We are getting WEIRD and BRIGHT today, folks. It’s the introduction to my MOTO and an overview of my interior style, which I’ve hereby deemed “Minimalist Maximalist.” (In case you don’t know what a MOTO is, it’s short for MakeOver TakeOver. The basic gist is that each member of the EHD team gets to design their homes and show them to you on the blog. It’s truly the coolest. Now back to the inspo :))
Minimalist maximalist isn’t sparse, but it’s not cluttered, either. What it lacks in stuff, it makes up for in color, shape, and texture. It’s clean and bright — a little space age and a little 80s, with some geometric and biomorphic shapes, peppered in for good measure.
I’m going to walk you through what makes the minimalist maximalist style work, how I’m planning to implement it into my own home, and why you should hop on the color lover train with me 🙂
But before we get into all that goodness, I want to take a second to transport you to my childhood bedroom in Wilmington, Delaware.
Yup, here she is — painted in 2004 and lived in through 2009. This is my stylistic rosetta stone. Don’t adjust your monitors — that is, in fact, a chartreuse wall that has been paired with pink and orange stripes. And guys — this was the COMPROMISE. (I can’t even begin to describe what my original paint plan was!)
If you’re thinking, “wow, that definitely wasn’t even a little bit cool back in 2004,” you’re absolutely right. If you’re thinking, “WOW, Caitlin’s mother is an earthbound saint for not painting over that immediately when Caitlin moved out 11 years ago,” you are RIGHT AGAIN.
But despite my questionable (read: horrible) execution, a lot of these stylistic elements still ring true for me: I love brights (and I’m about to show you the adult version of this color palette), I love simple basics (hello, classic 90s wicker bedroom set), and I love timeless patterns (stripes and florals, though I now aspire to mix them in a way that won’t make you grimace when you see it — time will tell). I am nothing if not consistent.
Enough about me. LET’S GET INSPIRED.
Here it is: my OG inspiration. The photo that launched a thousand pins. Recognize that color palette? It’s almost like what I could have achieved if I had any stylistic inclinations when I was 14. I’ve consistently revisited this house tour over the past 3 years and it’s ignited a DEEP LOVE of low, chunky furniture and burl case goods.
The surfaces are clean (a dream to dust!) and there’s a ton of consistency in the choice to use solid velvets across all of the seating. If you reimagined this space in all neutrals and pale beechwood, it’d be an 80s-inspired Scandi hideaway, but the super-modern color palate bumps this straight into maximalist territory.
Historically, my number one mistake has always been shoving TOO MUCH furniture into my space. That’s what I love about these pieces: they’re so special that you don’t need to crowd them. (They’re also so inherently weird that they also lend themselves to easy risks — who knew I’d love an off-centered rug so much?)
My true MOTO challenge: figuring out how to capture this vibe on a regular person’s budget. (Because despite my deepest wishes, rugs and chairs like that do not just show up on Craigslist or at the flea market.)
When you start a MOTO at EHD, you pin wildly and haphazardly until you start to identify some key trends and repeating elements. A truly shocking repeating element for me? PINK CARPET. I’ve spent my whole life thinking I’m a hardwood girl — I was wrong. Who knew?
But here, we have another minimalist space that’s also doing THE MOST. The velvet chairs, the geometric lamps, the cylindrical table legs — I love seeing basic shapes combining in a way that’s fresh and new.
You knew it was coming — we established our baseline for “Minimalist Maximalist,” so we’re amping up the saturation now. (Side note: there’s another pink rug, y’all! The true value of pinning is picking up on these weird nuances in your tastes, I swear.)
Something I totally love: bold color without pattern. We’re getting enough texture from the coffee tables (ugh, even the books are color-blocked, swoon) and the shutters that it doesn’t feel totally one-note. I’m working on something similar to this for my bedroom (but maybe toned down, a little, because…sleeping).
I love this apartment because it feels the most achievable, especially when I consider the pieces I already have. Everything in this shot has breathing room (remember, that’s my struggle) and the home just looks fun. The end tables aren’t crowded, it looks like swiffering would be a breeze — it’s special and comfortable and maintainable, which is my true goal.
The key to playing with color like this is sticking with things that are similarly saturated — if you’re going bold, stay bold. If you’re going dusty or pastel (like the room 2 photos above), try and keep the rest of your large pieces in that same family.
Weird, Whimsy, and Biomorphic Shapes
Minimalist maximalist isn’t ALL just open space, bright colors, and geometric furniture — it’s also the special extra pieces that give a room life.
There are a lot of things that could have been paired with this bookcase, like a gallery wall or a collection of plants. I love the choice to keep it simple — the sole piece of hanging art balances out the shelves below and gives room for the giant tulip to shine.
This one is a GOODIE. The color palette is a little more refined (a welcome reprieve for all of you who are like, “wow, I can’t believe I’m looking at THIS MUCH NEON before 8 AM”) but BOY, I’d be lying if I said my heart didn’t stop any time I see a special chair.
Plus, as the resident of a classic LA 1930s art deco building (moulding and a non-working fireplace for DAYS, y’all!), it’s nice to see how such modern pieces can play with some timeless architecture.
And now for a tonal version of minimalist maximalist, featuring a jaw-dropping light fixture. This room is already STUNNING, but now imagine it with a more standard mid-century globe chandelier — it wouldn’t be nearly as special. These biomorphic pieces just finish the space.
…and Accent Ceilings?
And now that you’ve seen my childhood room and my inspiration, it’s not surprise that I’m a sucker for a striped accent ceiling. (“Stripes? For Caitlin? Groundbreaking” – me, to myself, as Miranda Priestly.)
The photo on the left is a little more traditional maximalist and the photo on the right is a little more earthy, but WOW, what an impact. My living room wasn’t built with any overhead lighting, so it’s basically like I have to paint an accent ceiling, right?
THAT’S IT, FOLKS. Welcome to the crazy world of minimalist maximalist interior decor. Over the past few years, I’ve slowly but surely collected some key furniture pieces that have begun to transform my apartment into the grownup version of Toontown. I can’t wait to show you how it looks in a regular person’s house (especially after being assembled on a regular budget).
But now, I’m curious — what are your thoughts? Is this TOO much color for you? (Or, conversely, do you wish there was more stuff a la traditional maximalists?) Did these spaces brighten up your morning? Let’s chat!