What are 'Vanilla Girl' interiors? Here's one thing we love (and three things we don't) about this latest viral style trend

Characterized by vanilla's comforting qualities this trending aesthetic embraces warm neutrals and soft textures. The question is, is it too bland?

al all beige/white living room
(Image credit: The New Design Project)

If you're on TikTok, chances are you've heard of the 'Vanilla Girl' aesthetic. If you haven't, we're here to reveal all. The latest delicate and neutral decor idea is social media's most coveted interior design style of 2023, but how well does it transfer from the digital realm to real life? 

Think of this trend as the fresher-faced sister of the so-called clean girl aesthetic, or the youngest grandchild of 2022's Coastal Grandmother style. As the name would suggest, Vanilla Girl decor is characterized by creamy, warm neutrals inspired by vanilla's classic qualities - we're talking clean lines, soft textures, and minimalist designs. But there's another connotation intrinsically tied to this safe choice of flavor, and that's a certain type of 'beige-ness'. 

Loved by some, tolerated by others, vanilla is associated with being plain, simple, and a little mundane. Can the same be said for the knitted throws, bland tones, and boucle furnishings that define this interior design trend? To find out, we asked some designers.

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She regularly shares stories with readers to help them keep up-to-date with ever-changing trends that promise to add personality into the home. For this article, she spoke with interior designers to learn more about what they love (and don't love) about the Vanilla Girl aesthetic 

What is the vanilla girl trend in interior design?

A neutral bedroom with a wooden bedside table decorate with a white ceramic vase a sage green foliage

(Image credit: Alamy)

Last year, many social media trends originated in the fashion realm before transcending into the interior design space. (See: Barbiecore, the Clean Girl aesthetic, and the Coastal Grandmother trend.) While some have been more nuanced and others downright outlandish, the Vanilla Girl trend is a far more pared-back, understated take on interior design. 

'The Vanilla Girl trend is all about muted cream tones and elevated yet cozy pieces,' explains home blogger Amanda Casas of Kinda Coastal Home. 'Boucle chairs, knit throw blankets and ceramic-like textures, and a resurgence of elements like pampas grass and beige paint colors. Something that sticks out about the look is going all in on the “vanilla” tones without fear of looking too monochromatic, which in the past was a design law.' 

As Gen-Z begin moving out and renting or even buying their own homes (yes, you heard that right), Amanda thinks we should be treating these TikTok trends as less trivial than they first appear. 'I believe we'll see more interior trends focusing on this simplicity, minimalism and slowing down the pace of life more generally,' she says. 

What we love about the vanilla girl trend 

Minimalist luxury

One thing the Vanilla Girl trend gets right is a minimalist style that's both simple and luxurious. Minimalism in interior design has a tendency to come across as stark and uninviting, but this trend keeps it warm and cozy with a heightened sense of luxe. 

'The biggest piece of the Vanilla Girl style that will take us through 2023 and beyond is the minimal approach to interior luxury,' says Amanda. 'If the Vanilla Girl style teaches us anything it's that a few pieces of elegant neutral décor can give a more put-together look than the maximalist interiors we’ve seen in the past.'  

We're already seeing this curated look manifest in the design sphere, and the neutral influences of Scandi designs have proved they're going absolutely nowhere this year. In that regard, the Vanilla Girl trend is onto something, at least. 

What we don't love

Pampas grass

A neutrally decorated side table with pampas grass in a vase

(Image credit: Alamy)

The feathery foliage of pampas grass has been a staple in neutrally decorated homes for a while, but truthfully, it's served its time. In fact, it's even one of the home decor trends designers are saying we should be leaving behind in 2023.

While it still makes a beautiful addition to your backyard, the idea of styling dried sprigs of beige grass in your home is certainly on its way out. There are other options for dried foliage that's a little less of a design cliche at this point, or look to branches and twigs for a more up-to-date finish. 

To help bring a natural depth and dimension, introducing fresh flowers or houseplants can bring vibrancy and new life to your space while also having some unexpected benefits, too. What's more, with so many colorful floral options, limiting yourself to neutral tones makes little sense.

Teddy bear bedding

A bedroom with teddy bear fleece bedding

(Image credit: Voshie)

Teddy bear fleece - the plush velvety fabric with soft, teddy bear-like fibers - might sound alluring in theory, but the Vanilla Girl trend's obsession with fleecy bedding falls short of practical. While it might be warm and cozy, this material is a nightmare to wash and dry, and like any soft fiber, it's going to collect dirt and dust very quickly. It's also typically made of polyester which, as we all know, has a certain cheapness to it. When it comes to how to style a bed, the Vanilla Girl trend really misses the mark.  

Chunky knitted throws

A bedroom with white sheets and a cream chunky knitted throw

(Image credit: Amazon)

If covering your entire bed with super soft teddy bear fleece wasn't enough, topping it with a chunky knit throw is where we draw the line. Yes, a cream or grey cable knit blanket certainly speaks coziness, but design-wise, they certainly don't make for a sophisticated and put-together interior, regardless of what the Vanilla Girl would have you believe).

Here at Livingetc we know how to appreciate a neutral color scheme, and we're not one to shun a cozy interior either. However, purely from a design perspective, the Vanilla Girl aesthetic needs a little work to feel deserving of a sophisticated interiors scheme. 

Our favorite pieces for a more sophisticated take on the Vanilla Girl trend 

Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.