Minimalist vs. Maximalist: Which One Are You?

Design by: Kelly Wearstler


Do you cringe when you see a Kelly Wearstler design or do you secretly wish you could access even one-tenth of her interior design prowess? In spite of her huge following and international success, Wearstler’s spaces do not appeal to everyone. That’s probably because Wearstler, with her over the top, uber-expensive spaces, is considered a maximalist to the max!

What does Wearstler being a maximalist have to do with you, you ask? Minimalism and maximalism are extremes in the interior design world. They are gauges of how much “interior design” you can actually handle in your own home.

Just imagine a bell curve graph of all of the interior design aficionados in the world. Most people would fall in the middle, with a small group on the left called minimalists and a small group on the right called maximalists. For the most part, we all like a healthy dose of paint, accessories and furniture. But minimalists prefer the less-is-more approach while maximalists love to bring the drama with their more-is-more approach.

Let’s delve into this topic just a bit more…


Minimalist Design

Source: Freshome


A minimalist is a person that tends to err on the side of less. While the final design may be robust and complex, it has an obvious restraint to it. It tends to be soft on the eye and there is a tendency to pull back the reins when it comes to accessories. Not every wall is populated with artwork and the designer may have purposely chosen to not address things like the ceiling or window treatments. This group really hates clutter, with a passion. In fact, their style is usually (but not always) an extension of their natural tendencies to keep very little stuff.

One practical advantage of being a minimalist is that the overall maintenance of these spaces is considerably less than maximalist spaces. However, one disadvantage of this style is that it can sometimes feel unfinished or sparse.

Maximalist Design

Design by: Marks & Frantz


Maximalism is fast becoming a trend as people are always seeking to distinguish their homes from other people’s homes. Maximalist designs have a considerable edge to them; in fact, they are uber-risky and may even have you crossing your fingers secretly hoping that the final design will work itself out. In maximalism, there will be an abundance of patterns, contrasting paint colors, layered rugs, colorful molding, gallery walls and maybe even wallpapered ceilings. Similar to eclectic design, you can usually find a variety of design styles within one maximalist space.


One major downfall of maximalism is that the environments can sometimes feel congested and cluttered. This is precisely why Wearstler’s ability to create these spaces successfully is so impressive. She has managed to nail this look sans the clutter.


Personal Applications


Source: Elle Decor


Knowing whether you gravitate towards minimalism or maximalism can help you define your own design sensibility. Are you open to painting baseboards or creating funky designs on your ceiling like Wearstler? You may just be a budding maximalist. Do you hate tchotchkes or collections? Then maybe you are more of a minimalist. Consider how far you will go when it comes to design before you create a space that is utterly boring to you or one that makes you uncomfortable in your own home.

If you would like to experiment with maximalism, rooms that are rarely used are good ones to try this look, such as a powder room or a guest room.  But be forewarned, that if you lean towards this style, you will need to have some thick skin in order to incorporate it into your home. Since maximalism tends to create spaces that people either absolutely love or vehemently hate, be prepared to get some thumbs down from your guests. That’s ok. Wearstler didn’t care what people said and she’s at the top of her game in design.

In general, there is no wrong or right when it comes to your home. I have seen stunning designs that embrace minimalism and stunning ones that display maximalism. On a personal level, I love maximalism because it allows you to take your creativity to another level.

Do you see yourself as a minimalist or a maximalist? I would love to hear your preference in the comments section below.


5 Responses

    • superiorinteriors1006

      And you do minimalism beautifully! I can also appreciate both even though I always want more and more pattern lol

  1. Judy Uelk

    Is “mini” maximalist a thing? Lol. I don’t like clutter but I do enjoy rooms filled with things I love. On the other hand, when my counters and tables are completely clear I love it. So not sure what I am! Haha!

  2. Tina McGill

    I think you’re on to something when you say most people are somewhere in the middle. If I could afford it, there is no way I would live in that space. Wearstler’s design felt overwhelming to me. I guess that qualifies me a minimalist. I like thoughtful designs.

    • superiorinteriors1006

      You are definitely more of a minimalist because you don’t like a lot of clutter. Wearstler’s designs are truly over the top, but she gets away with it because she does a lot of commercial design work.

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