How to Decorate Your Small House (Part 1): The Maximalist Way!

9 min read

This is Part 1 of our series on How to Decorate Your Small House — Lessons from Real Indian Homes.

Exciting news! Today, we begin a short series on decorating your small apartment — inspired by real homes.

There are two reasons why we decided to do this:

  1. The majority of us actually live in small apartments that we dearly love but have no idea how to make the most of. (And many of you have sent us questions regarding the same on social media.)
  2. Examples from real homes are the most relatable. To see how someone else aced what you’re wondering would work or not for your home gives you the push to experiment.

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So, let’s begin with Juhi Chitra’s Delhi-based work studio-cum-home, which aces the maximalist home decor style in a most cheerful and beautiful manner.

All photographs are by Palak Mittal Photography

Left: Juhi’s workspace. Right: Juhi Chitra.

But before that, let’s talk about maximalism a little.

Maximalism is based on the idea that more is more. It’s all about using lots of patterns, textures, items, colours and styles. There is no rule in this decor style, except that your space shouldn’t look cluttered but should tie itself together effortlessly.

But how do you avoid chaos in maximalism?

Through intent. And purpose. Know what you like (or love) and use a lot of that. The idea is not to pull out whatever lies in your decor closet and throw them all out into your home. Throw only what you love and what defines you. Another key factor is creating a sense of balance through textures and patterns.

To know more about this style, read our post on Maximalist Decor Tips.

Coming back to Juhi’s boho chic, maximalist pad…

maximalist interior design in a small apartment
The work studio-cum-living room in one glance.

Juhi, an independent product designer, and a calligrapher who founded The Scratchy Nib, moved into this 1BHK a couple of years ago. While the home has gradually evolved over the years, this is the shape it has come to take in present times.

But maximalism in a tiny space? Isn’t that contradictory, you wonder? Not really, if you’re slightly careful and strategic about your decor.

So, let’s show you how Juhi decorated her small pad the maximalist way and how you too can imbibe elements.

1. Play with Colours & Textures

red sofa in living room
This lovely sofa-cum-bed is a great space-saving piece of furniture for small homes and apartments.

What Juhi did: There are tons of colours in Juhi’s home but they all come together beautifully. And that’s because while some take centrestage, others play their own little parts. There’s the bold red of the couch (above), mustard of the throw on the chair (below), green from the plants and indigo from the curtains. But when you look closer, there’s also a lot of brown from the wood, pops of pink, blue and green from the patterned cushions on the couch and from the pots and planters, lighter colours from the rugs and the wall art, and so on and so forth.

work station at home
Juhi’s work table is turned into a serving station whenever she has guests over for dinner.

What you can do: Don’t be afraid of colour for that is the foundation of a maximalist home. Indulge in complementary colours! Having said that, the best approach is to not pick your colours first but pick your furnishings, textures and accents. Let the colours flow in effortlessly thereafter. Go for a palette of bold and not-so-bold colours. Or bright and not-so-bright colours — this will help create a harmonious effect.

Choose bold sofas or accent chairs to act as focal points. Paint your walls a bold colour or leave them white but cover them with art that adds colour to the scheme.

2. Showcase a Collection Or What You Love

home work station
The work area is surrounded by artwork, books, plants, stationery and all the things that Juhi loves.

What Juhi did: Being a calligrapher and a stationary aficionado, Juhi has hoarded hundreds of pretty little things from around the world. There are stamps, ink bottles, pen stands, washi tapes and the likes. All these haven’t been stored in boxes but are out on display (and for use!) on floor shelves, wall shelves, pin boards etc. And it’s not just her stationary treasure — her designs, doodles, lettering, books (all the things that she loves) have been displayed well.

What you can do: Is there something that defines you? Put that out on display! If you collect animal-shaped decor objects, use them! If you’re a nature lover, decorate with botanical-printed cushion covers, rugs, art prints or whatever reflects your passion. If you’re a ceramic enthusiast, bring out your treasured collection.

Choose open shelving and interesting shelves to display your beloved collection. For instance, the vertical shelf shown below — an UrbanLadder find — adds to the decor. You could also try small side tables, box crates, floating shelves etc.

shelf ideas for small homes and apartments
This storage-cum-display shelf is another space-saving idea for small spaces.

3. Layer Lots & Lots of Rugs

What Juhi did: Layers upon layers! In maximalism, it’s all about going for vibrant patterns and prints. But you can also create a patchwork of overlapping rugs, dhurries and carpets for a cool, bohemian vibe. That’s the way to go — at least for Juhi. In her own words: “I just love rugs. And if I had my own way, I wouldn’t have a single corner of my house not covered with rugs.”

What you can do: It doesn’t matter what prints are on your rug. Just go with what connects with you and what you love. Layer them and let the different textures render a welcoming warmth in your house. You can pick your rugs from flea markets, high-end stores, online, wherever you please.

4. Play with Plants

What Juhi did: Juhi’s little space is filled with foliage. There are tall plants on the floor, some in containers on the table, some on the shelves. “I like the green and I like it all over my house. I prefer bigger plants over succulents,” she says.

indoor plants for homes
Juhi has used levels to display her greens.

What you can do: Bunch up plants in a corner of your house and create a nice vignette. Try large plants like philodendron, areca palm, fiddle leaf fig tree etc. Fill up empty corners with different kinds of plants — plants can never make a space seem cluttered. On the contrary, they make it look cosy and welcoming.

5. Create Wall(s) of Art

gallery wall
This wall comprises of artwork collected from Japan, Europe and Kerala, among other places, and framed from a local shop in Safdarjung, Delhi.

What Juhi did: Usually people go for just one accent wall and go all out decorating it. But there’s no such rule in Juhi’s home. She loves art, and whether these are actual prints, or postcards from her travels, or quirky book or magazine covers, they’re all perfect participants for the walls in her house! So, while on one wall, you can see all of these framed in different colours and displayed well, the other wall showcases botanicals that Juhi has printed out herself along with some of her own work.

gallery wall for small home
Juhi picked up the chair from a local market in Delhi while the botanical prints were found online, printed and then framed.

What you can do: Remember that there is no rule regarding how much is too much for your walls. Just make sure that whatever goes up is what you love and that you have it spaced out properly and uniformly. Apart from that, you can go for different coloured frames, different sizes of artwork, and different themes or subjects.

So, did you love Juhi’s little home? Is the myth that maximalism and small spaces don’t click busted in your head? It certainly is in ours!

Here’s a resource list on where some of the items are from:

  • Table, Red Sofa-Cum-Bed, Vertical Shelf : UrbanLadder
  • Rugs: Delhi Haat, Fab Furnish, Decor Fairs and street finds.
  • Throws: HomeStop
  • Curtain fabric: Amazon
  • Planters: Street-side markets in Saket, Delhi
  • Shelves: Amazon and Pepperfry

Stay tuned for our next home soon! We bet you won’t be disappointed!

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