Light Academia interiors are trending – here's how to achieve this studious style

Say goodbye to dark and moody – we can't get enough of these light neutral spaces

Light Academia interiors trend
(Image credit: Divine Savages/McGee & Co/LAYERED)

'Light Academia' is the latest look that has got people talking in the world of interior design. A lighter alternative to the Dark Academia trend that dominated trends in previous years, this new take sees creamy neutrals and subtle earthy hues taking center stage.

Even though moody color palettes are still in demand, this emerging interior design trend is proving there is still space for schemes drenched in light, warming hues. With trends this year embracing all things eclectic, it's no surprise this decor-focused aesthetic is having a moment.

But what exactly is the Light Academia trend, and is it worth embracing? We've spoken to interior designers to find out what the aesthetic includes, and how to embrace the style in your home in a way that endures.

What is the Light Academia trend?

Home office painted in Farrow & Ball Dead Salmon

(Image credit: Julie Soefer/Marie Flanigan)

By now, you're probably familiar with the Dark Academia trend. Well, Light Academia offers a similar atmosphere but with an opposite color palette – dark colors are replaced with light shades and warm neutrals, while metallic details and dark-painted woods are replaced by natural textures in a lighter finish.

'I would say Light Academia interiors are inspired by historical references from the Gothic and Art Nouveau periods, but with a lighter more neutral color scheme than its counterpart Dark Academia,' explains Sarah Kruse, owner and principal designer at Storie Designs.

'It's a mix of old and new pieces, a way to make a space feel historic and preserved in time,' she adds. Light Academia interiors feel eclectic and collected – the bookshelf wealth trend is embraced in these spaces, while a blend of contemporary and vintage decor makes a scheme feel welcoming and lived-in.

neutral bedroom with subtle wallpaper, rattan bed, vintage side table, wall light

(Image credit: Divine Savages)

When you break down the individual design elements of Light Academia interiors, many nod back to the past. So why are they trending in 2024? 'Similar to maximalist decor ideas that are proving very popular this year, people want their homes to feel warm and lived in,' says Sarah.

Although there are a lot of decorative objects seen in the Light Academia trend, nothing is too precious or overly curated. Shelves are filled with curios and collected items and books are displayed but not organized in a regimented way.

This approach to decorating and styling infuses homes with character and personality, giving you a glimpse into who the homeowner really is. 'This aesthetic facilitates that lived-in feeling and allows people to tell their own story through their space by displaying their collections and treasures,' Sarah adds. 

How can you introduce the Light Academia aesthetic to your space?

Light Academia living room

(Image credit: LAYERED)

Decorating a space to reflect the Light Academia style requires the right room color ideas, textures and decor. It's about balancing a scholarly aesthetic with warm, almost romantic details.

Light, neutral room ideas are crucial to a successful Light Academia scheme. Think beige, taupe, greige and warm white hues. Alongside these neutral toes, there is space for more earthy palettes, with plaster pinks, subtle yellows and pale powder blues often making an appearance in a more nuanced way.

As well as color, the design elements and decor are the features most associated with the Light Academia trend. 'Introducing this concept into a space could be through adding molding details and trims to the walls, crown molding around a room, and carved old-world furniture,' says Sarah. 

Light Academia home library

(Image credit: LAYERED)

The old-meets-new theme continues when it comes to furnishing a home, too. 'Elements of vintage furniture, art, and lighting add to the historical vibe this look works to achieve. Upholstery would need to stay in the lighter hues to achieve the Light Academia feel – cotton, linen, and pattern are great ways to add the warmth this look calls for,' Sarah explains.

And, of course, no Light Academia scheme is complete without bookshelf ideas filled with collected books, decor, and trinkets. Adding a cozy wingback armchair beside it will create a charming reading nook – perfect for a Light Academia-style space.

Shop Light Academia home decor

Decorative pieces are at the core of the Light Academia trend, so no space in the style would feel quite complete without a few fitting decor items. From natural stone objects to charming artworks, there's plenty to inspire.

It's no surprise that the Light Academia is trending in the year of maximalism, eclectic style, and lived-in spaces. This trend embraces all the features that can give our spaces personality and character; so whether you create a cozy reading nook in the style or add a touch of scholarly charm to your decor, it's a look that will always feel wonderfully timeless.

Molly Malsom
Content Editor

Molly joined the Homes & Gardens interiors team at the start of 2024 as a content editor. Her undergraduate degree was in Magazine Journalism and Production, which she studied at the University of Gloucestershire. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she worked for two interiors titles across both print and digital channels, writing about a range of topics from room design ideas and decorating trends to the best places to source pre-loved homeware.