The 'clustering' home trend has finally made it acceptable to be a messy person - rejoice

A tidying routine that celebrates maximalism, finally

living room with console table decorated with a lamp and plants.
(Image credit: Future PLC)

When you tried Marie Kondo's famous tidying method, did you find that everything you own happened to 'spark joy'? You might just be a maximalist, a naturally messy person, or as TikTok has rebranded it, you might be embracing the 'cluttercore' trend.  

Some people thrive on minimalism and keeping their homes neat. But to others, it doesn't come naturally. Born from a viral TikTok, clustering is the new decor trend that is centred around collecting and showcasing your favourite trinkets, in a format that replicates the 90's apartments featured in TV shows and films. 

Clustercore is made for those of us to have too much 'stuff'. Whether your pain point is clothes, books, plants, candles, or shoes a la Carrie Bradshaw, this new trend will offer you an excuse to keep it all on display. It's distinctly different from mess too, as clusters are expertly curated collections that offer the illusion of being thrown together, but actually have been thoughtfully positioned. As interiors junkies, it's safe to say the Ideal Home team are huge fans, and there are a handful of ways we love to practice the trend in our bedrooms and living rooms

So, if you're fed up with your family complaining about various messes around your house - here's your answer, you're simply clustering.

How to try the clustering trend

The common misconception around clustering is that it's just mess, but it's actually artfully curated. Sometimes clusters will occur accidentally through your most-used items or areas, such as a bedside table, but other times you might want to make more effort to achieve that nostalgic rom-com apartment aesthetic. 

'I’m a big fan of just having everything on show and filling your house to the degree that you can with things that you like to look at. I think if you'd like to look at it, then it doesn't matter if you have something everywhere', says Skye McAlpine, author and founder of Tavola.

'It’s about building an art collection and then living in it, and then the sense of mess doesn’t matter so much because the mess is all things that you like and interesting objects.'


♬ Choking on Flowers - Fox Academy

1. Take inspiration from rom-coms

Pretty perfume bottles, makeup palettes and mirrors are the ideal objects for clustering. The boudoir aesthetic has an abundance of small cosmetic and decorative items housed together on a vanity, creating a lived-in look that looks just like your favourite leading-lady has left it behind. 

A dressing table is also one of the fastest places where mess accumulates, especially if you find yourself running late often, so it's the easiest place to try clustering. If a vintage bedroom is what you're aspiring towards, then trying this trend out will be a shortcut to achieving it. 

2. Stack your books

Home office with desk, maximalist yellow wallpaper and a blue chair.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

For the bibliophiles among us, clustering books will come as no surprise. The shape and size of books makes them ideal for stacking, which is a quick way to form the bulk of a cluster corner. Whether you have a dedicated bookshelf or are making the most of other surfaces, they're easy to balance around a house.

'As I am (obviously) interiors obsessed I keep my plethora of design books stacked up beside my desk. I used to say it was for easy reference but there’s so many it’s quite a mission actually getting one out these days' says our Assistant Editor, Thea Babington-Stit. In doing so, she has created a desk set-up that reflects her interests, acts as off-the-cuff storage space and a design feature. 

3. Make your sleep space a sanctuary

'Your clutter should make you feel safe, not smothered! To avoid this, don’t just pile loads of stuff on your shelves and on your walls; instead, be selective about what you choose to include, and add pieces over time to let your space breathe and grow with you', says Paul Fleming, managing director of Fleming & Howland.

A bedside table is the optimum place to take this advice seriously, as over-clustering may affect your sleep and ability to relax. But if done right, it can mean you start and end the day surrounded by charming bits and pieces that fill you with joy. 

Our Junior Writer, Julia Joson, has taken clustering on board by 'placing cute decorative items on my bedside table and desk because they're just pretty to look at and make me happy! I have figurines from my favourite shows and media I consume. I'm also working on putting together an IKEA SKADIS pegboard and getting the basket attachments to further display them.'

4. Create a clustercore bathroom

Black and white modern bathroom with mirror and vanity area.

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French Photography)

A self-confessed cluster fan, Thea adds 'On the tiles surrounding my bath I cluster candles, oils, bath salts etc on decorative plates.' 

If minimalism isn't your thing and you like every room of your home to feel like a reflection of you, then adding accessories to your bathroom is a great place to start. Even better if the items are useful too, as the best decor is that which combines both style and function. 

5. Cluster on trays for easy cleaning

What happens if you want to keep all of your beloved trinkets on display, but also want to clean regularly and easily? The answer is trays.  

'I have a top tip as a clean freak - I try to keep all my clusters contained on trays or containers so it's easy to lift them up when dusting/cleaning,' advises our Deputy Editor, Rebecca Knight

Trays are having a moment in interiors right now too, so whether you want to add style through scallops or want to inject a pop of colour to form the foundation of your clusters, there's bound to be one for you. 

Regardless whether you choose to go full Carrie Bradshaw with your clustering, or keep it low-key with a few selected areas, we love how this trend normalises the everyday clutter in our homes. And the best part is, there aren't any rules. 

So if you're lacking storage or just love a maximalist scheme, clustering will be the messy-person approved method that you've been looking for. 

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).