An aesthetic full of pastoral nostalgia and an idealized vision of domestic life, cottagecore is trending all over social media from Instagram to TikTok. Recently featured on HGTV's Unsellable Houses, it's even starting to make television appearances! Featuring things like lovely florals, mushrooms, and welly boots, this style embraces a return to nature walks and slow living. Though this subculture's recent uptick in popularity ironically started on the internet, it's heavily influenced by Disney-fied fairy tales, bucolic scenery, and a rejection of hustle culture- including constant connectivity through modern technology. As a concept, it advocates for a simpler, more sustainable existence that is as much a lifestyle choice as an aesthetic.
Really, cottagecore is based on a romantic notion of a cozy home in the English countryside, though the aesthetic and tenets of the movement can be adapted for use by anywhere by anyone. The rise in popularity on the internet has allowed this nostalgic aesthetic to rapidly spread across the globe. Not uncoincidentally, this return to popularity concurred with the beginnings of the pandemic, when many found their lives changed dramatically. With more time at home, this idealized version of domesticity flourished as people began to keep sourdough starters, grow herb gardens, learn to crochet, and other such domestic activities en masse.
This dreamy aesthetic relies heavily on a longing for ease and innocence, with a healthy dose of historical inspiration from self-sufficient homesteading and farming practices viewed through rose-colored glasses. How do you bring the cottagecore aesthetic into your home? Styles can range from person to person, but cottagecore has several constants. Key décor pieces include a multitude of houseplants, fresh and/or dried florals, traditional (often vintage or handmade) style furniture, wicker baskets, cloth napkins, and mushroom or other miscellaneous nature-inspired trinkets.
While this pastoral paradigm seems to be infinitely customizable, spawning numerous hyper specific sub-styles like frogcore, meadowcore, and goblincore to name a few, most iterations rely heavily on a more neutral color palette. Though the entire rainbow can be used, typically the colors will be softer, earthier, or otherwise muted versions of their brighter cousins.
Cottagecore's visuals often focus on dainty embellishments and natural fibers to create precious moments from the otherwise mundane. This includes practices that are frequently good for both the environment and your mental health. Try switching from Ziploc or plastic wrap to delicately patterned beeswax wraps, favoring cloth table and kitchen linens over their disposable counterparts, or going through the full ritual of an afternoon tea service with scones and loose leaves brewing in a pot, rather than throwing a mug with a teabag in the microwave. If you prefer coffee over tea, try switching from your pod coffee machine to more traditional, savory methods of coffee preparation, like a French press, pour over, or moka pot.
Ultimately, while there is a heavy rural English influence on the style, cottagecore is about creating a personalized, authentic environment at home that promotes comfort, self-reliance, and tranquility. While the style may share some aesthetic characteristics with modern farmhouse, it is far more tailored, encouraging a highly curated collection of favorite tchotchkes, furniture, and quirky items. Authenticity is key to this whimsical aesthetic, so take the time to slow down and focus on the things, big and small, that will bring peace and joy to your home.
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