Kitschcore - The homeware trend you'll either love or hate

Kitschcore - The homeware trend you'll either love or hate

We know what you're thinking. Isn't the term kitsch synonymous with poor taste and outdated style? That certainly used to be the case, however the modern kitschcore revival is taking the interior design world by storm and shaking up the true definition of contemporary interior style.

Why is Kitschcore making a comeback now?

Although not every shift in the way we are choosing to live our lives can be directly linked to the pandemic, this is one that does appear to stem from the uncertainty we have all experienced. Collectively, we have spent far more time at home over the last two years, which has prompted us to really look at our homes and the items we choose to surround ourselves with.

It seems that the rise of kitsch interiors has been born from a collective feeling that our homes have been missing an element of playfulness and fun, and while the minimal design sensibility that clean and tidy equals serene and tranquil still holds true, that certainly isn't to say that we can't also embrace quirky and colourful pieces that spark feelings of joy and vivacity, too.

So, what exactly is contemporary kitsch design?

For many of us, there is a sense of balance to be found between kitschy delights and pared-back design. Arguably, too many leading interior voices have been loudly pushing the notion that minimalism is the only way to live well in contemporary times for far too long, and now more of us are beginning to see the benefits of shifting away from the shades of grey and voids of empty space that have become almost overwhelming and oppressive in their own way.

So, if that is what we're moving away from, what exactly are we moving towards? Well, loud colour palettes, for starters. But also beautiful pieces with an inherent sense of irony about them, whimsical design, and playful objects with a charming touch of retro sensibility.

It's tricky to summarise a design trend that embraces mis-matched styles and colour palettes but as we know, that doesn't really give too much away so please allow us to enhance the image in your mind by touching on some of the things that contemporary kitsch is most definitely not. If your mind still automatically associates kitsch interiors solely with delicate porcelain figurines and glassware adorned with the Babycham deer, rest assured that the contemporary take on this extravagant design style has so much more to offer.

Now, if those are items that bring you joy, it is certainly possible to incorporate them into your interiors. In fact, those antique fair hidden treasures are likely to sing when paired with pieces that embody the more modern twist on kitsch, which have a keener focus on the cooler and more refined side of things. However, a contemporary angle on this trend is far more keenly focused on the fundamentals of kitschyness, including unusual colour combinations, exclusive accessories you won't find just anywhere, and incorporating disparate and eclectic styles into a single space.

Now, if you're still not convinced, that's OK, it's fair to say this isn't a trend that is going to appeal to everyone. But we're here to pronounce the surprising versatility of modern kitschyness and hopefully provide you with some unexpected inspiration that could see you incorporating certain elements of this trending style into your own interiors.

But what if your home embodies an entirely different design style? Is there a way to bring a touch of elegance to the kitschcore aesthetic? And is this something you should even aspire to achieve? We think the answer to both of those questions is: unequivocally yes!

If you're keen to uncover some kitschcore inspiration or are simply curious about what this homeware trend has to offer, we have put together a collection of pieces we think will help you to create kitsch interiors that will elevate your home and lift your spirits.

Kitschy Wall Adornments

With all things kitsch, saying goodbye to rigid lines is a must in favour of embracing free-flowing curves in even the most unexpected places. The Sonora Wall Mirror by Light & Living is a perfect example as to how to lean into this trend in an understated way. Crafted from a gorgeous light brown wood with a visible grain, the undulating curves draw in the eye whilst giving a fresh, highly contemporary look.

curve mirror

Excitingly, this piece can be mounted on your chosen wall in either a portrait or landscape orientation, offering an additional layer of versatility that you can experiment with in your home. The neutral colour palette means that this chic mirror can be hung alongside a collection of kitschy frames and art pieces to give the eye a place to pause and rest when taking in the intricacies of a gallery wall.

Animal Print Accessories

Animal print is arguably one of the most divisive interior styles, but when pursuing every avenue of kitschyness, you will find that it features heavily, particularly when it comes to the finishing flourishes that work to tie an entire scheme together.

The Arazova Cushion by Andrew Martin boasts a hyper-realistic zebra skin print, which has been hand-blocked in the UK. The classic black and ivory white colour palette illustrates that it isn't necessary to select brightly coloured accessories in order to embrace this fun and vivacious interior style. It's perfectly possible to introduce kitsch elements into monochromatic spaces and it doesn't even have to be difficult to achieve.

zebra cushion

The sumptuous velvet material gives the piece an inherently tactile nature, which is another core element of kitsch design, while the precise black piping and plush duck feather cushion pad provide a level of luxury that only exists within the most elegant design pieces.

Validating the surprisingly versatile nature of animal print interior pieces, the Arazova cushion also conveys a distinctly retro vibe which can be incorporated into a variety of decidedly more traditional design schemes, including loft-style living. So, embracing the kitsch trend doesn't mean you need to invest in a room full of pieces that aren't adaptable to other styles. In fact, you will likely find that several different applications will immediately spring to mind when you look at even the most overtly kitsch pieces.

Although first impressions of the Alfama Zebra Print Dining Chair by Liang & Eimil may suggest that this animal print piece is louder and more 'out there' than the Andrew Martin cushion, the slightly abstract and looser nature of the print style that has been selected means it can stand beside a surprisingly varied selection of other pieces with ease. Whether you're working with a retro kitsch or an ultra contemporary aesthetic, this dining chair is set to look right at home.

The chunky black legs work well to ground the chair and bring a touch of neutrality to a vibrant piece that is full of fun, life and personality. Plus, as each chair is sold individually, you have the option to mix and match different styles and prints to create a kitschy dining area that reflects every facet of your personality and your personal style. If this idea has inspired you to get creative with your seating solutions, you could either choose to maintain a monochromatic colour palette throughout or opt for clashing colours and prints for a truly maximalist kitsch aesthetic. Alternatively, this style of animal print can shine when paired with rich jewel tones, including emerald greens and inky blues, where it will still demonstrate its kitsch sensibility but in a decidedly more elegant and grown-up manner.


Gaudy Glassware

We want to start by emphasising that we're using the word gaudy here in the most affectionate way possible. Much like kitsch, gaudiness is making its own comeback within contemporary interior design and, again, it is a very love/hate style. Excitingly though, small pieces of gaudy glassware can be incorporated into even the simplest design schemes without totally taking over, giving a space a contemporary edge that has been missing within interiors over the last few years.

kitsch interiors
The Vival Green Vase by Gallery Direct is a prime example of understated kitsch. In fact, this is precisely the type of accessory that will enhance the inherent kitschyness of louder pieces whilst simply standing alone as a gentle piece of interior decor with a plethora of applications.

Its squat silhouette with a slim neck and circular base gives high-level retro vibes, as does the subtle green hue present within the glass itself. This very simple piece has visible bubbles, which gives a handblown, almost bohemian and artisanal look that feels very of a time. It also carries with it just the right amount of nostalgia, feeling familiar whilst also retaining an element of freshness. Ultimately, the Vival Vase is an accessory that looks incredibly understated when styled alone, however, when it is placed alongside other pieces of glassware in an assortment of different colours, it really bursts into life and can make a significant impact even within large, airy rooms.

Conversely, the vintage silhouette and colour palette of this traditional style candle holder from Cozy Living looks like a piece you would expect to find tucked away in a box of treasures at the back of your favourite dusty antique shop. Again, we mean this in the best and most affectionate possible way because it embodies contemporary kitsch wholeheartedly and without abandon.

Shaped from smoked glass in a pretty, almost saccharine sweet, apricot peach hue, the unexpectedly angular handle is balanced by the curves of the central cylinder and rounded base striking the ideal balance between mid-century retro chic and modernity. This is a petite piece that can make a bold impression when grouped together with other pieces in a selection of sweet shop pastel tones. Think sweet al fresco summer dining with berry-heavy desserts gently illuminated by candlelight and we're certain that your inner interior designer will instantly be swept away by the charm and nostalgia of all things kitsch.

Soulful Ceramics

The off-beat, quirky soul that is so clearly present within all Jonathan Adler pieces embodies contemporary kitsch wholeheartedly and the Gala Vase is a prime example of the fun and personality that can ooze out of interior accessories that are as visually pleasing as they are functional.

retro vase
This humorous piece of design doesn't take itself too seriously and, as a result, is a charming work of art in its own right. Inspired by Gala, the muse and wife of iconic surrealist artist Salvador Dali, the Gala Vase features relief lip pattern and motifs including moustaches, dollar signs, safety pins and pink tongues in an irreverent, highly subversive way. Certain to raise more than a few smiles, this quirky vase can be incorporated into a contemporary design scheme with flashes of kitschy joy or alongside a group of similarly soulful design accessories if you are keen to embrace a more overt kitsch look within your home.

Adaptable Abstraction

If pretty pastels or neon hues just aren't your style but you want to incorporate some of the attention-grabbing elements of kitsch design, opting for pattern-forward pieces in unusual colour palettes is an ideal avenue to explore.

The neutral putty-toned Paul Moneypenny Cushion by Malini is adorned with abstract applique shapes in a unique combination of forest green, inky blue and terracotta pink hues, the latter of which is carried through into the piping around the entire perimeter. It is precisely the sense of disharmony present within this surprising colour palette that exudes kitschy charm.

kitsch home

This is yet another example of an adaptable design accessory that can be used to introduce a sense of playfulness into a subtler design scheme or as a neutral place for the eye to rest on within a busier and more vivacious interior space.

Are you ready to embrace kitschcore?

There is no denying that kitsch design presents a plethora of exciting opportunities to play with pattern, colour, texture and styles, and it can be tempting to throw every single thread of inspiration you have at a design scheme. However, while this is certainly a route you could choose to follow, you may end up creating a far more refined and successful finished space by simplifying your influences and resisting the urge to get too carried away.

Additionally, this is a style of interior design that can quickly lose sight of the primary function of a space within the home, which is to be conducive to everyday life. So, rather than prioritising peculiarity and unusual touches at every turn, it is important to consider whether they may have a negative influence on the ways in which a space can be used.

With that said, however, a design will never truly reach the dizzying heights of kitschcore without a certain level of bravery in your creative choices. So, don't be afraid to incorporate every item that catches your eye and brings you joy, especially if they don't fit together on a logical level. Ultimately, this style of interior design is the polar opposite of minimalism and therefore there really aren't any boundaries that your creativity could be contained within.

While many proponents of kitschcore will say that it simply isn't possible to adopt a subtle approach when leaning into this style of design, we actually think the opposite is true. You see, from the ironic placement of flying bird ornaments on the wall in an ultra modern living room to bathrooms adorned with flamingo print wallpaper and display cabinets showcasing all the fun souvenirs you have picked up on your travels, kitschy pieces can be incorporated into any interior. It certainly doesn't need to be all or nothing, so why not take inspiration from this trendy look and play with colour or pattern in an unexpected way, even if only in a very understated way.

If you're not sure where to start, artwork can be the ideal pool to dip your toes into. Even something as simple as framing a wallpaper sample featuring a bold design with a varied colour palette can transform the way your space looks and feels. Who knows, you might find yourself feeling freshly inspired to breathe new life into your home and completely transform the way you live. And if not, that's perfectly OK too. We'll be back soon with a deep dive into another interior design trend that could be the one that better speaks to your sense of style and your personality.