Our homes should be our personal sanctuaries — and the last year made this abundantly clear. As a result, some of us turned closets into office hideouts (aptly named “cloffices”), transformed garages into home gyms and finally checked major renovations off of our bucket lists. At the heart of these transformations — from minor DIYs to big rebuilds — is the very idea that our homes should be a safe, cozy and inviting space that provides a respite from the outside world.
There’s no finer example of this feeling — aesthetic, rather — than cottagecore, where the ease of rural life is brought to life with fresh florals, botanical accents and vintage-inspired decor.
Social media gave this blossoming movement a major platform: To date, there have been 1.6 million posts tagged with #cottagecore on Instagram and videos with the same tag have racked up 5.8 billion views on TikTok. Together, these photos and videos provide a space to breathe — TikTok user Lillies Apothecary shares recipes for cinnamon coffee cake and lavender lemonade, TikTok user Jesca Her shows the life she sees “through rose-colored glasses” and thousands more reveal how they cozy up their bedrooms with green ivy and twinkle lights.
What exactly is cottagecore?
Aesthetically speaking, cottagecore embraces the charm of the English countryside (hence its name), creating an idealized representation of farm life — no matter where in the world you may live. The cottagecore style extends far beyond home decor; it’s inspired an overall state of being, oftentimes expressed through flowy clothing (we introduce you to The Nap Dress) and whimsical housewares.
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Really, it’s a way to to escape our modern lives and romanticize timeless simplicities: tending the garden, sipping on a hot cup of tea, perfecting a sourdough starter, foraging mushrooms in the forest and other seemingly mundane activities that force people to take a pause. Sometimes called farmcore or countrycore, this popular aesthetic also taps into the natural beauty of pastoral life, everything from freshly-laid eggs to sprawling vegetable gardens.
Although cottagecore has taken off in the last year in part due to the pandemic and the popularity of video games like Minecraft and Animal Crossing, it’s not a new trend by any means. For Noemie Sérieux, founder of the Instagram account CottagecoreBlackFolks, it serves as reminder of her upbringing in St. Lucia. “Drying clothes in the breeze, chasing chickens and climbing coconut trees were all a part of my childhood. When the trend came to life, it felt more like nostalgia to me than a shiny new trend,” she told Good Housekeeping. The same can be said for other aesthetic movements that have popped up in recent years: Grandmacore and fairycore, also made popular on TikTok, have created nostalgia-induced worlds of their own, offering a place to escape technology and the constant need for connectivity.
As a result, there’s now a massive online community made up of people who lean into this picture-perfect pastoral fantasy, one that Sérieux describes as “bright and vibrant.”
How can I bring the cottagecore aesthetic into my house?
Styles may range from person to person (or house to house), but the cottagecore aesthetic has several constants: Along with a neutral color palette (whites, creams and warm tones), key decor pieces include dried flower bouquets, houseplants, mushroom trinkets and string lights. Everything — both the fashion and home decor — has a vintage look and feel, ranging from ruffled peasant dresses to floral ceramic dishware sets.
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To really nail the homegrown aesthetic, you may have to put your crafting, gardening and baking skills to use, as pointed out in Emily Kent’s The Little Book of Cottagecore. So, if you’re looking to stop and smell the roses, break out your embroidery kits, knitting needles, pie weights and herb garden kits, stat.
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