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Enough With White Walls Already...

“Modern Maximalism”/In Support of Colored Walls

Green Bedroom
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***Written by Arlyn Hernandez

I’m either going to make a ton of friends or a bunch of enemies with what I’m about to say (well, probably both): I’m so tired of white walls.

I say that with the caveat that I actually really love white walls, for several reasons: in a room with enough natural light, they feel so fresh and lively (white can make a small, dark room feel dingy, FYI), they are a perfect backdrop for just about anything and any accent color, and they photograph beautifully. So why the need to call off the relationship? Well, because I’m feeling really uninspired, that’s why.

I’m currently in the process of redecorating my new LA apartment (quick catch up: I moved to LA from South Florida about six months ago to join the EHD team), which means deciding on color palettes, picking out furniture, an unending paranoid monologue of “will she or won’t she” about painting my landlord-approved beige walls (I am firmly an “ask for permission” person, not someone who “asks for forgiveness” so the idea of going against my lease agreement leaves me in a rule-breaking panic). In the process of creating moodboards for my living and dining rooms (which I’m actively working on), figuring out who I am and who I want to be (oh yeah, and my husband…he gets a say, too) in my home, and tons and tons of scrollliiinnnggg through blogs, design sites and Pinterest, I’ve noticed something. Interiors are looking whiter than the Supreme Court these days. For the love of Farrow & Ball, where is all the color? EVERYTHING IS THE SAME, EVERYWHERE. White walls, shag rugs, brass accents. Sure, that looks lovely—I often double tap that on Instagram, but I’m just craving something…different. I’m tired of vanilla, now give me some rocky road with rainbow sprinkles.

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Okay, I recognize that I’m sounding a bit…spoiled (is being “design inspiration” spoiled a thing, because if it is, that’s how I’m feeling right now). Nothing puts you into a state of ennui like designing your own home, so many decisions that you have to live with every.single.day. I could help just about anyone make quick and confident decisions about what color they should paint their walls, how they should arrange their furniture, where they should look for a rug. But for myself? Oh boy is it procrastination central. And this time, it’s only exacerbated by my white walls-induced rut. 

And then I stumbled across this image on Cup of Jo one day and it was like someone opened a window in a very stuffy room. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Pink Room
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Pink Room
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Pink Room
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This is the home of Hovey Design (including the bedroom at the lead of this post), a sister team of home stagers and designers, and whoa did it wake me up from design hibernation. Look, I am nowhere near as bold as these creative women; my house will likely never look like this because it’s not exactly my style, but the use of color and the sense of individuality made my mouth water. That round sofa, the mushroom-y lamp, the unabashedness of it all. This house says “I’ll do what I want, thank you very much” with one big hair flip and for that, I applaud it. 

From this point, I went down a Mario-sized warp pipe to find other rooms in the same vein. The images I started seeing and saving all felt really similar in a way…”modern maximalist” I started to call it…and guys, I think it’s a thing. Really. All the spaces I was finding were full of color, full of furnishings I’ve never seen before (which either means they are $$$ or someone is REALLY good at vintage shopping), full of a boatload of YES. They are exciting without being Tony Duquette over-the-top, a little restrained and totally fresh (to me, at least). 

With minimalism and maximalism, one is usually born from the other. After a period of SO MANY FLORALS and chintz and chrome and peach in the ’90s (and, if you were in my house, country kitchen-appropriate chicken wallpaper borders), I could understand why neutral, simple, streamline (::cough boring cough::) rooms started popping up more and more in the early aughts and this decade. I can appreciate true minimalism (as a lifestyle). I can also appreciate a home that is less “decorated” because it’s soothing and relaxing to whoever lives there. I’ve heard a lot of designers say they prefer their own homes neutral because it cleanses their palate after looking at so many patterns and colors all day. But it’s all started feeling very “step and repeat” so BRING ON THE MODERN MAXIMALISM.

Look, I’m by no means saying I could move right into any of these spaces I’m about to show you (well, maybe Jenna Lyons’ home…but I’ll get to that), but they sparked something inside of me. Emily’s motto is “perfection is boring, let’s get weird” and I’m like YES. WEIRD. YES.

Speaking of weird, I remember when I saw this oil painting perched under a window. At first, I thought…wait, that’s weird. I might hate that. But wait…maybe I like it. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE. I think I’ve landed on “well, it’s fun, it gets my brain percolating, it turns my eyeballs on,” like one of those “spot the difference” puzzles. It’s like “huh, what? wait I like this…do I??” (For the record, I still think it’s totally nuts, but I also kind of love it…and I’m not saying that just because this woman signs my paychecks every week and I want to be sure I’ll still have a job tomorrow…promise.)

Emily Henderson Spanish House Living Room 1
Photo by Max Kim-Bee | From: A Spanish Living Room Reveal

And no, this space, in particular, isn’t “modern maximalism” as much as it’s just fun and funky and different. I mean, who puts an oil painting UNDER A WINDOW? Emily Henderson does, and thank goodness for minds like her’s.

Back to maximalism…this is not what I mean:

Hutton Wilkinson Maximalism
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This is true maximalism. Hutton Wilkinson (a long-time business partner of the late Tony Duquette, a Hollywood “wild child” of design who embodied the more-is-more way of decorating), is maximalism, and again, I don’t knock him for his vision, but this is why I’m calling the look I’m into “modern” maximalism. Well, maybe it’s more “refined maximalism” or “maximalism lite.” Yeah…that.

Jenna Lyons Home
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Okay, now we’re talking. With the exception of the very strange placement of the art butted up against the molding, Jenna Lyons’ home is serious heart eyes. It has some of those elements that I called out earlier as being things I’m tired of seeing (shag rugs, brass accents…but also, I love brass and you can pry it out of my cold, dead hands), but it also just feels…special. I look at this space and I can picture exactly who lives there (you know, if I didn’t already know that it belonged to the insanely stylish Jenna Lyons). That is what I want for my own home. This is what I love about maximalism lite. You can lean a photo up against a fireplace surround, add in two leopard-print stools, a printed folding screen and a library of books and it feels real. Throw in a pile of unread junk mail no one wants to deal with and you’ve got yourself an actual, live home.

Jenna Lyons Home
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There’s Jenna, in a PINK JUMPSUIT that on me would look like I left a red sock in the washing machine while laundering my frumpy white pajamas, in a hallway that makes me want to squeal with delight. Sometimes, you just have to take a dark hallway and make it even darker by painting the walls, moldings, and ceilings a delicious shade of…what is that? Tealish hunter green? (Actually, it’s Farrow & Ball Card Room Green.)

Wallpaper Dining Room
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This dining room by Regan Baker is not maximalism, but it still was something I filed away in the name of inspiration because that wallpaper is weird and good. Does it look like a cracked and peeling wall that was once retirement home-yellow but was then painted green? Yes. Have I saved it multiple times over on Pinterest and Instagram because I forgot I ever saw it but loved it each time? Also yes.

Blue Room
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This vignette from a coffee shop in Milan designed by Studiopepe is absolutely a bit Memphis-y, but it falls in the (made up) realm of “color maximalism.” I recognize that at this point, I’ve created a handful of “styles” all to describe the same look (modern maximalism, refined maximalism, maximalism lite…), but I think they all apply in some way. That blue wall paired with those blue floors and blue shelves, offset by some lighter neutrals really makes for a space that makes you want to stop a stare.

Pink Dining Room
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I am not really one for pink walls in my own home, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it on someone else’s. What could come off “feminine” and saccharine sweet actually renders out into something “cool” at the hands of Flack Studio. The rug kinda feels like a patch of fresh sod, but somehow, it still works.

Blue Bedroom
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Maximalism lite doesn’t have to be all saturated colors on top of saturated colors. Sometimes, it can be really subdued, moody, almost sexy, like in this room at the Hotel des Grands Boulevards. The plaster walls (or maybe it’s a lime wash…not entirely sure) add a really luscious texture that comes off almost like suede when the light hits it.

Purple Bedroom
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Why yes, that appears to be a set of plum-painted giraffes acting as a table base and I’M ALL ABOUT IT. Finished in the same color as the wall (a hue I would basically never think to use in a room but now I kind of love it), they feel more like a textural element than a kitschy addition. Allison Crawford, who designed this space, could have tipped the scales of the look here by going with a patterned duvet and tons of pillows, but keeping it crisp and white reigns it in, keeping it firmly in “refined maximalist” territory.

Green Room
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The home of writer and podcast host Emily V. Gordon and actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani felt like a bit of a retro throwback when I first saw it on Apartment Therapy. File this under “not my style, but I’m still really digging it.” Multi-hued walls aren’t exactly my thing, but when I scrolled through the gallery of images of the house, I jumped straight to the comments to wax poetic on how it was refreshing to see something different with COLOR.

Yellow Room
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Dabito of Old Brand New has never shied away from GOING FOR IT in his home, and the recent reveal of his dining room that he did as a One Room Challenge is like a Sunny D explosion. That shade of yellow is not easy to work with, but he made it work and, well, I love it. The more I say “modern/refined maximalism” juxtaposed with the images I’m showing you, the more I think maybe this is “color maximalism.” If you stripped away the colored walls here—maybe even the green on the chairs—nothing about this room would feel “maximalist” surely. The styling is pretty restrained, the silhouettes are rather simple, so…color maximalism, yes, that feels right.

Yellow Room Ideas
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It may have taken about 1,900 words and a roller coaster of changing terminology (of likely totally made up style classifications) to land on what this look really is…it’s just color, and a bold use of it. After years of white walls being the king of design, who’s ready for something else? I sure as heck am, so, back to the drawing board for me (maybe, just maybe, I’ll be bold enough to ::gasp:: break the rules and paint those walls of mine…let’s see what happens).

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  1. Hallelujah, sister! Preach!

    1. 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

  2. So so so so so so so SOOOOOOOOO sick of white walls and white kitchens! Could not agree more!!!! Love Jenna Lyons house and that yellow dining room. 😍😍😍 So much more interesting and fun and alive than all white boringness. More of this PLEASE

    1. Yes! I remember seeing Jenna Lyons’ home for the first time and my jaw literally dropped.

  3. Yes! Thank you! It’s fun to look at design blogs and Instagram accounts, but SO many are exactly the same. Make your home your OWN! I just painted my bedroom dark gray and I love it.

    1. I did the same thing a few years ago and it was the best idea! My bedroom gets very little light and instead of feeling drab and bland it’s like a cosy cocoon now.

    2. ohh yes! Sounds so cozy.

  4. Oh man. To me this are just busy and chaotic. My eyes would never rest (in a bad way). Cool in a hotel or bar… yes. Cool at home….nope nope nope. Many of these would never feel clean to me since everything I own is sitting out on top of all the things. I would constantly feel the need to edit.

    *full disclosure – I am not a jewel tone or pink girl so maybe that’s why this isn’t for me*

    1. Fair point. I can’t even promise I wouldn’t get tired of being in a room FULL of color like this, but it’s just an itch I feel like I need to scratch!

  5. Give me all the colors! (Except yellow) That Hovey sister apartment killed me!!! Seems like paint is fairly low-level rule breakage… Go for it.

    1. I just might….

      1. I asked my landlord for my paint color so i could do some ‘touch ups’ – lies! I painted the walls whatever I wanted and now know what I need to paint them back to if I don’t want to take the hit on my security deposit

        1. haha! I’ve also thought of doing this.

  6. Just watched a video house tour of Jenna Lyon’s apartment (https://www.nytimes.com/video/t-magazine/100000005577705/house-tour-jenna-lyons.html) and the painting is off-centered because there’s a hidden TV that slides out from behind the fireplace! Still looks a little weird to me but that’s a fun explanation 🙂

    1. Shoot you know, I saw that same video months ago and totally forgot! It just feels strange to me still, but hey, if she likes it, then whatever!

  7. OMG YES!!! I recently purchased a home that is literally half bright and perfect for white walls, and half dark and in NO WAY suited for them and agonized on color for 6 months. Finally we just went with it and haven’t looked back. BRING ON THE COLOR!! Please keep us updated on your color exploration Arlyn (and just paint the walls… that’s what a security deposit is for 🙂

    1. I absolutely will! I went with a deep blue sofa, so just now in the process of finding a palette to make that lady sing!

  8. YASSS! I love this post. It may just be that we’re all coming out of the all-white-everything era, but I really think Hovey-style “Modern Maximilism” is my ideal style… I’m layering leopards, painting walls dark, saturated colors, and doing my best to capture the look in my own (rental) apartment. Thanks for sharing – would love more posts on the topic.

  9. OMG YES! In addition to being bored silly of white walls (and kitchens), I just don’t find the white/minimalist trend very practical for people who actually live in their homes. I like my stack or two of library books and few pieces of mail sticking out of a junk bin to not look like major eyesores and that’s what happens in minimalist and white rooms. Don’t even get me started on power cords. Plus, over half of the country doesn’t live somewhere with the kind of sunlight required for white rooms to look good over half the time.

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been searching Maximalist and even though it’s too much for me I’ve been able to glean some inspiration from color combos, but this is the perfect balance of interesting to look at without being the inside of my brain (ie: too much). I’ve scrolled though the pictures 5 times so far and I now desperately want a yellow dining room (and I don’t have a dining room)

    1. Ha I love that you looked at these photos several times!

  10. Yessssssssssssssssss!!!! I have been thinking this to myself for so long now. While I can appreciate the ‘clean’ and ‘simple’ look of a good white wall with neutral furnishings… I have been craving something more interesting and full of color for a long time.

  11. I appreciate that a different perspective, but I gotta agree with another poster that this just isn’t for me. It would give me anxiety to have that much going on in a room. It’s the same reason that I have to stay out of my husband’s office – I just want to declutter and put stuff away. However, I do like seeing different designs, and this was a treat in that way.

  12. I always need color in my life! Love the color! I want to find a bold paint color for some areas in my home.

  13. PREEEEEEEEACH!!!! And yes, for the love of all that is Farrow & Ball, BRING BACK THE COLOR!! But only in appropriate doses. haha

  14. I could never live in a home with this much color, I am one of those people who loves neutrals, thought not white walls. I like all shades of beige and gray. But, I appreciate the way these designers use color. I think Studio Ashby uses color really well. And I also love Mindy Kaling’s home (featured in Architectural Digest).

    1. Oh yes I remember Mindy Kaling’s home. And I don’t think I know Studio Ashby, but will absolutely look them up!

    2. Such a good call on Studio Ashby- gorgeous!!!

  15. Haha, nice post, Arlyn. I think yes color maximalism is what you’ve noticed. I for one am still totally in love with my white walls (and lots of sunlight) in my calm house decorated 50/50 between neutrals and natural shades of green, blue, and terracotta. Yet at the same time I am soooo booooored whenever I scroll through the million identikit white/modern farmhouse/kilim accents pictures on pinterest. So I can understand the appeal of color!

    It was fun to see stuff with more color, but half of the images you posted here looked incredibly 80’s to me with the shapes used in furnishings and accents! There were a couple I had to double check weren’t actually vintage photos from rooms 30 years ago. I am 36 so I was around for most of the 80’s if not terribly aware, so maybe I am getting it wrong but that was my impression. I really loved the plum bedroom though – I think it combined the modern simplicity with good use of more individuality in color choices. Good luck on your design choices and can’t wait to see what colors you go for!

    1. I think the Hovey Design definitely leans ’80s, and while I’m not really into that look, I just loved their use of color so much. I think that’s really what I was going on about. It was less about the style of room and the design/furniture choices, but an appreciation for doing something DIFFERENT, something that probably feels way more personal to the person living in that home. Your color palette seems lovely though, so love on those white walls of yours if they make your heart sing!

  16. I’m so excited by this! Can’t WAIT to see the end result (or even follow along?)!

    1. Oh man, now I gotta make sure I deliver in the end result!

  17. Thanks for posting this! I love my white and brass kitchen…but not as much as my otomi tiled powder room or my fern wallpapered den. We all need a dose of color and pattern!

    1. Just googled otomi tile, and LOVE!!!!!

  18. Totally giddy. Yellow is my favorite color (unpopular opinion, apparently) and I am so happy to see it here!

    1. Yellow is my favorite color too, you’re not alone!! I think people just associate it too much with the 70’s yellow, orange, brown theme when it goes great with so many other colors as well.

    2. I adore yellow! That dining room pic totally inspired me to paint all my bookcases! I’ve been thinking about it forever, but painting bookcases requires extra motivation because I have to move all my books.

      That dining room is my favorite of these pics (and I love them all) and it’s my mom’s least favorite. Our styles used to be so similar.

  19. I’ve been seeing this kind of design randomly pop up on similar sites and instagram and can agree that it is such a nice change from the white, california coast design that became so popular. I actually gasped when I saw the first image because I was like, omg someone is thinking about this too! I like day dreaming about how I would decorate a future home of mine and right now everything is totally in this style. I think whats awesome about it is you can have these beautiful colors while still maintaining some minimalism elements. When I get dressed every day I want to look the best with the least amount of effort (or perceived effort) and I feel like this design is the same way. It’s like you casually painted the wall pink (who knew it would be the best shade because you didn’t think too hard about it) and a couple of velvet chairs later it looks so fun and sophisticated.

  20. You know why that picture is butted up against the molding in Jenna Lyons home….because there is a secret TV behind the wall that pops out! NBD. I thought it was so weird too so did some research and her home tour on NYT video gives us the answer!

  21. YES TO ALL OF IT. This is so refreshing to see after the onslaught of “California Casual” that has been everywhere recently. I love Jenna Lyons’s(s?) hallway and living room. My house is always a little cluttered…and it makes me feel comfortable. I love a lived in looking space, and adding all that color and texture makes me feel so happy!

  22. AGREED!!! You have made a FRIEND!! Thank you for showing us color! Color and pattern is what drew me to Emily and I am so glad to see it back on the blog!!

    1. ❤️❤️❤️

  23. YES!! I understand all white is for some people, but color is for others (like me!) and it’s great to see color getting some love. Color + minimal decor + plants is my jam.

    1. Yes!

  24. YES!! I really miss Emily’s old style of lots of blue and vintage. I know people’s tastes evolve but I keep hoping the oil portraits/deep, bright blue walls/vintage flags Emily will reappear again someday.

  25. I love this! It’s so interesting and fresh to see something other than white walls with black and brass accents. (Side note: can you imagine Emily putting a painting under a window these days? I cannot.)

    1. I can definitely see her TRYING it, but maybe it not sticking haha!

  26. Can anyone say Monica (Geller) Bing? Especially the Hovey Design strikes me as Monica all grown up sophisticated yet true to her color roots. I say bring it on the rainbow : )

  27. This is a fun post, Arlyn! I can’t wait to see more of what you do with your own space.

    I’ m pretty sure the art in Jenna Lyons’ apartment is placed that way because the TV comes out from behind the fireplace/mirror. I seem to remember reading that in a home tour when the apartment was first published 🙂

  28. Phew! Color maximalism is certainly not for my home (all white/gray/black/blue/muted), but I love looking at these photos. What a fun collection of different styles and bright colors. I can’t imagine that bright yellow is appetizing when using the dining room for an actual meal, but it does look fun and sassy! Also, Arlyn you are GREAT.

    1. Ha thank you! Yeah, I do wonder what it would feel like to actually LIVE in some of these rooms, but looking at them from afar, at least, has inspired me to shake things up in my own home.

  29. As a landlord, I encourage you to ask permission to paint the walls. Especially if you were to say something like, “I’m willing to give you a $xxx painting deposit that I am willing to forfeit if I don’t prime the walls white before I move out.” Most landlords paint between tenants anyway, but if you’re going to paint the walls dark, that means more work.

    Great article! My personal favorite is the peach and green.

  30. Enjoy it!
    I think all these amazing color combinations do jazz up an Insta feed. I’ve had a stint of colorful apartments and after a while I found the color limiting – once you make that choice for walls, the choices for the rest of the room start to narrow down and the wall color affects everything in the room including my own art/design work. I ended up moving about 20 times over the course of my adult life. After a while I stopped trying to paint anything and was grateful if walls were true white, not glossy Navajo White. I do still like color for smaller rooms.

  31. Well!! Move over you 70’s hippy with your denim bells and your hand knit poncho~ hello 80’s perm with your structured color saturated suit!!

  32. After 10 years of renting, I’ve spent the last three months in the never-ending struggle of completely decorating and remodeling my first home from scratch. The design inspiration I look at is all very beautiful…but just has never tugged at any of my heartstrings and always kind of just feels like I’m wearing the wrong sized pants. I’ve been going slowly crazy with asking myself “These things are pretty – WHY DON’T YOU LIKE THEM!!”. Reading this post felt like someone from the EHD team giving me a warm hug and saying yes, it’s okay, you do have good taste. Thank you!

    1. ::hug hug hug hug hug::

  33. YES! I’ve been renovating a house for two years and while I initially tried to follow the minimalist handbook, I realized that any space I live in is going to be eventually filled with art, books, and houseplants. And it turns out that I really don’t like white. I’ve been calling my decor style modern maximalism lately and it’s working for me. So are these rooms!

  34. OMG you have just channelled my inner voice over the past 2 months—except way wittier! Dying over white as the Supreme Court (also…sob). Thank you so much for this post and I LOVE your writing!!!

    I have a very large, high ceiling room in my house that is north facing and very dark and I’ve been struggling with how to bring it to life. I’m leaning toward apricot and this morning you’ve made me feel 90% braver about it. Thank you!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Ohhh apricot could be wonderful!

  35. Agreed! I just bought two (yes two) houses and I just don’t know what I want to do to walls, so love all this inspiration. I was just thinking this morning maybe I need to take out my Abigail Ahern’s books, because she definitely embraces color. I can’t hardly look at sites like apartment therapy or design sponge because all the ever show is the white walled, mid century rooms. Yawn

  36. Love this. Love seeing something different than white!

  37. This is so so good. Modern maximalism is definitely gonna be a “thing”. I can feel it lol. I’m stuck in that same rut. I feel like I need to go back to my master bath plans and tweek. Although I do love my clean white tiles, mixed metals, natural touches and industrial mix, I too feel like it’s.just.not.enough.😣

  38. Love your writing and this post, Arlyn! Totally with you on white walls – this is why I love EHD – not afraid to shy away from what is “popular” to uncover more unique style and design.

  39. Bring on the color!

  40. I’m painting my house white and griege as I type, because I’m going to list it in the spring, but the next house is going to be a series of positively retroactively glowing Easter egg pastels. I am serious!

  41. Color, color and more color please! With some white walls for breathing space. Great post!

  42. If you are renting, go with a removable stick on wallpaper for colour/ texture. There are so many awesome options of patterns or murals. Not as cheap as painting, but unless you get the okay to do so, you have to paint twice to return walls to original colour. As a landlord, painting without permission is not appreciated, but it never hurts to ask!

  43. YES!!! Bring on color!! I’m so tired of seeing white walls everywhere. It’s wonderful to see rooms that shine with creativity and are just enough out of the box to make them interesting.

  44. Yes, please, COLOR! I’ve missed it so much on this blog. Originally started reading EHD for the Fig House, which is a bit like these references I think. I also think with all the depressing stuff in the news, injecting a bit of color and fun into our interiors could be therapeutic.

  45. wow!

    I can’t wait to dive into this blog and read all about it! I love the citron colored bedding!

    XO
    Maggy

  46. you had me at “for the love of Farrow and Ball “

    1. ha!

  47. Oh, man, finally a post that’s COMPLETELY me! I was a renter for too many years with landlords that insisted on Navajo White (a particularly nasty shade of whitish beige), so I have a built-in aversion to white walls. Also, being fairly light sensitive, all white rooms are too bright and glaring for me. I can’t relax in them.

    When I purchased a condo-townhouse with my sister, the one thing we agreed on above all others — no white or beige walls.

    Also, I have a lot of art, and I think most art looks BETTER against a wall with color. This was driven home to me when I first went to the Getty (the one on the hill) years ago. Nearly all their gallery walls were painted non-white colors. The art exploded off the walls! Well, not literally, but y’know.

    I couldn’t live in Dawnridge, either (though I’d love to visit), but the sameness of all the white rooms I’ve been seeing over the last number of years make my teeth itch. Ninety percent of the apartments on Apartment Therapy are booooring clones. Even peoples’ tchotchkes are starting to look same old-same old. I want REAL personality.

    Yay yay yay Arlyn!!!!!

  48. Thank you for making me laugh out loud with each paragraph description. Especially the red sock-white pajama comment.So funny. Maybe you should start a new career as stand-up designer. Really good design post too!

    1. a stand-up designer…interesting. Cracking jokes as I install a living room…this could work.

  49. Yes, I am all for more intelligent, refined, and daring conversations about using color in our homes! I need to live with color, whether muted or bold, accents or whole walls. These examples seem similar in that the colors are all inspired by nature: leafy or oceany greens, sunny yellows, rich plums and violets, fresh melons, delicate roses etc. I think that’s what ultimately makes them livable (albeit not for everyone or necessarily in every room) palettes. And I do think there’s an element of maximalist design in the furnishings that goes along with the color: because a boldly colored near-empty room would start to resemble a juice bar or kiddie-gym or something… you need a certain amount of decor, art, books, plants, to make it feel grounded and homey. I have considered painting bold colors in my home but it’s hard to predict how it will feel to live with them on a daily basis. Great post Arlyn! I look forward to more!!

  50. YESSSS all of this! I’ve been thinking the same things and was just recently drafting a very similar post for my own imaginary blog. Love it!

  51. This is a really long post BUT I read the whole thing!! And I feel very inspired. I am constantly planning my future house (which will likely happen in a few years) and want something that my grandkids will someday say, “I always loved that color granny/mimi/g-ma chose for her hallways, I want to do that in my house.” I’m 34, so I have a lot of time to dwell on this. But thanks for the inspiration! That picture with Ms. Lyons is like WOAH.

    1. HA I love that you’re mentally designing a house with your grandkids in mind…as a 34 year old. I’m on the cusp of 34 as well, and I totally get this. My grandmother’s house (in Puerto Rico) is something that I feel basically deep in my insides…terrazzo floors (very common in the Caribbean), colored tiled bathrooms (each a different palette) long hallways full of family photos and art…DESIGN A HOUSE YOUR FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN WILL BE PROUD OF, PEOPLE! 😉

  52. I didn’t mean the post was too long. I meant that I haven’t read much of anything lately because my brain is fried by children. I think everything you said was purposeful. FYI, Guilty Conscience is my middle name… isn’t it lovely?

  53. Like Marcia, I love color in other people’s homes but I have wonderful views from my windows so I crave the peace that white brings while enjoying the color beyond my windows.

  54. I absolutely love the bedroom designs at Hotel des Grands Boulevards!!! That dark teal and smoky blush/coral/apricot is my happy place. Especially since everything else is paired down and monochromatic. My own house is a mix of color with cleaner lines and subtle patterns…I don’t like clutter, but I do love a house with personality and a story to tell! More maximalist minimalism, please!

  55. I’m a big color lover and am swooning over these photos!

  56. I like white rooms, but to be honest, the room that I fantacize about in my dream house that I design in my mind (does anyone else do this?) is always a dark and cozy library with tons of jewel tones. I dunno if I could pull it off in my boring old house now, but god do I love it in theory.

  57. HELP! How do you know if you have “enough” natural light to pull off vanilla walls in a large space such as a lofted ceiling living room that opens to kitchen/dining room all on the first floor? I don’t want to repaint everything a very light color then have it seem too dingy (!) and have to come up with a color-color instead. God only knows what it would be anyway! Please school me on how to determine if you have enough natural light in a room/space to pull off the white/cream look vs having to choose a color to avoid dinginess!

  58. would love a roundup of super saturated modern maximalist paint colors & fabrics! I think a big part of this is that the colors themselves feel fresh and new because they aren’t in a lot of home decor and the way they are used are very abstract painting-eque – big swaths of bold color & geometries. very fun post!

  59. Absolutely LOVE these homes with color!!!! Not everything has to be blue and white, or gray, or black and white or beige. Like that you showed both ends of the spectrum: lavish bohemian to refined modern. NICE!!!! Please show more homes with color!

  60. I’m on board with COLOR! Thanks, Arlyn! But I have a few thoughts:
    1) Why is it SO dang hard to pick the right paint color?!! I’ve definitely scared and scarred my husband in that process.
    2) Maybe I’ll get my own hate club…but I’m over gray as the modern neutral. Gray is starting to feel real dated to me. I’d take white over gray. Just me?
    3) The preference for open floor plans makes saturated color on the walls even more difficult. Maybe even impossible! I’d take the yellow dining room in a hot second…but my dining room is open to a living room and partially to the kitchen. There isn’t no break in the architecture and I don’t want an entirely yellow interior or weird paint lines. Siiiiigh.
    P.S. Your name (Arlyn) looks like something ate some letters out of my name (Carolyn), haha. How do you pronounce your name??? ❤️

    1. Picking the right color can feel like an episode of the Amazing Race…SO MUCH WORK. So many options, so much research…and it all looks different the second you put it on a wall in your home with it’s own unique light. So yes, it can be scary and scarring. I remember this one Thanksgiving that I spent the evening helping my brother in law repaint the living room after the “blue” selection ended up looking straight up like cotton candy (but that was because they DIDN’T LISTEN TO ME IN THE FIRST PLACE…not still bitter…ha).

      And yes, I’d take white over gray. Like I mentioned, I actually love white walls in the right room, but I’m just bored of it being the default these days, but yes…white over gray (unless it’s a “statement” gray like a charcoal or something sexy).

      Open floor plans totally make it so much harder. I think in that case, it’s easier to stick to a bold color in bedrooms and bathrooms, since they have doors.

      And ha! It’s pronounced Are-lynne…you can’t imagine how many people butcher that! Thanks for the comment!

  61. We are also decorating our (first!!) house which has been super exciting but also hard. Happily both my DH and I love color (our wedding colors were basically CMYK) so we’re slowing working in lots of color and patterns…. I swear half my hard drive is mood boards at this point lol

    I recently came across Matt Crump – creator of Candy Minimal – and I am in love with his house i.e. https://www.facebook.com/mattcrump/photos/a.463117947143865/1711923162263331/ even if it sometimes swings a bit pastel for me, I love that he has colorful items that I never even thought about! (like the microwave)

    1. totally agree. The whole “wait, I never thought of that!” is what I’m craving (and sounds like so many other people are, as well).

  62. Jackpot on finding Arlyn, EHD team. Jackpot.

    1. ::blush:: thank you so much for your comment! Just trying to speak the truth over here!

  63. I have been patiently waiting for white walls to trend out. As a victim myself I painted my kitchen white and it makes me feel empty inside. Color gives me life! I believe in color! Amen!

  64. YEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS! Love me some colour! While I don’t love all of the examples I do love that the designers/homeowners really went for something they loved vs something that was trendy.

    Our kitchen cabinets are a combination of white and bright avocado green, all out pots are bright orange Le Creuset (picked up at an auction or I’d never afford it), and in that same room I have a checker “rug” in front of the sink from orange, purple, red and burgundy FLOR carpet tiles. (love it with the green cabinets!)

    In the dining room, the back wall is charcoal with a floating teak wall unit, a 4×4 colourful abstract painting and a white tulip table, which seems pretty neutral but I have blush curtains and bright orange chairs which really pop in the space (the rest of the walls are white).

    Seeing the dining room through the white/green kitchen is one of my favourite views in the house! It’s such a great combination of colours when viewed together and the charcoal makes the space feel cozy but still modern.

    The living room I’m still planning out but it also has that same charcoal wall with a large charcoal sectional, some teak stained wall paneling, a view of a yellow wall in the hallway adjacent, bright yellow/teak chair and I plan on bringing those same blush curtains into the space.

    I’m thinking the art and rug will be pretty neutral in this space but the tone on tone of the charcoal wall/sectional with some bright pillows makes the space feel warm and not too minimal. So it might not be too colour maximalist but still not a white box and with the dining room open to the living room it’s a nice marriage of less & more within the combined rooms.

    Sorry, I rambled! 🙂

    1. ramble all you want! I love that you talk about your home with such excitement! And the tone-one-tone of the wall and sectional sounds GREAT!

  65. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Arlyn!
    I hate being pigeon-holed into anything and that applies to my designing “style”. I gravitate between nordic to modern glam to eclectic bohemian. When we started remodeling our 1960’s ranch 2 years ago, I felt the pressure to pick a side. And, white walls it was. Now, we have the natural light with walls and walls of windows… but, after walking through these rooms for almost 2 years, I am starting to grow very bored of all this white. I have started adding wallpaper (which drives my husband crazy after removing multiple layers in the demo process) and color to the walls. I have felt like I was cheating on an old love but your post liberated me:)
    Angela

    1. BE FREE! Haha!

  66. It looks like it all involves a peach sofa or peach wall!

  67. THIS!
    I thought I could just be a pop of colour person. But then, in the middle of the night (swear!) the colour started popping on the walls, then a rug, more pillows… So much fun! But lighting is even more super important… coloured walls really change the way I think light will/should work. Can we talk more about that?!

  68. This post was the best ever. I, like so many others who have commented, have loved the west coast all white neutral look, but that just isn’t my style, and I’ve started to feel like my house is frump city just because I have an apricot Victorian couch and lots of color going on. Modern maximalism is me!! And seeing my style reflected and celebrated by my favorite blog just feels great. Thanks EHD team. You rock!

  69. Finally! Color! Sooooo tired of white and blue. And seascapes. This is wonderful and I hope to see more of this here on the blog!

  70. Color…is that you??? It’s been so long I nearly forgot what you looked like. Let’s do this!

  71. Thank you! I’m soooooo sick of rooms in white with white and then a “splash of color” with an off white and grey rug. ENOUGH. It’s boring. I personally wouldn’t go for any of those rooms but I love the color and that it’s not all The Same. I too have been feeling bored (oh you redecorates and have a room reveal of all white? Wow. Haven’t seen that before in the rest of your house…)

    (I say this like my living room isn’t grey. But my dining area is navy and I don’t have a shag rug. So I don’t think I’m the worst.)

  72. Looks amazing! Can’t wait to see more of what you do with your own space!
    showbox free

  73. I LOVE looking at this modern maximalist concept. I see it on Instagram at times and think, wow that’s cool. Would I ever use it in my home? Perhaps a powder room. The thing is about this kind of design, is you get tired of it quick. Every day walking into the same teal room would be exhilarating for 6 months and then I would be overrrr it. And then when the weather changes and gets springy outside, I’d be back to craving something fresh…a clean slate. And I’d be adding my funky accents through pillows and artwork and a textiles.
    Painting your room teal and decking it out with decor and “stuff” isn’t practical for the majority of us. But do I love looking at it? Definitely. In someone else’s home. The thought that I would spend tons of money adding lots of stuff to my walls only to tire of the trend once spring arrives makes me cringe. But I’ll come to your house and enjoy it for a few hours!

  74. No doubt you’re already aware but that amazing wallpaper in the dining room by Regan Baker looks to me like its inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Love, love, love it!

  75. I really like clean bright white spaces, but I can’t deny that I’m just drawn toward color in my own space. I just love “pretty things” – beautiful pinks, yellows, blues, greens, florals, velvet, silks. At home, I keep it pretty moderate, but I still love to look at interiors that take risks. I recently discovered Sasha Bikoff, and this one space in particular is such a wonderful use of color in my opinion. I hope the link works! https://sashabikoff.com/portfolio-posts/purchase-ny

  76. I LOOOOOVED this post. Agreed. Not everything was “my style” but it was incredibly rich and enjoyable to look through and read. thanks!

  77. Great post! You may have tipped me past my hesitation to reupholster my vintage sofa in apricot velvet, hooray! and Thanks 🙂

  78. I was feeling the exact same way the only difference is you said and I was just thinking it. Thanks for being my voice and making me feel like I’m not alone in this all white design world. We need some color back.

  79. Reminds me a lot of the designs from the Wing’s new SF location (which I am one million billion percent in love with)! I’m totally on board with this modern maximalism train.

  80. I LOVE ALL OF THIS.

    My living room has bright white walls but in my defense: we have lots of big east facing windows in the room and I believe it would be a travesty to paint these walls anything that would suck the beautiful sunlight we get. To balance it, the dining room just beyond the living room is deep navy blue. And beyond that, we have a white walled kitchen (but with watery green cabinets) and a millennial pink office.

    Thank you for the inspiration in this post!

  81. Looks so good!! Nice blog and I also like the images. Thanks for sharing.

  82. SO MUCH….YES, YES, >>>>YEEESSSS!! Where’s the colorful walls been for so long? Love your use of new terms. REfined Maximalism. You guys are trendsetting, per usual. 🙂

  83. I DO like white walls (in the right setting) but while most of your photos are not my dream room (always cool Jenna aside), I could see where you’re going with them. I do like asymmetrical picture placement but slam up against the molding just looks odd. She does stuff I find odd … then one day I look at it with new eyes. Still not there with the picture / molding thing yet…

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