Interior Design

Introducing 'Cluttercore' – the unconventional new trend that is surprisingly aesthetic

Caution: minimalists and Marie Kondo fans – look away now

Cluttercore interiors trend
(Image credit: Gstaad Chalet by Michelle Nussbaumer, image credit: Melanie Acevido)

The most controversial trend of the season – if not the year – has revealed itself in the shape of a minimalist's nightmare. Aptly-named, the maximalist 'Cluttercore' craze celebrates the quirkiness of mismatched belongings and permits us all to fill our interiors with assorted goods that celebrate our memories, interests, and personalities – and we're not afraid to admit that it's our new guilty pleasure.

See: Interior design trends – top looks for the year ahead

However, approaching Cluttercore elegantly takes some doing.

While 'clutter' is certainly no new phenomenon, Cluttercore has emerged from a broader umbrella trend – cottagecore – the rustic country aesthetic that has captivated social media users over the past year. 

Similarly, the pandemic has reshaped our relationship with our homes, as we look to curate spaces that not only look good but make us feel cocooned and happy. There is no better way to do that than by filling it with the things that spark joy and remind us of life beyond our four walls. 

Cluttercore interiors trend

(Image credit: Michelle Nussbaumer)

5 ways to get behind Cluttercore – without sacrificing style  

While it is easy to see the appeal behind Cluttercore, embracing this trend in our homes is easier said than done. However, it is possible to enjoy the benefits of this fun-filled trend without sacrificing the sophistication of our homes. In fact, the trend will only accentuate its style and bring your interiors right up to date. Here, interior experts reveal how.

1. Combine contrasting period styles 

It is perhaps impossible to look at interiors designed by Dallas-based interior designer Michelle Nussbaumer without falling for the kaleidoscopic allure of Cluttercore. 

Cluttercore interiors trend

(Image credit: Gstaad Chalet by Michelle Nussbaumer, image credit: Melanie Acevido)

In her home, Michelle incorporates worldly materials in multi-layered rooms that combine periods and geographic regions, embroideries and weavings, unconventional furniture, and unique global art into a cocktail of exuberant interiors. 

Self-labeled as 'old-world elegance with a touch of the exotic,' Michelle's mismatched style boasts the glamor of the 1940s with 19th-century English charm. It is a maximalist lover's utopia, and we're utterly inspired.

'My goal is to create eye-filling, eccentric, beautiful assemblages – a merging of the precious and the playful. It is important that the house smells delightful. That it is full of fresh flowers. And pets. And music. And people, most of all,' Michelle shares.

2. Corral your clutter together  

Cluttercore interiors trend

(Image credit: Gstaad Chalet by Michelle Nussbaumer, image credit: Melanie Acevido)

See: Cottage decorating ideas – charming ways to get a characterful look

If you're feeling particularly hesitant to bring Cluttercore into your home, interiors expert and author Ros Byam Shaw suggests enclosing your 'clutter' in pockets around your space.

'Random clutter is a bit visually confusing, so always best to corral your clutter – in cabinets, on shelves, grouped on a table, or a mantelpiece. Hang lots of small pictures in a group, line up jugs on top of a kitchen cupboard, collect shells in a bowl,' Ros explains. The author references her new book Perfect English Style, which further explores 'ways of displaying excess stuff.' 

'Clutter should be a joy, not a burden – things you love, things that have meaning – whether architectural prints or pink luster china,' she adds. 

3. Allow your home to evolve with contrasting accessories 

Cluttercore interiors trend

(Image credit: San Miguel by Michelle Nussbaumer, image credit: Douglas Friedman)

Instead of sticking to one strict style throughout our interior accessories, British interior designer Matthew Williamson suggests filling our home with an array of 'beautiful things,' including bold antiques and vintage pieces.

'I'm a firm believer that interior design is a life-long process. It's about the journey and the thrill of finding something you love and that never has to stop because you feel your home is done once the pictures are hung, and you've chosen your furniture,' Matthew shares. 

He continues: 'Never stop searching, always give in to your curiosity, and if you love something, bring it home. This is invariably a slower method of finding what you need, but once you have it, you'll love it forever.' 

4. Bring your 'clutter' out of their hiding places – yes, really 

Cluttercore interiors trend

(Image credit: San Miguel by Michelle Nussbaumer, image credit: Douglas Friedman)

'More is always more,' states Martin Waller, founder of global design house Andrew Martin. The designer continues in his refreshingly open support for the craze. He recommends bringing our favorite possessions into the forefront of our spaces, sharing: 'While many designers want to say something new, I want to say something old – to capture a flavor of an antique land and somehow bottle it. 

'Empty out your cupboards and make a display of pieces on your shelves, cabinets, desks, or console tables. Acrylic boxes or plinths can be used to make a special feature of your favorite pieces,' Martin adds. 

5. Remember to leave a breathing space 

Cluttercore interiors trend

(Image credit: San Miguel by Michelle Nussbaumer, image credit: Douglas Friedman)

We weren't joking when we said Cluttercore is our new guilty pleasure, so it's only fitting that we share some styling insight from Andrea Childs, Editor of H&G's sister magazine, Country Homes & Interiors

'At its heart, Cluttercore is an exuberant celebration of our homes and our love of interiors – layers of color, pattern, and texture; surfaces and walls filled with artworks and accessories; keepsakes and trinkets given the same consideration as expensive purchases,' she shares. 

Cluttercore interiors trend

(Image credit: San Miguel by Michelle Nussbaumer, image credit: Douglas Friedman)

See: Cottage ideas for a living room – cottage lounge inspiration

To ensure we keep our homes on the right side of stylish, Andrea reminds us to leave some space to ensure we don't overpower our interiors.

'To keep your home looking Cluttercore cool, rather than a yard sale tabletop, opt for a coherent color palette, curate collections into displays, and leave a few calm areas. One clear surface or a blank wall within your maximalist decor is all it takes to create breathing space,' Andrea shares.

What more approval could we need? Just remember to pre-warn your minimalist friend before your next house party to avoid a big surprise. 

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc's Homes titles. She has a background in national newspapers in the UK and has experience in fashion and travel journalism, which she previously practised whilst living in Paris and New York City. Her adoration for these fashion capitals means she particularly enjoys writing about upcoming styles and trends for Homes & Gardens. Megan also loves discovering vintage pieces in her spare time, meaning her decor is largely influenced by the beauty of the jazz age.