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Duration:06:11
Uploaded:2022-04-28
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In this video, one person shares how she eschewed her minimalist tendencies for the more clutter-happy aesthetic that's currently trendy — and the issues she's encountered since making the change.

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

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[SHUFFLING] Confession time.

I'm a recovering minimalist. For years, I thought the key to inner peace was owning as little as possible, keeping my home free of any clutter.

I had no prints or family photos on my walls. I even put my piano and guitar in storage because I thought they made my apartment look messy. I followed minimalist design blogs, read about Hygge and maintained a neutrals-only capsule wardrobe.

The truth was I found it quite miserable. Contrary to what the minimalist influencers touted, it had a negative effect on my mental health. I never felt I was minimalist enough.

And I'd have small private anxiety attacks any time someone got me a single gift. And there were some very valid criticisms about minimalism. Despite the ideals of the movement, minimalism had seemed to become more about performative self-deprivation than keeping a small footprint, and the cost of the Scandinavian aesthetic had skyrocketed.

And minimalism just felt like a silly contest. So a few years ago, I started adding not only color but also a sense of abundance back into my life. I bought a bright orange tablecloth.

I hung plants from my ceiling. I started buying kooky clothes again. And when I bought a home, excitedly planned out themes for each room.

When I first joined TikTok, I saw how popular maximalism had become in terms of decor and fashion. In 2020, Vox declared, "Minimalism is dead. Meet maximalism." It's also been called kindercore, cluttercore, and a dozen other made-up words ending in core.

Some argue that it was backlash against the mainstreaming of minimalism. Others have pointed out that the pandemic forcing so many people inside prompted more of us to make our homes fun. For me, it was driven largely by a need to reconnect with my roots, a punk rock-loving girl from a big Irish family in a working-class town.

But lately, I've had unsettling feelings about maximalism similar to those I had about minimalism. It feels like many of the biggest influencers in the space are claiming to be one thing, in this case, anti-luxury and pro-clutter, but are really pushing something else. Like minimalism, if you only get your maximalist inspiration from popular bloggers and TikTokers, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Here's why. One, at the end of the day, influencers are influencers. I'm not anti-influencer.

Bloggers, TikTokers, and Instagrammers all need to make money. But at the same time, getting home decor advice from influencers and expecting it to look the same in your home is like getting skincare advice from a celebrity. These people benefit financially from their home looking a certain way.

They're gifted stuff and know how to photograph it. And we don't know what kind of mess lurks in the rest of their homes. They also have more time to scope out the perfect pieces because it's their job, not a hobby.

It's absolutely fine to look to influencers for inspiration. That's why they're there. But you don't have the same incentive or means to make your home look good.

Two, feelings of inadequacy can cause overspending. On one hand, maximalism can be comforting if you're a person with ADHD, hoarding tendencies, or are simply disorganized. But it can also create feelings of not being good enough when you log on to social media and see someone calling their space cluttercore when it's really a highly curated photo-shoot-ready space.

Andrea Bonior, author of The Friendship [? Fix, ?] says feelings of inadequacy and insecurity can lead to problem spending. And when a movement is literally summed up as more is more, it's easy to see how some might try to spend their way out of negative feelings.

Aesthetic and organization are not the same thing. So the next time social media makes you feel like your place isn't good enough, the solution might be to unfollow. Three, anything trendy and in-demand means it's going to get marked up.

The truth is, much like Scandinavian design surged in popularity and price during the minimalism wave, so to have unique kitschy maximalist items. Even thrift store prices are climbing. The secondhand market, according to the 2020 resale report, was worth $28 billion in 2019 and expected to reach $64 billion in 2024.

Retailers are huge on platforms like Depop and Etsy. In fact, as of mid-April, many Etsy store owners are striking, with one of their demands being that the platform cracked down more heavily on resellers. Resellers are huge in both clothing and home decor, with some even making reselling their full-time jobs.

Keep your eyes out for scam artists. And instead of looking online for everything, try to let treasures come to you. Some of my favorite items are ones that have been passed down from friends and family or from neighborhood swaps.

Four, thrifting can be morally dicey. As I mentioned, thrift shop prices have been steadily rising for years, with some blaming those full-time resellers and others blaming the general mainstreaming of thrifting. In their IPO, Canadian thrift chain Value Village, which has become notorious for its rising prices, stated that thrifting accounted for approximately 60% of the total secondhand market in 2021.

And it believed it could benefit from that steady growth. The problem is that it's made thrifting out of necessity even harder and has led to more competition over cheap prices. Sure, thrifting some decor or fun wall hangings might ultimately be harmless, but buying low-cost things that people might actually need-- think toasters, kettles, bedding, kids' clothes, toys, et cetera from thrift stores has been a sore spot for anti-poverty activists for several years now.

You don't have to swear off thrifting entirely, but make sure that your love of maximalism doesn't turn into indiscriminate overconsumption. Ultimately, the thing to remember about maximalism is that, much like minimalism, there is no morality or set of ethics tied to what your home or personal style looks like. Owning very few things doesn't necessarily make you anti-materialistic.

Owning mismatched cluttered things doesn't make you anti-luxury. Neither option can stop you from trying to spend your way out of misery. Ultimately, they're both just trends.

The healthiest thing for you to do is to find a style that expresses who you are.