Embracing maximalism: Why less isn’t always more

Images from Emily Babb (Medium) and Sarah Hamilton.

As a society, we often frown upon being “too much.” Whether it’s being too much to handle, manage, or understand, we grow uneasy at the thought of exposing ourselves to the world. Minimalist decor perfectly personifies this concept, praising simplicity and tidiness over originality. Not only does it limit self-expression, but it also implies that we must confine our creativity into a box in order to be palatable to society. Why conform to these standards when we could embrace maximalism and take up the space we deserve?

Maximalism allows people to curate a unique aesthetic, one composed of various colors, interests, and objects. Clashing patterns and metals are not an artistic fiasco but instead have a purpose in this space, representing different facets of identity. When design choices are no longer judged through a traditional lens, they reflect the essence of the people who curate the space—like a collage of personality.

Many claim that the peace and calm evoked by minimalism makes it the better aesthetic. However, they neglect to consider how maximalism can inspire a similar, if not superior, sense of comfort. Clutter, for instance, can define the difference between a house and a home. A newly rented apartment may be white and pristine, like a real estate magazine, but your favorite novel, a childhood photograph, and the portrait your friend painted for your birthday are what make that apartment yours. Yes, it may be untidy, but isn’t there comfort within the chaos? 

Additionally, a maximalist home doesn’t have to be disorderly—oftentimes, it is simply a patchwork of dynamic art styles. When there are no dos and don’ts, rights and wrongs, people can let their imaginations run free. They can experiment with colors, textures, and shapes, using their homes as a life-sized canvas. Whether there are murals and music posters scattered on the walls or forest green rooms with brown brick entryways, maximalism promotes a freedom of expression that liberates people to assert and understand themselves in ways they could not before. 

This kind of freedom can even improve psychological well-being. Those who struggle with anxiety and perfectionism may find great comfort in expressing themselves in a place that is solely theirs. Jennifer Howard, author of Clutter: An Untidy History, states that being surrounded by clutter can act as a protective mechanism, swaddling you in a makeshift cocoon. It’s a way to nurture your inner child, allowing yourself to break free of the constraints of adulthood and be whoever you want, however, you want. 

Thus, we as a society should stop fearing self-expression and learn to accept our unique identities. In embracing maximalism, we may unleash a new wave of creativity, encouraging imagination and a new standard of beauty in interior design. As the place we spend the majority of our time in, our homes should not adhere to societal trends, but rather reflect our personal values, preferences, and lifestyles.

Above: Sarah Hamilton’s room.

Shruthi Subramaniyan is a senior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Fremont, and this is her first year at The Hatchet. She’s interested in covering topics regarding the arts, culture, current events, and the Washington community. Her passions include art, music, teaching, and psychology. She also plays badminton on the school team and loves spending time outdoors with her friends. In the future, she hopes to attend university to study psychology and explore potential careers.

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