Unpopular Opinion: 5 Reasons Maximalist Design Gives These Designers a Headache

From looking cluttered to just plain ugly, these designers had strong opinions

Maximalist interior

Dekay and Tate Interiors

No aesthetic is universally loved by everyone, and it turns out that many designers have some  pretty strong thoughts when it comes to maximalism. How do they feel, exactly? “Maximalist design is like that loud person at the party who has tasteless jokes but dominates the conversation anyways,” designer Jillian Wiedenmayer said in an email. “Bold and exciting at first glance, but spend a little time in a maximalist space and it will soon become tiresome and outdated.” Why do pros think that this is the case? We got designers to spill what exactly about maximalist design makes them shake their heads. 

It’s Mentally Overwhelming

A maximalist home is a busy home. “Having such an accumulation of objects, colors, textures, and patterns is not good for your peace of mind,” designer Anaïs Chaumien said in an email. “Neutral colors, clean lines, and space are what help your mind calm down. With this kind of decor, it’s just the contrary.” 

Additionally, Chaumien added, “Decluttering your space is like decluttering your mind. And keeping only what brings you joy, as Marie Kondo says, should be a guideline.” But such a directive becomes incredibly challenging if you can’t let go of, well, anything. “If you adopt the maximalist style, you will keep every single trinket to decorate your home, and it will be super challenging to declutter your mind,” Chaumien commented. 

In fact, you may not even be fully aware of the extent to which your stuff is influencing your well-being. “Adding details in your design can subconsciously stress you out,” realtor Tal Shelef said. “This might not seem true—but remember that our subconscious mind is working at all times and it is affecting our mood.” 

It’s Too Trendy 

Maximalism is the complete opposite of many of the stark, streamlined spaces we see on social media, and that can make it an appealing style to some, Wiedenmayer shared. “Bold, maximalist trends on Instagram can be so tempting as they jump out from a sea of clean Scandi-modern interiors,” she explained. “But every designer knows that trends come and go.” Wiedenmayer offered an alternative approach for those who are curious about the maximalist aesthetic but don’t want to go overboard. “Opt for a layered, textural space with lots of good negative space,” she suggested. “The eye needs negative space to rest and in order to appreciate everything in it.” 

It’s Expensive 

We all know from checking our bank statements that home decor and accessories quickly add up—and as Chaumien stated, being a maximalist isn’t cheap. Maintaining this aesthetic “would cost you much more than if you created a more classic and tidy design,” she noted. And the costs associated with being a maximalist won’t go away down the line, she added. “Imagine moving with all this furniture and these accessories? OMG, what a nightmare!” 

Not to mention, there’s always the risk of coming off as too focused on things, designer Savannah Phillps explained in an email. “Maximalism can give off an aesthetic of greed because of its need for material possessions,” she said. 

It Will Make a Space Feel Cramped

Living in a small space? You’ll want to be especially intentional about how many possessions you bring into your home, as well as what hues you incorporate. “When following maximalist design, a space can feel cramped or smaller since it includes more objects and covers surfaces with additional décor,” Phillips explained. “Maximalist design often includes warmer colors as well as a mixture of finishes which can also make a space feel small and condensed.” So it’s a style to think twice about, especially if your square footage is minimal already. 

It’s Just Plain Ugly 

Let’s face it—some designers just don’t think maximalist spaces are very darn attractive. “Decorating is about balance and harmony,” Chaumien said. “And where is the balance if you have a blue velvet sofa, a black metal coffee table, a red Moroccan rug, orange silk pillows, purple curtains, and multicolored plates hung to the wall?” 

Designer Katie Mills agrees that it can be hard to execute maximalism successfully. “To me, maximalism is the interior design equivalent of going through your kitchen, throwing all the food you can find into a bowl, and chucking it into a microwave,” she stated in an email. “Some of the time you may get lucky and get a tasty dish. Problem is, you won’t have a clue how to recreate it. Most of the time, however, you can count yourself lucky if what you get is even edible.”