8 April 2021 | Updated: October 20, 2021
If you’re new to the idea of cottagecore décor, read on to learn more about this trend and how you can apply it to your home.
Interior design is not immune to what is happening in other spheres and the trend that is getting people talking right now is cottagecore. But what is it, how can you get on board and why is it dominating interior design magazine and web pages? Because it’s as much a frame of mind as anything else, a good place to start is by considering why and how it came about.
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Cottagecore is a phenomenon of Social Media, anyone with an Instagram or Tumblr account understands the power of images and their capacity to inspire the imagination. Especially when it comes to interior design, where art, fashion and design come together.
At its root there is a desire to return to a simpler life, to get back in touch with nature. Now more than ever before with the tantalising prospect of being able to live anywhere we want, independent from where we work thanks to improved communications, is a real possibility.
Having a front and back garden, a rustic style interior with a country kitchen and the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house might not be as unattainable as it once seemed.
The bucolic dream is deeply embedded in our psyche, not so surprising when we think that most of us have only been urbanised for a few generations. How to achieve the cottagecore house is not as complicated as you might think.
Before cottagecore, there was Arts and Crafts, a movement that started in the Victorian era and celebrated all things craft and countryside related. Till this day the towns, villages and even the cities of the UK are filled with architecture dating from the Arts and Crafts period. Instantly recognisable with complex mansard roofs, dormer windows, leaded lights and charm oozing from every pore. Inside the interiors don’t disappoint, panelled walls, fireplaces with ceramic surrounds, stained glass and timber floors define a distinctive warmth. William Morris is the figure most associated with this style and today he’s best remembered as a creator of extraordinary furnishings including floral motif wallpapers, still in production today.
Integrating a nostalgic feel for a simpler life can be captured in our homes by focusing on natural materials, crafted furniture and decorative objects, planting and establishing an inside/outside synergy. It’s not essential to live in the countryside to achieve the look, even an apartment with a balcony can be transformed. But for those lucky enough to have a garden you’re halfway there already. Unlike the Nordic school of décor with cottagecore, more is more. Here are some ideas to get started in the different rooms of the home.
The cabinet doors are a great place to start for instant cottagecore, choose a design with panelling in a soft pastel shade to achieve rustic charm. The traditional range is another instant fix but also very efficient at heating the home and baking. A kitchen dresser is another simple and practical way to get the feel, with crockery and decorative objects on display. The kitchen table understood not only as a place to come together, to eat but also as a surface for preparing food, a workspace etc. is another must-have for the cottagecore look.
Famously Marie Antoinette had a farm built for her outside Versailles where she could escape the etiquette of the court, complete with manicured sheep, chickens and pre-cleaned hen’s eggs. At the heart of cottagecore is the garden, with or without a vegetable patch but loved and regularly tended, chickens are a bonus. Some work is required during all the seasons of the year but spring and summer are the months when gardens come into their own. The relationship with the house, the inside/outside is important. But even if it’s just a flower box perched on a window the aroma of blossoms wafting through the home interior is easy to achieve. For the more adventurous even a small vegetable patch will provide fresh produce through many months.
A fireplace, stove or hearth will be at its centre of the cottagecore living room, even if it’s just gas or electrical. Just like William Morris style wallpaper surfaces can be patterned; fabrics, furniture upholstery, rugs etc. don’t miss out on any opportunity for colour and pattern. Timber or timber effect flooring is another must-have ingredient, its warmth and looks frame everything else in the room. For the full-on effect add wood panelling and use fresh cut flowers to brighten up darker recesses.
Having a free-standing bathtub is an instant way to capture the cottagecore vibe in the bathroom. Source an old table or chest of drawers as a storage element and invest in good quality taps and WHB to recreate an authentic feel. Plants and flowers add an aromatic and decorative touch.
If you have an attic room used as a bedroom the sloping ceilings and exposed trusses should be celebrated, not covered with plasterboard. The notion of a good night’s sleep is critical to the cottagecore bedroom, aided by fresh air and vigorous walks in nature. Soft furnishings and bedding should be comfortable and luxurious, lighting soft and window treatment decorative and practical (keep out noise and daylight).
More as an expression of a lifestyle than a style per se, cottagecore style means mending something rather than discarding it, living sustainably, surrounding our home with plants and flowers.
The style extends not only to décor but to fashion and art.
Cottagecore is a design trend based upon a nostalgic view of the country life. Including foraging, crafts, baking and ideas that go beyond the physical existence cottagecore is an aesthetic that has morphed into a lifestyle movement over the last decade.
The term was first coined in 2018 on Tumblr but the underlying principles were around since 2010 within interior design magazines, social media etc.
Even though officially the term was only first used in 2018 the underpinnings of the cottagecore movement have been around since the 2010s. It’s an expression of a number of different economic, aesthetic and philosophical strands gathered together into a trend.
If we had been describing cottagecore one hundred years ago we would be calling the phenomena ‘garden cities’. Milton Keynes is a mid 20th Century example of cottagecore but the style is often found in the inner suburbs of UK cities. Properties dating from the Edwardian period (1901 – 1910) are among the most beautiful examples.