yay maximalism!

There are soooo many minimalist blogs. Have white walls! Have a capsule wardrobe! Declutter! Have a uniform! Scan your important documents and get rid of everything!

I heard the siren song. Boy, did I hear it. I rushed to Goodwill with overflowing bags like I was purging the evil from my dark, dark soul.

There was only one problem.

I’m not a minimalist.

I’M A MAXIMALIST! I love bright colors and tons of chintzy vintage bracelets and layers of scarves and posters on top of wallpaper on top of a collage. Once I read that a style blogger (Arabelle Sicardi? Tavi?) liked to sleep in her closet on a huge pile of clothes and was like Mmm, word. Sounds awesome. Grey Gardens is rad. OK, hoarders kind of make me anxious, but maximalism itself deserves better than the bad rap it gets. HERE IS WHY.

1. Simplicity is boring.

Yes, it’s peaceful. Yes, sometimes it quiets my panicky mind. But it’s just plain unimaginative. ANYone can live in an all-white room with like 3 things in it. It’s called being poor (or a college student). Even having a “carefully curated” room with, say, 7 things in it (instead of 3) still puts me to sleep. There’s no mystery. There’s nothing to discover. Maximalism is a treasure chest full of excitement! Messiness means the joy of discovery, down the line, of that cool thing hiding behind the sofa.


2. Maximalism lowers the stakes.

If you only have one pair of shoes, by gawd, they better be the best pair ever. If you only have one picture on your wall, it better encapsulate your ENTIRE STYLE PHILOSOPHY. If you only wear black shirts, they better be amazing gosh darn eco-friendly no-wrinkle black shirts.

See where I’m going?

Whereas if you pile on a bunch of necklaces or mismatch your shoes or wear three different shirts on top of each other, it’s OK if they’re raggedy or weird because the whole is more than the sum of its parts. You can be messy and create something fun and strange and interesting, rather than having it be the end of the world if there’s a hole in your only pair of jeans. More of anything means there’s less pressure on one thing to be perfect. That’s why bigamy works so well. (Kidding.)

3. Stuff is comforting.

This is one of the chief criticisms of maximalism, or perks of minimalism, not sure which: rapid consumption is bad. Materialism is bad. Instead of trying to fill “the emptiness of your meaningless, consumer-driven life” (to borrow a phrase from 10 Things I Hate About You), you should ostensibly get rid of stuff, thus achieving a zenlike state of contentment, detachment, and simplicity. Beloved family heirlooms? Take a picture and then give them away!

But that’s the thing…I’d rather cuddle with my childhood stuffed elephant than a picture of it (pictures are not very squishy). I’d rather savor a slice of cake on the gold-rimmed butterfly plate my mom loved than have a photo of it in a box somewhere. Using pretty things brings me joy. Some of us are tactile, sensual (shudder) people; we like smelling old books and touching old letters. You have to admit, digitizing everything can feel kind of soulless. Yes, my mom’s old clothes take up space in my bedroom. But smell is one of the most powerful links to memory, so I love trying to sniff out any last whiff of her old laundry soap. Or feeling the softness of an old sweater. Call me a corny nostalgic cheeseball, but it’s true! Things have meaning!


4. Two words: organized chaos.

“My minimalist home is so clean, it’s so easy to find everything!” To me, that ends up more like, “It’s so clean and tidy, I have no idea where anything is!”

Being a compulsive pile-maker, I daresay most of us have a method to our madness. You need that doctor’s form? It’s in the second-to-last pile on the couch under the bag of lime chips. My knitting? It’s on top of the green purse in my bedroom. To a total stranger, it might look like a hurricane hit my place, but more often than not, I know exactly where things are. And if I don’t, well, they can’t be that important, can they?

5. Collections are fun.

I don’t know the psychology behind collecting things, but there’s something satisfying about working on a collection. (That beanie baby craze wasn’t just about possibly making money in 10 years.) Adding to your collection…watching it grow…I dunno. For the longest time, I resisted buying books because a) THE LIBRARY and b) books are HEAVY. Now I realize I love it when people have tons of books. I want to be one of those people.

OK, maybe this can be reduced to “Buying shit releases endorphins in your brain!” or “Buying books is aspirational and you just wanna look like a smarty!” but there it is. Whether it’s a shoe collection that rivals Carrie Bradshaw’s or my grandma’s collection of semi-creepy porcelain angels, we get some psychological goodies from collecting things. Even if on the most base level, we’re just surrounding ourselves with more crap. (I didn’t say there was anything morally pure about it.)

So there you have it. Back to wading through my knee-high sea of disembodied doll parts.

Note: No offense to my dear friend Kelly, who has an awesome curio cabinet and book collection in addition to white walls and a minimalist space. I LOVE YOU, KELLY!




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  1. We must be hard wired in this way. I really really want to effortlessly hang more stuff on my walls to make my rooms more cozy and personalized and it causes me a lot of anxiety. I endeavor to reach somewhere in the middle: a “just rightist?” It’s helpful to to read the other perspective and I also want to sleep on a pile of my clothes in the closet! 🙂 Maybe you maximalists are just better at expressing your personal sense of design versus limiting to book or curiosity collections. 🙂 Fun post!

  2. I’ve been researching lots of blogs about Maximalism the last few days after finally finding the word that sums me up. I’ve realised (and become satisfied) that I am NOT destined to be a white wall, sleek sofa, 1 ornament person. I WILL display my family heirlooms, grandmothers old hot water bottle, and collections of collections with pride.
    Your writing style was thoroughly enjoyable and made me smile a number of times about many things I could relate to.
    Let’s hear it for more tactile, sensual (!) maximalists out there!! 🙂