Minimalism vs Maximalism

By now we’re all familiar with minimalism. Sleek lines, clean surfaces, no patterns and usually a lot of white. Closely associated with Scandinavian and Japanese interior design trends, proponents of minimalism often spruik its philosophical and holistic benefits of organisation and lack of clutter.


Everything in minimalist interior design has a specific purpose and utility, an active liberation from materialism.

Minimalism in Australia

Much of recent interior design in Australian has bent towards minimalism, from subtle details such as a preference for square set ceilings, washed out timber flooring and white walls adorned with single, focal art pieces. It is the very essence of ‘less is more,’ or put more elegantly by architect John Pawson, “Minimalism is not an architecture of self-denial, deprivation, or absence: it is defined not by what is not there, but by the rightness of what is there and by the richness with which this is experienced.”

As the pace of life quickens and complexifies, having a place as a quiet refuge is just what many Australians are after when it comes to the interior spaces of their home.

But what of maximalism?


It is a reclamation of styles which until recently had been described with pejoratives such as garish, busy and wasteful. Featuring patterns, colours and an abundance of tchotchke, maximalism favours a highly personalised interior design, creating rooms reflective of those living in them. Writing in Harpers Bazaar,  maximalism proponent Abigail Ahern says “I get the biggest adrenaline rush when people see my home and their jaws hit the floor.”

It’s all about the emotional stimulation a maximalist-designed home can provide. It is also indelibly personal, with each piece of art of sculpture having a story behind it. The bowl from that trip to Fiji, the vintage side table handed down generations or the light fitting rescued from an op-shop. Maximalism is about the feeling provoked in you when you walk into the room.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you combining these styles in your home. Maybe you’d like a dramatic wow factor to your living areas, then a pared back simplicity to your bedrooms? Perhaps craft a monolithic façade of concrete which belies the explosion of colour and pattern within?

Whatever you do, it’s never been easier to take your home from simple to stunning.

Learn how to take your home from Simple to Stunning with Australia’s top interior designers.

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