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An eclectic mix of objects with pricetags in a store
Organized chaos — and an array of potentially delightful finds — inside the Pasadena Antique Mall.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Ready to embrace cluttercore? Head to these eclectic L.A. shops

As kids, we really knew how to decorate. Time-travel back to your childhood bedroom and gaze upon those four walls: Perhaps you’ll find a tear-out (or 10) from teen magazines of a broody Brad Pitt, Radiohead album cover posters and the sweetest Sanrio accessories with the talismanic power to elicit joy. Just me? Probably not. Your younger self’s design choices told visitors exactly what you liked, where you’d been and what you valued. But somewhere along the way, we all started decorating for other people — or to match the picture-perfect images we see online and in magazines: white-on-beige minimalist palaces with nary a fastidiously curated item out of place.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. (And, really, who lives like that?) Enter cluttercore, a social-media-boosted design sensibility that frees you to curate your home with the enthusiasm and freedom you had as a teen by simply displaying what you love — without regard to how those items might match the room’s color palette. The cluttercore vibe is highly personal, so a Raiders fan might fill a wall with framed team photos and memorabilia over black and silver wallpaper, because fandom is all about layering. That empty living room tabletop needs a mini shrine to Harry Styles with shadow boxes of concert ticket stubs. And instead of just throwing away that wine cork, you could write the date and initials of when and with whom the bottle was shared, and start a collection of beautiful memories displayed in a bowl. The aesthetic is a little bit unexpected, a lot kitschy, and usually makes for some great conversation starters.

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Cluttercore, like many other things on social media, has hazy origins (some claim it started on Tumblr or Twitter), but TikTok has seen the biggest growth of the trend, with #cluttercore amassing more than 92 million searches. Achieving the aesthetic is about embracing your own authentic sense of what works in your space and what you love. It’s often grounded in nostalgia, because those Linkin Park posters that gave you a thrill back then could still do exactly that today.

Achieving the cluttercore space of your dreams can be simple: Just dust off and display things that still bring you joy but are currently stored in the garage. If your taste has changed since your teens, fear not. These seven shops specializing in eclectic collections will help you jump-start your best cluttercore life. After all, who wouldn’t want to live more authentically in 2023?

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A store interior with display cases and shelves filed with merchandise related to comics, movies and games
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Blast From the Past

Burbank Vintage store
In the Magnolia Park neighborhood, the façade of the building that houses the retail space Blast From the Past promises one thing with its front-facing “Mandalorian” mural: the warm embrace of fan culture. Inside, you can find items reflecting the depth and breadth of pop culture from the ’90s and early aughts, from G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figurines to “Friends” jigsaw puzzles that evoke Chandler Bing’s famous inflection, “Can this be any cooler?”

The spacious 2,400-square-foot store means there is something for everyone — comic books, Disney collectibles, even a collection of old TV Guides and entertainment magazines that stir emotions about long-forgotten shows. Remember “Ally McBeal”? Most days, owners Larry and Kathy Ross are on hand, working the register and willing to spar warmly with you about your favorite superhero movie while you shop for your home’s next beloved piece.
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A stall at an outdoor market filled with colorful items.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Rose Bowl Flea Market

Pasadena Vintage store
On the second Sunday of every month, the Rose Bowl parking lot turns into a hallowed ground for collectors and pickers to bargain over pre-owned treasures. But for cluttercore enthusiasts, the star attraction is the arts and crafts area, with its booths of independent artists hawking squeal-worthy treasures, like crochet flower bouquets, succulent vases in the shape of Groot making heart symbols with its twiggy hands, and unique upcycled book art from Carol Corwen, a retired school principal who now spends her time turning literary classics into wall art, so you can decorate your space and visually tell people about your favorite book at the same time.

The vibe is like an in-person Etsy pop-up to populate your walls and rooms with elevated self-expressive art — if you’ve evolved beyond tearing pages out of magazines.
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A man wearing a red apron stands in a grocery store aisle between shelves full of bottled drinks.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

Highland Park Vintage store
The heartbreak when Trader Joe’s discontinues a favorite food item is tantamount to the joy of rediscovering a long-forgotten childhood treat. What does food have to do with cluttercore? The design trend is a mood that permeates beyond walls and floor. At Galco’s, a self-proclaimed old-world grocery store, owner John F. Nese’s unofficial motto is, “If you can find it anywhere, we’re not going to carry it.”

Here, you can populate your snack tray with nostalgic candy like Necco Wafers, the pastel color discs that transport you back to simpler times. The candy section pales compared to the aisles of bottled sodas from back in time and all corners of the world. Fill your fridge with bottles of Dr Pepper that taste like they used to (sweetened with cane sugar) and packaged with the original slogan that looks so cool, it could be upcycled for the ultimate cluttercore look.
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Movie posters on a wall above bins of Hollywood magazines
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Hollywood Movie Posters

Hollywood Vintage store
The Artisan’s Patio Building, a series of bungalow-style shops surrounding a tinkling water fountain on Hollywood Boulevard, feels a world away from the congestion of gift shops and double-decker sightseeing buses. At the end of the pedestrian cul-de-sac, you’ll find Ronald V. Borst, the longtime proprietor of this stamp-sized store overflowing with movie posters and memorabilia — both popular and obscure. Sure, you can buy an “Avatar” poster anywhere, but coming here to make the purchase is an experience.

Borst has been in the movie memorabilia business for more than 40 years, and the store is a visual poem of his journey. Ask him about the campy 1950s “Vampira” show posters, and he’ll tell you stories about the actor. Doesn’t talking about the absurdity of a gunfight scene in “Dirty Harry” make the poster more than just a poster? It becomes a reflection of authentic love. Borst is a tech minimalist who has a limited web presence and works limited hours only three days a week, so check before making the trip.
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The interior of a shop filled with colorful pillows, objects and plants
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Tansy

Burbank Home goods
There’s one word to describe this store: sublime. Part plant store and part gift shop, it’s a visually stunning collection of dissonant colorful things you don’t need but can’t live without. That bare ceiling spot in your baby’s room could definitely use a hanging papier-mâché sloth. And isn’t there always room in the kitchen for s’mores-shaped salt and pepper shakers? Shawna Christian, Tansy’s owner, says yes. She handpicks all items in the store.

And the plants! The pandemic launched a lot of fads, including the houseplant life, which can be sustained here, especially if you’re still working from home. A vibrant monstera can brighten the worst of days, and Tansy experts will help with instructions on how to keep the newest member of your cluttercore family alive.
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Items for sale on two shelves, including a ceramic bull statuette and a turquoise princess phone.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Pasadena Antique Mall

Pasadena Vintage store
Welcome to a labyrinth of oddities staged in perfect cluttercore fashion with mismatched furniture, textures and endless shelves laden with jewelry and Pez dispensers. The antique shop is on the ground level of the sleepy Paseo Colorado, an outdoor mall with unlikely neighbors like Tommy Bahama. It’s a destination with many eclectic treasures that can speak to each person’s unique taste. There are rooms dedicated to Hawaiian shirts and vintage Disneyland posters, and walls of art (do you need a framed college diploma?). And what aesthetic couldn’t use its own soundtrack? Turn to the roomful of vinyls here to start (or finesse) your record collection.
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Items on display with pricetags include a wooden sewing machine-shaped thread holder and sewing accessories.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

The Mart Collective

Venice Vintage store
Don’t let the austere sandstone exterior of the Mart Collective fool you. This place is a wonderland of curated accessories, art and furniture — a vortex that seduces visitors further into its core with endless collections of tchotchkes. Collectors are wise to shop with their senses open, so they know when an object speaks to them. Here, the chattering is loudest at the perimeters of the building, where shelves are filled with collections of unexpected things, like a wooden toy sewing machine festooned with colorful spools of thread. These are mini cluttercore tableaux that feel like the IRL version of “I Spy” books, where a collection of personal little things can create an artistic expression of who you are. Or is it the other way around and the “I Spy” books are the original cluttercore? Either way, they can make you feel things, which is what cluttercore is all about.
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