Making clutter work

Homify HK Homify HK
Loading admin actions …

Much of modern design has come out of the pursuit of simplicity. Reducing, refining, stripping back – the received wisdom amongst many is that in good design, there are no surplus parts, and everything serves a clear purpose. But the truth is that a less-than-minimalist aesthetic may have many merits too, depending on how it is executed. The eye is naturally drawn to interesting objects, obviously, and by deciding to embrace clutter in one’s decorative style, one removes the limits on how any interesting objects can be crammed into a given space. Of course, when there’s a lot more to look at it stands to reason that each individual object on display might get less attention, so really special items you want to show off could easily be overlooked; the flipside, though, is that each piece becomes part of a greater whole. If you place a unique sculpture in an otherwise fairly empty room, sure, it will garner a lot of appreciation; but when that same sculpture is just one of many other bits and bobs jostling to be noticed, it takes on a new charm as one of many contributors to a room’s general ambience. Clutter doesn’t mean mess, nor does it mean untidiness; clutter is an art to be mastered.

​Compartmentalised clutter

There’s no denying that this hotel lounge is certainly a very busy one, but there’s also no denying that it’s extremely organised. There are a couple of different techniques at work here that have resulted in this appearance of controlled clutter. The first is that the many decorative objects on show have been neatly arranged in a shelving unit which creates clear boundaries between different types of items. The other reason that this room seems less overbearing than it perhaps logically should is that a lot of thought has been put into colour, and most of the objects on display are white, preventing clashes and an overload of different shades.

​The illusion of clutter

rustic Kitchen by URBANA 15
URBANA 15

La cultura del txoko tradicional.

URBANA 15

The slightly muddled appearance of this kitchen is more down to the patterned wall than it is to the actual layout of the space. The contrasting patterns and the small dimensions of teach tile combine to create strong visual stimulation. This is enhanced by the fact that there is a wide range of different types of object on display next to each other on the countertop and shelves – some of them quite intricate too, such as the old-fashioned scales and the mixed bunches of wildflowers. The kitchen is one room where it’s a little easier to pull of clutter than in most. Effortless but stylish clutter, as seen here, is easily achieved by simply not hiding things away in cupboards. Every kitchen comes stocked with hundreds of bits and pieces such as bowls and jars, so simply let them be seen (provided they are nicely-designed, of course, as the pieces seen here are).

​Kitsch clutter

There is something inherently a little kitschy about clutter, probably since it harks back to the 70s, before popular design began to be more streamlined. That reassuringly brash element is of course intensified if your clutter happens to be composed of mismatched vintage bits and bobs, as seen here.

​Localised clutter

This is a good example of a room that is extremely cluttered, but not untidy. There is a lot going on all over the walls, but nonetheless it’s clear that everything is in its proper place.

modern Houses by Casas inHAUS

Need help with your home project? We'll help you find the right professional

Discover home inspiration!