I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about ‘cluttercore,’ which is being set up as a Gen Z vs. Millennials decor battle. The Millennials are obsessed with minimalism, and Gen Z is here to rescue the situation is the basic gist. I fall squarely within the Millennial generation and am very much not a minimalist. I’m also weary of the way the media makes absolutely everything an intergenerational battle, but never mind.
So, what is cluttercore exactly? It’s less an aesthetic and more of a reaction to the world’s recent emphasis on decluttering. Pretty much any aesthetic can embrace cluttercore. I’ve seen collections of gym shoes and vintage toys, as well as collections of jadeite and milk glass.
Grandmillennial places a definite emphasis on collecting, too, but is also its own aesthetic. Back when the term originated (in House Beautiful in 2019), it was more general and applied to any Millennial who embraced a traditional design aesthetic. In the three years since, Grandmillennial has become an aesthetic of its own with emphasis on bright colors, pattern mixing, and a decided femininity. Like cluttercore, grandmillennial is a layered approach, but the collected objects are more specific (think things your grandmother would collect). Some examples of grandmillennial collections include needlepoint pillows, Blue Willow dishes, botanical prints, and coffee table books about gardening.
I think either of these design approaches can easily be overdone. The key to cluttercore is arranging and organizing the clutter so it doesn’t just look like thoughtless hoarders have taken over your space. Although grandmillennial is a nod to the ‘granny chic’ aesthetic, it should feel fresh and new, too. I went into someone’s house once (who was the same age I am), who had inherited almost all her furniture and decor from her grandmother, plus had bought an older couple’s longtime home. Down to the Werther’s Originals she kept in the glass candy dishes, it didn’t feel at all like a younger person’s home. There was no spin on the aesthetic or wink of irony, which is what the look needs to succeed.