What Is Cottagecore? How to Get the Look at Home
- Cottagecore aesthetic is a trend in design that emphasizes a comfy, cozy, countryside home.
- The term cottagecore comes from fantasizing about escaping to a rural life and living “in a cottage.”
- Tips from the experts include planting gardens, adding cozy decor, and maximalist shelf decorations.
Cottagecore is a dreamy, cozy design aesthetic that has captivated an adoring audience on social media. Today, it’s evolved into a highly sought-after design aesthetic.
The term cottagecore is said to have been coined by the Tumblr community in 2018. All throughout the early 2010s, young people would romanticize a rural lifestyle and document it in their photography. Their photos often show romanticized scenes from countryside homes decked with vintage, floral design elements. People don lace, large hats, and flowy, ethereal gowns. Teapots, vintage chandeliers, and outdoor claw-foot tubs also each have a cottagecore claim-to-fame.
What is ‘cottagecore’?
The cottagecore aesthetic often takes one back to simpler times — cooking, picking daisies, running barefoot through a field, and feeding goats are all big cottagecore energy. To Sarah Ellison, creative director of the London-based interior design studio Frank & Faber, cottagecore centers, “comfort, space, and well-being.”
“As always, our interiors are inspired by the world around us,” says Ellison. Ellison’s Frank & Faber often designs elevated, cozy natural spaces in homes and gardens that emulate a cottagecore aesthetic. “The outside world has been pretty bleak and people have not been able to take solace and comfort in the usual external forces — friends, family, going for a nice dinner,” she says. “Everything has turned inwards and people have looked for solace and comfort in their homes, really appreciating how much their home environment is critical to their sense of well-being and sanity.”
Social media maven Jesca Her, a beloved cottagecore influencer with over 325,000 TikTok followers, lives nestled in a town outside of Denver, Colorado. On her social accounts, she says that she “sees the world through rose-colored glasses.” Her posts are draped in a warm, pink-hazy afterglow edit and her life offers a glimpse into immaculate cottagecore aesthetics.
“It’s an aesthetic that is very inspired by a sense of nostalgia for a rural countryside life,” says Her. “In a cottage — so that’s where we get the term cottagecore — in the middle of the woods, or in a forest. Anything involving the outdoors and finding comfort in nature.”
The cottagecore aesthetic can easily be emulated in a home. Here are seven of the style’s key features — according to Her and Ellison — to keep in mind when decorating.
1. Start a small garden
Start a garden or add some planter boxes with flowers and herbs to your windows to embrace the whimsicality of nature.
Lisa Romerein/Getty Images
Tend to your garden, literally. Plant wildflowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary, and basil in a planter box, or in your backyard if you have one. “Cottagecore is a movement which idolizes a lifestyle more commonly associated with an agricultural way of life — embracing craft, sustainability, sourcing local,” Ellison says. “From an aesthetic perspective, it is about natural, sustainable, heritage taking inspiration from the outside world with a healthy dose of romanticism and chintz.”
2. Prioritize comfort over everything
Prioritize comfort by adding inviting pieces of furniture like a plush armchair or cozy bed.
What does cottagecore feel like? “Very at-home, cozy, safe spaces,” says Her. “Comforting and like a space where you can just be creative and try new things. The emphasis is very much at-home.” Cottagecore favorites include cozy beds and warm couches, with tons of layered blankets, and tea by a fireplace.
3. Source unique, craft materials
Source craft materials to add a unique element to the space.
For cottagecore, says Ellison, “Craft is king.” Cottagecore celebrates the unique, one-of-a-kind items that can only be made or sourced by specific craft makers. By hand-painting your own furniture in a warm color, or finding a local furniture maker in your hometown, you can have a wholly distinct item to individualize your space. Accessories that Ellison recommends include “handcrafted ceramics, rough plaster sculptures, statement hand-painted pieces sourced from local artisans.”
4. Raid some thrift stores for decor and furniture
Shop at a local thrift store to find unique pieces of furniture and decor like dried flower arrangement online.
Thrift stores are filled to the brim with lovely, cottagecore aesthetic potential. You can seek out granny-chic style items like frames, crystal dishes, vases, art, and furniture. “Most of my stuff is thrifted, and over time, I’ve picked stuff here and there,” Her says. You can also rehabilitate an old piece to make it ultra-modern, for example, painting a wooden side table a warm pink.
5. Use what you have
The cottagecore style encourages people to embrace existing features in a space, like wooden beams.
The most character in any home is the oldest part of the home. Uncover the past and highlight what already exists to pull out the personality in the space. “Embrace existing features,” says Ellison. “Expose ancient beams, paneling or beautiful stone on the walls or in more urban homes, reinstate the existing floorboards in a raw, paired back finish or apply some of those beautifully worn, rustic finishes such as reclaimed timber, tongue-and-groove cladding, or exposed plaster on walls.”
6. Emphasize natural, sustainable materials
Feature plants or other natural materials, like woods and stones, to help create a cottagecore space.
Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images
Consider bringing some living herb boxes into the home to emphasize nature. Plants of all kinds draped around the home, will surely evoke a cottagecore aesthetic.
“Whether we live in the city or countryside, it is about acknowledging the importance of interacting with the natural world and bringing those materials into our home environments,” says Ellison. “[Use] natural, sustainable materials such as wood and stone along with wools, linens, and sisals in upholstery and accessories.”
7. Layer textures throughout the space
Any garden design courses graduate would remind you of using textures. Layer textures like wood with fabrics like wools, linens, and velvets.
Use textiles to your benefit by layering beautiful fabrics and textures throughout the space. “Layering is key with textures bringing a feeling of cozy ‘fireside’ warmth,” says Ellison. The best fabrics to add to your cottagecore space include: “soft furnishings in wools, linens, and velvets. Softness is added with fabric pleated lampshades, artisanal woven wall hangings, and rugs on walls.”
Cottagecore decor tips
- Use bold cloth prints and patterns. Don’t fear the gingham. Cottagecore spaces love incorporating eye-catching prints. “Patterns are also layered [with cottagecore]. Embrace a ‘country-side chic’ with the classic gingham check and ticking stripe alongside horticulturally inspired designs such as classic William Morris chintz,” Ellison says.
- Art and knick-knacks are everything. “I’d say the easiest way, and one of my favorite ways to decorate is by putting art and knick-knacks on my walls,” Her says. “I also have a gallery wall that I really love. Shelves are great. You can put knick-knacks on your shelves: candles, books, jars. When you buy flowers from your grocery store, you can put flower petals in the jars. If you go to a bulk store you can find mason jars and get creative.”
- Highlight pastels and warm, earthy tones. Warm tones are friendly to our eyes, evoking images of fire. Warm colors are also great for social, often-used spaces like the kitchen or the living room. “I like to keep it very warm and cozy,” Her says. “I try to go for very warm-toned woods. Use pinks, oranges, yellows, beiges, creams.”
- Get cozy in the kitchen. Her says that her kitchen is her favorite cottagecore space in her home. “It’s just very cozy and packed with things. A little bit cluttered, but in a somewhat organized way,” says Her. “A lot of jars, plant cuttings, dried flowers, candles, spoons, little knick-knacks.”
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