Maximalism, The Pendulum Swing in Interior Decor

If your answer to “What is your favorite color?” is “Everything”…You May Be a Maximalist.


Credit: Tony Duquette Studios
Tony Duquette’s genius is most especially flooring when you learn that this “dining room” was created from his cube-shaped, windowless garage.

Maximalism is a wide pendulum swing away from Swedish minimalism. It blends Chinoiserie, Hollywood Regency, Mid Century contrasts, a Bohemian vibe, and a “Go Big or Go Home’ exuberance that celebrates color, pattern and fun. Although American design icon, Tony Duquette is no longer with us, he still leads the way in a new “maximalism,” that pushes boundaries to the side. His malachite printed cotton was more than 2 decades ahead of the agate prints that are so “in” right now. Costume and set designer for @FredAstaire musicals, theatre, opera, ballet and @Bulgari ads alike, his creativity and timelessness is something to aspire to: Oriental rugs, boldly patterned foliage, chandeliers, and old silver, Asian artifacts, ornate valances, a fascination with peacock feathers and colors, dramatic light and exotic interiors that are surely the 1,002nd of the 1001 Arabian Nights.

Iconic Modernist, Mies Van Der Rohe declared that, “Less Is More.” Iconic Architect, Robert Venturi responded that, “Less Is A Bore.” Maximalism says that, “More is More.”
Exotic excess was perhaps THE signature of the Tony Duquette’s maximalist style. ”He was the only man who could spend $999 in a 99-cent store,” said Hutton Wilkinson, his business partner of 30 years.

 Maximalism states, emphatically, that the only boundary that can really hold us back…is our imagination.

It has been said that if your answer to the question, “What is your favorite color?” is “Everything,” you may be a maximalist. It IS often difficult to choose and to edit when you have a wide range of tastes, in pattern, materials, and color combinations. That may be part of the reason Maximalism and Bohemian style can easily walk hand in hand.

Bold pattern, color and art make this Mexican living room at feast for the eyes

Layering pattern and color is de riguer in blending ethnic textiles, rugs, and objets. But Maximalism is (potentially) far more sophisticated, bringing the high drama of Hollywood shine, Mid Century Mod, Chinoiserie motif and faux bamboo, and a blending of styles that is a celebration of glamour, and worldly decor eloquence.  Maximalism illustrates that the only boundary that can really limit decor…is our imagination.

Maximalism: a blend of styles that is a celebration of glamour, and worldly decor eloquence.

Via Mark D Sikes, Design Credit: Alex Papachristidis; courtesy Marco Ricca
Bright color and pattern create a vivid stage for the Chinoiserie place settings, which pop because their repetition sets them apart.

Sara Ruffin Costello: Maximalist’s Heart With An Aesthete’s Eye

Still, it is a wonderful thing to find a designer with a maximalist’s heart…one who is in love with beauty, without a rigid regard for walking within any styles’ rigid lanes, but who, nevertheless, has a modern aesthete’s eye for line, discretion, and editing. I love the drama of full on maximalism, but I prefer to live in a space that allows the eye to find rest, as well.


Design: Sara Ruffin Costello
Restrained Maximalism: not an oxymoron, but a pared back version, that still packs a big, “Go Big, or Go Home” punch.

In order to pull her expansive love of varied styles together, designer Sara Ruffin Costello limits her use of color, and focuses on how the lines of individual pieces work together. It is a contained, expansive, but less demanding exuberance, that I find wonderfully refreshing. Costello said, in a recent interview, “Isn’t it great when you see a room, see how someone lives, what books they read, and you are dying to meet the person who inhabits it?” It absolutely is; and that is just exactly how I felt when I saw her home. So, take your inspiration, follow a Maximalist Master’s example, throw caution to the wind, and design on the wild side, the maximal side, just like Tony Duquette.

Credit: Thibault Design
Imperial Dragon Wallpaper, by Thibaut Design, and Antique Chinese Porcelain

To read more antique and vintage inspired interior decor shakedowns, like this, click here.





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