There’s a name for this…
I never knew there was a name for my aesthetic until my sister (an interior designer) said to me once, “You’re such a gothic maximalist.”
I had never heard the term maximalist. Minimalist? Yes, all the time. It’s all the rage these days. But I suppose much like most extroverts assume introverts are just one social event from being converted (we’re not), I think mainstream designers assume everyone is a minimalist. Hint: we’re not.
I can never find what I like in big box stores, mostly because big box stores focus on what’s trendy and… beige. And well, I’m neither trendy nor beige. In fact, the whole paint-everything-white-and-add-some-macrame-and-a-touch-of-terracotta trend makes me want to die inside just a little bit. Give me Phantom of the Opera drama with a touch of Scarlett O’Hara pretentiousness and you’ve got my personal style.
If it’s old, I love it. If it’s gilded, I’ll probably buy it. If it’s rusty and dirty, don’t you dare try to clean it off. Thrift stores and junk-tique shops are my favorite places on the planet. I’d so much rather buy something with a story than something mass-produced in China that 75 of my not-so-close friends also own. (No offense if that’s your style. It is just very much not mine.)
Enter Gothic Maximalism
Once I had a phrase to describe my style, I found a whole world of people like me on Pinterest. A few hashtag follows on Instagram later and I realized I’m not alone. Not by a mile.
So I thought I’d take the time to share with you all some of the maximalist projects I have going in my own home. I hope it inspires you to pick up a paintbrush and just go for it. Nothing gives me more artistic satisfaction than making my house my own. I think it’s because unlike my paintings or my books or my music, I can live within my art every moment in my house. Like walking onto a movie set or being transported through a Narnian wardrobe.
So here’s my first Gothic Maximalist glow-up: my bathroom.
A Maximalist Bathroom “Wallpaper”
Perusing the catacombs of Pinterest, I found a wallpaper that I fell in love with for sale on Etsy. But when I priced it out at nearly $500 per roll, I realized it was too far outside of my price range. Never mind that the DIYer in me can’t stand the idea of not making my own version of something.
So I literally pulled out a leftover can of black paint from my living room, along with my box of very old acrylic paints, pulled everything down except the light fixtures, and went to town.
The results thrilled me so much I’ve made about sixteen other mural project plans for my house.
Now if only I can find the time to paint them!
One question I get asked a lot about this project is how I was able to keep the pattern consistent. The truth is, if you look closely you’ll see the pattern isn’t perfect. But the way I was able to paint it with any sort of consistency was one element at a time. So I started with the ferns, placing them in a pattern that seemed like the right distance. (This was all off the cuff, believe me.) I just added each new element from there, one at a time, changing scale as I went. I think what makes this aesthetic work is that the elements are different sizes and textures, not to mention colors.
Another trick I used is to dip my brush into more than one color at a time. This gave each element more dimension and interest. The end result is a whimsical, dark, and slightly gothic “wallpaper” that I’m in love with.
Side note: I was worried that my oil-rubbed bronze fixtures wouldn’t work with the black. But they’re new (the house is new), so it feels extremely wasteful to change them out. Thankfully, it doesn’t look bad at all. And the bronze is much more timeless than black would be anyway. One day I may change them out for gold, but for now, I don’t mind the bronze at all!
I hope this inspires you!
Onto the next project…