Cottagecore: The movement that took over a certain social media platform (ahem, we’re looking at you, TikTok). If you’re confused about what exactly it, well, is¸ you’re not alone. Strictly speaking, it’s a style – but when you get down to specifics it tends to be a little more whimsical, a touch more nostalgic and a lot more niche than what most of us are used to. Here, we take you through a tour of the aesthetic, along with tips on how to incorporate a “toned down” but still very in version of it into your home.
To understand cottagecore, one must first break down the name. First, there’s “cottage,” meaning a home in a countryside, and then (and most importantly), there’s “core” – “core” here meaning the purest form of something. Once you take core to mean heart, unadulterated, you start to get a sense of the meaning of cottagecore. Unlike cottage-chic or country-cottage, cottagecore doesn’t mess around with modern elements (or even familiar elements). It’s pure radical – taking the cottage aesthetic (light color palettes, countryside flowers and old-fashioned home goods) to the extreme. In some versions, it can be a little in-your-face, on purpose. The point of cottagecore is to completely overtake the viewer; you want to feel lost in a cottagecore aesthetic.
The Ten Commandments of Cottagecore
If all of this seems fine and dandy, but you simply have no clue where to start, we get you. As with any new design aesthetic, adapting to a cottagecore lifestyle can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to seem so. To recap the above and spell out exactly the steps you can take to achieve a cottagecore life, we chose the top ten most important qualities in cottagecore.
1. Bake Your Own Bread. Sourdough is considered the pinnacle, but, really, any form of baking will take you one step closer to living out the cottagecore way. Try the types of goods that would have been popular in 19th- or 18-century American farmhouses, such as muffins, cakes and/or biscuits. (This one’s probably our favorite commandment – in the home, nothing’s better than the smell of something baking in the oven!
2. Bring in Plants. The cottagecore aesthetic thrives on indoor plants. Plants are the easiest part of nature to bring indoors. They’re also pretty, won’t make a mess and smell great (depending on the variety). Use a large indoor pot or planter to contain – the larger the pot or planter, the more “plant” you can bring in; the more “plant” you can bring in, the more whimsical the look and the more natural and cottagecore the vibe.
3. Don’t Strive for Perfection. Farmland and forests may seem perfect from a distance, but up close and personal, there’s a lot going on – there’s creeping bushes and fallen twigs and weeds and webs and moss and vegetation. Its imperfections, though, are what make it beautiful. Take a lesson from nature and don’t strive for perfection; a home without mistakes would be the “b-word” (a.k.a. boring, a swear word in the world of cottagecore)!
4. Adopt a Light Color Palette. Cottagecore should feel joyful and fresh. Choose colors based on how they make you feel and how well they brighten up a space. Incorporate splashes of pastels to mimic nature and keep an ethereal feel.
5. Cozy Up with Textures. Don’t forget the layers. Add on a wool throw blanket and pillows. Choose textures like sheepskin for its ties to farm life and cozy feel. Place delicate table runners or cloths over tables – this layer of fabric will add a simple “homemade” charm to a hard furniture piece, while providing aesthetic contrast.
6. DIY It. Get comfortable with DIY-ing. (Cottagecore favors a quainter, more imperfect aesthetic.) For best results, think in terms of a stereotypical grandma (cottagecore is often also referred to as grandmacore).Hobbies like knitting, crocheting and embroidery aren’t just fun – once you get the hang of them, they can also provide you with your next cottagecore home décor accent piece, free of charge!
7. Add Some Charm. So far, this list gives you a certain aesthetic that really falls under the same category as farmhouse-chic and cottage-chic. Where cottagecore really turns into its own and distinguishes itself from the rest, though, is through “charm.” A little bit of enchantment – like a string of fairy lights or a flower crown or wand – is deliciously cottagecore, and what you won’t find in the others
8. Establish a Reading Nook. This step kills two birds with one stone (but not really, because cottagecore loves birds!), in that it makes the home feel even cozier while encouraging yet another cottagecore hobby. Start with a cozy armchair and rug, and line a wall with a few floating shelves or a bookcase filled with books on your favorite fairy tales, gardening or forestry! Complete the look by hanging up an art piece inspired by nature.
9. Invest in a Good Tea Set. A good tea set complete with a sugar bowl, creamer and trays adds to a quaint charm. A floral-patterned china set feels old-fashioned in all the right, cottagecorish ways. But don’t just use it for looks. Cottagecore is all about the art of doing, so, drink the tea! Make it a ritual to drink “high tea” or “afternoon tea;” you just might find yourself all the more de-stressed (the ultimate goal of cottagecore), if for no other reason than the fact that drinking tea can be incredibly good for your health.
10. Lighten Up at Night. Finally, don’t let nightfall bring down your style. Mimic the big-sky stars with string lights, nightlights, and table lamps, sconces, chandeliers and pendants wherever possible.