Take it to the Max
Drama queens unite! Beige is banished and bright, riotous interiors are reigning again, writes Kirstie McDermott
Not since the heady days of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's star turn on Changing Rooms have we seen the like. The addictive BBC makeover programme, sadly absent from our screens since 2004, often featured Llewelyn-Bowen's turbo-charged room schemes into which no amount of pattern, print, colour (often purple) or geegaws was too much. He once decorated a room entirely in animal print, only to be told by the irate owners that it looked like ''a tart's boudoir''. Oh, my.
So after all that clash and brash, we needed a visual lie-down, and we got it, in the form of Kelly Hoppen's muted greige and beige schemes which, it's fair to say, we adopted with gusto. Next, greige mutated into our current love of all things grey, Sandi-chic and boho minimalist - but now the bell is curving.
Maximalism is back - but not in the ruched satin Austrian blind, chintz sofa-style adoption of the 1990s. It's partly that it's time for a change, and partly political, says Patricia McGinnis from Maven, a furniture and homeware shop in Belfast. "Maximalism feels like a big warm hug - and right now, we all could probably do with a big warm hug," she says. "You only need to switch on the news to feel like the world is volatile and scary. Is it any wonder that we can take comfort that our homes are somewhere that we absolutely can control?"
To turn it up to 11 in your living room, this time around, it's a much more knowing take on go-big-or-go-home decor. Build pattern, texture, tones and curios for a layered look. Jewel and jet-toned paint shades, dramatic lighting and big, bold-hued velvet couches strewn with a clash of cushions placed in front of eclectic gallery walls are all hallmarks of the look. As is wallpaper, which is back with a vengeance - and it better be busy.
"The key is not to be half-hearted," McGinnis insists. "Whatever you decide to do, do it with conviction. If you want to use wallpaper, then paper the entire room. Want to paint the walls an amazing colour? Then paint the woodwork the same shade - and sure, why not the ceiling too?" Beware the amateur decorator's need for ''balance'' - the book-ended lamps at either side of a sofa, for example.
"You don't always have to try to match things though; be relaxed and mix patterns, colours and texture," she advises.
Surely, though, this kind of decor really only works in large, grandiose spaces where you've also got fabulous ceiling height? Actually, think again. "It's often easier to create a maximalist look in a small space as, practically speaking, you need less stuff. Dark colours in small rooms can be incredibly striking and just crank up the cosiness factor," McGinnis advises.
And if you want to give it a go as a novice drama queen? Try this first in a downstairs loo, small corridor or hallway to get the knack. McGinnis has one easy trick to make it work. "Think volume. If you have plants, consider doubling or tripling the number and you'll instantly have created a maximalist look without too much effort. Whatever it is you love, think about volume."
- Kirstie McDermott is editorial director of House and Home magazine