11 Easy Ways to Embrace the Cottagecore Aesthetic [with Pro Tips]

Cottagecore Bedroom

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In recent years, cottagecore aesthetics have become immensely popular across fashion and interior design. The romantic, flowy aesthetic pays homage to rural life and simpler times with an emphasis on nature, craft, and homespun charm. And given today’s obsession with technology and productivity, it’s easy to see why so many people are gravitating toward the peaceful vibe inherent in cottagecore looks.

Here, we break down everything you need to know about this romantic, whimsical aesthetic, including easy ways to add elements of cottagecore design to your home.

Meet the Experts

To get the details on the popular cottagecore interior design aesthetic, we spoke to a number of interiors experts: 

What Exactly is Cottagecore?

The term “cottagecore” is relatively new to the cultural zeitgeist, with many people agreeing that it was first used to describe a specific aesthetic in 2018 on the social platform Tumblr. But the simpler times that the aesthetic refers to date all the way back to 19th-century farm life.

“The foundation for cottagecore interior design hearkens back to a time when life was much more simplistic and connected to nature,” says Amber Dunford. “It celebrates a romanticized, self-sufficient lifestyle often found in rural or farm settings, where you’ll find handmade decor; soft and easy textiles; delicate floral prints; and vintage-inspired pieces in furniture, artwork, and accessories.”

“The foundation for cottagecore interior design hearkens back to a time when life was much more simplistic and connected to nature."

Cottagecore fashion and design pay homage to rural life with ruffles and blouses reminiciscent of milkmaids, lots of organic textures and colors, wildflowers and floral patterns, and DIY decor and handmade crafts. It’s an escapist, fairytale-like aesthetic that offers the perfect antidote to the busy, technology-driven days of modern life.

Where Did the Cottagecore Aesthetic Originate?

“Cottagecore originated from the idea of slowed-down rural life,” says Lindsey Jamison, lead designer and partner at HGTV 2021 Designer of the Year winning-firm Rumor Designs, “where one is more harmonious with nature and romanticizes the simple things in life.” Although it’s widely believed that the term “cottagecore” was first coined in a 2018 Tumblr post, it soon began making waves on all kinds of social media platforms, with more and more people celebrating the style’s dreamy charm with cottagecore posts on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and beyond.  

In fact, the cottagecore community grew so large that A-list stars, like Taylor Swift, became known for exemplifying the aesthetic around the time her Folklore album was released. It’s also led to the creation of subcultures and styles, like farmcore, which is very similar to cottagecore but with an even heavier emphasis on rustic farm life. Grandmacore is another substyle of the aesthetic, combining the simpler time influences of cottagecore with elements often stereotypically attributed to grandmothers, like crocheted blankets and garden motifs.

What’s the Cottagecore Color Palette

Cottagecore’s emphasis on nature means that many cottagecore aesthetics incorporate organic color palettes. “Neutral, earthy tones, mostly in the form of pastels are the general color palette [of cottage core looks],” said Saffari. But you can also mix in deeper hues, like rich navy or green, to make your design more dynamic.

The beauty of cottagecore design is that it’s all about layers, so you never have to feel boxed in by one or two colors. Basically any color found in nature will work, from pale pinks and yellows to deeper blues, greens, and browns.

Lisa Rickert shares her top color picks for the cottagecore aesthetic:

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11 Ways to Create the Dreamy Cottagecore Look in Your Home

1. Dust Off that Family Heirloom

Design by Rumor Designs

The cottagecore aesthetic movement celebrates vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces, which help spaces feel more romantic while infusing them with texture and history. “In a recent project, we incorporated a dining table that has been in the owner's family for generations,” said Lindsey Jamison, “And we added tea kettles and pots from the owner's grandmother to bring this slowed-down rural look to life.”

In addition to enhancing the design of a space, family heirlooms can bring up fond memories of the person (or people) they belonged to each time you look at them. “Secondhand pieces and items passed down from family, not only do they make great accessories, but they add memories and sentimental value to your design,” said Wilfredo Emanuel.

2. Layers, Textures, and Knits

Cottagecore Layers
Design by Rumor Designs

Cottagecore is all about adding layers of decor to make spaces feel more dynamic, textural, and inviting. Piling on throw pillows, blankets, and rugs is a simple way to elevate a cottagecore aesthetic. And since these pieces are easy to swap in and out, you can use them to update your look throughout different seasons.

You can also incorporate various finishes to achieve texture. “In our Behr Cabin project we added character through layers of pillows, throws with plenty of texture, and wood logs mixed with freshly painted chinking to achieve the ultimate cozy cottage feel,” said Lindsey Jamison

3. Open Shelving for the Win

Cottagecore Open Shelves
Design by Rumor Designs

Open shelving is a great way to showcase the vintage home decor pieces and worldly knick-knacks that make cottagecore aesthetics so popular. And it does so in a contained, organized manner so you don’t have a bunch of items cluttering up your surfaces.

Open shelving also works well in virtually any room, but it’s a particularly great fit for the kitchen. According to Jamison, Styling open kitchen shelves with interesting artistic dishware is an easy way to achieve the cottagecore look.”

You can also use open shelving to help you combine multiple styles. For instance, “In my own home,” said Jamison, “I selected a modern-shaped vase with a hand-painted eclectic design from a local artist to marry contemporary and cottagecore styles.”

4. Use Florals

Cottagecore Florals

Since cottagecore aesthetics merge romanticism with nature, you can incorporate floral patterns and motifs, as well as fresh wildflowers, to help lay a strong foundation for any cottagecore look.

According to Emanuel, “Using florals in the home is a great way to start your cottagecore design. Whether in the wallpaper, tapestry, or potted plants in the kitchen, florals can help with the inspiration and are a great way to begin your cottagecore  room,” Wilfredo Emanuel.

If you worry that busy floral wallpaper or upholstery might overwhelm or crowd your aesthetic, consider incorporating florals in smaller ways. “You don’t have to go over the top with the florals,” says Sahar Saffari, “think about floral cushion covers on the sofa or chairs if you’re not sure a complete floral furniture piece could work.”

5. Embrace the Outdoors

Cottagecore

Speaking of nature, it’s a defining tenet of cottagecore design, so embracing it any way you can is a no-fail way to achieve the look. “With cottagecore, you tend to see an abundance of greenery and potted plants to bring the outdoors inside,” said Lisa Rickert.

You can also create indoor-outdoor harmony by adding furniture and home decor pieces with organic elements, such as a sofa with a wood frame or soft and pretty ceramic vases. According to Amber Dunford, “Simple foraged arrangements, rustic floral prints, and weathered woods that harmonize with your surroundings are also a few ways to achieve this aesthetic.”

6. Create a Relaxed Feeling

Cottagecore Living Room

Comfort and cottagecore go hand in hand. But “comfort” as it relates to cottagecore extends well beyond your furniture. This aesthetic emphasizes physical comfort in addition to a comfortable vibe. And a great vibe starts with the senses.

“If you want to implement a cottagecore vibe in your own home,” advises Abby Feltner, “look for areas where you can enhance the day-to-day experience and appeal to your senses. For example, placing fragrant herbs or flowers in your favorite vessel by your bed or finding a cozy vintage chair for your laundry room to enjoy the scent of fresh laundry as you read. In my opinion, cottagecore at its essence is all about making the mundane a lovely indulgence.”

You can also use fragrances by way of candles or essential oil diffusers to fill your home with an inviting, cottagecore vibe. According to Sahar Saffari, “The scent of the house should be gentle and welcoming. If you’re not actually a baker, but fancy the idea of your home smelling like freshly baked bread, fake the smell with candles!”

7. Focus on the Entryway

Cottagecore entryway
Design by Rumor Design

Your home’s entryway offers a first impression of your aesthetic, so you’ll want to give some love to it if you’re working to achieve a cottagecore design. But don’t think you need a huge entryway to make a big impact. Entryways of all sizes can benefit from unobtrusive home decor elements, like beautiful rugs and thoughtful wall decor.

“Our design team is currently using vintage rug runners, gold antique mirrors, and pampas dried florals on a console to create the quintessential cottagecore entryways,” said Jamison. You can also dress up this area without creating clutter by incorporating functional pieces, like a pretty woven basket for shoes or a ceramic catchall tray for keys and mail.

8. Feature Lived-In Furniture

Cottagecore furniture

Cottagecore aesthetics prioritize lived-in furniture, such as antique sofas and distressed accent chairs, over highly polished pieces. This helps create the comfortable, welcoming feeling for which cottagecore is so beloved.

If you can’t find any vintage or antique pieces that you love (or even if you can!), consider purchasing some unfinished wood chairs or other furniture pieces and painting them in a neutral hue to embody a cottagecore aesthetic. You can also paint a piece of furniture you already own to get the look. Some colors to consider include eggshell white, light blue, pale pink, and light sage green, all of which perfectly align with cottagecore.

9. Play with Your Artwork

Cottagecore Artwork

Your artwork offers an easy way to enhance a cottagecore aesthetic with thoughtful accents. Jamison recommends, “Reframing your existing artwork in an old rugged frame, mixing contemporary pieces with vintage pieces in a gallery wall, or hanging a standalone statement piece of art to incorporate cottagecore.”

If you really want to drive the cottagecore vibe home, consider framing some floral prints and dreamy landscapes. Bonus points if those landscapes depict farm life or a picnic. You can also purchase standalone art pieces that align with a cottagecore look, like ceramic vases or woven baskets from your favorite maker.

10. Start Small

Cottagecore bedroom

Given that thoughtful romantic details are at the heart of cottagecore aesthetics, it makes sense to start your design with small elements that you love, such as your favorite color or material, before expanding with various layers of furniture and home decor.

“When starting with cottagecore, think of comfort,” advises Saffari. “You want your space to make you feel at home and cozy. Begin with the smaller, easier decisions, like choosing which colors you want, then look at the furniture that is most important in the room.”

11. Find Space for Creativity

Cottagecore crafts

Cottagecore aesthetics celebrate the simpler times of baking fresh sourdough bread on the farm, sewing your own clothes, and DIY crafting until your heart’s content. So if you have any hobbies and crafts that you love to partake in, consider creating a dedicated space for these activities in your design.  

“One of the other quintessential elements of cottagecore is the return to traditional hobbies and crafts such as gardening, baking, and foraging and creating a space for those activities in your home,” said Abby Feltner.

If you don’t have the space for a dedicated craft room, consider partitioning off a section of a larger room with a woven room divider or wooden bookshelf and creating a cozy craft area behind it.

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Written by
Kelly Weimert
Kelly Weimert is a writer, editor, and interior design expert with 10 years of experience writing about design and home decor. She's written for interior design publications such as MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, Domino Magazine, and Hunker. When she's not writing or editing, she's probably busy obsessing over how to beautify her home.

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