How to Declutter if You're a Maximalist — And Get the Balance Right on How Much "Stuff" is Your Home

Organizing experts tell us that maximalism doesn’t have to mean cluttered, it's about being purposeful in how you decorate and declutter

 Cluttercore – the newest wave of maximalism
(Image credit: James Merrell. Styling: Hannah Franklin)

The nature of maximalism is ‘more is more’, which doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with a decluttered space. However, just because you like to incorporate lots of different colors, textures and decor into your home, doesn’t mean it has to feel overwhelming or ‘too much’.

So how do you strike the right balance when you like to decorate with a lot of stuff? And how do you declutter a home when you're not aiming for a minimalist home?

We spoke to the experts who gave us some top tips on how to declutter a space without infringing on your personal style.

1. Think about the why 

Wallpapered dining room with patterned chairs

(Image credit: Divine Savages)

Interior design isn’t as simple as labeling yourself a maximalist if you have and display a lot of things. This principle can lead to a cluttered space that doesn’t feel well thought through.

To avoid this from happening Ben Soreff from H2H Organizing explains that ‘the fact that you have a volume of items doesn't create the clutter by itself, your space just looks different than people with different tastes. Ultimately, if you have homes for everything then all the stuff is basically decor. However, if you love a lot of things focus on why you are keeping them’.

We’d suggest trying not to keep hold of things just because they’re already there, think carefully about how your items look when they’re styled together. Maximalism in interior design doesn’t necessarily require a larger quantity of things, it can be as simple as displaying an oversized patterned vase that feels bold in a particular space.

2. Create a cycle system 

A bedroom with a onyx fireplace

(Image credit: B.E. Architecture)

If the amount of stuff that you’re displaying in your home is becoming too much then perhaps you could consider putting them on rotation or doing a seasonal swap, a particularly good idea if you like to switch up your spring or fall decor.

‘As a maximalist you have a lot of stuff that doesn't necessarily mean you are cluttered as long as all the items have a home, you can find what you are looking for and be productive. However, if you simply have a volume of items that take up all your surfaces including the floor then that is a health and safety issue’, says Ben.

‘One solution to dealing with the volume is to cycle items in and out. For instance, you could do a seasonal swap out of decor. In this case, your off-season decor, which will not be used for a long time, could be stored more remotely, in the basement storage area if possible’.

3. Stick to the ‘one or two’ rule 

striped sofa with pink floor lamp

(Image credit: Colours of Arley)

Having duplicates of things in your home, whether it’s decor or even more practical items can be redundant and a terrible use of space. Emily Moss from Emily Moss Designs says ‘decluttering as a maximalist can be a little trickier, but try your best to stick to only one or two of something. For example, if you have a ton of shoes, lay them all out and try to weed out ones that are similar so that you only have one or two pairs that serve the same purpose’.

In an ideal world, you would only have one of a particular item but we all know interior design isn’t that simple, so having two of something can be acceptable. In terms of decor, a good example is candles. We can all tend to hoard the best scented candles, but realistically having one or two in a room is plenty.

4. Set a timer

maximalism annabels mayfair

(Image credit: James McDonald)

Maximalists tend to air on the side of caution when it comes to getting rid of things. This will result in a home feeling cluttered and unorganized when actually, it’s simply a build up of things that you can’t seem to get rid of.

‘Whenever you’re on the fence about getting rid of an item, set a reminder for later (either on your calendar or a reminder app) and come back to the item in 3-12 months. If you haven’t used or worn the item it’s probably safe to let it go’, suggests Emily.

You could even do this on a shorter timeframe. For example, if you haven’t found a home for something in a matter of days, then it’s time to either donate or get rid of it.

5. Out of sight out of mind 

a maximalist library with animal print rug

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Design: NICOLEHOLLIS)

Can’t bare the thought of getting rid of excess stuff? Then the only way to free up space and keep your home feeling zen is to store it away in an area of your home that can’t be seen.

‘Another way to help declutter items that you don’t use but are hard to let go of is to put them in a box either in the garage or a storage closet — just somewhere out of everyday sight. If you don’t feel the need go back for the item within a month or two it’s likely you can get rid of it’, says Emily.

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Becca Cullum-Green
Freelance writer

Becca Cullum-Green is a freelance interiors content creator and stylist. She fell in love with interiors when she landed her first job as an editorial assistant at a leading UK homes magazine fresh out of university. You can find her renovating her 19th-century cottage in the Suffolk countryside, consciously trying not to paint every wall with Farrow and Ball’s ‘Pitch Black’. Her signature style is a mix of modern design with traditional characteristics. She has previously worked for House Beautiful, Grand Designs, Good Housekeeping, Red, Good Homes and more.