Consider getting rid of everything in your home. However, the current aesthetic of cluttercore suggests that parents should instead embrace disorder, and here’s why parents need the cluttercore trend right now.
In Roxy Strickland’s living room, the decor is tiered, with home furnishings that appeal to adults on top and children’s items below. Adult visitors can gaze uncomfortably at a framed poster of a Westworld character whose flesh is coming away from its synthetic skeleton. Pinhead, the prickly-faced creature from the Hellraiser franchise, is displayed alongside Superman and an assortment of other figurines on an upper shelf. Below their vivarium, where a Chinese water dragon named Lovey resides, Teletubbies stand vigil alongside a Buzz Lightyear toy poised for flight.
The Strickland family’s enthusiasm for horror and science fiction television and films is reflected in their Los Angeles home’s abundance of memorabilia and collections. Their crowning achievement is their DVD collection, a library stocked with shelves of beautifully organized discs that mimic the Gen X atmosphere of a classic video store. Strickland and her husband, Lon, constructed their home with their two school-aged children as a tribute to the media and entertainment industries. They have always decorated their space in this manner, putting on display the items they cherish.
Currently, their aesthetic is referred to as cluttercore.
Cluttercore, like other monikers with the “-core” suffix, is a social media-born aesthetic trend. On TikTok, the #cluttercore hashtag has been used over 80 million times alongside videos of rooms filled with knickknacks, plants, and posters. The design trend puts a name to a childlike style that most parents already have in their homes: the beautiful chaos of trinkets, pieces, and baubles, like the pages of an I Spy book, come to life. Cluttercore is a genre that celebrates possessions. The design trend is a dream come true for parents who face the profusion of items that babies and children can bring into the home because it means that clutter is now fashionable.
Strickland, the director of inventory for a film and television prop shop, felt a sense of relief after learning about cluttercore on — where else? — social media.
She states, “I felt both noticed and accepted.” “I was unaware that someone had given my method of housekeeping a name.”
Children Are the Sources of Cluttercore
Cluttercore is just new in name. The gathering and exhibition of sentimental objects are always popular among children. Dr. Sandra Espinoza, Psy.D., LMFT, associate professor at Alliant International University and licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, says that collecting rocks and sticks is a developmentally appropriate form of play and a healthy way for children to develop healthy relationships with objects and themselves.
My seven-year-old daughter once defended her collection of (mainly broken) seashells against the possibility of being placed in a garbage bag. She enjoys feeling the bumps and ridges on the shells. She traced their forms and shattered them to see what would happen. She says that they make her happiest since they recount a lovely family beach holiday.
Cluttercore is essentially the exhibition of cherished items in a childlike manner, and parents like Tina Bousu approve. “Things don’t have to be ‘clutter,'” explains Bousu, a mom of four and interior designer from Loveland, Colorado. “They may be a collection of treasured items that conjure memories and make people feel joyful.”
Perhaps the children are right. And cluttercore may be the current trend that parents need.
Alter the Story to Avoid a Messy Home
Before the epidemic, interior design was all about minimalism, with an emphasis on decluttering and, let’s be honest, occasionally fury cleaning in order to fit preconceived notions of how living spaces should look. Living in a minimalist home can feel like waging a war with waves of possessions for families with children. In Mike Birbiglia’s one-man Broadway play and Netflix special The New One, a mountain of toys and gears falls from the ceiling and onto the stage as he illustrates what it’s like to have a new baby. “They send you all this garbage!” he yells as he wades among the garbage. This is the chair that causes the infant to shake!
Parent culture and retailers frequently encourage the acquisition of children’s belongings, and then decluttering gurus and services inform parents that they can assist them in getting rid of the items. It is a vicious loop from which cluttercore may provide an escape.
Dr. Espinoza believes it is a constructive method to modify the narrative surrounding a “messy home.” “Cluttercore can relieve families of the burden of maintaining a spotless living area, especially when this is impossible due to young children. By enabling parents to accept the disorder in their lives, they may spend less time worrying about cleaning and more time living in the present and connecting with their children and spouse.”
Consider Jacoba Charles, who resides in a small home that was previously a one-room school in Petaluma, California, with limited storage space. Charles, a science writer, and environmental consultant says of her 7-year-old daughter, “And then there’s the fact that living with a young child is living with an agent of chaos.” In her line of sight, there are mismatched socks, abandoned rain boots, puzzles, and paper scraps indicating a crafts endeavor. At closer inspection, the objects reveal evidence of life and love. Perhaps cluttercore is the justification parents require to end the furious cleaning cycle.
“What mother can remain sane while maintaining a home as if there are no children?” asks Bousu. “We already have plenty to handle. Allow the house to include items.”
Bousu’s design firm assists clients in connecting with their inner cluttercore enthusiasts. She states, “I’ve always been a firm believer that your house should reflect who you are and let you experience all the joy that comes from being surrounded by things you love and appreciate.” She has a gallery wall of her children’s artwork, one-of-a-kind sculptures, and a life-size wooden baby elephant fondly named Herman in her own house.
“Do these objects serve a function?” inquires Bousu. “No. But, we get a huge kick out of them.”
Cluttercore enables you to make use of what you have.
The majority of parents are already cluttercore enthusiasts. Simply recall your childhood bedroom: were the walls covered with posters of your favorite bands or magazine clippings of pop culture icons? If so, cluttercore has been your aesthetic long before the term was coined.
“My childhood self was unquestionably a precursor to my mother self,” says Charles.
Yet, sometime along the way to adulthood, many of us began to decorate for others. Keisha Henry, MSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Boca Raton, Florida, says, “As we age, some of our values shift, and that’s okay.” Henry’s fight against clutter is extremely customized. “I believe the question should be, ‘How is this item benefitting you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?'”
At the residence of Strickland, cluttercore is a way of life. She has always loved from afar minimalist design. Every time they moved, she toyed with the idea of leaving the walls naked and hiding belongings in drawers. Then, though, posters appear and Pinhead is released.
Strickland adds, “Our children will grow up knowing exactly who their parents are and what makes us happy, and they will be encouraged to discover their own passions and share them with us openly.”
Like other social media content, cluttercore content on TikTok and Instagram is heavily curated, with rooms elegantly filled with items that cost money, even if thrifted. In this way, cluttercore may appear impenetrable, but proponents assert that its essence is working with what you have, even if it’s a life-size wooden baby elephant.
Dr. Espinoza emphasizes that cluttercore is about appreciating the present moment and the things that make you joyful. If parents can just embrace their homes for what they are, they would be able to channel that energy to bonding with their family.
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