charnel!
Jasmin Atwood says
I love this! I like the idea of not having lots of clutter because it makes me crazy, but I don’t want to have NOTHING. It’s depressing not having an decorations anywhere! I think as long as a room is decorated tastefully and not stuffed with crap, it can look really nice!
You said it! There’s a nice balance and its not as difficult to achieve that as people think! Thanks for reading Jasmin!
I’m also not a fan of minimalism in decor. Perhaps because I’m unorganized lol I definitely love seeing how personalities or a mood present themselves in interior design and like to see that! My favorite design was the relaxed glam room
Thats one of my favs too Sydney! I really wanted people to see that you can have a relaxing space without it being dull and boring. Thanks for reading!
That eclectic office chic is calling my name! Thank you for sharing, I’m all for more:)
Isn’t that blue just stunning?! Thanks for reading Brittany!
I totally agree! You can’t really express yourself with minimalistic style. I personally love the farmhouse/rustic style. I love Fixer Upper!
Joanna Gaines is major inspo for me too! Thanks for reading Renae!
Thanks for sharing all those alternative interior design styles! I live in Texas and everything the bigger the better. There’s no way for me to just put a couple of furniture in a big house. I need separate breakfast space and formal dining room. And it’s so much fun to put some colors designs instead of just plain white everywhere in the house.
Totally understand that! It’s all about having fun and enjoying your space! Thanks for reading!
I agree! I like a little fun in my decor, minimalism ain’t for me!
The Brash Brunette says
I prefer my “stuff” and reorganizing and rearranging said stuff. I tried minimalism in our home for all of 3 seconds. I failed.
Minimalism appeals to me because it seems like it’s much easier to maintain and keep your home clean. I do agree it does look too sparse and devoid of any personality though.
Wow some awesome “anti” minimalism examples. After seeing this I have to agree.
A little late to this party, but I’ve been feeding myself this weekend on the uprise in discussion and articles on this subject, and want to chime in.
I grew up with a very 90s punk bohemian mom, and a southern country great grandmother. Maximalism is in my blood. I’ve been living pretty isolated as an anti-minimalist millenial for a while.
I respect and understand the appeal, and further need for a minimalist approach- the purge and declutter of stress and unwanted distraction- for some people. The style can be an extension of the philosophy but it’s annoying because A LOT of people conflate the style and the philosophy as one in the same. I think in the militant insistance that less is more, and that one shouldn’t preocupy and define themselves with their possessions, minimalist people slide backwards and don’t realize that defining yourself by your lack of possessions *is the same thing*.
It’s all an expression of life as you live it.
It’s for this reason I think the backlash against minimalist design is coming on so strong. It’s a bit of a tit-for-tat. Ultimately what we’re talking about is “personal style” yet for 20 years now we’ve had everyone from designers, to bloggers, to retailers, to *health magazines* push this propaganda of “less is more” as being some One True Way of living (at least “stress free”). That if you have clutter- as a minimalist would describe it- you’re obviously some emotionally unstable scatterbrained hoarder unable to complete sentences without being distracted by your misaligned chakras brought about by your flagrant consumer whorism. And no outlet has really been opposing this image.
I understand that after two decades of passively accepting the minimalist critique, it’s going to be a little while before the initial outburst of “YEAH WELL YOU’RE BORING AS SH**” will give way to more rational debate.
But some points I’d like to see brought into said debate:
Collecting and hoarding are not the same thing. Maximalism is not a mental illness, thanks. It’s honestly, in my opinion, best suited to people who are already well prepared for the stressful nuances of life and are perfectly capable of decompartmentalizing without needing an entire life about-face to do it. We can relax without pregaming it. We can sit down and do our taxes without needing to sterilize our environment to focus. Also, a lot of us snub mass produced and factory consumerism, and this comes as a pretty natural byproduct of wanting to be as thrifty and unique in our style as possible – no training required.
Introverts exist. Not everyone’s most important focus in life is freeing up more time for friends, family and exotic vacations. And even if it is, it’s not likely something being sacrificed in the name of consumerism.
Finally, is there some cap for artistry, or the desire to be surrounded by it in all forms? Maximalists *want* to come home to their own personal bohemian of art and expression. Minimalists have their important centerpieces, where maximalists fill up their homes with history – whether it’s theirs or somebody else’s. I’m not sure why this would mean a maximalist is any iller suited to curating their belongings than a minimalist. Everyone has their productivity level. I would argue maximalists are *more* selective because of space limitations. There’s a very controlled chaos to maximalism. It’s beautiful and thoughtful and radiates a passion and creativity minimalism does not and cannot achieve, because the intent is not the same.
Thank you so much for sparking more Maximalist Pride. Sorry for basically writing an article in response to your article – it riled me uo and I’ve just wanted to say these things for so long. I’m loving the “more is more” movement.
(Oh yeah I forgot the #1 thing I wanted to say… For the love of all that is holy, Internet, please stop saying MCM as a catch all term for Mid-century American, Scandinavian and Asian minimalist. You’re confusing poor Houzz, Wayfair and West Elm. All those actually cool, funky, Jetsons looking period pieces are POST WAR MODERN anyway.)
I couldn’t agree with you more! I so appreciated reading your thoughtful commentary, and I think many of us can’t wait for the more is more movement to be in full bloom! I’ll be putting out a Maximalist decor guide very soon, and I’m really highlighting the fact that it doesn’t have to mean a crazy chaos of patterns, it just means letting your space reflect who you are! Thanks again 🙂
Vicky Brago-Mitchell says
I love your ideas! My current passion is antique rugs, which can provide fascinating designs for everything from throw pillows to shower curtains.
Thanks so much for reading, so glad you liked it!
I really love the maximalist design and my home has different colours.Pink for the bedroom 1 and green for bedroom 2 and orange for bedroom 3 and pink + purple for living room and dining room and yellow for kitchen and pink for toilet 1 and green for toilet 2 and with old victorian classic style coloured cornice + catholic church style vertical columns and artificial fireplace with baby angels curvings + chandelier lights.
Unfortunately in my country Singapore, people are so used to the very boring, plain, uncreative, no brainer minimalist designs, that some people get so shocked when they first see my very unconventional maximalist home.
I think maximalist designs need a lot more work + technical skills + creativity + intelligence + artistry and are so much more interesting, beautiful + exciting + fun + entertaining .
Almost anybody can design a super ugly boring and uncreative minimalist home with just plain white walls, white floor,
white ceiling + 1 table + 1 chair + 1 bed in whole house + nothing else inside that house.
Minimalist homes look so depressing + sad+ Boring + uncreative + horrible + so simple.
U dont really need an interior designer for minimalist designs since its so simple.
I hope the maximalist trend comes back again , and we can then see a lot of every fun interesting beautiful maximalist homes again
Such interesting insights here, and I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for reading Philip!
Minimalism is an insult to real, and actually talented, artists and designers. The building you live in should be able to stand visually on it’s own merit as beautiful, before filling it full of furniture and doo dads. Would you praise the skill of a minimalist doctor or lawyer? Does anyone really miss the visual appeal of east Germany circa 1965?
I find it just an excuse for the prolific lack of talent and skill in creating buildings and living spaces that showcase artisans and talented designers. Haven’t seen many gothic style buildings going up lately, or Craftsman style homes, but plenty of bare sheetrock boxes. It lacks soul, and reflects, maybe too accurately, what’s inside the people who claim to appreciate its ‘asthetic’. It almost lends itself to accumulating junk to adorn it in order to give it any visual appeal whatsoever.
“Minimalism” is a vague and highly personal concept for many, it depends on the person and what meaning it holds for them. I think less can be more, if that’s what makes you happy. Although I hate blank walls and monochromatic colour schemes, I don’t own things that I don’t value. There are minimalists who have collections of things and still follow the principle of owning only what is necessary to them. As an interior design aesthetic, I agree, it can be quite barren. I am craving some colourful and fun-looking minimalist rooms, as I feel there is that capability. I feel that the draw of the minimalist aesthetic is being able to easily match everything without stress and being able to maintain said space. Buying basic monochromatic furniture and home decor (or lack thereof…) makes it easier to mix and match. I can appreciate that efficiency of it for a person who doesn’t consider themselves an interior designer, but enjoys a presentable, clean-looking space.
I do enjoy Maximalism though, and even though I wouldn’t be able to achieve either minimalist or maximalist interior design for my room, I appreciate the design of maximalism more. A lot of personality, colour coordination and quirkiness in designs that are less generic.
I forgot to say: loved your article and I do agree with you! It was fun to compare the pictures too. That bohemian maximalist space is lovely!
I hope in my initial comment I don’t sound preachy at all, I guess minimalism has become so many things and it’s hard to fully pinpoint! I feel bad for those who share what they consider (and rightfully is) a minimalist space and they get attacked because everyone has a certain idealized vision of what minimalism should look like :< The aesthetic and lifestyle tend to look the same in the eyes of some.
Migdia Chinea says
Minimalism is empty of personality — like a book with only one word in it.
Very well said! Thanks for reading!
Awesome. Very happy to read this blog.
Maxine Hunt says
Everything cycles including the idea of minimalism. This has gone around before and will again, I’m sure. In most part it becomes a resentment of perceived extravagance and waste. Waste? In a capitalistic society this is what orders the economy. If people use less (because it is fashionable to do so) they become the pawns of leadership that want more for themselves. Well, we are each responsible for the way we live our own lives, what we achieve, and how hard we work to accomplish our potential. There is nothing wrong with success and affluence. That is why most of you go to college, my friends, to live in those suburbs and have beautiful homes and send your kids to schools to be taught by ‘others’, blissfully unaware of what they are actually being taught there. I am saddened that the youth of the world are losing their desire to think independently and are enslaved by the ideas presented to them by those whose agenda is much more insidious than capitalists. Its time to embrace the past and fear the future. So far the past has worked well for those who lived it, no matter what you’re being told on social media. I am in awe of this author.