Interior design trends often signal changes in how we live.
Currently, two major trends, minimalism and maximalism, are competing for our attention. Minimalists aim for a place of calm and sanctuary whereas Maximalists view their homes as extensions of themselves, filled with colors, textures and patterns. Read on to discover characteristics that define each, as seen in these visually stunning South Florida homes and decide, which is right for you?
Minimalism: Order, Simplicity, Harmony
Since the 1960s, modernists have championed minimalism in art, architecture and design. Based on the premise, “less is more,” this approach to design emphasizes clean lines, neutral colors and an absence of decoration.
In art, that translated to the black canvases of Frank Stella and the color field paintings of Mark Rothko. Architecture became futuristic. Furniture embraced the streamlined aesthetics of Eames and Knoll.
Today, examples of minimalism include the all-white interior décor of Kim Kardashian’s home, designed to resemble a futuristic Belgian monastery. Another aspect of minimalism is Marie Kondo’s credo of getting rid of things that do not spark joy.
Maximalism: Color, Pattern, Boldness
Maximalism started as a reaction to minimalism in 1981 when the Memphis Design group kicked off its first exhibition as a reaction to modern decor rules. It’s all about expressing who you are and what you love, presenting an opportunity for excess in colors, patterns and décor and opening the door to a visually exciting, lavish look.
In the art world, maximalism can be seen in Kehinde Wiley’s 2018 portrait of President Obama which uses a highly decorative pattern for a backdrop, as opposed to a more traditional solid color.
An indicator of the rise of maximalism in home design is the increase of eye-popping, colorful wallpaper patterns, demanding attention.
For Brittany Farinas, CEO and Creative Director of Miami-based House of One, maximalism doesn’t mean overdone. It means curated, chic, luxury living.
“Clients come to House of One because they want to be able to put their project in our hands and not have to worry about anything other than approving designs and seeing it come to life at the end,” says Farinas.
Based in Miami and specializing in designing high-end homes since 2018, Farinas teamed up with DOMO Architecture + Design and Christopher Cawley Landscape Architecture to give a new look to a seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom, 9,000-square-foot house in Miami Beach built in 2019.
The “wow factor” starts at the pond entrance where guests walk on water to the front door. Breathtaking panoramic views of tropical foliage, the canal, pool and sky are a feature of every room.
What makes this décor maximalist?
“Layering in a lot of details, colors and patterns,” Farinas explains. “I used thirty different fabrics, including custom pillows and wall coverings. Plus, custom furniture throughout.”
All of the fabric is from Holly Hunt.
Sectional sofas by Arefacto in the Great Room are a mixture of three fabrics, leather, linen and boucle with dark blue velvet pillows and soft throws. The dramatic lighting fixtures in the Great Room are from Restoration Hardware.
“They provide a gorgeous glow in the evening,” says Farinas.
The formal dining room features a white marble table, Artefacto linen chairs with brushed champagne bronze trim and luxurious white silk and wool shag rug with a statement chandelier from Restoration Hardware.
The open plan family room features a cozy seating area and the breakfast room in soft grey tones and a kitchen accented with white marble.
A showstopper in the master bedroom is the padded, mohair headboard that goes all the way to the ceiling with built-in floating nightstands and side sconces.
“This was custom-designed in partnership with Grafton Furniture,” says Farinas. “The silk and wool rug in the Master Bedroom is by Surya.”
An elegant bedroom detail is a brushed brass desk from Restoration Hardware and a sheepskin chair by Kathy Kuo.
The overall color scheme pairs natural tones with pops of dark blue, including blue faux suede walls by Phillip Jeffries in the media room, as well as blue velvet and brass chairs in the kitchen by Worlds Away.
Farinas used a montage of black and white photos of 1950s Miami to add interest to a glass-enclosed stairwell and colorful back-lit, classic movie posters in the media room. Other pieces throughout the house come from the client’s curated art collection.
Curves, rather than hard angles, are a dominant theme from the dining room and kitchen chairs, to bedroom chairs, desks and end tables.
“In a house that feels so structured by its rectangular architecture, we wanted to break that up in the interior by incorporating curved elements,” says Farinas, who created an inviting seating area on the patio by pairing two curved sectional sofas, custom made by Artefacto with a fire pit from Restoration Hardware.
But it is in the guest room that Farinas takes a deep dive into maximalism with vibrant floral wallpaper by Graham & Brown, featuring brightly colored tropical birds, butterflies and flowers on a black background.
Farinas’ restrained approach to maximalism echoes her client’s preference for luxury fabrics, textures and details without being overly decorative. The result is a very livable, comfortable home that combines sophistication with functionality.
Olga Adler’s minimalist approach to the complete renovation of a three-bedroom 1940s Delray cottage focuses on creating spaces that are soothing, calming and welcoming.
“Your house is your self-portrait, it should tell your story,” says Adler, an award-winning interior designer and Principal of Olga Adler Interiors in Delray Beach.
Known for her relaxed and layered look, Adler creates a globally inspired blend of pattern, color and texture with a minimalist approach that is inviting and sophisticated.
“The easiest way to achieve a minimalist look and feel is by prioritizing texture over color, by embracing natural, organic materials and by being consistent in your choices of finishes,” Adler says.
“We used Benjamin Moore Super White paint for all spaces to create a cohesive look. The only area we accented was the wall behind the TV in the living room, which is covered with a dark, geometric, textured wallpaper,” she says. “To create an interesting look in flooring, we used large textured Spanish porcelain tile by Porcelanosa.”
Most of the windows are not covered, as the house is positioned for maximum privacy. For solar protection, the south-facing windows are equipped with motorized solar shades. There is white drapery in the main bedroom for softness.
“We relied mostly on modern recessed LED lighting, but we used some very simple bent Beachwood Scandinavian fixtures in the dining room and over the kitchen island for an eco-friendly, organic vibe,” says Adler. “The most striking fixture is a tiered chandelier in the main bathroom of coconut shell, glass and wood from Serena & Lily which makes a delightful tropical sound.”
Adler’s design sensibility reflects her European heritage and extensive travels. In the living room, she added African-inspired zebra-print cushioned stools by Dovecove to lend interest to a neutral-toned room.
“One of the hallmarks of my work is global sourcing,” said Adler. “In the open plan living area, I used imported vintage Indonesian mango wood dining and coffee tables.”
Other exotic textures include a woven mirror from Williams Sonoma in the master bedroom, along with wicker chairs. For a splash of color in the bedroom, Adler used an area rug by Serena & Lily in Palm Beach.
Adler’s international sensibility lifts her minimalist style to another level, adding foreign elements, vintage pieces and novelty textures while maintaining a tranquil, contemporary mood.
For the kitchen, she used German-made cabinets that are a mix of white matte lacquer and laminate wood veneer. Sofas are custom designed by Restoration Hardware in performance linen fabric.
The original artwork is by Debra Somerville, a fine art photographer in Delray Beach. “The images we chose reflect the client’s interests — an ocean view, a close up of a cactus and a photo of the Hamptons,” says Adler.
Born in Europe, Adler launched her interior design studio in Greenwich, CT in 2003 and has been based in Delray Beach since 2015.
“My projects reflect my clients’ personalities, from cozy beach cottages to luxury mansions in the St. Andrews Country Club,” she says. “The first question I always ask is, ‘Tell me about your most amazing trip’ and we work from there.”
The Best Of Both
Ultimately, your décor doesn’t have to adhere to either maximalism or minimalism. It can include elements of both. Perhaps you want your master bedroom to be your Zen sanctuary and your living room to be an exciting, vibrant space combining a Deco sofa, floral wallpaper and your collection of fine art glass. Working with an experienced interior designer, you can adapt elements of both minimalism and maximalism to create a home that reflects your unique personality and lifestyle.