What do you picture when you think of minimalist decor? Stark black and white? Maybe Scandinavian design comes to mind…? How about when you think of maximalist decor? Lots of clutter? Many colors and patterns? Crammed with furniture? There are times when I like both of these styles. But I find that I gravitate somewhere more in the middle of the two extremes. So I coined the term “in-the-middleism” to describe my design style.
Minimalism in decor focuses on paring down to the bare necessities, everything having function first followed by form, nothing on display just because. Less is more. There are a lot of clean lines, clean surfaces, with tight, neutral color palettes—sometimes with a pop of a primary color as an accent. Cozy is not the goal, though sometimes elements of wood or natural materials are mixed in to add warmth.
Maximalism is a reaction to minimalism, on the other end of the design spectrum. More is more. Vibrant, wide ranging color palettes. Mixtures of patterns, large art displays, lots of books, lots of things. Some may call this clutter, others may see it as collection. Of course, there’s a range of variation in how maximalism can be interpreted. It can be more subtle if you will, or very over the top. Really, there are no rules, so if maximalism is your style, go wild!
I would describe in-the-middleism as the best of minimalism and maximalism, bringing both styles together to create the just right blend between the two. Similar to an eclectic decor style, maybe slightly bohemian even? Though bohemian is often synonymous with maximalism. When I first started decorating my home I was calling my design style midcentury boho, but while I like midcentury modern and I do have some pieces that fall under that description, there wasn’t enough of it present to include it in the name of my design style. Vintage modern? No, not quite that either. I have some vintage-y items, but again, not enough to name my style after it. So in-the-middleism was born. And it can range the gamut in terms of how much minimalism and how much maximalism you bring to the forefront.
How I Do “In-The-Middleism”
A neutral, subtle base palette peppered with accents in vibrant, yet cohesive colors. While minimalism typically has a limited and subtle color story with possibly one accent, and maximalism can incorporate every color under the sun, I chose something in between for my home design. I use subtle wall colors, mostly neutral, some pastel. I then add in an occasional bold accent wall (like the light gray with a dark gray accent in my living room). Or with my front door, a full on splash of teal! But I mostly bring the color in with pillows and art and accessories.
A mixture of furniture and decorative accessory styles. I don’t have all modern, clean lined furniture. I have some pieces that may be considered modern. I also don’t have all traditional pieces either. Actually, I may not have any truly traditional pieces… but they lean more toward the traditional than true modern design. Perhaps they are considered contemporary… I also don’t have super cushy, overstuffed upholstered furniture either. But whatever style my pieces are technically-speaking, I aim for cohesiveness by keeping the color palette of everything relatively neutral and similar throughout my home. Either white or dark wood tones. Mostly gray upholstery. Occasionally I’ll add in a pop of color with a teal accent cabinet or a blue dresser or chair.
I also have some items that are more ornate, like a curved wicker headboard and carved wood mirrors, giving a nod to the styles you may see more in a maximalist design. Mixed with contemporary furniture pieces it’s the just right mix for my eclectic, in-the-middle design style. The combination helps it from going over the top.
A combination of subtle pattern and texture. One of the parts of maximalism that I find myself gravitating to more and more is the mixture of bold pattern. I have yet to pull the trigger and really attempt this, and I may never actually try if I’m being honest. But I do love when I see someone else do it just right. My attempt at this is mixing subtle patterns in similar color palettes. I’ve done this recently with mixing my bedsheet sets. Incorporating solid fitted sheets with patterned flat sheets and pillow cases.
I also like to mix textures in either similar shades or high contrast colors. Like gray chunky knit pillows on my gray linen-look couch. Or dark gray curtain panels right up against white lace or patterned sheers. I also like to layer rugs, blankets and pillows of various textures to add an eclectic vibe in small doses throughout a room.
Sporadic collections of art, books and accessories. While minimalism is mostly bare surfaces and maximalism is piles of books and huge gallery walls, I chose to temper the two by finding a happy medium. I have areas with blank wall space. And then I have areas with picture ledges and lots of kinds of art on display side by side. Or gallery walls with a mixture of prints and tapestry and garland. In a cohesive color palette that isn’t too jarring, but adds interest as your eye moves around the room.
My bookcases have small stacks of books mixed with photos and accessories and collections of colorful glassware and ceramics. Books and small accessories find their way to other surfaces as well, to breakup the swath of color that is an end table or media console.
There are many ways to incorporate both minimalism and maximalism into your home decor, and come up with your just right blend of “in-the-middleism.”