Clustercore Is Trending—and It's the Perfect Decorating Style for Collectors

This aesthetic encourages you to make curated vignettes with your most prized possessions.

Social media has a way of taking an interior design trend, giving it a marketable moniker, and inspiring people to try it in their own homes. It's given us everything from breezy coastal grandmother to mountain modern design—and now clustercore is being propelled into the spotlight. 

Not to be confused with cluttercore (which is far busier and often skews chaotic!), clustercore encourages you to collect and carefully display trinkets, art, and baubles. Think of it this way: Clustercore is a celebration of your most prized possessions—and is the ultimate decorating style for avid collectors.

Hancock Park Home Tour living room
Tessa Neustadt

What Is Clustercore? 

Clustercore is the art of displaying your personal collections in thoughtfully designed vignettes. Ultimately, the goal is to infuse rich depth of character into your space in a way that conveys who you are and what you care about. "For instance, a collection of Champagne corks from special occasions held in a silver bowl placed next to a framed hand-written note from Mom—and maybe a vase of feathers your child collects on walks," says interior designer Melinda Trembly of Rincon Rd. "The items may be simple, but they are displayed in a way that gives them importance."

Another trio might be a shelf that features rocks you've collected from past hikes stored in a glass case, a vintage lamp in earthy tones, and a brass bauble with sentimental meaning. "[The idea is to] seamlessly merge different colors, patterns, textures, and layers into a space without it looking chaotic," says designer Jung Lee, the founder of Fête, Jung Lee NY, and Slowdance. "The clustercore trend is all about telling a story that evokes a sense of joy." 

Another important aspect of clustercore? It encourages you to curate personal belongings in a way that feels purposeful and artful. This museum-like "exhibit" approach actually gives more attention and meaning to the items you do choose to display. This way, they aren't swallowed up in a sea of "stuff" that doesn't hold as much personal value.

Living room with fireplace, couch and chair seating
John Merkl

How to Embrace Clustercore in Your Own Home

The beauty of clustercore is that it's highly customizable to a wide range of aesthetics. After all, one person's vignettes are vastly different from another's. Here are some ways you can create beautiful clustercore vignettes in your own home using the items you love to collect most.

Tell a Story 

As mentioned, one of the most compelling aspects of clustercore is that it inspires you to tell a story with a highly curated grouping of items. Before you start collecting and arranging, think about the story you want to tell and let it be the driving force when creating your vignettes. This could range from an homage to a family member to your favorite hobbies

Avoid Mass-Market Baubles 

To keep your vignettes from feeling cheesy, cheap, or superficial, avoid mass-produced items. Instead, curate objects that possess depth and meaning. Remember, the goal is to convey who you are and what you care about versus collecting for the sake of having stuff. Lee says that family heirlooms, framed pictures, personal collections, and beautiful items that "speak" to you are all great picks. 

collection of wall art featuring different subjects, shapes, and sizes
Stephen Kent Johnson

Use Dishes and Trays

In the same way that a rug can "tie a room together," a tray or dish acts as a sort of glue for your curated vignettes—and corrals everything in one place. "I have a brass dish from my grandmother and have placed her rosary beads, a lei from a trip to Hawaii, and a couple of feathers from a redtail hawk that lives in our trees in it," says Trembly. "It's placed on my coffee table in my living room and it makes me smile each time I walk by." 

Use Wall Space 

Your vignettes don't have to exist on a bookcase or table. According to interior designer Kristin Marino, leveraging vertical space is a creative way to showcase your curations, as well. "Mixing different colored and sized frames creates an eclectic gallery wall displaying your own photographs and artwork," she says. You can also hang a wall shelf and curate a vignette there. 

Play With Texture, Color, and Height 

When creating a vignette, add visual interest by playing with color, texture, size, and height. For example, try combining the softness of a houseplant with the heft of brass or pair a patterned textile with a minimalist picture frame. 

Let It Live 

A "set it and forget it" approach definitely works with clustercore—but don't shy away from the concept of a living vignette that changes or grows over time. For example, maybe your vignette includes a beautiful glass vase that houses beautiful seashells you collect on beach walks; swap it out for a bigger one once your collection gets larger each summer. You can also swap out items in your vignettes according to the season or holidays.

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