What Exactly Is Cluttercore?

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Shield your eyes, Marie Kondo. The latest design trend to hit TikTok is an over-the-top decor style dubbed "cluttercore," and it's all about celebrating large collections of things.

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On TikTok, videos with the hashtag #cluttercore have 51.2 million views at the time of writing, while on Instagram, 24,200 posts use the same hashtag. Clearly, there's ​a lot​ of interest in the style, particularly among a Gen Z audience.

Here's everything you need to know about the polarizing design trend that is cluttercore.

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What is the cluttercore aesthetic?

In a nutshell, cluttercore is a maximalist design style that centers on displays of large collections of items, typically ones that have some sort of emotional or nostalgic value to their owners. But done correctly, cluttercore is ​not​ a chaotic mess — rather, it's organized chaos. (Although to people who favor minimalism, it might still feel like utter chaos.)

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In an interesting juxtaposition, cluttercore decorators are intentional and neat with their massive displays of items, which are often showcased in tidy but crowded little vignettes. For instance, a cluttercore shelf might have dozens of items on it, but they're evenly spaced in an organized pattern. So while there is an overwhelming amount of stuff in a space, each and every item has a specific place. There's no tossing items into piles haphazardly!

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How is cluttercore different from maximalism?

Maximalism is a broader design style that can simply be described as "more is more." That is, more color, more patterns, more layers, more pizzazz. Cluttercore, on the other hand, is a subsection of maximalism that focuses on collections of items. Essentially, not all maximalism is cluttercore, but all cluttercore is maximalism.

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Is cluttercore the same thing as cottagecore?

Cluttercore has its roots in cottagecore, which is an aesthetic style spanning decor and fashion that draws inspiration from a bucolic life — think frolicking through meadows of flowers, foraging in a forest, and knitting by the fire. Many cluttercore practitioners do have an affinity for collections of cottagecore items, such as mushroom sculptures or teacups or vintage illustrations of plants. But some cluttercore collections have nothing to do with cottagecore — think Sanrio plushies or Lisa Frank art.

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How do you style a cluttercore bedroom or kitchen?

Start by building a collection of items that have some sort of meaning to you — don't just collect for the sake of collecting. They don't all have to be the same type of item, but they should have some sort of thematic or aesthetic relation. This will help your decor feel less like messy clutter and more like an organized hodgepodge.

As you start styling, make sure that everything is intentionally placed so that the room feels balanced with all of your items. And be patient! Cluttercore decorating takes quite a bit of work. You may need to test out different layouts to find the one that suits your space best, and rearranging can take time.

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