Embrace whimsical Carnivalcore decor in your home with these nostalgic pieces — from $28

For something bold and playful, look no further than Carnivalcore — our expert designer will tell you how to conquer the look

Carnivalcore decor including a marquee letter light in red, a popcorn carton vase, and a vintage carnival poster on a blurry background of a ferris wheel at night
(Image credit: Canva + Amazon, Urban Outfitters & Wayfair)

Hurry, hurry, step right up: carnivalcore is ready to bring the whimsy and joy of the state fair directly to your home — no long lines necessary. 

Decor that evokes a carnival aesthetic is meant to make you feel nostalgic and carefree, something we could all do with a bit more of. It's a bold style, but nothing says fun quite like it and our pros know how to implement it well and on a budget.

If you're not afraid of taking risks when it comes to interior design trends, our experts have just the right selection for you. 

Step inside a carnivalcore world

Carnivalcore in your living room might not come with bumper cars or a corndog stand, but it can certainly add a playful energy, just like the other decor "cores" (fairycore and cottagecore, to name a couple).

"It's a very vibrant world where it's a celebration of color, patterns, and joy," says designer Nina Lichtenstein. "The ways you can do this are with bold hues and contrasts, infuse electrics reds, and pair [it all] with white or neutrals. The key is to let your home radiate energy and positivity."

Think of it as dopamine decorating with a vintage twist à la old-fashioned posters, confetti-inspired wall art, and circus-themed figurines. 

To dip your feet into the trend, start with the  Circus 2 On Canvas Print by Vintage Lavoie on Wayfair, or Samapet LED Marquee Letter Lights from Amazon, subtle yet fun touches to bring out the playfulness. Nina suggests taking things up a notch with DIY games, too. 

"Put your home into a realm of fantasy," she adds. "Capture it without holding back. Carnivalcore thrives on the unexpected, so you don't want to skimp."

Lastly, as is the case with most trends, lighting can make or break the look. Carnivalcore practically begs for string lights and fairy lights, so why not add Lemontec's 2-Pack of Indoor/Outdoor String Lights from Amazon to your cart to top it all off? We'll be here standing by with the popcorn and deep-fried Oreos when you're ready to snack.

Nina Lichtenstein
Nina Lichtenstein

When Nina Lichtenstein designs a home, it is more than just a house. It is a haven. One tailored to a family's distinctive tastes, daily rituals, special gatherings, and long-term dreams. It is a nest from which to launch lives and make memories for generations to come. Her use of diverse textures and elegant blends of stone, wood, and other natural materials are part of her signature style.

What to shop

Looking for more out-of-the-box ideas to explore? We uncovered 2024 TikTok interior trends to help push you out of your aesthetic comfort zone in the best way possible. 

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.