Minimalism of the attractive sort is a standard that’s hard to achieve. To pull it off, you need to own next to nothing and be a clean freak (or have maids to pick up after you). Otherwise, your space will just end up looking like a messy prison cell. Backlash against the long-running minimalist trend is frankly overdue, so it’s nice to have more realistic styles to turn to for inspiration.

Adorable cluttercore interiors from the Apartment in Copenhagen.

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Cluttercore is the latest maximalist interior design trend to divide us into those who love explosions of color and pattern, and those who just want to crawl back into our clutter-free Scandinavian Modern caves.

What is Cluttercore?

Cluttercore kitchen space with bright green cabinets.

Like most trends these days, cluttercore first became a thing on TikTok. This philosophy isn’t about making things look picture-perfect, or idealizing a particular lifestyle or period of time (unlike the similar-sounding cottagecore). It’s about embracing the realities of everyday messes and surrounding yourself with comforting items that make you feel happy and safe. The word “clutter” usually carries negative connotations, but cluttercore wants to subvert that by associating it with abundance instead of chaos (but you know what? It’s okay if there’s a little bit of chaos).

Making Messiness Fashionable

Look around your space right now. Do you see items like tchotchkes you picked up on your travels, framed photographs, houseplants, and piles of books? Then you’re already halfway there. All the items that minimalists would tell you to get rid of or hide are part of the cluttercore aesthetic, even if they aren’t magazine-ready. The point isn’t to cover every surface with junk to make your space feel cozy, lived-in, and personalized. Your stuff reveals who you are and what you’re into, after all, and every item is an opportunity to either remind yourself of a happy memory or tell a story about your life.

Eclectic workspace puts clutter on full display without feeling overwhelming.

Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words. Just browse the #cluttercore hashtag on TikTok and Instagram to get an idea of what this style can look like. There’s no set or rules you have to follow or influencers you should mimic. You can integrate cluttercore into your style in a way that feels natural, either by adding a few more decorative items here and there or going wild and covering every surface like some of the cluttercore-happy TikTokkers who get the most views.

How to Embrace Personalized, Lived-in Spaces

Personalized cluttercore decor in the hallway of a home.

If the stuff you already have feels boring and you want to start from scratch, here are some tips. Thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets are your best friend. Look for bright colors, fun patterns that mix well together, unusual furniture, objects that appear handmade, and whatever else speaks to you the most. Most furniture can be repainted any color you want or reupholstered if you’re crafty. Customize that weird vintage lamp with a new shade. Pop the 80s painted landscape out of that ornate frame and replace it with art you love.

Plenty of people will find even the idea of cluttercore too stressful to ponder. The mere mention of dusty shelves full of kitschy figurines is enough to send them into apoplectic fits. But for others, it’s reassurance that the way we’ve been living and decorating our homes all along is just fine. You don’t have to buy expensive stuff or try to make your space look just like somebody else’s. You can just find your own happy version of cluttercore by curating a home environment that feels like an extension of yourself.

Top image via The Apartment in Copenhagen