Minimalism vs. Maximalism: What’s the appeal?

The way a living space is decorated is something unique and sacred to each individual. However, Gen Z  seems to be shifting toward two specific styles: minimalist and maximalist.

Minimalism arose in the late 1950s and started out as an art form. Artists subscribed to a “less is more” mentality when it came to their paintings and sculptures and opted to utilize simple geometric shapes and linework instead of abstract shapes and colors. This trend caught on and eventually found its way into interior design.

A quick scroll through the apartment-tour side of TikTok will reveal that many minimalist homes look almost identical. Minimalist home decor tends to lean toward the same few colors: beige, brown, white and gray. A big appeal to minimalism is the simplicity of it. The thought is that having less clutter in your homes leads to a simple, uncomplicated state of mind and lifestyle.

Maximalism lies on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. A maximalist mindset prioritizes personality and color – maximalists want to show off all of their favorite things at once, even if they don’t necessarily match. While some might say maximalism promotes unnecessary consumerism, many of its practitioners thrift and upcycle their furniture and art, in an effort to be more sustainable.

A group of Otters living in Promontory at California State University, Monterey Bay believe they live in the “most maximalist of any housing unit across campus,” according to third-year Kiely Combs. 

“We honestly just started collecting pieces not really caring how they fit in with everything else…We wanted a space that we would all enjoy and other people would enjoy and honestly get a good laugh out of, ” said Combs. 

Combs and her two roommates have been collecting art pieces and decor from the Goodwill bins, Facebook Marketplace and even making their own art. 

“We didn’t want our apartment to look like a prison cell, especially since we spend so much time in it. We don’t get many guests so everyone who does come over needs to know that we’re cool,” said third-year Ashley Rawlins. 

Combs, Rawlins and their roommate Celeste Barahona began collecting colorful art pieces without knowing what maximalism was. Once they heard the term, they realized that was the vibe they wanted to achieve in their apartment.

“We need some personality in the place we’re going to be spending a lot of time in,” said Barahona, a third-year visual and public art major, who made some of the artwork on display in the unit.

Combs, Rawlins and Barahona believe “your space should be a safe space for you and somewhere that reflects your style,” according to Combs. This definitely comes through in their apartment. It is full of color, personality and fun – the epitome of maximalism.

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