Abigail Ahern's brain-tricking technique will make your small room feel larger

This is how to use maximalism as a size-enhancing tool, from the undisputed master of eclectic design

Gold and brown wallpaper with golden accessorises
(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Maximalist advocate Abigail Ahern is an ambassador of daring deep hues and decor pieces – but how would this style look in your home? 

When planning modern home decor ideas in a small space, maximalist interiors can feel like a bold move. Will it overwhelm your space? Or make the room feel cluttered? Not according to Abigail. 

Instead, the designer explained that maximalism will not only work in a small space – but it will accentuate it and trick your brain into believing the area is bigger. In an interview with Livingetc, Abigail revealed what you need to know about the maximalist mind game – and why moody decor is a small home's best asset. 

Abigail Ahern for Freemans

Abigail Ahern for Freemans

(Image credit: Abigail Ahern for Freemans)

'In small spaces, it's even more important [to embrace maximalism] because if you don't put a lot of things in them, then you walk in, and the eye automatically sees them as small. Whereas, if you put more things in them, your eye doesn't know where to look first,' Abigail explains. 

The designer continues, in the discussion of home decor ideas: 'Rather than your brain thinking 'this is a small room,' your brain says 'this is a cool room' so you're not really thinking about how bijou the room is. You're thinking about how beautiful the room is, and the smallness doesn't come into it.'

Blue wallpaper with maximalist design

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

One way to ensure your room showcases maximalism without looking too overwhelmed is to create a 'harmonious' flow by combining tones that work effortlessly together. If your colors do not clash, your space will maintain its style whilst embracing maximalism, whatever the size. 

'That means the home doesn't feel jumbled or too eclectic but super sophisticated and really harmonious,' Abigail says. 

'The more you put in a small space, the more you trick your eye and the brain, and it doesn't even register that it's small. It just registers that it's cool. It's really subconscious. You walk into a room filled with a lot of beautiful things, and the first thing the brain thinks is: this is cool.' 

Abigail Ahern

(Image credit: Secret Linen Store x Abigail Ahern)

An example of harmonious maximalism is seen through Abigail's collection with Freemans that launches on October 21. The collection features a selection of moody maximalist decor that is at the center of our modern living room ideas. We thank you, Abigail. 

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc's Homes titles. She has a background in national newspapers in the UK and has experience in fashion and travel journalism, which she previously practised whilst living in Paris and New York City. Her adoration for these fashion capitals means she particularly loves writing about contemporary styles and trends for Livingetc.