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Caitlin’s Minimalist Maximalist Makeover Takeover Style Intro – Things Are About To Get COLORFUL


design by black lacquer design

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.

paint design by me | styling by my mom, brenda

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. 

Minimalist Maximalist

photo by jeff mindell | via design sponge

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.

photo by james stokes

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.)

design by studiopepe | photo by tekla evelina severin | via sight unseen

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.

Bold Color

design by bhdm design | via shoreline hotel waikiki

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).

home of aelfie oudghiri | photo by melanie rieders | via apartment therapy

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

home of ellen van dusen | photo by max burkhalter | via clever

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.

photo by nicolas millet | via cote maison

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.

design by kelly wearstler | photo by stephan julliard| via architectural digest mexico

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!

Fin Mark


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I am SO excited to see your reveal

Karen T.

I have a deep respect for anyone who has such a viewpoint but I just can’t get on board with that much color. I’m a neutrals/green plants/warm woods/soothing space girl for life. But I LOVE following along and learning about how and why these crazy rooms work. Thanks for the daily content. It’s bringing me life these days. 🙂

My color palette is the same as yours Karen, but I’m super excited to see someone else pull off all the color!


Fiiiiinally someone who appreciates sleek furniture and explosions of COLOR! Every pin I liked when I was decorating was like … this but without all the White and black and concrete. I browsed the Roche Bobois store too many times for it to be healthy. You should check out Ghislaine Viñas for additional inspiration. Another designer working with crazy colors (and crazy expensive furniture)


I LOVE how you have to go all in to make this work, looking forward to seeing how things evolve through the design process.

If you’re on a budget, maybe you could take up a quarantine hobby of reupholstering furniture and/or papier-mâché (giant flowers for days!) 🙂

I second this Jessica, I want Caitlin to create a GIANT flower after seeing that inspiration photo!


I am verrrrry intrigued and excited to see this post, and even more so to see your space come together. I have a feeling it’s going to be something unexpected and exciting. honestly, can’t wait ( and would love to see more inspo from your pinterest board)


Caitlin Frost

I love this!! Its not my general style, the pieces are tooooo weird lol, but I am a person who also loves being minimal in decor but with a buuuuunch of color everywhere. (Which is severely lacking on social media.) I cannot wait to see your final space!!

Agreed, it has been lacking for too long now but it is slowly but surely filling my feed more and more which is very exciting for my eyeballs. haha


I LOVE that fuchsia fireplace. Most of us are just waaayyy too conservative with paint and color. And instagram has produced a nation of beige/white/brown/boring/blah rooms (with lots of dead branches in vases). 😉

If you can’t take too much color on the walls, painting your fireplace or some other small architectural element a bold color is the way to go. I think yesterday’s post on Mike Andrews’ wonderful home of organized clutter and this post on COLOR have been my favorites here in a good while.

Idea: Have you folks done many posts that show different ways to arrange objects on a mantle or on a bookshelf for different styles? Be interesting to see how a set of objects — arranged on a mantle or a shelf — in different ways can highlight different decorating styles.


Caitlin: Didn’t you feel like you were sleeping in a bowl of pea soup in that chartreuse room? 🙂 Still, I admire that kind of color moxie at such a young age!

Get it girl! Can’t wait to see your finished space. If I see another Scandi/Joshua Tree/ boho interior with earth tones and 300 plants in varying terra-cotta pots I’m going to lose my damn mind. Thank you for doing something exciting and unique! The design world has become so boring/white/bright/blown out/safe. This was such a refreshing escape
from the norm! Thanks EHD for some really fun reads over the last few days! Cheers, love!

This comment made me LOL, thank you for that. Better than a cup of coffee in the morning.

THIS IS EVERYTHING. I laughed out loud for a solid 10 minutes, too. Thank you for this comment xx

YESS Barleysboys and YESS Caitlin. I can’t freaking wait for the reveal.


FABULOUS! Not a sheep skin or draped throw in the place. Will really enjoy following your MOTO journey.

While it’s not my style, I literally cannot wait to see it come to life!! I adore your wacky pink dresser so I’m pumped!

Alison Frazier

So excited to see your MOTO and how refreshing to see and hear about a totally new style, something I would never gravitate to but completely applaud! Get it Caitlin! And I wish I had photos of my bedroom growing up, I really don’t have any! I was DEEP into pink and white Laura Ashley. 🙂 Thank you EHD forever, for keeping the posts coming. Truly the bright spot in my daily routine!


I love it. Can’t wait for the linked pieces you find because searching stuff like this out on the internet can be difficult 🙂

Nesto Dobro

I ? AM ? HERE ? FOR ? THIS ?

Not my style at all but this is the most excited I’ve been for this blog in a while!


Oh I totally love this! I’ve been so desperate to see something else than calm neutral scandinavian style (not on the EHD site but everywhere else). I love colourful design pieces and I could use them everywhere in my house. Colourful rugs? A kitchen that is more than 2 colours? Yes, please! Some extraordinary pieces here and there? Oh yes, I am soooo looking forward to see how you’re going to manage (what manage, kick a..) with this with a normal person’s budget! How long are you making us wait for the reveal? :))))


I have this strange relationship with this style. I love the color, boldness, and quirkiness. It pulls me in and I want more but there is part of me that feels on edge and uneasy.

At the same time I cannot wait to see your reveal!




Can’t wait to see what you do! Not my style, but I do love color and am looking forward to seeing the wackiness you are promising! Y’all are killing it on content and it is SO appreciated during life in quarantine!


I really enjoyed looking at these photos and hearing about your plans. Albeit fun and amazing, tbh the style is not “real life”. Average people couldn’t afford most of those pieces – you touched on that a little bit.

Also anyone with multiple kids, play dates, pets, mud and other life detritus would be insane to put such precious pieces in harm’s way. I’m thinking about food stains on my ottoman 🙂 This is pretty to look at, and dream about, thanks for brightening my morning!


Color doesn’t mean inherently expensive or difficult maintenance. Sure, you aren’t going to fill your home with Sottsass pieces but there are definitely ways to translate this to a more modest budget. I live in a small apartment with pets and am on a shoe string budget – I’ve slowly pieced together a nice space by combing sales, Craigslist and building things myself. I have a pink couch with washable covers – it has had everything spilled on it from soup to red wine and still looks brand new. Ikea also has a lot of unusual shapes and bright colors, they just aren’t as popular as the best sellers. Almost anything can be painted, stained, or reupholstered. Velvet is durable and great for pet owners/kids. Bright plastics, melamine and lacquered wood are super easy to clean. I like that my home is simple and the pieces I do have are interesting and make people take a second look. It is very much my style – not “insane” – and very much real life.

Omg I LOVE!! Take the risk!!! It all makes sense and the design direction is very thoughtful and considered. Can’t wait to see the outcome!!


Oh how I love this! I recently went through and unfollowed some designers on instagram because it was just too much of the same in my feed. I much prefer color. I’ve had to reign myself in a bit over the years as I used to use all of the colors and it wasn’t a good thing, lol. I found it looks much better if I choose a base color for the whole house (I’ve gone with blue) and then let the accessories be more colorful. 🙂

Roberta Davis

I’ve always loved the Gaetano Pesce chair (red striped roundy thing). It’s about $4300. Not THAT bad! But I bet you’ll find a used one for a song. Your reveal will definitely be different and we’re all looking forward to it! You certainly have a clear vision of what you’re going for!


Hahaha!!! ?
Sooo totally NOT my style, BUT, I’m really interested to see what you do. Looking forward to following along.
I have loads of colour in my house, but I couldn’t live and breathe with that furniture. I find it (somehow) claustrophobic… weird!
Get to it, it’ll be interesting and outside the square.


I’m so excited to see this reveal! I would never gravitate toward this style on my own (reminds me of Tom Hanks’ 80s loft in “Big” — but honestly that’s the home I coveted as a kid, so maybe I would!). But I LOVE how you’ve thought this through and I LOVE that you’re going for exactly what you’ve always wanted. Inspiring!

OMG, that was so spot on!


Yesssss! I live in this world of minimal color and Struggle making it come to life cohesively in my home. I want to see all your pinned inspiration. Thank you for giving me a starting place. Can’t wait to see the end results.


YES!! Please show me how to do this lewk on a budget (i feel a neon paint on thrifted furniture ‘torial coming on). I am a maximalist who lives for bright & funky, and i also need help figuring out how to do this lifestyle with minimal dusting?! The tchotchkes… help. I have a kid now & i can’t keep it up like i used to.


Wow! You guys are killing it with your blend and range of posts lately and it is much appreciated. I have followed since “Secrets” and continue to check in daily. You all just keep challenging yourselves – and us!

The BEST thing about this post is (and others, like the pine wood trend revival, or the collectors home ) is that they literally train our eyes to perceive that what we have been taught to think is outdated and ugly, is, and can be, cool – even if it is not our personal style! Exposing ourselves to the full range of design options allows us to have confidence to keep the things we love and the knowledge of how to style them in a fresh way. Some of us have loved these aesthetics despite current popular trends, and can now feeling justified in our “taste”! Shouldn’t we all feel this way about our style and stuff, whether is is orange wood, or pink rugs, or clunky office furniture, etc. So no more “orange wood, pink rug” (or whatever you have in your home) shaming!

I love what you said about exposing ourselves to design options. I so agree with this. Thanks for reading 🙂



Thank you so much Donna!


What she said! Y’all are killing it lately ??

Suzane G Henderson

WOW! This post made me soooo happy!


Very excited to see your completed space!


Yes! I’m so here for this! Bring it on!

Amy KS

I’m a huge fan of color, it’s the weird shaped furniture that I’m not a fan of. i can’t wait to see what you do though.


Hi, this is all absolutely heavenly.

I have been trying to find a crazy, fun, abstract rug similar to what appears in so many of the photos here (and am finding that they are wayyyy out of my budget). I would love love love to see you do a roundup of items across all price points that can help bring this look to life.

Excited to see this all come to life

Julie S

1. This stuff is straight bizarre and nothing I could live in on a daily basis, but I’m enjoying the spectacle for someone else’s house. It’s different for sure and that alone makes it intriguing!
2. What does Caitlin’s house look like right now, again? I can’t remember which home this is going into. Maybe a blank slate Before shot would be helpful in these moto intros. Thanks 🙂


I love it! While I wouldn’t decorate my home like that, as it doesn’t feel right in my space, I’ve also been drawn to this style at times. I love color blocking and bold brights in minimalist fashion and design. I really like the opening photo, the Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy, and Shoreline Hotel. I can’t wait to see your implementation.


YES. Sign me up for the color parade!

Katrina Berlin

So EXCITED for this! I love quirky, colorful, 80s and can’t wait to see future posts!!! Maybe this will help me finish off my living room, I’m almost there!!!!! GO CAITLIN!!!


Can’t wait to see it, most importantly with a regular budget! Statement pieces are usually so expensive, and they are usually the first one I get tired of. Where is it worth it to splurge?

I’m particularly interested to see what you will do in mixing patterns and color. These things don’t usually age well and don’t pass the test of time (for me)

I have a Kartell pop armchair that I bought with the missoni flower design. (A copy, however at the time I didn’t even know that Kartell existed…) It was so charged, that I could not mix it with anything because it would enduce headaches because of too much color and pattern. I had to recover it but now it feels like a bad design choice because it’s less of a statement piece. Oh well!


I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS!!!!! to the point that unnecessary all-caps seem necessary!! It isn’t the way my home is decorated, but most of my clothing is in the “minimalist maximalist” (or maybe what I think of as that for clothing???) I get such JOY from seeing this and so many of these spaces made me say “WOW.” It’s good proof that design is truly an art form– seeing things that I would never have guessed work together so harmoniously and interestingly. I couldn’t stop staring! Cannot wait to see your MOTO!!!!!


I love this style! I am working on doing a similar thing in my apartment, but I have dubbed it Scandi-meets-Moroccan…clean lines plus saturated color and texture! I like minimalist maximalist too though. 🙂 Best of luck! I’m sure I’ll be stealing a few ideas for my space!!


Well if ever there was a style which works better the more “all in” you go, this is probably it. Not my cup of tea for the long haul, but more power to you.


I didn’t see a source link or design credit for the top photo with the fuchsia fireplace, but apparently it’s the work of Black Lacquer Design: It’s quite striking!


Wow!! I love your style and inspiration! You should follow (she has IG), I think you’ll love her stuff.


I am HERE for this!


Oh my word Caitlin I am SO excited to see your reveal. I love colour and weird furniture, and so many of your inspiration pictures made my heart soar.

BUT ALSO I had a real out-loud chuckle – my childhood home was renovated in the early 2000s and my sister and I were both able to “design” our rooms… her colour palette was exactly the same! She went with Chartreuse walls, the SAME shade of pink for the trim and baseboards, and that orange as an accent nook. Was this actually A Thing???? My parents are only redecorating it… now.

I love joyful design, and I feel like this MOTO will definitely embrace that


I can’t wait to see your reveal. I love your point of view and confidence in your style!

Love your grown-up “Toontown” style – thanks for the inspiration, and can’t wait to see your space!


great devil wears Prada reference HAH

Sahaja Carpenter

I CANNOT WAIT to see your reveal! I am truly hoping your pink carpet and accent ceiling dreams come true. I would never have thought of pink carpet and yet, sold, sold sold!!


This is what I’ve been YEARNING FOR!! Since the neutral interior design has been in fashion over the past decade, every time I see an image, my brain automatically adds rich color to the furniture, walls, everywhere! Super excited to see the finished room –

Jill Greenberg

Yay! I feel so seen here.

I am usually the only person who consistently delights in designs that specifically look easy to clean. I am right there with you, Caitlin. All about bare surfaces and empty floor space! It all makes me feel like my home is ally to me — an active help in having an easier, more pleasant, and more seamless life. My home should be a bro and not resist me or make extra work for me when I try to clean it.

Also, aesthetically, your general style is general close cousin of my style, which is so rare. For instance, I LOVE this kitchen ( and also this kitchen ( and this kitchen ( and this living room ( and this entry ( and this dining room ( and this photograph (

I don’t have your love of wacky chairs, and I veer more tone-on-tone than high contrast color, but I’m right there with you with the lots of smooth, simple, unbroken swathes of color. Not into pattern. Not into stuff. Not into cleaning.

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