C’mon get happy!

Living Space by Dani Dazey

When it comes to interior design, there’s a good chance you fall into one of two schools of thought: Sleek, pared-back minimalism or unapologetic maximalism. In the never-ending debate of less versus more, it seems like maximalism is having its moment as the design philosophy du jour. But, if you want to kick your boldness up a couple of notches, have you thought about infusing some dopamine decor? Unlike maximalism—which celebrates the use of bright colors, bold patterns, and lots of texture—dopamine decor offers more nuance by tapping into what makes you happy. 

“What I like about ‘dopamine decorating’ is that it allows the dweller’s emotions and feelings to lead the room,” explains Bay Area-based designer Noz Nozawa. “Anything goes: As long as it lifts your spirits and gives you big feelings, it has a home in your space.”

Kitchen by Dabito
Design: Dabito


Dopamine decor might be all the rage—a quick search on Instagram will yield over 30,000 colorful results, but its origins are up for debate. While Los Angeles designer Dabito points to the end of the pandemic—like “revenge dressing” for your home—other pros sense a seismic shift in caring about outside opinions. 

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“Honestly, I hope the reason why dopamine decor is having a moment is that we are all getting a little more fearless when it comes to defying the ‘shoulds’ in design,” Nozawa adds. “The rise of this trend is almost like permission for more timid decorators to really say yes to what they personally love, without the end result looking too specifically like an inspirational image.”

Shelving by Dani Dazey
Design: Dani Dazey


However, regardless of its beginnings, maximalist designers agree that dopamine decor is here to stay. “Trends come and go, but at its core, dopamine design is about tailoring a space to you,” says Los Angeles designer Dani Dazey.

So, how does one bring dopamine decor into their digs? For some designers, it all starts with the right palette. “Color plays an important role in jogging your memories and making you feel good in your space,” explains Dabito, who talks all about Roy G. Biv in his book, Old Brand New: Colorful Homes From Maximal Living. “Begin with a memory and let that guide you in creating a space around that color story.”

Brights and boldness are encouraged, so consider this your sign to bid boring whites and safe neutral adieu. In its place, play with colors that match the overall vibe you want to create. For example, even the brightest blues can create a calming environment, while fiery reds and oranges can command attention. Or, if you simply cannot decide, why not go for every color in the rainbow?

Bedroom by Dani Dazey
Design: Dani Dazey


From there, you’ll want to fill your space with pieces you love: Dazey favors wallpaper and cool rugs while Nozawa has a soft spot for faces. “I love them in paintings, in sculptures, and on vases,” she muses. “Displaying my collection of things with faces is total dopamine decor—and that idea could inspire someone with a collection of chicken pottery or someone else who has been thinking of hanging a gallery wall of vintage dog portraits.”

Maximalism might encourage you to let one statement-making piece take center stage, but the beauty of dopamine decor is that you can mix, match, and layer pieces to your heart’s content. With the sky (or, well, the ceiling) as the limit, dopamine decor has one simple rule: Do whatever makes you happy.

“Sometimes, people can be too set on or influenced by someone else’s style and fully emulate that instead of making it their own,” Dazey says. “That’s when it veers into trend territory inserted into a space that celebrates your personality and self-expression.” At the end of the day, your home is your happy place and the only person that needs to love it is… well, you. Now isn’t that something to smile about?

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