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How to Live the Cottagecore Dream

A woman sitting on a bed, holding a mug, and reading a book.
Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock

The decorating trend of severe minimalism has reigned for a long time. Now, many people are looking for something different. Here’s why “cottagecore” is becoming minimalism’s beloved replacement!

Cottagecore is a broad aesthetic trend based on an idealized vision of a peaceful life in the countryside. Sure, it’s not at all grounded in reality—but it’s hard to deny the appeal of this inviting, cozy lifestyle movement.

If you’ve been following our design trend discussions this year, you’ll probably notice that cottagecore is a romanticized offshoot of the bigger trend towards maximalism.

If it appeals to you, here’s how you can build the cottagecore haven of your dreams!

What Is Cottagecore?

Kitchen shelves featuring "cottagecore" dishes and decor.

As the name suggests, cottagecore is all about decor and activities reminiscent of living in a pleasant countryside cottage.

Of course, a real countryside cottage might come with a side of endless farm work, pesky insects, or frigid winters. Fortunately, aesthetic trends are rarely about reality—and cottagecore’s idealized vision can be absolutely beautiful.

Cottagecore might be best described as a mix of “vintage influencer” and “grandma’s kitchen.” Floral patterns, fresh-cut flowers, cozy textures, vintage trinkets, and handmade goods easily find a place in a cottagecore home. It’s a welcome diversion from the clean, monochromatic look of minimalism. According to cottagecore rules, spaces can be aesthetic without being perfect.

This trend is usually associated with home decor—but you can apply it to just about anything. Home-baked bread? Cottagecore. Vintage dresses? Cottagecore. Picnicking in your yard on a sunny afternoon? Definitely cottagecore.

The trend’s popularity stems, in part, from an idealized version of a “simpler time.” Of course, cracking any history book will quickly show you things were generally harder and worse for people in the past.

Cottagecore abandons these less-than-pleasant realities and incorporates only the best parts of the “simpler life” of the past, like cast-iron pans, secondhand clothes, and handsewn quilts.

How to Make Your Own Cottagecore Paradise

Many people love this aesthetic because it feels attainable and realistic. It doesn’t hinge on buying the latest $500 gadget or getting rid of almost all your stuff. Cottagecore is affordable, easy, and fun.

Plus, with more people spending more time at home these days, a cozy domestic space filled with things you love just feels right. Cottagecore encourages ditching stiff furniture for comfy couches, filling shelves with books and plants, and displaying beloved belongings.

Want to make your home a cottagecore dream world? You’ll find some of our favorite ideas below!

Embrace Indoor Gardening

The cottagecore ideal might be a cabin in the woods next to a farm, but actual rural life is neither possible nor desirable for many people. So, bring nature to you with some favorite indoor plants!

These can be purely decorative. However, DIY is also a huge part of the cottagecore trend. A practical kitchen herb garden or regrown fruits and vegetables will lend an especially cottage-like feel.

Display a Vintage Collection

Vintage trinkets are very cottagecore, and so are collections. For example, ceramic animals, decorative vases, or seashells all make for pretty collections that are easy to display.

However, it almost doesn’t matter what it is you display; the idea is your home is where you show off the things you like, even if they’re frivolous.

Decorate with Vignettes

A rustic decorative vignette, including spring flowers, a wire mesh cloche, and other decorations.
Galina Grebenyuk/Shutterstock

The vignette is a decor concept that involves grouping different items together to create a visually pleasing display on a table or shelf. Think of it as home-decor still life.

Plants, candles, pictures, books, and vases are all examples of things that work well in vignettes. Choose a few and arrange them in a decorative display on a bookshelf or coffee table. This decorating method allows you to show off your favorite stuff in an aesthetically pleasing, not cluttered, way.

Repurpose Everything

Cottagecore has an undertone of DIY, resourceful, and environmentally-friendly living. After all, the trend is based on countryside lifestyles, where people would have to be resourceful with what they have. Finding new purposes for old things fits right in!

For example, you could use an old mug as a vase, create a terrarium in a vintage glass jar, or build a DIY bookshelf out of bricks and plywood. Vintage and secondhand goods are decidedly more cottagecore than brand-new stuff.

Play with the Senses

Decor elements that involve the senses can evoke the perfect mood of cottage-like simplicity.

For the eyes, you want soft, warm lighting. Avoid harsh, overhead lighting, and use candles, lamps, or string lights instead to soften up the look of a room.

When it comes to touch, opt for lush, soft textures. Use warm blankets, pretty rugs, lace curtains, or throw pillows to add tactile appeal.

You can draw in scents with some fresh flowers, scented candles, or the always-welcome aroma of baking bread. For the ears, some soothing music will complete the cottagecore vibe.

Embrace Analog Activities

Like all visual trends of recent years, cottagecore became popular thanks to social media. However, one of the best ways to live the cottagecore dream is by filling your home—and your time—with activities that allow you to unplug.

Cottagecore is a lifestyle trend, not just a decorating style. As such, it invites you to slow down, take a walk, bake a pie, learn to sew, or repaint an old dresser. It emphasizes the idea that the best things to do at home don’t always require an internet connection or trendy gadget.

Of course, you might still want to post a picture of your freshly baked pie or refurbished dresser on Instagram (#cottagecore!). The concept, though, is really just about enjoying the simple things in life, whatever that means to you.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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