The pandemic changed a lot about how we live within and interact with our homes, and if one thing remains from that period in social history, it’s the desire for a warm, welcoming space where life can truly take place (and never wearing real pants outside the house again—half kidding). In fact, many of the trends remaining rely on this comfort-first ethos, chief among them the cottagecore aesthetic.
At its essence, cottagecore style is just the latest spin on rustic reverie, with casual liveability at the forefront. Like many modern design movements, it grew its roots on social media (Instagram currently houses an impressive 4 million hashtag mentions of the trend), cementing its popularity through sepia-toned influencer snapshots and a duo of Taylor Swift albums that evoked the warmth of a cozy cardigan. In practice though, the cottagecore aesthetic lives far beyond the reaches of technology, with an emphasis on simplicity and ease, and a nod to the slow pace and uncomplicated lifestyle only country living can bring.
Even if you feel fatigued on any design trend remotely related to a farmhouse (or farmhouse-adjacent) aesthetic, there are probably aspects of cottagecore decor that would still appeal to you. It’s all about indulging in the beauty and simplicity of the everyday, with an emphasis on well-loved wood furniture, botanical patterns, textural fabrics, and bespoke pieces that have an heirloom quality about them. The key to working the cottagecore vibe—or really any decor vibe in general—is not to make your decor too theme-y. A few strategic elements in each space are all you need to embrace the trend in a genuine and timeless way. Go too overboard and you’ll end up making your home feel like the set of a Hallmark movie where the leading lady inherits a Christmas tree farm in a postage-stamp-sized town and discovers she can love again—you know what we mean?
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If you’re looking to lean all the way into the cottagecore aesthetic—or just want to borrow a bit of its DNA for a cozy fall refresh—we’re laying out easy tips to serve as your manifesto for nailing this of-the-moment vibe ahead.
Design With Living in Mind
The cottagecore vibe is perhaps one of the best examples of the successful intersection between design and function. The look is void of unusable corners or too-precious finishes, instead opting for a utilitarian ethos that ensures each nook and cranny is put to work in helping those that dwell within live life to the fullest. If you’re looking to capture the cottagecore design aesthetic in your own home, start by doing an audit of your space to gauge both its comfort and functionality. Do you have a piano room you never feel quite fancy enough to set foot in or a chair that you cringe at every time the dogs go near? Rethink any instances of “stuffy” living through the easy eye of a cottagecore aesthetic.
Embrace the Hunt
If a fully realized cottagecore home is your end goal, know this: it won’t happen overnight. This is one look that can’t be achieved by clicking “add to cart.” Instead, fostering a cottagecore aesthetic is all about embracing slow decorating and enjoying the hunt for just the perfect piece to make your room’s story sing. It’s trading the feeling of factory perfect for patina and creaks; it’s pieces that have had a life before you (and, with any amount of care, will go on to have a life after you). Vintage finds and a cottagecore design style go hand-in-hand, so plan to keep your eyes peeled for treasures at every flea market and Facebook Marketplace listing you come across. Trust us: It will be worth the hunt.
Make Room for Hobbies
Cottagecore isn’t just a design ethos—it’s a lifestyle outlook as well. Embracing a slower pace of living—and making time for your hobbies and interests—is a cornerstone of fully embodying the cottagecore lifestyle. And that all starts at home (naturally!). Carve out a corner of your abode—be it a backyard shed or small sunroom—to indulge the habits that make your heart happy, like painting, pottery, or reading. Into collectibles instead? You’re in luck. A slew of vintage kettles or your favorite assortment of hand-thrown ceramic vases will be right at home on display in a cottagecore home.
Keep The Palette Nature-Inspired
When it comes to designing a cottagecore-inspired home, you need not look further than your own backyard for color palette inspiration. The movement takes its inspiration largely from nature, meaning warm neutrals and soft greens will be your main go-to’s. However, that’s not to say other colors can’t make an appearance in your home—you just have to be mindful of where and how you use them. Rich marigold and umber can be a great energetic accent hue, while moody burgundy and brown act as a grounding, comforting anchor in a space. When in doubt, choose colors that can be best described as “muddy,” with a slightly toned down and understated quality about them.
Choose Finishes That Will Patina
You’ll notice almost every inspo image you see of cottagecore decor looks like the home has been well-lived-in for decades, if not centuries—and that’s entirely by design. Along with the ethos that nothing is too precious with cottagecore design, nothing is too new, either. The epitome of “aging gracefully,” cottagecore decor relies on living finishes that with patina over time with the grace and beauty of Meryl Streep. When it comes to choosing more permanent design features, like countertops or fixtures, make sure to select things like natural stone countertops, stained wood floors, unlacquered brass fixtures, and other elements that will look just as beautiful—yet different—in twenty years as they do the day they’re installed.
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