How to get maximalist decor on a minimal budget

Allie LeFevere describes her maximalist Chicago home as colorful and eclectic. When she and her husband moved in to their home four years ago, she didn’t have a specific design in mind.

“I just wanted the house to feel vibrant,” says LeFevere, founder of branding agency Obedient. She wanted “a representation of our lives and the places we’ve explored and the memories we’ve made.”

The philosophy behind maximalism decor is “more is more,” according to Jean Whitehead, a senior lecturer on interior design at Falmouth University in county Cornwall, England. Bold colors, textures and unique pieces define this style, elements of which Vogue magazine says are “in” as design trends for 2024.

Going maximalist in your home can seem daunting and expensive — but it doesn’t have to be, say those who favor a bold aesthetic. Here’s how to achieve a maximalist look on a budget.

Shop at thrift and vintage stores

“One of the more economical ways to explore maximalism is through vintage and antique things that are available at thrift stores and estate sales,” says Daniel Mathis, who runs the Instagram account Not A Minimalist with over 70,000 followers.

Mathis’s home in Oklahoma City showcases his maximalist style, including many pieces purchased second-hand. To get a good bargain, Mathis suggests waiting until the last day of an estate sale when prices are typically reduced.

Alex Ammar, a certified financial planner and owner of Paradox Financial based outside Orlando, Florida, recommends setting a budget and decorating in stages.

“You might have different budgets for different tiers of interior decorating,” Ammar says. Second-hand and discount stores are great for decor and accent pieces, while you may spend more on distinct furniture, like a sofa.

Make it yourself

Maximalism can mean applying your own creativity to a space. Be bold with reinventing old furniture or items you have around the house. When Mathis fell in love with the Southwest design of a rug, he used the fabric to upholster an armchair in his sitting room.

For a simpler project, you can individually frame travel photos or children’s artwork and hang them together to create a gallery wall above a couch or along a hallway.

Finding ways to reimagine pieces already in your home adds a layer of individuality to the decor while saving you money. Look through your home for items that could use a boost, and browse art and home supply stores for ideas and tools you may need to revive them.

Consider meaningful pieces

Including noteworthy pieces in your decor is a way to create a one-of-a-kind space —- and it doesn’t have to be pricey. Keep an eye out for items that stand out to you, and be flexible, which can mean building up a collection over time or making minor alterations to a piece.

Mathis started collecting rare Ozark Roadside Tourist pottery about seven years ago. He currently has 150 pieces of the multi-colored, marbleized pottery.

“That’s maximalism for me,” says Mathis. “It’s about lots of color, lots of patterns … but I tried to do it in a very intentional and curated way.”

He purchased his first vase for $50; now, similar Ozark Roadside Tourist vases can sell for nearly $1,000.

LeFevere says her favorite piece in her home is an antique pie cabinet with mesh screens that she painted pastel green to match her kitchen.

“I’m not cooking any pie in my life,” LeFevere says, but the piece is “just really cool.”

Find your own style

LeFevere and Mathis both highlight the importance of knowing what you like while staying open to designs that surprise you. LeFevere visits sites like Pinterest to find styles or decor she likes and saves the images to a Google doc.

Similarly, Mathis built his personal style by clipping photos from decor magazines. He says the fun in maximalist design is the process of discovery.

By knowing what you like, you’ll be able to assemble pieces to fill your space, whether you find them in a thrift store, create them yourself or invest in a special piece.


Daniel Mathis's Instagram account, Not A Minimalist, showcases his maximalist style. (Photo by Ely Fair Studios)
Daniel Mathis’s Instagram account, Not A Minimalist, showcases his maximalist style. (Photo by Ely Fair Studios)


LeFevere's kitchen brings her garden inside, next to a pastel vintage pie cabinet. (Photo courtesy of Allie LeFevere)
LeFevere’s kitchen brings her garden inside, next to a pastel vintage pie cabinet. (Photo courtesy of Allie LeFevere)

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