How not to feel like you’re drowning in trinkets

I absolutely love trinkets and a maximalist aesthetic – the more textures, colors and overlapping layers, the better. However, sometimes I get sensory overload in my apartment and feel like I need to declutter even though I don’t want to. My eye is starting to resent the lack of white space and I feel like there are too many vignettes and my assets are closing in on me. I don’t necessarily think it’s because I have too many things; instead, I think it’s because it’s not arranged correctly.

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There is an art to arranging trinkets. If you place them haphazardly on shelves and furniture, your room can quickly start to look like an estate sale with all its treasures lined up on tables. If you occasionally struggle with how to group your collectibles and decorative items and want to create some breathing space in your space, these designer tips can help you make your home look curated instead of cluttered.

The easiest way to avoid feeling like you’re drowning in stuff is to focus on decorating with larger collectibles. “Our rule of thumb is to consciously buy larger decorative items instead of lots of smaller items,” says Bria Hammel, owner and creative director of Bria Hammel Interior in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. “This way it will feel fuller without clutter or having to buy several small accessories to fill the empty space.” This may mean weeding out your smaller pieces to let the bigger items shine. Just save your “smalls” for now and rotate things in when you get tired of the trinkets currently on display.

Group similar items together.

If you love your selection of tchotchkes but they still feel a little cluttered, try grouping similar items together to create a consistent thread. “I think it gives a sense of order,” I say Darryl Carter, a Washington DC-based interior designer and furniture designer. “If souvenirs are different, one way to solve this is to execute them in the same way.” Take pictures, for example. You can frame them all in one frame style for visual continuity. If you have a candlestick assembly, tie your pieces together by using the same color candlestick in each vessel. A vase collection can hold the same type of flower or greenery throughout a room and so on.

Create height differences.

One of the reasons your room can feel like an avalanche of trinkets is because you don’t use the height to break them up. “Use books, racks and raised trays to create mini platforms for your small decor items,” suggests Olga Zymon, a Chicago, Illinois-based interior designer. “Our eye likes to see objects grouped together in groups of three, but even that can fall flat if those objects are all the same height. Take a stack of Vogue [magazines] or books and use them to raise one vase higher than another. Use a tray with legs to raise trinkets next to vases or tubs, and place planters on top of small boxes.”

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