John Lewis + Swoon Radley Large 3 Seater Sofa
Maximalist decorating is now a design staple, creating swoonworthy rooms full of character. Ready to give it a go?
A new design confidence has washed over our homes in recent years. First it was boutique hotels winning us over with their singular approaches to every room, then along came Pinterest and Instagram, giving stylists and designers visual platforms for sharing ideas. Soon we were all joining in the fun, showing swatches and colour combos and celebrating our unique takes on ‘home’.
Maximalism has earned a place in our design vocabulary and in our hearts. It builds on our great heritage of using pattern and colour, and on the art of collecting and display. If you are feeling the call of the bold side for your living room but are not sure where to start, Partner & Home Design Stylist (and self-confessed colour lover) Wil Law shares his tips on making the look work for you.
‘Maximalist interiors will often have a starting piece that dictates the whole scheme,’ says Wil. Once you’ve found that one item that you love – whether it’s a piece of artwork, a bold wallpaper or even a cushion – then flow the colours from this into other elements of the room. ‘Pull from that piece’s strengths rather than its subtleties,’ advises Wil. ‘Once you’ve decided on the colours, you can then work to create impact with texture and different scales of pattern that bring the room to life.’
Even with a maximalist scheme, you still need to be considered. ‘While our Heritage Revival trend is certainly a celebration of colour, it’s not about visual overload,’ explains Wil. ‘Try choosing three colours that you can make work tonally to add impact. For instance, yellow might be one of your three colours, but this could range from amber to gold to a much brighter primary shade, with all three used across paintwork, soft furnishings and hard finishes. This is why the trend seems so alive and vibrant, but still coordinated.’
“Order lots of samples of fabric, paint and wallpaper and have a look at which combinations layer the best, giving you that feeling of ‘wow’ factor”
Each piece needs to hold its own in a maximalist scheme, otherwise it can risk being lost in the visual boldness. Wil says to look for ‘decorative detail’, believing that ‘each piece should stand alone as a statement rather than blend away.’ He loves the antique pedestal side table in brass. ‘It’s an architectural piece that demands attention,’ he explains. ‘Interestingly, turned legs are also making a comeback, rooted in that heritage theme, but made more contemporary and eclectic with painted finishes.’
When it comes to soft furnishing and upholstery, velvet is still a key texture. ‘It does carry that intensity of colour better than other fabrics, and of course has the benefit of being soft to touch,’ says Wil. ‘Look for decorative velvets – they are key to this trend. By combining print, embroidered and cut velvets for cushions on your sofa, you’ll create areas that are plush and tactile with real visual depth.’
“Many of us have found that we need more stimulation from home – it’s time to go to town with colour and pattern”
Even small touches will say something, adding to your room’s style story, be that an office corner or what you put on the coffee table. ‘I’d always go bold with beautiful lighting in a living room,’ says Wil. ‘Choose lamps with decorative ceramic bases that look vase-like, and add sculptural shapes with task lighting. Cluster those closely with accessories – remember “more is more”.’
Coloured glass continues to be big this season, with a whole range of shades and shapes on offer, ‘so scatter a few glass pieces around your living space,’ adds Wil. ‘Even the simplest shape will have such character when tinted with one of the colours from your room.’
“It’s not all about pattern – plain expanses of rich colour in sumptuous fabrics will make the gorgeous heritage designs really pop”