Depending on what side of TikTok you’re on, you’ve probably seen time-lapse videos about redecorating your room with a new aesthetic in mind. And while design styles like traditional and midcentury modern have long stood in the spotlight, others have been growing in popularity in recent years. In an almost-direct response to the pristine and elegant vibes associated with minimalism, people have begun leaning into the idea of embracing the chaos of owning more and gaining some distance from the idea that a home should be picture-perfect all the time.
Enter cottagecore, fairycore, and goblincore.
Imagine life on a farm, living sustainably and in harmony with nature. That’s cottagecore. In a clearer answer, it’s a dreamy lens on farm life (it’s sometimes called farmcore or countrycore), typically from the English countryside of the 1800s. Lounging on Victorian furniture that’s adorned with wildflowers, having tea in the afternoon sunlight while wind blows through a window without glass, and wearing flowy dresses decorated with lace and ruffles all evoke the cottagecore style.
So how do you bring cottagecore into your home design? Not all aesthetic choices are practical, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on them. For cottagecore, start with your furniture: Think about wooden curio cabinets, simple side tables, and upholstered chaise longues and high-back chairs. Colors can range from dark wood to white-painted pieces, and you can add floral designs for an extra touch.
Drape curtains from the rods, rather than hanging them traditionally, and be sure to choose light, sheer fabric that lets the sun through. Paint or wallpaper an accent wall if you don’t want to cover the entire house. The range of colors is extensive because it’s all about nature. For true cottagecore loyalty, stick with lighter tones like yellows, oranges, whites, and soft greens. Contrast those with any dark furniture you have; the goal is for the space to feel light and airy rather than dark and brooding (we’ll cover dark academia another time).
Finally, remember that cottagecore is all about idealizing farm life. You don’t actually have to go off grid and move to a farm if you don’t want to.
Like cottagecore, fairycore is heavily focused on nature, and also like cottagecore, its roots can be traced to the Romanticism movement in 1800s England. The big difference is the introduction of the fantastical. Less Lord of the Rings though, and more A Midsummer Night’s Dream (a common inspiration for fairy paintings from the Victorian era).
If you want your home to feel a little more fairy-like, think about a forest and make it more surreal. Start by incorporating plants; not only will these improve air quality and overall health, but they’ll also give your home a forest-like feel. If you’re not particularly adept at keeping plants alive—no shame, I’m not either—go with fake plants (we’ll be dimming the lights, so no one will be able to tell). For an added touch, hang vines from the walls and ceiling or drape them over furniture.
The next step is to focus on lighting. While a real forest would mean living in partial or complete darkness, that’s not realistic for your home. But overhead lights are too bright and often take away from the magical feel. Instead, take a note from cottagecore and use thin curtains so you can make the most of natural lighting. Trade out bright bulbs for warm whites, and use lamps or hang fairy lights. If you’re using indoor lighting, be sure to make it inconspicuous: Twine the fairy lights through plants and vines and place lamps so their light is visible but the base is hidden. Finally, make use of pastels and light wood furniture, as both will add to the overall lightness of the space while also bringing in more “magical forest” vibes.
Want to see all these elements incorporated into one room? Check out this TikTok:
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about goblincore. While it’s the last on the list because it’s the most different, it’s also my favorite. Goblincore is all about appreciating nature that is usually considered less pretty: Think moss, frogs, bones, mushrooms, and the like. It’s also about collecting things (as goblins might), bringing this style closer to maximalism (an aesthetic of excess) than the other two.
To embrace the goblincore lifestyle, you’ll want to focus on creating a true forest rather than a fantasy one. Bring in all the plants and pair them with darker wall colors and furniture, such as deep greens and reds. Curtains can be thicker and block out more sunlight. You’ll avoid overhead lights as with the other two aesthetics, but you might bring in candles and Edison lamps to replace them.
You’ll also want to incorporate things found in nature for décor. Hang dried flowers on the walls or from the ceiling, or decorate with framed butterflies and other insects. You can also find ethically sourced animal bones at events like the Oddities and Curiosities Expo that travels across the U.S. (If you find animal bones in the wild, be sure to read up extensively on how to safely collect, clean, and display them before bringing them into your home.) And if you’re not a fan of having real-life critters, alive or otherwise, look for artwork that incorporates them. Hanging up vintage book pages of mushroom guides is also popular in goblincore.
And remember, goblincore is all about coziness and often maximalism. This means you’ll want to incorporate all the things that bring you joy. Leaving out a warm blanket on the couch? Might as well have three. Do you collect trinkets? Cover the walls and display each one. In fantasy, goblins are not focused on organization, so run with the “lived in” look.
For more inspiration, here’s a TikTok of a home with a goblincore aesthetic:
Try It All … or None of It!
These aesthetics have been popular as of late, but they’re not the only ones out there. More important, all three are about expressing your individualism and making your home yours. So take some or all of these elements, and whatever doesn’t speak to you, leave it for someone else to find.
Kian Zozobrado joined Builders Digital Experience (BDX) in 2019 as a content writer. A graduate of Southwestern University with a degree in English, Kian is passionate about the written word and making connections. Outside of work, Kian also serves as president of the Board of Directors for the Writers’ League of Texas.