This Was the Year of the Design “Cores”

published Dec 30, 2023
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View of bedroom with double bed
Credit: Johner Images / Getty Images

If you’ve spent any time thumbing through interior design inspo online within the past few years, you’ve probably noticed something: the suffix “-core” is here, there, and everywhere. It’s used to describe specific aesthetics, some of which have been around forever but never really had a name until now. Cottagecore, for example, popped up in 2020 and is still an ultra-popular way to describe what living in a country cottage looks and feels like.

But cottagecore isn’t the only core that flooded feeds in 2023. In fact, there were quite a few design trends that had their moments this year, and there’s no sign of them stopping in 2024. It’s all core this, core that, the way every scandal is a -gate. (Why -core is the default suffix for these trends is likely because core is the innermost part of something, so when it’s added to another word like clutter, it describes what an aesthetic is centered around — its core.)

If you couldn’t keep up with all of this year’s cores or just want to revisit some favorites, here are the cores that were, well, core to 2023.

Cottagecore

For a third year in a row, cottagecore remains comfortably on the throne. This aesthetic boomed during the height of the pandemic when people wanted to escape to a cozy little cottage in the countryside surrounded by green fields, fresh air, and farm animals. But because most people couldn’t actually do that, they instead brought that feeling into their homes with ditzy floral prints, greens of every shade, lace curtains, wooden accents, taper candles, and antique bits and bobs.

And because it’s been around for so long, cottagecore is easy to both recognize and achieve. For example, you must have vases of fresh flowers, bundles of dried herbs, wicker baskets, layered textures, antique picture frames, vintage china, and the desire to frolic in the meadows, to really nail the cottagecore aesthetic. 

It’s unlikely that cottagecore is going anywhere any time soon — it’s too comfy to quit. But it has been exciting to see different types of cottagecore take shape (dark academia, grandmillennial, and the like) and it’s fun to ponder what subset of cottagecore will 2024 bring.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Barbiecore

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie made the majority of 2023 feel like a super-long Wednesday (Mean Girls’ Karen Smith, that’s your cue). Pink was everywhere and once the trailer was released late last year, it didn’t take much time for Barbiecore to become a thing in both the fashion and interior design worlds.

Within Barbiecore is a range of different design offshoots. Some created a more muted Barbiecore aesthetic with pastel pinks, purples, and teals, floral accents, and more cozy vibes — Barbiecore meets cottagecore, if you will.

Others leaned in hard with hot pink, hearts, velvet, and glitter. Barbiecore is campy, and there’s no such thing as too much. As long as pink was at the center of your design, you were doing Barbiecore correctly. 

This core will likely be left in 2023 as the Barbie hype dies down. But just like Barbie herself, this trend could prove to be timeless in a kitschy kind of way. 

Yeehaw core

What began in the fashion world as “coastal cowgirl” ended up in the interior design realm as yeehaw core. A bit more understated than the other aesthetics that made this list, yeehaw core is a trend that mainly influenced our trinkets. 

Cowboy boot matchstick holders and vases were spotted everywhere, cowboy hat motifs appeared on pillows and wall hangings, and honestly, we blame Dolly Parton — or that one outfit change Barbie and Ken made in Barbie.

And is anyone else getting more line-dancing content fed to them on TikTok, or… ? No matter how you slice it, yeehaw has been in the air this year and not in a rustic farmhouse way.

Fantasycore

Witchcore was a thing back in 2021 (think potion bottles, dried herbs, broomsticks, and ancient tomes), but fantasycore — sometimes called “fairycore” — broadened the design genre to include more mystical themes.

With fantasy roleplays reaching staggering view counts on TikTok, fae-laden young adult books topping bestseller lists, and fans finally learning to love again after the massive letdown that was the series finale of Game of Thrones, it was only a matter of time before this core became a hit.

The fantasycore design aesthetic, which is likely an offshoot of dark academia, relies heavily on moody color palettes paired with whimsical decor. You want to feel like you’ve just stepped into a fairy’s hidey-hole or a Middle Earth tavern.

Warm lighting, natural elements, and, yeah, maybe a sword mounted to the wall all sell the fantasycore aesthetic and add a little magic to your day. Fantasy lovers will absolutely be bringing this design style into 2024 because, let’s face it, Lord of the Rings will never not be cool and fun. And with Wicked coming out in theaters later next year, you may even dabble in Ozcore for a bit (fantasycore meets whimsy goth meets theater kid?).

Cluttercore

Cluttercore came into the picture in 2022 and stayed for the 2023 party. After everyone Marie Kondo-ed their space in 2020, some people had a moment of panic — wait… where’d all of our stuff go? Rebuking minimalism is cluttercore’s organized chaos. Walls are jam-packed with paintings, pictures, and posters. Shelves are overstuffed with books and knickknacks. All flat surfaces are just places to display the weird things you find at the thrift store.

It’s maximalism, it’s messy, it’s fun, eclectic, and colorful.

Cluttercore is definitely not for minimalists with claustrophobia, and in some way or form, collectors who follow the cluttercore lifestyle will be bringing it with them into the new year … because there’s just too much good stuff in their space to get rid of!

What’s on the docket for next year? According to our spidey-core senses, one trend is likely going to start 2024 off strong.

Credit: Viv Yapp

Nancy Meyers core

Picture yourself as the star of Nancy Meyers’ latest flick (Diane Keaton, let’s say) in a white turtleneck sweater roaming the halls of your cream-colored and sunwashed coastal/suburban estate, hemming and hawing about your current will-they-won’t-they situation. Picture large windows in every room, schlubby-soft throw blankets draped over every piece of furniture, black wrought iron candlesticks, and decorative gold mirrors surround you.

Nancy Meyers core is vintage Americana and shabby chic mixed with modern eclectic with a wee touch of rustic farmhouse. It’s clean, it’s cream, and it’s so, so cozy. It’s like last year’s “coastal grandma,” but without necessarily having to be by the sea.

Get your linen pants and oversized button-down shirt on — Nancy Meyers core is gonna be good.

Keep a weathered eye on the horizon for new cores in 2024. Minimalism may make a comeback or we may get a new version of the late 2010’s eclectic boho. Only time (and TikTok) will tell.