Inside: Cluttercore is a recent home decor trend. Learn what it is and why it’s not ideal for most people.

Cluttercore. When I first heard this word and how the trend was catching on, I’ll admit I was horrified. But it was important for me to understand what it was and why people were feeling drawn to it.

Cluttercore is a new aesthetic craze that has Gen Z captivated. And if you’ve spent any time on TikTok lately (or in my case, reading headlines on Google Discover), chances are that you’ve stumbled upon the very trendy concept in action.

Virtual tours of different rooms overflowing with stuff

Somehow, in some cases, it kind of works together in a very eclectic way. But at the end of the day, it’s the opposite of what I try to help people do in their homes.

Filtered images that show tables, countertops, and surfaces stacked high with things

Shelves covered in various knick-knacks. Spaces filled with so much stuff, you can hardly find a spot that’s gone untouched. Couches piled high with seemingly random throw pillows, each with a different pattern and color scheme than the next.

For those who embrace the trend, it’s time to forget “less is more.” Instead, cluttercore is a maximalist approach that believes more is better.

It’s about shunning the clean lines and light color palettes we commonly associate with the minimalist aesthetic that has captivated Millennials. Instead, they moved toward something that more resembles organized chaos – a clash of colors, textures, and just about everything else you can imagine. 

If you’ve been wondering what the cluttercore craze is all about, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading to understand what cluttercore is, why it’s become such a popular trend, and why simplifying is a better way to go. 

cluttercore

What is cluttercore?

At its core, cluttercore is all about surrounding yourself with things that bring joy and make you feel at home – to an excessive extent. 

Pulling a bit of inspiration from the cottagecore trends that took Pinterest by storm during the pandemic, cluttercore is all about feeling cozy and at home, surrounded by all of your stuff.

And that quite literally means all of your stuff. Books, trinkets, toys, sculptures, paintings, blankets, plants – there’s no wrong way to fill your space with clutter.

Well, that’s not totally true. A big part of the cluttercore aesthetic is that there is some organization to the madness. It’s kind of like turning your space into a crazy, overstuffed, ultra-curated museum.

Cluttercore isn’t about mess – piles of dusty magazines on end tables and literal trash are not in line with the aesthetic. 

Instead, it’s about filling your space in an intentional way. Fun finds from local thrift stores, collectible figurines, quirky art pieces, childhood keepsakes, bold patterns, and clashing colors can all contribute to the cluttercore maximalist aesthetic.

The only requirement? You’ve got to have a LOT of it. 

cluttercore

How did cluttercore get so popular?

You can thank the pandemic and social media for cluttercore’s rise in popularity.

Spending more time at home than ever before, people were seeking ways to make their spaces cozier and more comforting.

For some, that meant decluttering to create more breathing room. Others went in the opposite direction and began acquiring collections of stuff.

Over time, this cottagecore trend was embraced – and morphed – by Gen Z into the cluttercore style we’re seeing today. Piece by piece, people accumulated more and more stuff in their homes – and then they decided to share it on social media.

And thanks to the powers of TikTok, this trend caught on – and spread in a pretty viral way. 

As a result, tons of Gen Z’ers are shunning the simple, clean, minimalist aesthetic that Millennials have fallen in love with in favor of the exact opposite – an overly cluttered, highly personalized maximalist home. 

cluttercore

Thinking about embracing the cluttercore aesthetic? Think again: a case for simplifying. 

Now, there are some people out there who can thrive in a space that’s truly embraced cluttercore. Some people truly feel that their cluttered space feels homey, cozy, and inspiring. 

But most of us?

Most of us wouldn’t actually benefit from that kind of environment.

Instead, many of us would actually suffer – consciously or subconsciously – if forced to live in an overly cluttered home, however, organized that clutter might be.

Before you abandon your organized ways and embrace the cluttercore aesthetic, here are a few reasons you’re better off simplifying and decluttering rather than acquiring more stuff.

Clutter is stressful.

Even if all that stuff brings you joy, it can also cause you stress. Clutter can make it difficult to truly relax, and it can be detrimental to your ability to focus or think clearly; your brain is too busy processing the things that surround you to channel its energy appropriately. 

It’s more challenging to make your home feel like a relaxing sanctuary when you’re surrounded by an excessive amount of stuff.

We can spend our lives chasing stuff looking for it to make us happy, but happiness is never found in things. And in the end, it can create additional stress and burden in your life.

cluttered kitchen

Clutter is expensive

Nobody ever said cluttercore was an affordable aesthetic. It can get pretty pricey. Let’s be honest – buying books, artwork, collectibles, and tchotchkes can add up fast, even if you’re getting it secondhand.

Not only does it cost you dollars to accumulate all of that stuff, but it costs you time, too. Shopping and then cleaning and maintaining all of your things ends up stealing your time.

It makes cleaning up a lot of work. 

Think about it. The process of accumulating all that stuff may not be particularly painful. For some, it might even be a lot of fun, a creative project that sparks joy.

But you can’t lose sight of the fact that, at some point, you’re going to have to clean up your space. And when that happens? It might feel like a bit of a rude awakening. 

You’ve got to move all of that stuff every time you need to dust a shelf or vacuum your floor? And what if you decide it’s time to pack up and move to a new place?

Some may consider it a fun challenge, but most would call this utterly exhausting, expensive, and ultimately unnecessary. 

man surrounded by stuff

It can lead to hoarding.

Cluttercore is a slippery slope that can quickly lead to a hoarding situation for those who are predisposed to collecting a lot of stuff. Some people have difficulty parting with items.

And in those situations, embracing an aesthetic that encourages getting as much stuff as you can isn’t a wise move.

Since, in theory, everything in your cluttercore home is intended to spark joy and bring happiness, I can see how it would be difficult to say goodbye to that stuff – even if you’re totally overwhelmed by it and need to free up some space. 

In short, cluttercore and maximalism encourage you to acquire and keep more and more things. Ultimately that leads to having an unhealthy relationship with stuff.

It can also mean that family members inherit an even bigger task of trying to sort through mountains of things. Decluttering now benefits you, your family, and your loved ones. The more proactive you can be in dealing with your stuff, the less you leave for your loved ones to have to sort through later.

Experience all of the benefits of decluttering your home by embracing living more simply instead of opting for the maximalist cluttercore approach.

How do you feel about the cluttercore aesthetic? I’d love to know! Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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19 Comments

  1. I understand where the Cluttercore Trend could lead you! That is where my hoarding instincts started many years ago. Now I am stuck in a house practically cluttered to bursting point unable to let go of of anything.

  2. To me, it looks like an antique shop. All that’s missing are the price tags.
    The visual noise bothers me, but the amount of cleaning involved would absolutely floor me. I have no desire to spend that much time keeping that much stuff clean and organized.

  3. I know how clutter code ppl think. I probably was one before it was cool. I liked to keep everything because it was all memories but I found that in the long run the stuff didn’t represent my current self. We are always growing and changing so if we buy a lot of stuff that represents who we were yesterday we may not love it tomorow. Also this level of consumerism is not only bad for the wallet and cleaning. It’s horrible for the earth. Less truly is more cause it gives you the freedom to grow and move.

  4. I wonder if clutter core is popular with Gen Z because they’re inspired by their grandparents.

  5. I dislike clutter as it makes me visually overstretched and not my peak self. I do keep mementos but in special little cabinets that came from an old fashioned publishing company. I also have a plan chest for my artwork and these pieces unique of furniture are much admired and keep everything neatly out of sight. I also store in another cupboard objects, jugs, vases, etc and then swap them over as the seasons change. Friends comment and genuinely seem to enjoy the refresh in my living room each season. I love order and knowing where everything is, and I loathe wasting time looking for items, but I wish I could tackle my computer filing the same way; its a mess and I find it so frustrating looking for documents, even though I have lots of virtual files it still does my head in.

  6. To me, the salient point is, “Happiness is never found in things.” So people who put their trust in things always need more…and more…and more, because they are still seeking but never finding happiness in them. They think happiness will eventually be achieved if they can just get “enough” but it’s NEVER enough. I tend to hold onto things because “I might need that some day;” I am very handy and do use a lot of things I’ve held onto, but I started lecturing myself: “You’ve been holding onto that for five years and haven’t used it. If you need it later, you can get one then.” Seeing open space really does make me feel more relaxed and peaceful. I love the cottage look, but I could never do the cluttercore thing.

  7. It looks like the accumulation of stuff after 30+years in the same house and raising 4 children, that I am now in the process of sorting through. I once asked my Mom how I would ever have that lived in look in my house. She said don’t buy stuff it will begin to look lived in simply by accumulation of gifts, hand me downs and the needs of life. Wow was she ever right! My look is early American Salvation Army haha.

  8. It could be good. It makes it easier for people who want to get rid of things because there will be others waiting who want and appreciate them.

  9. I must have missed a meeting…
    cottage core? cluttercore?? I’ve never heard of any of these things. Of course, I think Pinterest and it’s ilk are a colossal waste of time, so I tend to avoid them. As far as Tiktok is concerned, if you can’t articulate your thoughts without making a video about it, then our educational system has failed, and there isn’t much I can do for you.
    I’m a baby boomer with too much stuff. Your articles help me to organize and reduce the piles. I have recently taken all of my books out of boxes in the garage and put them on bookshelves in the living room. Now comes the hard part, deciding which ones to keep, and which ones to get rid of. Reducing the clutter is an ongoing battle, and the clutter is winning.

    Thanks for all you do.

    DaveL

    1. The articles started coming up in my Google Discover feed (likely because I read articles on simplifying). That’s the only way I keep up with trends since I am not on Tiktok ;). I’m glad you’ve found the posts helpful. It does get easier when you have a clear vision of your end goal & get practice with making those decisions. You can do this!

  10. Cluttercore seems to me to be a polite word for having so much stuff that people will not feel comfortable. I will never forget my first experience with the cluttercore idea – 40 years ago, when it wasn’t called that. I was visiting an older friend with my first child, who was about 18 months at the time. She owned a large and fabulous home, and every single surface was covered with Tchochkes (sp?). Of course, I had an awful time keeping my son out of her stuff, since everything was at his eye level. She thought I had a horribly behaved child, I was scared to death that my child would break something, and my precious toddler did not understand why everything he could see and touch was a “no”. Talk about unpleasant experiences! I hope people think about guests in their houses when they go in this direction.

  11. I had seen this trend but did not know it had a name. It make me feel claustrophobic and anxious! Give me traditional minimalist living any day.

  12. I grew up in a home that would fit this trend – clearly the generational trends are rotating already (I’m a millenial). It was hard to carve out some breathing room for myself in there & it was the primary drive that made me want to simplify as soon as I moved out.

    I mostly just don’t have the energy to clean so much. I do get the aesthetic appeal from a distance, but where I lived, most of the items were not cleaned regularly & I don’t think I personally know anyone with cluttered shelves who would take it all off, wash it and put it back on at least a monthly basis. I can’t look at it without picturing what kind of dirt can accumulate there over time, when life gets busy, when the owner get sick, when something spills and you have to move everything out of the way.

    I also like Jessalynn Jones’s comment, it’s like a celebration of consumerism.

  13. I’m with you all the way, especially on the subject of cleaning my stuff. I like things to be clean, but I don’t like cleaning. The more simple my environment with less stuff, the more likely I am to take a minute or 5 to clean a surface or an area.

  14. Well, someone has to do something with all the things we’re decluttering! It’s an addiction perhaps? To feeling good about finding and buying things. And deciding where it’s new home will be. A little like challenging ones self to use and bring together things that may or may not make sense – using problem solving skills. It’s less expensive than time travel or traveling to Europe I’d think. Mathoms, is that what the Lord of the Rings called it? The hobbits would give each other useless things as gifts ..so, clutter core, maybe, I’d think would do away with need to go shopping for gifts. Just shop in your space for something you love and give it away. All win. Also perhaps it’s a way to at some level meet society’s demand to make something useful out of castoffs – recycling at the extreme- sort of a cobbling together mindset. Shades of depression era and Ann Rand. Or Mrs Haversham in the novel Great Expectations. I don’t like certain art pieces but they do speak of things that go on in the heart and in the mind that are traumatic and messy and confusing. Perhaps it’s a way to make idols or little god’s, and elevate them to center stage
    vs making room and space for loving God and others and giving honor and respect to them. The way I see minimalism is making room in my heart and home for what’s true, beautiful and good – without distractions. It, for me, is a worthwhile life long endeavor that calls me to be a life long learner – learning hopefully from my own mistakes and learning from poor choices of others. It’s freeing myself to pursue what truly matters – growing in love. f
    Showcasing stuff seems like it’s looking for love in all the wrong places. On a less contemptuous note, next time I step into a clutter core schema, I hope I will realize the lost and lonely being or beings encamped within lost and unsettling seas of unkemptness and nature’s randomness. Maybe I could invite over for a cup of tea or a picnic in the park to gaze with me and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. After all, the pendulum swings back and forth over time and what calms and stimulates someone at times will annoy that same person at other times. So it seems to me getting to the heart of Clutter core – it’s a modern art statement with chunks of things in 3 d. Or 6d. Feelings included. I am thinking we were all young once and influenced by fads etc. Then we grew out of it and on to a new fad. One man’s trash is another’s treasure. I am thankful I am beginning to wake up to see where one fad got me the pursuit of stuff and decided it was no place I wanted to be and ran in the opposite direction! Just praying it won’t become a pursuit with getting the “right” stuff.

  15. I had never heard of clutter core before and it sounds simply awful to me. I’m staying with my son while his wife is away working and I’m helping with the baby. This house needs minimalism big time. There is stuff everywhere, I can’t even see where to put laundry if I did fold it up. There are Easter decorations up everywhere and it’s July. I did throw away one plant that was totally dead but I don’t like to touch anything else – it’s a nightmare. The clutter core people don’t know what they’re getting in to. I do wonder if it’s a silly reaction to Minimalism as they misunderstand it.

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