Maximalist home decor on a budget

Allie LeFevere describes her maximalist Chicago home as colorful and eclectic. But when she and her husband moved in to their home four years ago, she didn’t have a specific design style in mind.

“I just wanted the house to feel vibrant,” said LeFevere, founder of branding agency Obedient. She wanted “a representation of our lives and the places we’ve explored and the memories we’ve made.”

The philosophy behind maximalist decor is “more is more,” according to Jean Whitehead, a senior lecturer on interior design at Falmouth University in county Cornwall, England. Bold colors, textures and unique pieces define this style, elements of which Vogue magazine says are “in” as design trends for 2024.

Going maximalist in your home can seem daunting and expensive — but it doesn’t have to be.

SHOP THRIFT AND VINTAGE 

“One of the more economical ways to explore maximalism is through . . . thrift stores and estate sales,” said Daniel Mathis, who runs the Instagram account Not A Minimalist with more than 70,000 followers.

Mathis’ home in Oklahoma City showcases his maximalist style, including many secondhand pieces. To get a bargain, Mathis suggests waiting until the last day of an estate sale, when prices are likely reduced.

Alex Ammar, a certified financial planner and owner of Paradox Financial outside Orlando, Florida, recommends decorating in stages.

“You might have different budgets for different tiers of interior decorating,” Ammar said. Secondhand and discount stores are great for decor and accent pieces, while you may spend more on distinct furniture, like a sofa. 

MAKE IT YOURSELF

Maximalism can mean applying your own creativity to a space. Be bold with reinventing old furniture. When Mathis fell in love with the Southwest design of a rug, he used the fabric to upholster an armchair in his sitting room.

For a simpler project, you can paint an item or frame travel photos or children’s artwork and hang them together.

Look through your home for items that could use a boost, and browse art and home supply stores for ideas and tools you may need to revive them.  

BE FLEXIBLE 

Including noteworthy pieces in your decor is a way to create a one-of-a-kind space — and it doesn’t have to be pricey. Keep an eye out for items that stand out to you, and be flexible, which can mean building up a collection over time.

Mathis started collecting Ozark Roadside Tourist pottery seven years ago. He currently has 150 pieces of the multicolored, marbleized pottery.

“That’s maximalism for me,” said Mathis. “It’s about lots of color, lots of patterns . . . but I tried to do it in a very intentional and curated way.”

LeFevere said her favorite piece is an old pie cabinet with mesh screens that she painted green to match her kitchen.

“I’m not cooking any pie,” LeFevere said, but the piece is “just really cool.”

LeFevere and Mathis agree it’s important to know what you like while staying open to decor that surprises you. LeFevere visits Pinterest and saves the images to a Google Doc.

Similarly, Mathis clips from magazines.

He said the fun in maximalist design is the process of discovery.

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