Cluttercore is the trendy antithesis to minimalism.
By Nicole Kinning
The word “clutter” often comes with a negative connotation. Chaotic, disorderly, jumbled—the list of synonyms goes on. And hiding behind every corner of the internet are articles on how to get rid of clutter. But what if we told you that clutter is actually… cool?
Don’t run for the hills yet: Cluttercore can mean something different to everyone, but in general, it’s embracing the stuff in your home. Whether it’s the collection of salt and pepper shakers you inherited from your grandma, piles of well-loved books or vinyl that has accumulated over time, cluttercore is all about displaying things that you care about—even if they don’t exactly jive with your home’s aesthetic.
Clutter-free queen Marie Kondo is even easing away from the bare-minimum lifestyle. “Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times,” she told the Washington Post in January. “I have kind of given up on that, in a good way for me.”
According to local interior designer Nichole Loiacono, cluttercore has been seen on the coasts for a few years now, but folks around these parts are starting to appreciate the imperfect maximalist look more and more. “It started with the whole granny chic thing and then kind of snowballed from there,” she says. “I think that people are tired of living in a blank white box and they want something that reflects who they are.”
Here are a few tips for achieving cluttercore without chaos.
Does Matching Matter?
“I think that it’s a misnomer that matching is a necessity in anything,” Loiacono says. “If you can find a couple of things that are similar in each room, that balance one another out, you will start to find some continuity.”
If you’re not ready to go all-in on a cluttered landscape, dip your toe in by aiming for like colors, textures and patterns. For example, a crochet pouf might be the perfect excuse to display your prized self-woven wall hangings. Or maybe you’re hesitant to show off a bright pink pot you received as a gift—not because it’s not cute, but because it doesn’t match your decor. Where else in the room can you add a similar shade of pink? A throw pillow? A thrifted wall painting? A coffee table book?
Hold off on tossing all your tchotchkes atop a buffet table and calling it good. Jenna Baechle, owner of and designer at Charmed House Interiors in the West Bottoms, recommends starting out with one meaningful piece and building around it.
“Find one thing in the room that you love and work off of that,” she says, such as a statement piece like a sofa or a coffee table or something smaller-scale like a piece of artwork or an adored set of vintage coasters. Once you have chosen an element, incrementally add other pieces to display around it. That way, you’re not rattled and overwhelmed by a high volume of stuff all at once.
Don’t set and forget—displaying pieces on a table or in a glass cabinet requires some thought so as to avoid a disheveled look.
“Contain display pieces in or on something,” Baechle says. “It’s almost like a rug under a piece of furniture. It gives pieces a purpose.” Give tabletop sentimental items the elevated display they deserve by setting them on a stack of books, in a dish, or on a plate. Also be sure to incorporate negative space so possessions don’t appear convoluted.
Things Will Change, As They Should
Think of your space as a curated and rotating personal museum exhibit. It’s not one and done—your space and the things in it are editable. Switch pieces out with the seasons or as collections grow.