Maximalist interiors really make my heart sing. They are a celebration of everything I love about interior decoration. All the colour, all the pattern and all the joy! I love it all so much I can’t get enough of it, and here is the thrill, with a maximalist interior, you can have it all!
Our little three-bed bolt hole in Brighton was the perfect opportunity to flex my maximalist muscle. Bought in 2009 my husband and I decided to renovate it and rent it out as a holiday let. Situated down an ancient twitten lane the house is reportedly one of the oldest residential buildings in Brighton, dating back to 1565. As a result, it’s ceilings are low and proportions are, shall we say, bijou! The three-story terrace is only a narrow staircase width wider than the image above. But as they say, the best things come in little packages and we could see the potential. As a grade 2 listed property, we couldn’t do anything to it structurally so the transformation was going to be all down to the decoration.
But this tiny cottage could pack some punch with the right decoration and inspired by the infamous Brighton Pavillion, I decided to channel my inner Prince Regent and go for broke. As a holiday let it would also deliver on all the thrills with lavish wallpapers, sumptuous furnishings and decorative accessories and feel like a little trinket box of delights to whoever visited.
As a starting point, I am often inspired by wallpaper designs and this Bloomsbury print by Graham and Brown hit the right note with it’s large scale and unapologetic floral design. With the verdant green and punches of coral, peach and lilac I felt like I would have a lot to play with here. Using the paper as my anchoring colour palette I was then able to quickly pull together fabrics and furnishings that tied into this colour story. The collection of cushions were made in a selection of Linwood weaves. I worked with local company Mister Smith interiors who made them up for me adding the incredible ruche trims that also pick up on the accent colours. I mixed in a few high street cushions in plain fabrics but the great thing about making bespoke cushions in a maximalist interior is you can really make it all sing together.
There comes a point in a maximalist interior when you just have to go the extra mile and add MORE pattern! I had this leopard print rug made especially for the room so I could make sure it was the right size for all the furniture to sit on it. This really helps a room feel cosier and more cohesive. The doors, ceiling and architraves were cleverly colour matched in with the wallpaper to offer a seamless cohesion while the custom made shutters from Hillary’s were also colour matched to blend into the scheme. This helps bring cohesion to such a small space and allows the eye to focus on the patterns and decorative elements instead.
I sourced some modern pieces of furniture from online giant Wayfair to mix in with the vintage pieces we bought on a trip to India. Their huge choice of items meant I could find just the shades of velvet I was looking for for this scheme. The danger is there is so much to tempt and the oversized arched window style mirror also ended up in my cart! But I love the way it helps give an added dimension to the room.
The studio kitchen is open onto the living area so the design had to be really compact with a slimline dishwasher, microwave oven and I tucked the fridge under the stairs. In a small house, you have to make use of every inch. Rather than fitted units above, which would be more practical in a regular home, I decided to keep them open as another great opportunity to display plants and china and add some texture and depth to the room.
I fell in love with this wallpaper from designers Divine Savages as soon as I saw it! It was made for the birdcage don’t you think? Because the print is so strong I picked out the bold blue, yellow and pink and colour blocked them around the room; on the shutters, headboard and bed quilt. You can’t see it from the pictures but this is a four-wall strategy and you just feel wonderfully immersed by this incredible print. I felt that with a wallpaper like this- it didn’t need too many other patterns jostling for attention but I love the cool geometric cushions in the Linwood Pagoda. It’s just so decadent!
As you wind up the narrow staircase you arrive in the top attic rooms. It’s amazing that the ceilings could get any lower, but they have! Anyone over around 5’10” would have to stoop in here, but I wanted to celebrate the angles and did so with this incredible graphic circus stripe wallpaper which takes the eye up and over the ceiling. Getting a window treatment in this space was always going to be a challenge but we had some custom made ship style shutters made. I carried on the oriental extravagance with more Linwood velvet with ruched trim in canary yellow.
Tiny rooms often present a big challenge but I like to embrace the shortcomings and celebrate them! This small room feels like a real nook painted all around in the deep purple. The room is too small for headboards and so we had the whole wall upholstered in a Tetris of upholstered blocks. We simply made MDF tessellating templates and then cut the foam to fit before covering it with my collection of vintage swatches, samples and offcuts. Again I played on my love of mixing stripes, florals and geometrics.
Where do you find canary yellow wall tiles? Back in 2009 when we took on the complete renovation, the answer was ” Not very easily”. Back then it was a sea of white metro tiles and not much else. Its a reminder of how much more great colour and design has become accessible in the last ten years. I finally found these bad boys on eBay and they really made my heart sing!
However, my ambitions didn’t stop there. I coupled the canary yellow tiles with birdsong wallpaper and I just want to highlight that we hung this paper 12 years ago and it’s still going strong! I’ve done a whole post on how to wallpaper bathrooms here, so have a read if you are interested. Wallpaper is a wonderful way to take any bathroom up in the style stakes but really added some punch to this otherwise small room. The dark painted woodwork in Lamp Black by Little Green really helps highlight the yellow and the foil paper bounces the light around.
So that completes my little tour. I hope you can see that even when the rooms are small and unimpressive and there isn’t splendid high ceilings, natural light and architectural details, that by using the maximalist approach you can really raise the bar and create something quite fabulous.
I’m hosting an hour-long Maximalist masterclass on the 25th March which takes a dip into what it takes to decorate in the maximalist style. From contrasting colours, clashing patterns and a general riot of eclectic styles, I’ll share what it really takes to make this look work and look effortlessly stylish. You can book your place at the live event here, and enrollment includes a login that you can use to watch the replay at any time. I’d love to see you there!
Photos by Tim Young.
Please note: I no longer own this property but you can still check in with the lovely new owners on Airbnb.