Danish Maximalism
Vintage living room from a outdoor play.

The Complete Guide to Danish Maximalism: Bold Décor

If you were asked to visualize a Danish home, what would come to mind? Most of us associate Danes (and the Scandinavian’s in general) with minimalist design trends, defined by simple colors, minimal clutter, and an almost contemporary feel. 

But minimalism isn’t the only Danish design trends. Maximalism, essentially the opposite of minimalism, is a popular choice for Danes too. In fact, archeologists have even discovered evidence that the Vikings themselves may have preferred a “maximalist” approach to design. 

While Danish maximalism takes a “go big or go home” approach to interior design and décor (as well as fashion in some regions), it’s not exactly the same as typical maximalism. Even when making bold décor choices, the Danish still focus on practicality, functionality, and comfort. 

Let’s take a closer look at Danish maximalism, and how you can embrace it yourself!

What Is Maximalism in Interior Design?

So, what is maximalism exactly? Essentially, it’s the opposite approach to “minimalism” in the design world. Where minimalists in Scandinavia use as little furniture, color, and decoration as possible in their homes, maximalists do the opposite. 

They believe in expressing them boldly, without limitations, using as many bright colors as possible, eye-catching patterns, and eclectic art pieces. Notably, maximalism isn’t just about “excess for the sake of excess”. It’s about having fun with your décor in a way that expresses your unique personality.

It also comes in many different forms, such as the “Hollywood Glamor” style of maximalism, Art Deco design, and retro design choices. You may even be familiar with a few famous maximalist interior designers throughout the world, such as Malin Glemme, from Stockholm

Danish Maximalism

What is Danish Maximalism?

Danish Maximalism, as mentioned above, is a little different to standard “maximalism” as it focuses more on sustainability, and practicality. While you might commonly associate Danish homes with Scandinavian minimalism, the reality is minimalism is a much older trend. 

The Vikings were known for their love of color, with patterned shields and textiles appearing throughout history. What’s more, interior designers, architects, and builders in Denmark have long used elements of maximalism in their work. 

Walk down a street in Copenhagen, and you’re sure to see various brightly colored houses and buildings lining the pavement. Even through the 50s and 60s, a time known as the “golden age” of Danish design, creators like Arne Jacobsen and Finn Juhl embraced a maximalist approach. 

In recent years, the popularity of Danish maximalism has continued to grow, as local Danes and designers rise against the standard “neutral” aesthetic. Danish design houses from Lyngby, Georg Jensen, and Louis Poulsen have even begun re-releasing iconic pieces in a range of colorful shades. 

Tips for Mastering Danish Maximalism

If the concept of bold interiors and fashion appeals to you (and your personality), you might be wondering how you can embrace this trend yourself. Our number one tip for beginners, is visit Denmark yourself. There are countless beautiful Danish villages you can explore, and buildings you can visit for a touch of maximalist inspiration. 

Outside of planning a trip to Denmark, here are a few other useful tips to follow:

  1. Learn about Color Theory

You don’t necessarily need to subscribe to an online art course (like this one) to “get” Danish maximalism, but you should have a basic knowledge of color theory. While maximalism does encourage people to throw out the rule book to a certain extent, it’s still important to know which colors work well together if you want to avoid a jarring visual experience. 

Learning which “complimentary colors” work well together will help you to take advantage of a wide range of bright and bold shades, without giving yourself a headache whenever you walk through your house. If you’re struggling, you can use free online tools like Adobe Color to generate color palettes and flip through options in minutes. 

  1. Know Your Proportions

Once you have a collection of great colors to use for your “maximalist” project, it’s time to consider proportions. Generally, if you’re using three bold colors (or more), using them all in equal amounts can look jarring, and cause visual strain. After all, we don’t usually see equally proportioned colors in nature. Fortunately, there’s a great Danish maximalist strategy you can use to address this problem.

Designers swear by the 60-30-10 rule for both maximalist homes and fashion. The idea is that around 60% of your space should be one color, while 30% should be made up of another shade. Another 10% can consist of accent colors. Alongside this three-color rule, you can also use neutral shades (black and white), to help reduce visual overwhelm. 

If you’re looking for inspiration from a well-known designer, check out Finn Juhl’s house (you can walk through it virtually on the Ordrupgaard website). 

  1. Remember the Core Principles of Scandinavian Design

It’s easy to look at Danish maximalism as a complete departure from the minimalist styles we’re used to seeing in Scandinavia. However, the difference isn’t as huge as you might think. Maximalist designers and clothing creators still adhere to the fundamental principles of Scandinavian design.

That means maximalist designers and even architects still work with clean lines, functional, durable, and sustainable materials, and a focus on practicality. The idea isn’t to fill your house with clutter, but to surround yourself with colors, patterns, and objects that make you happy! With that in mind, approach your design project with a focus on careful, thoughtful curation. 

  1. Play with Patterns

There are a few key elements involved in Danish maximalism. One we’ve already mentioned is color, another is “patterns.” Patterns are huge in maximalist design, offering various ways to draw and delight the eye with a selection of colors and shapes. You can see some great examples of what we mean on the “The Apartment DK” Instagram page. 

The great thing about patterns are there are so many different ways to display them around your home. You can use wallpaper on both the walls and the ceilings to showcase your unique personality, or experiment with tapestries and art hangings. Another great option is to use ultra-comfy rugs throughout your house, with bold patterns, or patterned tiles.

  1. Experiment with Displays

Finally, since Danish maximalism is all about showcasing your personality, it’s always worth looking for ways to create unique, eye-catching displays. There are no hard and fast rules for what you should display here, although many Danes do love filling their homes with plants and flowers, and these are also a significant component of “hygge.” 

However, you can also showcase a wide range of other items, from collectible plates and glasses from your favorite designers, to photos of your family. You might even collect and showcase a range of beautiful woven tapestries or art pieces. The idea is that you shouldn’t hide anything you love away, but display all of your interests with pride.

Going All-Out with Danish Maximalism

While Danish maximalism isn’t a design trend that appeals to everyone, it’s something that’s gaining a lot of attention, both in Denmark, and around the world. Homeowners bored with the minimalistic approach to interior design can embrace maximalism as a way of showing off their unique personality and making their homes feel more unique to them. 

The key to success is taking a thoughtful approach to your design process. Don’t just think “clutter”, look for ways to elevate your home’s appearance with patterns and colors while retaining your focus on sustainability and practicality.

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