Maximalist Vs. Minimalist: A Conversation with Designer Kathy Anderson

There is no place like a home that functions for you on every level.  Does your current interior design reflect you and the way you want to live? Do you prefer simple lines and a monochromatic color scheme, following the minimalism trend? Or do you prefer something more bold, bright and colorful, leaning toward a maximalist approach?  Kathy Anderson, founder and principal designer of Eklektik Interiors, takes a very personal and customized approach to her designs.  She believes there is room for both minimalist and maximalist persuasions in a home, and she is a master at blending the lines between styles.

Minimalism:

“Great design can be lost with all of the ‘stuff’ we surround ourselves with,” Anderson explains.  Minimalism is focused on what is absolute in terms of need and function.  It simplifies your life and your home by eliminating the unnecessary visual noise and highlighting a few great pieces. “When a space is beautifully designed and curated,” Anderson says, “less can definitely be more.”

Her favorite part of incorporating minimalism:  Helping clients go thru their belongings and simplifying their lives by keeping only those items that really mean something. Thoughtful curation tells a meaningful story.

Her favorite space for minimalist design:  I prefer a minimalist approach in personal and intimate spaces. I think that is important because everyone needs a place to retreat to find solace and comfort from the hectic world that we live in.

Maximalism:

“Modern Maximalism is more about personalization than perfection,” says Anderson. Maximalism is comfortable and livable without being messy or random.  There is an art to it.  It is dramatic, colorful, and outside the box, but is not cluttered, garish, or overly done.  A lot of books, art, accessories, fabrics, and textures can be displayed with purpose and thought in a personalized style that is dramatic and fun. “That’s the great thing about design,” says Anderson. “Rules are made to be broken but with careful consideration. There can be a fine line between fabulous and frightful.”

Her favorite part of incorporating maximalism:  Solidifying the space with rich color for a dramatic background to pop the bright colors, textures, and collectibles.

Her favorite space for maximalist design:  Living spaces, a study, or a home bar are fun places to add color and showcase curated collections.  These spaces can function for gathering and spending time with family and friends, while also telling a client’s unique story.

The most important part of Anderson’s job is highlighting the function of a space and aligning it with the lifestyle of each client. “That is what I love about what I do,” says Anderson,  “every engagement is different because every client is different. They are each unique in how they live, what makes them tick, and what brings them joy.” Whether a client prefers a minimalist or maximalist approach or a combination of both, Anderson strives to satisfy each client’s needs so their homes enrich their lives.

The Importance of Home: What 2020 has Helped us Discover in Home Design

Reflecting on all that we have faced with the beginning of a new decade, a pandemic, a presidential election, social unrest, and natural disasters, one thing keeps coming into focus: the importance of home. 2020 indeed has had its share of challenges, but because of those challenges, we have all had the opportunity to reprioritize and discover what is truly essential in our lives.  When the pandemic hit and we all stayed home, our thoughts focused very quickly to what the word ‘home’ meant to each of us personally.

Home has taken on new importance as it literally has become our place of refuge, safety, and peace, and with this focus has come new trends in home design.  As our homes quickly became our everything, it has also become very important to have more defined spaces for family gathering, personal renewal, work, and entertaining. Looking into 2021,  here are some of the home design trends that we are seeing as a result of living through 2020.

Kitchen:

Homes are really all about the kitchen.  It is where life centers.  A custom kitchen, designed to cater to the way you cook, eat, and gather, will add value to your home and your life.  Because the kitchen has become the hub of social activity even more, we’ve seen a continued trend in open floorplan kitchen renovations, which include many amenities such as islands, multiple sinks, larger refrigerators, and other customized appliances.  Beautiful countertops, fabulous hardware, and an exquisite lighting plan are also priorities in the kitchen. With a new warmth and comfort associated with these trends, the kitchen becomes a pseudo second family room.

Kitchen Favorite:  Natural stone countertops and walls create a beautiful focal point.  Quartzite is a fabulous option for natural materials. There are also some amazing porcelains on the market that are not only beautiful but are a ‘work horse.’  I, personally, am not a fan of marble in the kitchen. I know there is a lot of debate on this, and yes, marble is absolutely gorgeous and yes, it will patina over time, but typically, a LONG time. There is a big maintenance issue and if your kitchen is just for ‘show’, then go for it. But if you really live in your kitchen, I would suggest other products that perform much better and are easier to live with.

Bathroom:

With the stress and chaos that we all live with, a resurgence of creating a space to renew and relax is essential for self-care.  Bathrooms are an interesting space to design because they are so private.  This allows for a lot of creativity in the aesthetics.  A well-planned bathroom, catered to the way each client personally finds ways to renew and refresh, can serve as a spa-like retreat.  Statement slabs in the shower, mixed with different tiles and textures and plumbing finishes, can bring an elegance that creates a peaceful haven to start and end your day.

Bathroom Favorite:  Having a beautiful, comfortable bathtub available creates space for effortless relaxation that is not replicated by any other home amenity.

Home Office:

As the majority of the workforce moved home this spring, spaces that had served other purposes, were quickly transformed into home offices.  We are seeing a trend now to design these work from home spaces to be organized, functional, and also fun, as you add personality to the space you spend so much time in.  2020 has given us all the gift of time at home to analyze your life, goals, and what you are ultimately wanting for your own personal space. Office spaces tend to be a catch-all and sometimes chaotic.  Letting go of “things” and holding onto just a few statement pieces that you love can give you a sense of purpose and freedom as your home meets every need you have. Simplify your life and your home. You will be happier for it.

Home Office Favorite: Layered lighting is functional and fabulous.  Lighting is so important in an office space.  Window and lighting placement make a huge difference in the look, feel, and usability of a space.  Including a designer as early as possible in the construction or renovation planning process is highly recommended, as the details decided in the earliest phases of design determine the final aesthetic and functional feel of a space.

Home Bar Area:

When remodeling, more homeowners are wanting to incorporate a bar area into their home. With the trend of entertaining at home becoming more commonplace, along with the recent “stay at home” mandates around the globe, specialty spaces in the home set aside for entertaining have been utilized more than ever. Whether that is a wine storage space, a bar or beverage serving area, or a full-on lounge, the typical homeowner is looking to have that special place in their home to “belly up to the bar!”

Interior designers love this trend in home design because it offers an opportunity to utilize significant spaces for practical needs, while also offering the chance to create an unexpected and exciting focal point. A beverage serving area can add beauty and function to your home and can be utilized not only for intimate personal or family time but for entertaining clients or friends.

Bar Area Favorite: Creative storage options can add visual interest to the space.  A flashy or exotic backsplash is usually a good place to start. Shelves that hold liquor or beautiful wine racks add to the decor, while below the counter cabinets can hide various bar tools and appliances to keep the area uncluttered. Storing glasses is best when in a closed cabinet and even better if that door has glass and lighting on the inside for drama.

Looking ahead:  Even as we hope life will soon return to ‘normal,’ we can be grateful for what we have gained this year in wisdom as we have refocused our priorities.  Here is to looking forward to 2021, and to holding on to this new-found focus, hoping it will remain as we take more time to savor every aspect of life at home.

How Italy Taught Me to Refute Throw Away Culture

Before my last year of college, I had the opportunity to spend my summer studying abroad in Florence, Italy. I was more than excited to spend the summer in my dream locale, but little did I know I would be experiencing a culture that would help shape my style as a designer. I had studied most of the famously historic architecture that the country had to offer, but being able to see the structures in person, walk through them, be surrounded by them, and touch their walls, brought a whole new sense of meaning to my thoughts on design. It wasn’t just the famous buildings, like the Duomo and Palazzos, that changed my perspective, but the buildings I saw everyday as I walked through the narrow city streets. The centuries old buildings that are now being used as apartments, restaurants, schools, and shops were what really opened my eyes to a different way of living.

Shops and restaurants
Shops and restaurants are found below apartments with original architecture.

In America we currently exist in a “throw away” culture, meaning most things we use everyday are not meant to last. We are so accustomed to throwing something away when it has served its purpose or when the next new shiny thing on the market has come along. It’s not just iPhones and material objects that we upgrade every few years but also things that are meant to last, like cars, houses, and buildings. The reason for this is partially due to the lack of quality in the initial construction of these things, but it is also because of our mindset of wanting everything to be new and representative of the current year. This “throw away” culture has allowed for many buildings and homes to be torn down, only to be replaced by new and modern designs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for modern design and function, but I don’t appreciate how our society views older things as useless and ugly. In the design industry we should be striving to create things that will not only be functional, but will also stand strong to stand the test of time.

The Duomo
The Duomo was undergoing construction during my time in Florence. It undergoes regular maintenance to keep the exterior looking as it originally did the 1400s.

When talking about “throw away” culture, Italians couldn’t be any more opposite. They built with a purpose of creating lasting architecture and they’ve clearly succeeded. Construction on the Florence Cathedral and Duomo began in 1296 and wasn’t completed until 1436. The architects and workers took plenty of time to have the structure completed in a way that would last centuries, which it has. The building that my school resided in was converted from a centuries old apartment style home. Even the basement apartment that I lived in was from the early 1900’s and had been recently updated. Despite the updates being made on these types of apartment buildings, the original architecture and style is still able to shine through. Italians celebrate their history and the architecture that goes along with it. They are constantly surrounded by their heritage through the buildings they work, dine, and live in. This is the type of culture that inspires me when I look at designing for our clients, specifically with remodels.

We do a lot of remodels here at Eklektik, and we get clients who either want to totally gut the space and start new or ones who want to keep existing elements of the home. More often than not though, they are on the side of totally gutting the space. I would like to inspire our clients to think about what aspects of their home originally drew them towards purchasing it—which elements they fell in love with. Then it’s our job to figure out how to incorporate those existing elements into the new design. Even if it’s something as simple as the existing molding or built in shelving, these elements can maintain the original charm that the home has to offer.

Historic architecture and charm
A beautiful example of a modern apartment home with historic architecture and charm.

We also do plenty of new construction at Eklektik, where we work with builders and/or a client from the ground up. In these instances we can utilize this same idea of refuting throw away culture, by building with a purpose to last. This means we need to design with the future in mind. What current trends will still work in the years to come? What materials will last for years without needing to be replaced or upgraded? These are the questions we consider when designing new builds.

This idea of refuting throw away culture won’t be accepted by everyone, but we can progress the movement by encouraging homeowners to preserve some of the initial design brought to life by the original architects and by designing and building quality, lasting structures. I’m thankful for my experience in Italy and how it opened my eyes to a new culture with new ways of thinking and living. Specifically how it taught me to appreciate the care and detail that goes into creating beautiful lasting architecture. One day I hope to own a home that has been thoughtfully designed, with unique characteristics of the time in which it was built, but that allows me to meld in my own style seamlessly.

5 Tips to Achieving Timeless Design

Striving for timeless design is most homeowners ultimate goal because it allows for years of adaptability. Timeless design also protects your investment, ensuring your home maintains a great look despite the change in season, style, or years. Follow these five tips, and you will be on your way to a well designed home with enduring appeal.

1. Good Bones

Make sure your floorplan is solid. Invest time envisioning yourself in the space and making the correct accommodations to your specific needs.  If you have a layout that flows nicely from one space to another and is well thought out – you won’t ever feel the need to move walls down the road.

2. Quality Flooring

Invest in high quality flooring that isn’t trendy especially in your main living spaces. You can always have some fun in smaller spaces such as powder or laundry rooms.

3. Staple Furniture Pieces

We always encourage our clients to splurge on the main sofa/sectional. Usually they hesitate due to cost, but we know that if they invest in a good, well-made piece, it will last them years and they will be pleased with their purchase. Quality is something that should never be compromised in high use items.

4. Know the Difference: Timeless vs. Trendy

Usually, it’s easy to spot whether something is trendy or not. If you see it in every magazine and all over Pinterest, chances of a style being trendy are high. You may love the farmhouse look of white subway tile and shiplap right now, but will you like it in five years? If you want something that is the current fashion, choose to use it in a space that is easy and affordable to update.

5. Keep Design Fresh

  • Paint: Simple, affordable updates like paint go a long way. If you feel like you are stuck and just need to freshen up – then painting your space is the answer! Wanting a more open feel? Pick a light color. Wanting a more bold change? Go dark. Maybe start with an accent wall and see how you like it.
  • Accessorize: Use and rotate your staple pieces like memorabilia from travels or generational passed down décor and mix them with new pieces. Don’t be afraid to use what you already have and add in new, fun pieces. Those are the best combinations.
  • Pillows: You can always make your sofa look more up to date by switching your pillows and throws—a very easy fix that won’t leave you broke.
  • Wallpaper: Wallpaper options have definitely outgrown our grandma’s homes. If you feel like going the extra mile when changing up a wall, definitely look into adding some fun wallpaper. It will make everyone who walks into your space do all the ooohs and ahhhs.