It is a pleasure. The rise of maximalism where there is not too much
floral wallpaper. Brass candle holder. trunk.
It’s not your grandma’s living room, but it could very well be her stuff.
Maximalism, a furnishing trend dedicated to the aesthetics of excess, has been on the rise for a number of years. But recently, this “more is more” decor — combined with a resurgence of vintage and second-hand goods — has exploded in popularity.
Bold colors, patterns, textures, and vintage items pop up everywhere from popular TV shows (like the luxury mansions in The White Lotus Season 2 and the cozy apartments at Hulu’s Only murders in the building), to boutique hotels and trendy carpet companies with tropical prints. They’re also sporting the bright colors of the year (Pantone is an electric Viva Magenta; Benjamin Moore’s 2023 paint color is an orangy raspberry red).
“We used to be called hoarders. Now they call us maximalists, so that’s okay now,” laughs Tara Kolla, 46, who lives in Whitehorse, and describes her design style as “throw stuff at the wall until nothing else sticks.”
So why is the aesthetic so popular?
It could be a backlash to the austerity of minimalism and clean, white walls. (Even Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing expert who inspired scores of followers to declutter their homes with her trademark “Is it fire joy?” question, recently admitted she’s kind of given up).
The thrift and vintage element could also be part of our current nostalgia, which has also seen a comeback from film cameras, DVDs and vinyl records. There is also the environmental sustainability aspect of buying second hand items and their affordability in times of inflation.
CLOCK | More is more in Tara Kolla’s living room:
“Taken together, these factors create a kind of ‘perfect storm’ that drives interest in second-hand goods,” said Katherine White, professor of marketing and behavioral sciences at the University of British Columbia.
But for some of the people embracing the trend, the reason is simpler: joy.
“Many, many moons ago I was married to a man who thought beige was an exciting or risky alternative to white,” said Marsha McLean, 55, of Toronto. In the midst of a project to paint her living room a darker version of Viva Magenta, styled around a pink velvet couch, McLean is building a massive sliding bookcase to hold thousands of books.
“I’ve decided that I’d rather live in a more colorful world.”
‘I’m so happy’
There is a Facebook group called Maximalist Design and Decor with over 400,000 members. In it, people discuss floral wallpaper (the bolder the better), whether they should paint their kitchen pink (the answer is always yes), and cheerfully post photos of their thrift store finds (whether it’s a mannequin they want to turn into a lamp). ). , or an elusive copy of “The Mirror,” an ornate brass-rimmed triple mirror that’s the holy grail of the maximalists in the group).
There is no “too much” in this group and others on Facebook.
And one of the most popular photos in the global group, with more than 68,000 likes and counting, is a wall of suitcases posted by Theresa Rose, 65, of Keswick, Ontario.
Rose says she’s been collecting vintage suitcases for most of her life. Some are her own—like trunks her family used when they sailed from Europe to Canada—and others are sourced from thrift stores and flea markets.
“Suitcases have so much fascination. I always wonder where they’ve been and who owned them and what they locked inside and where the damn key is?” said Rose.
She recently transformed her collection into a custom-made wall of chests, many of which contain the other treasures and knick-knacks she collects, like buttons, yarn and old photographs.
“Oh my god I use it almost every day and I’m so happy,” Rose said.
The wall isn’t just for storage; In some cases, she hides surprises for her grandchildren, and a local musician used it as a background for a music video. Rose says she is the inspiration for the lyrics of a song called Girl with 1,000 suitcases by Daniel Davis.
The rise of thrift
A recent report by ThredUp predicts that the second-hand trade is expected to grow 127 percent by 2026, with North America leading the way. Technology and online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace and Etsy are a big part of the increase, with the report noting that 70 percent of consumers surveyed said it’s easier to shop second-hand now than it was five years ago.
White of the University of British Columbia says consumer interest in vintage items is definitely increasing. She believes the pandemic has left some people looking for solace.
“People who have experienced a lot of stress and uncertainty are now seeking comfort and a sense of nostalgia. For some age cohorts, purchased items (think vinyl records, action figures, comic books, vintage cars, vintage decorative items) can be reminiscent of times past,” she said.
“While there has historically been a degree of stigma attached to buying second-hand items, this is not the case now.”
The pandemic has also contributed to the rise of vintage in more practical ways, says Kristina Urquhart, editor and publisher of The Vintage Seeker, a Canadian magazine for vintage and antique sellers and bargain hunters.
“We’ve had a lot of people sitting at home redecorating and wanting to shop online because of the closures. At the same time, we also had a lot of people who wanted to move items out of their house, so they started selling them,” Urquhart said.
“The pool of buyers grew, as did the pool of sales.”
Ashlee Mueller, owner of Lemon’s Loot, a vintage e-commerce shop based in Kingston, Ontario, says sales are so good that she’s been able to turn what was once a side hustle into her full-time job. Mueller, 31, frequents auction sites, vintage markets and thrift stores from Ottawa to Toronto to find the treasures she resells online.
Her most popular items are brass trinkets and brass candle holders, which she says are very popular as wedding decorations at the moment. Mueller says she also has clients who decorate hotels with her items and has sold some items to clothing retailer Aritzia to use in their window displays.
She believes the popularity is due to evoking happy memories.
“They buy an item from me because it reminds them of the past and gives them that good feeling [factor]instead of going to Walmart and getting an item that doesn’t have a story,” Mueller said.
“Feels so full of love”
Kolla says that in Whitehorse, where winter is the longest season, it’s especially nice to have a home that exudes warmth. Her living room is colorful, with strings of paper flowers and lanterns that she creates for parties and events, shelves of knick knacks, and even a giant blue Smurf doll in one corner.
“My 13-year-old kid tells me, ‘It just feels so full of love, Mom,'” Kolla said.
Her vintage store, The Wishfactory, has the same style, with paper flowers and lanterns draped over shelves of clothes and shelves of treasure. Business is good, she says, even in Whitehorse, which Kolla admits doesn’t typically have a big vintage scene.
“I’ve been shopping vintage since the ’90s when I was in high school. And just to see it revived was really awesome,” Kolla said.
Decorating is all about making a space a space you want to spend more time in. And for some, like Kolla, that comes from color and stuff.
“I’m not really a white and gray girl.”