If you’re looking to reach that elusive five-star island rating on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, then one of the most enjoyable ways to do so is to find an aesthetic that suits your tastes. That way you can think of themed sections, choose appropriate furnishings and unique custom patterns to cover your little paradise.
I’ve used all my Nook Miles Tickets to fly around the net in search of some of the most Instagrammable islands, and come up with a list of the top five aesthetic ideas to transform your island into something so spectacular that even Tom Nook won’t want to put you in debt. Each section includes dreamy examples, which may lead you down a big rabbit hole. You’ve been warned.
Related to: Fairycore, Farmcore and Forestcore
Colour pallet: Olive green, cream, peach, baby blue, pastel pink and brown
By far the most popular island aesthetic is Cottagecore, a TikTok sensation that grew in popularity during lockdown. Cottagecore is all about a romantic, country-based agricultural life, often seemingly quite old-fashioned and focused on coziness.
In Animal Crossing, islands are laid out to deliberately look haphazard - squiggly paths with lots of trees, flowers and knick-knacks all over the place. Paths typically consist of stepping stones or old wooden planks, and in general it feels like you’re in the middle of the wilderness. You can skirt the line in making your island feeling cluttered, as that’s quite a common theme in Cottagecore.
If you’re looking for sections of your island to design, Cottagecore works well with things such as cutesy flower gardens, sprawling orchards, knitting and sewing sections and old-time cafes. Anything that makes you think about a quaint village is bound to fit in here.
The same goes for your villager fashion choices. Floaty dresses, flower crowns, tweed suits and sweater vests all work perfectly with that exterior theme to create the ultimate Cottagecore aesthetic. In Autumn the builds you make will really stand out with the warm colours and crunchy leaves.
Skellige is an island by Kaylee_acnh that was featured on the YouTube channel of Liss the Lass, and is a perfect example of Cottagecore done to the right amount - take a look at the terraforming in particular. It really adds the icing on the cake.
Related to: Surfer, Tropical, Island Paradise
Colour pallet: Sea blue, steel blue, white, turquoise, coral and sandy brown
For something relatively easy that the game leads you into, Beach Vibes is perfect to work on. Think of holidays on an island paradise, white sands and palm trees, a laid-back atmosphere with fun activities to enjoy by the seaside.
To work on that beachy feel, it’s definitely worth having a couple of villagers' huts sitting directly on one beach, perhaps with a fireside nearby. Think about how you can theme each beach section - perhaps one residential, one more commercial, one more secluded and private etc.
As for the mainland, make use of those coconut trees for sure. Think about sections such as a pier with arcade games and family-fun activities, eateries such as a sushi restaurant or a tiki bar, and of course a dreamy hilltop island spa with a swimming pool and an ocean view.
Beach vibes is all about being relaxed, so swimsuits, Hawaiian shirts and shades will fit in perfectly with that look and feel you’re going for. And it of course goes without saying that this is the perfect aesthetic for the Summer.
For a tropical island aesthetic dream, take a look at Soda Shoal by Jonathan, as featured on the YouTube channel crossinglife.
Related to: Gothic, Historical, Witchy Vibes
Colour pallet: Black, charcoal, burgundy, dark purple, navy, and ivory
If gloomy and spooky are your things, then a Dark Academia island aesthetic will suit you down to the ground. Dark Academia is all about classic architecture, the arts, literature and general witchy vibes.
Make use of the grey stone paths, fences and statues to capture that gothic feel, and be sure to choose flowers that fit more within this genre (cross-breed for black and purple hybrids, otherwise red and white will work). Older towns and cities are quite winding in their landscaping, so try something experimental rather than the simplistic basic layout you get.
For sections of your island, it's absolutely worth playing into that education aspect and having a library or museum section. You could also include slightly spooky areas, such as a graveyard with lots of statues, or even a witchy garden with a greenhouse and an altar.
It should be obvious, but for your villagers make use of the older period costumes available, and stick to more muted and darker tones. Dark Academia island aesthetics will most likely thrive during winter, with the weather contrasting well with the vintage designs.
Have a gander at tomnookslover island over on tinylibrarys YouTube channel.
Colour pallet: Ruby red, royal blue, white, mustard, orange and light blue
Related to: Suburban, American Dream, Town-vibes
If you’re all about creating that idyllic town, then an Americana themed island is the choice for you. Americana is derived from classic American culture - think the classic sixties US diners, American football, greasers and Route 66.
Though you can create any suburban style Animal Crossing island, I picked the Americana island aesthetic specifically because lots of the items and houses lend themselves to US architecture and designs. Think about laying everything out in blocks, giving lots of big yards for your villagers and all the staples you’d have in an ideal little town.
Make use of the diner materials and create a burger joint, include a sports section such a basketball court, put Nooks Cranny and the Abel Sisters together and create a little shopping mall. Ensure everything is easy to navigate and that the pathways are spanning for a lot of the island. This aesthetic does look good all year round, but those Spring blossoms do make the designs pop.
This is probably the most flexible aesthetic when it comes to villager clothes. Plain old simple modern will do, but if you want to go the full mile aim for that ‘jock’ look, or go vintage with leather jackets and ripped jeans.
A perfect example would be the island Traverse over on TagBackTV’s channel.
Colour pallet: Steel grey, violet, neon pink, lime green, steel grey and electric blue
Related to: Futuristic, Dystopian, Vapourwave
If you want to completely transform your island to something unrecognisable, then try going for a Cyberpunk aesthetic. This style is all about technology, built-up landscapes, neon colours and a whole lot of grunge.
Of all the styles in Animal Crossing, this will require the most work and will be difficult to pull off, as a lot of the standard items don’t cater to this style. You’ll most likely be relying on lots of custom patterns, and splashing your bells on screens and big items to make your neighbourhood look busy and bustling.
If you’re recreating a city, then you can again for a ‘block’ layout, but ensure to pack in as much as you can tightly together. Focus less on water landscaping, and build lots of cliffs to create the illusion of a busy metropolis. You can create a nightclub or bar area, a drive-in cinema and a dedicated video game area for all the tech nuts.
Getting clothes from the Able Sisters for this theme should still be doable. Again, think neon colours, or lots of metallics and long leather coats (use films such as The Matrix for inspiration). Get quirky with the hair and accessories - everything goes in a Cyberpunk world.
TagbackTV has another perfect island aesthetic example, with Tanuki City.