In light of Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, most of us are scurrying about our homes, desperately looking to rid ourselves of the possessions that no longer “spark joy”. From a design perspective, however, is it possible some of us might be overdoing it?
Quickly, tossing out old clothes we no longer wear can turn into a desire to wipe the slate clean and minimize. And, while minimalism is favorable, there is something to be said for aesthetic clutter.
The concept of aesthetic clutter may be foreign to most of us. In essence, it’s the idea that clutter can be tastefully done and incorporated as part of our home’s interior design. Not every piece makes good clutter, though. At its very core, clutter is about bringing personality into your home.
Before you begin re-cluttering, however, there are some criteria for creating artful and beautiful clutter which you’ll want to keep in mind.
Bookshelves are your BFF
Bookshelves are like the central hub for all things clutter. They house your books, magazines, collectibles, picture frames, and all kinds of other knick-knacks. In fact, they seem to almost be destined for this purpose.
As long as you try to limit your clutter to the appropriate surfaces, you’re home free. These include bookshelves, wall shelves, glass display cases, and dining room hutches.
Avoid cluttering your coffee table, dining table, and other lower-level surfaces. This is what causes clutter to look messy. Where you house your clutter is part of the science of making it appealing. Multi-purpose surfaces should be free of clutter (even attractive clutter).
Meanwhile, clutter on a bookshelf adds some variance. It allows you to break up the monotony of books, and immediately draws people’s attention.
It’s important to centralize clutter. Clutter that is contained to one part of the room, such as a bookshelf, workspace, or reading nook, looks far more organized. If you do have aesthetic clutter going in one part of the room, keep the rest of the room sparse. Minimalistic and understated surroundings will draw the eye more to the section with clutter – hence highlighting the novelties that may be hiding there.
Use it to add (or tone down) color
If you have a very monochromatic space, clutter can bring in a spark of color. It’s definitely more affordable than buying new furniture in different hues. Colorful clutter works beautifully in spaces that are primarily comprised of wood, or just black and white tones.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate colorful clutter is to bring in a plant collection. Green plants in multi-colored vases can really freshen up the air in a space, while simultaneously brightening it up. Vary up the colors in your indoor garden, as well. Throw in a purple orchid or an autumnal garden croton.
Colorful clutter can be achieved in many ways. You can display multi-colored pebbles in mason jars, place some vibrantly-colored doilies under plants and candles, or display your vividly colored stone and crystal collection.
In fact, you can use crystals like amethyst, rose quartz, and others with lovely hues to draw the eye to certain areas. If there is a specific shelf, piece of artwork, or book you’d like to bring attention to, getting a little clutter-happy with your crystals on or around that thing will definitely garner attention.
Clutter with pieces that matter
In the hit TV show Frasier, the title character (a cultured and sophisticated psychologist) attempts to explain eclectic decorating style to his gruff, blue-collar father. He says, “The theory behind it is, if you’ve got really fine pieces of furniture, it doesn’t matter if they match – they will go together.”
Interestingly, Frasier’s description of eclectic interior design applies to aesthetic clutter as well. If clutter matches too closely, it loses its natural allure. Rather, clutter of quality, when placed together, will become beautiful.
Note that quality clutter doesn’t necessarily refer to designer or expensive pieces. Quality lies in how much the clutter means to you. Clutter with a story, such as antiques and souvenirs, will naturally become more attractive because of its value to you. The same goes for artwork.
It’s important to sprinkle meaningful pieces among your artistic clutter. Handcrafted novelties from your children, handmade doilies, heirloom vases or candlestick holders will always fare well. And, as per the eclectic style, they don’t have to be from the same time period or style. Their quality will bring them together, particularly if they are well-placed and well-arranged.
So, before you take on your spring-cleaning, consider the right and wrong ways to do clutter. In the words of Marie Kondo, what items “spark joy”? Corny as it may sound, it’s a very real notion that embodies feng shui’s very core. Re-assessing and re-arranging your clutter could breathe new life into your home’s interior design.