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Minimalist vs Maximalist Interior Design: Which Should You Go For?

This year has been all about minimalist interiors, with their spartan décor, austere colour palettes and Zen-like spaces. But as we wrap up 2018 in a couple of months, we’re noticing that homes around the world are going in a completely different direction. Instead of muted tones, we are seeing loud, jewelled hues; and instead of scant details, we’re seeing bejewelled walls and shelves. A reaction against minimalism? Or a trend towards maximalism?

Whichever the case, we’re loving it. Sure, maximalist spaces are not for everyone. Loud, vibrant and full of life, they are the interiors equivalent of being in your face. Unlike minimalist interiors that seek to blend in, maximalist interiors strive to stand out against the crowd. In Singapore, while most homeowners tend towards the sleeker and cleaner appeal of minimalism, there are others who prefer bucking against the grain and embracing the brassier, messier end of the interior spectrum. So which side are you on?


If you’re a minimalist:

You are drawn to neutrals and soothing hues
Earthy browns, charcoal blacks and crisp whites are your staple colours. You don’t see them as boring. In fact, you believe that these hues hold timeless appeal and will age gracefully alongside your home. The key to turning your minimalist home from bland to grand is to use more than one neutral in a space. Pick a dominant shade for the majority of your surfaces in the space, then accent with another hue or two other colours. If you’re opting for warm lights or your home is blessed with lot of sunlight, pick cooler shades. But if you want your home to feel warmer, go for neutrals like creamy whites or olive greens.

A predominantly white apartment, decked out in wood accents for warmth.

Design: Form & Space

You hate to clean
No one really fancies cleaning their home. But no one more than you. Vacuuming under the carpet sounds like a nightmare. Dusting the souvenirs on display on your shelves sound as appealing as eating sawdust. Thankfully, having a minimalist interior means cleaning your home is a lot easier. Clutter is kept fully at bay, hidden behind well-built storage systems. Speaking of storage, the more hidden the better. Home decoration including soft furnishings are kept to a limit, so surfaces are kept clean, making it easier to wipe down when needed.

A minimalist home does make for less things to clean.

Design: DB Studio

With an absence of decor, this minimalist bedroom feels clean even without having to clean.

Design: DB Studio

You like furniture with clean lines and forms
With everything else kept to essentials only, your furniture becomes the focal point in your space. This is where you can afford to splurge a little. But they don’t have to be overly extravagant; they just need to be well-made. Choose pieces that have clean, sculptural forms with elegant lines, or even curves if you’re feeling playful. Multipurpose furniture that can do more than one thing is a good idea since you’re trying to restrict the amount of things going in your minimalist home. Above all, make sure your furniture is comfortable and suits your lifestyle.

Stripped to the bare essentials, the furniture becomes the focal point in a minimalist home.

Design: Schemacraft Interiors


If you’re a maximalist:

You love an explosion of colours, textures and patterns
Your mantra: the more, the merrier! Deck your space in rich, saturated hues, plaster a chinoiserie style wallpaper on your walls or put together furniture pieces made from different materials. Get this: it’s OK for things to clash! If you’re just starting out though, you might want to keep the larger surfaces (walls and flooring) of your home neutral while experimenting with your furnishing choices instead. They are less permanent and a lot more flexible to get rid of if they don’t work in your space. To avoid making a visual mess, find a connection—it could be a single colour, a single pattern or a single texture—and have it run throughout the room so that there’s some form of visual continuity.

Firehouse red is the recurring theme in this maximalist apartment.

Design: Three-D Conceptwerke

A clash of flooring patterns. The kitchen cabinets were kept to solid hues to prevent the space from looking overly busy.

Design: The Scientist

You don’t want to stay with just one style
As a maximalist, you’re never satisfied with just one style or a theme. You like mixing things up in your home. It could be a juxtaposition of mid-century with bohemian, rustic chic with modern Victorian, or a hodgepodge of everything in between—you don’t need labels! Need inspiration? Take a leaf from maximalist styles like Hollywood regency, which is the embodiment of glamour, excess and opulence. The bottom line: A maximalist home is all about incorporating everything you love. So yes, that biomorphic chair can totally work in your new maximalist space.

You see hints of mid-century, modern victorian and vintage in this living room.

Design: New Nyew

Jewel tones and retro-fied furnishings connect the spaces together in this brassy apartment.

Design: D’ Initial Concept

You are a collector of sorts and you want the world to see your collection
No square footage is left unadorned in a maximalist home. Your home is a gallery of your collections, whether it’s Southeast Asian art, designer toys or plants. Maximalism is a celebration of objects and home decor. But rather than see it as a worship of consumerism, it’s really about parading things that you’re proud of, that tell your story. It’s about wanting to be surrounded by your favourite things. To avoid clutter, keep things tidy and hold back from cramming more stuff than the space requires. The easiest way is to categorise similar objects together. Rotate and swap out your decor whenever, so that your space is constantly updated to feed your maximalist sensibilities. Like with minimalist interiors, you will want proper storage space for things that don’t belong.

Display things that you’re proud of, but don’t put everything in there.

Design: Three-D Conceptwerke

Display similar items together to avoid visual clutter.

Design: The Scientist

Top images courtesy of Neu Konceptz and Three-D Conceptwerke


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