Maximalist Maria Bartholdi explains how she puts her hobbies at the front and center of her designs

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Maria Bartholdi won’t admit that she has her great-great-great uncle Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s eye for design, even though it’s clear she does.

Bartholdi’s style in her south Minneapolis home splashes with bright and bold colors, embodying that same feeling of fearlessness that emanates from her ancestor’s greatest piece — the Statue of Liberty in New York. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a sculptor like him, but said she didn’t have the patience to refine her skills.

Bartholdi, a content creator best known for her podcast, “Good Luck High Five,” where she and co-host Meghan Wolff review card and board games, settled with decking out her home in a way that keeps her creative juices flowing.

In her 1920s Craftsman-style abode, bright magenta and green walls jump out over the black fireplace and dining table. Everything centers around one of her first furniture pieces: the sofa in the middle of the living room, she explained.

“It all started with the green chartreuse couch and it exploded from there,” Bartholdi said. “Once you start going, everything falls into place over time. I think it all just builds into itself if you have the right vibe.”

All about that base

That couch inspired her to paint the living room walls green and then the dining room an opposite hue on the color wheel — magenta. Doing that ensured the two rooms flowed together.

“You’ve got to think of the design,” she said. “[Painting the walls like that] draws the eye through the room.”

But with all that color, areas needed a neutral one. So Bartholdi chose black for a granite table in the dining room and when painting a previously white fireplace in the living room.

Bartholdi said painting and color are the first steps to maximalism. The next is filling it with everything you love. For Bartholdi, that’s all the fun things she has found at thrift stores and gathered throughout her life.

“I believe in maximalist design. Not everything can be the same,” she said. “You can’t have the same color or mood. I like to have [a mix of] little moments of surprise.”

There’s the dinosaur lamp in the dining room, a tiny Statue of Liberty souvenir and a retro-looking Borghesani robot-bar cabinet Bartholdi affectionately calls Lloyd — after her favorite movie, “The Shining.” Made by a local woodworker, it has a folding tray that, when lowered, shows an array of boozy drinks for when she hosts.

Why a robot? you may ask.

“Everyone knows I love robots; I used to draw them on my Instagram account,” Bartholdi said. “It was something I’d do back when I worked a 9-5 [job].”

Among the bright furniture and trinkets, she makes sure to have fun items for her cats. There’s the bright green cactus scratcher she bought from the pet decor company Vetreska and, among the simpler items her fluffy cats have approved, a furry white throw blanket placed on a bench by a sunny window. Instead of having a television in the living room, she turned an old television set into a sleeping nook for her cats, complete with a light-up sign that says “Sweet dreams.” On top of the recast retro piece are an array of vibrant green plants.

“I saw the TV online and I thought that just screams cat bed to me and I wanted them to have something but I hate [the look of] pet furniture,” she said. “I want them to have a nice place that doesn’t look horrendous and they love going in there at night and when I turn on the fireplace for them.”

Out of the shadows

Showing off what most people would tuck away is another decor theme.

She was going to put even more oddities into a black, framed glass cabinet, but realized she still needed a place to put her board games, which range from detective to medieval themes such as Columbo, Wyrmspan and The Quacks of Quedlinburg. Putting it on shelves shows off her hobby to guests and is a decoration in and of itself, Bartholdi said.

“I think that’s something that’s a big tenant of maximalist design, is expressing yourself through design,” she said. “I have a love of board games but you can do this with whatever you’re passionate about.”

Upstairs, she does this again by hanging her jewelry — most from local artisans — in a see-through transparent box she purchased from Amazon. There’s a set of skeleton earrings, various gold-plated necklaces and bright-colored bracelets hanging from a porcelain hand that Bartholdi also found at a local thrift store. Above her assortment of jewelry are watercolor pictures she painted during the pandemic.

“You can find [those hands] around now too and what better way to display your bracelets,” she said. “You can see any thing all at once and it’s a celebration of who you are.”

In her desk room, she puts her love of tarot cards front and center on her meditation stand amid crystals and candles. Most prominently displayed is the magician card, which signifies infinite possibilities without barriers, she said. One hand pointing up indicates divine inspiration and the one pointing down signifies manifestation.

“For me, it’s the card of creativity, like being inspired and putting it into practice and making it happen,” she said. “It’s a big thing for me. I just love to create and do all sorts of things like writing a musical, making a podcast or videos and doing improv shows.”

Style confidence

Over the years, Bartholdi has garnered quite a reputation for her eclectic and quirky decorating style. In 2022, a friend’s recommendation led to a feature of her home on HGTV’s “Handmade Homes” series.

She’s fielded questions over the years from friends asking for styling tips. Her best advice? Be confident.

“So many people are afraid of color, they see themselves as temporary in their spaces,” she said. “You deserve to live in a space you love. Painting a wall can take 24 hours, but you get three years of happiness.”

In fact, it was that design confidence that Bartholdi said helped sell her previous home, particularly the stairwell steps she painted in rainbow colors. She said many people are caught up with thinking about how they’re going to sell the house in the future so they forego adding in their own flair.

“Don’t be afraid to express yourself through design,” she encouraged.

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