What Is Tomatocore?

Updated: Jul. 26, 2023

The home decor trend is all about classic Mediterranean elegance, not kitschy tomato prints.

It’s no secret that bright, poppy Barbiecore has been sweeping the nation in recent months. The energetic, more-is-more aesthetic trend has helped many viewers embrace their childhood dream house fantasies. But what if your dream house is a little…quieter? Maybe you envision natural woods and airy architecture and sun-drenched neutrals instead. That’s where tomatocore comes in. Here’s everything to know about the uber-chic home decor trend, including what it is, how it emerged, why it became popular and how you can incorporate the aesthetic into your own home.

What Tomatocore Is:

Elegant farmhouse living area with sofas and easy chairs and patio doors open on to gardenJulieanneBirch/Getty Images

As a home aesthetic, Better Homes and Gardens defines tomatocore as “old-world Euro style mixed with fresh, timeless looks that allude to the quintessential summer feeling that freshly picked tomatoes bring.” Picture a gorgeous and elegantly simple European vacation home. It incorporates natural design features like brick walls or flooring, soothing neutral shades, airy linens, natural fibers, and plenty of charming features like vintage tiles and hand-crafted wooden furniture.

Of course, it’s also topped off with plenty of foliage, both in and outside the home. Imagine a flourishing vegetable garden, as well as container-planted herbs on the kitchen windowsill. In the words of Kathy Kuo, CEO and founder of Kathy Kuo Home, the tomatocore trend is “all about really indulging the senses and living life in a really chic, but utterly relaxed, European way.”

How Tomatocore Emerged

Like many home decor trends, tomatocore began as a fashion aesthetic. People on TikTok started embracing easy, effortless style this summer, inspired by an aspirational vacation on the Mediterranean coast. As a sort of extension to the coastal grandmother fashion trend, individuals began wearing classic, comfortable, breezy clothes. Their outfits incorporated airy linens, light color palettes, classic European tailored silhouettes and, yes, pops of tomato red in the form of dresses, jumpsuits or lipstick. Soon, these so-called “tomato girls” began expanding the aesthetic into other areas of their life, from fresh summer recipes to home decor.

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Why Tomatocore Is So Popular

While it’s true that tomatocore is a natural fit for summertime and that young celebrities are adopting the fashion, I would argue that the roots of this tomato trend run even deeper. For one, travel fantasies are surging, largely as a result of pent-up energy from the Coronavirus pandemic. According to AAA booking data, international travel has increased 200% in 2023 compared to 2022. Cultural touchstones like The White Lotus have also helped fuel these romantic travel aspirations. After all, both tomato girls and wealthy tourists love an Aperol spritz.

However, in these difficult economic times, not everyone can afford a fancy European vacation. As a result, more and more consumers are finding other ways to embrace luxurious ideas without spending a lot of money. Living like a tomato girl is another way of romanticizing your life, i.e. savoring the small pleasures of a freshly brewed espresso or a beautifully tailored linen pant. Indeed, Slate defines the trend as “a way of performing a sort of effortless-looking elegance without being a member of the leisure class […] a lovely illusion.” Rest assured, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to make your home look expensive.

Lastly, it’s important to note that tomatocore is not a strictly “new” trend. Rather, it’s a rebranding of an older concept for a new generation. While the teens may be using a new term for it, tomatocore (and cottagecore and coastal grandma) all draw upon familiar middle-class aspirations of upper-class lifestyle. Just rewatch Under the Tuscan Sun, The Talented Mr. Ripley, or Eat, Pray, Love and you’ll spot the seeds of the modern tomato girl.

How to Incorporate Tomatocore into Your Home

If you’re trying to live that life of luxury, there are a few key ways to incorporate tomatocore into your home.

Embrace Natural Elements

Luxury Interior Tropical Bathroom Of The Dream with a Bathtub and open ceiling, tropical plants and gravel surround the tub with the toilet and showerr glass in the foregrounddeskcomm/Getty Images

Natural earthiness is essential to tomatocore. As such, utilize natural materials wherever possible. Yes, that could be a ceramic-tiled kitchen or a living room with exposed wooden beams, but you can also rely on furniture to bring the natural world in. Opt for real wood pieces with rustic finishing; antique furniture is a lovely choice. For fabrics, choose airy, natural fibers like cotton and linen. And for accent pieces, try incorporating clay and small spots of leather. Plastic and chrome are not tomatocore.

Opt for an Airy Neutral Color Palette

Keep the base color palette light and relaxing. Utilize lots of crisp whites, natural creams, earthy browns, terracottas, pale wood tones, and sage greens. For more inspiration, check out the soothing tones of the Japandi aesthetic, which similarly relies on showcasing the beauty and abundance of the natural world. Incorporate these tones into the backdrop of your home through painted walls and large-scale furniture pieces.

Add Dimension Through Pattern and Well-Placed Color

Luxury And Very Clean Empty European Kitchen with green kitchen cabinets, dishes in the strainer, plants vined above the sink and in pots on a railing systemKseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

No one can survive on neutrals alone, so add personality to your space with vintage patterns and pops of color. Patterns should stick to Mediterranean classics, like soft florals, arabesques and the kaleidoscopic bursts of hand-painted ceramic tiles. Keep the colors classic, rich and sundrenched, like Amalfi blue, mustard yellow, or orangey reds. For inspiration, picture a beloved Le Crueset pot, fresh produce, or the houses of the Cinque Terra.

Get Your Greens In

Lastly, finish off the look with plenty of foliage. Add fresh-cut flowers, plenty of houseplants and a lush garden. Because tomatocore is so sensual, try to incorporate fragrant flowers and edible plants, like vegetable vines or citrus trees. And don’t worry if you don’t have the space for a full, in-ground garden. A container garden of herbs in terracotta pots is incredibly chic on its own.