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Maximalism and Sustainability Can Exist Together

In this new age of minimalism, there’s less of an appreciation for maximalist design, but I think that maximalism should return to the mainstream. Maximalist design looks like a sign of character and personality in a room, on a poster, or even on a notebook cover. It’s always something that I enjoy looking at and want to partake in moving forward, in a sustainable way, of course.

Interior design and room decor were not something I really cared about until moving into my first college dorm this year. At home, I shared a room with my sibling and didn’t spend much of my time in the room anyway; I spent more time in shared living spaces, so I had no interest in actively decorating my side of the bedroom. However, now that I am spending the majority of my time in my dorm, I wanted to make sure that it looked interesting and something I wanted to stare at for hours on end.


Calm environment with desk set up for studying
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic from Unsplash

Seeing room decor inspiration posts on Pinterest and room tour videos on Instagram and TikTok made me appreciate a more maximalist design. The look with art and posters that span the entire wall from ceiling to floor, house plants galore, and little knick-knacks on any surface are such an attractive way to decorate a space. Every time I see posts like that, I think back to others where the room is purposefully the essentials with only a decoration or two to spruce up the space. While that white space may look more aesthetically pleasing and clean to others, it never had the same amount of personality as a room with your favorite colors and design elements.

With sustainability in mind, it may seem like the minimalist approach is the best way to go about it because you aren’t accumulating extra items, there’s less waste, and you are more likely investing in more expensive pieces that last a long time. While that is a good approach, especially for promoting less consumerism, it’s just not as exciting in my eyes.


craft supplies on blue table
Photo by Joe Szczepanska from Unsplash

There can be maximalist design while still looking out for the environment. DIY projects and tutorials will always be around, and most of the time, these craft decorations can be made out of existing household items. I always think of the so-called “indie kid” bedrooms with art displayed on the walls, plants hanging from the ceiling, colorful rugs, and funky textures to bring it all together. At the basics of it, that can easily be achieved with some scrap paper, a pen, and some artistic drive (which is different from any special talent). Aside from room decor, specifically, if you have the means to, it isn’t necessary to have only the essential clothing items. If you want to add more items to your wardrobe, purchasing them second hand or reworking old pieces into something spunky and new is both sustainable and usually has less of a financial burden than buying something brand new.

Like most things in the world, there is a financial privilege to both a minimalist or maximalist design and lifestyle because you most likely have the means to do either one. The same applies to sustainability and being able to afford quality decor or clothing that’ll last forever because they are usually more expensive than a generic brand at a superstore. Buying items second-hand at thrift stores or online is a great remedy for this. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is a point when maximalism can become hoarding or extreme materialism, but the intention with your purchases is what sets them apart. The intention to freshen up your room is much different than buying just to have it.

If your room feels a little bland and too minimalist, I hope this inspires you to go out and buy some second-hand decorations or make your own to create a space that is both reflective of your personality and sustainable at the same time.

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Madison is studying journalism and international relations at BU. She's from Washington state, loves drinking tea, and watching Marvel movies. Check out her portfolio and blog at https://dontmakelies.com
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