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What is Cottagecore in Decorating? 8 Design Elements

vintage cottagecore framed floral artwork hanging on a wall with blue floral wallpaper over a console table with a lamp and basket

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What is Cottagecore?

We are big fans of rustic and cosy interior design styles enriched with a hint of old-world charm. They offer a sense of grounding and authenticity, allowing us to embrace nature as the forefront and backbone of our home design.

One trend that perfectly embodies this ethos is cottagecore.

Cottagecore is an internet trend that embraces all things rural. It's commonly applied to fashion, arts and crafts, and even hobbies some might describe as "grand millennial" such as baking, gardening, and embroidery. 

But cottagecore has also found its way into the interior design world.

In this article, we'll explore 8 design elements that contribute to creating a beautiful cottagecore interior design. From fabrics to vintage decor, we'll provide tools and inspiration to help you transform your home into a cosy, cute and rustic refuge for those seeking a fresh, simple and nostalgic atmosphere in their homes.

Why is Cottagecore So Popular?

two chairs in a cottagecore room

With all the modern interior design styles circulating the interior design community of late, why is cottagecore, an ultimately retro style, suddenly taking the world by storm?

Cottagecore spaces are rustic, wholesome, whimsical, cosy and quaint. It's all about romanticising all things rural and creating an environment that pulls you closer to nature and the simplicity of the countryside. 

The style is especially popular amongst younger generations, especially millennials, and it seems a portion of these generations want to go back to a simpler time - which seems perfectly fair considering how fast-paced our current world is.

With this in mind, it makes sense why enthusiasts use cottagecore to infuse comfort and the essence of simple living into their homes. 

Now that we have an understanding of the potential benefits of a cottagecore aesthetic, let's delve into the 8 essential design elements that define this rustic style.

What is Cottagecore in Decorating? 7 Cottagecore Home Decor Elements

1: Natural Materials

a rustic dining room with natural materials such as wicker baskets, rattan chairs and terracotta crockery and vases with wildflower bouqets

With the countryside as the key inspiration for cottagecore interiors, natural materials are a must to infuse authenticity and cosiness. 

Wood is a great option for furniture pieces such as dining chairs, tables, sideboards, kitchen cabinets, and wardrobes. Timber is also often used for flooring, wall panelling, and even ceiling panelling. This fills the space with a natural and rustic warmth.

In addition to wood, consider including other natural materials such as:

Keep away from plastic and synthetic materials to maintain the authenticity of your space. 

2: Vintage Elements

a cosy reading nook with a vintage chair, vintage artwork and floral patterned curtains

Another key element to a succulently rustic cottagecore interior is the infusion of vintage accents. 

Classic decor can effortlessly take us back in time, and using vintage or antique furniture and ornaments is a surefire way to make your design feel warm, layered and full of character.

Include elements that complement the "granny-chic" aesthetic and add an air of cosy nostalgia, such as:

  • Vintage artwork, including botanical prints and quaint painted landscapes in natural colours.

  • Retro kitchen equipment and utensils, such as wooden rolling pins and spoons, metal whisks, and cast-iron cookware.

  • Vintage tea sets with intricate china patterns.

  • Vintage lights such as Tiffany lamps.

  • Milk-glass vases and crockery.

3: Intricate Patterns

a vintage wooden console and framed mirror table in front of a chintz printed wallpaper with wainscoting

Patterns can be a great way to enhance the look and feel of a cottagecore space. It's important to find a good balance of patterns that add depth to the space without overwhelming it with visual noise. You can mix and match patterns on bedspreads, cushions, curtains, tablecloths, and tea towels. If you want to maintain a sense of unity in the room, opt for patterns with a similar theme, such as colour or print shape.

Another option to add depth to the space is to use delicately patterned wallpaper. Consider whimsical prints in the botanical or floral variety for a charming touch.

To maintain a sense of freshness and simplicity, choose delicate patterns in subtle colours. This will help to create a cohesive and relaxing atmosphere in the room.

Cottagecore Patterns:

  • Gingham or buffalo plaid are traditional options for elevating any cottage design, especially in spring shades such as light pink, green or blue.

  • Vintage patterns such as Toile de Jouy, Chintz or Damask

  • Patchwork patterns

  • Dainty florals

  • Stripes

  • Polka dots

  • Botanical illustrations

  • Delicate embroidery

4: Bring Nature Indoors

two wildflower bouqets in rustic ceramic vases on a wooden windowsill overlooking a field.

As this style is all about country life, bringing the outdoors inside is a guaranteed way to add freshness and life to your cottagecore interior design.

As mentioned, you can enhance the natural feel of your space by using organic materials such as wood and rattan as the staple materials for furniture. If you're lucky enough to live in the open countryside, you could take this more literally by bringing home handpicked wildflower bouquets, pinecones, or fallen tree branches to use as garlands. 

Here are some other ways you can bring nature inside:

  • Grow an herb garden on your windowsill.

  • Include houseplants: ferns, English or Devil's ivy (pothos), peperomias or polka dot begonias are all perfect options for a cottagey vibe. Additionally, hanging/trailing plants bring attention upwards, helping to increase the layered effect of your decor.

  • Repurpose outdoor utensils, e.g. use a tin watering can as a vase or flowerpot, wooden crates for storage or a tree stump as an end table. It's a beautiful way to recycle.

  • Create terrariums: fun to make and beautiful to look at, terrariums are mini-ecosystems contained within a jar. You can buy DIY terrarium kits or go outside and find soil, rocks, moss, and small plants and make one for free.

5: Fresh Colours 

a cottagecore bedroom with a spring colour palette, floral prints and patterned curtains

Cottagecore colour schemes usually encompass neutrals and naturals, but there are no strict rules when it comes to the right hues. Keep your palette diverse but subtle - you want it to feel fresh and calming. 

Consider opting for a combination of shades you would naturally find outdoors in springtime:

  • Neutral shades as a base: white, cream, and beige.

  • Hues reminiscent of wildflower meadows: soft pastels like blush pink, sky blue, and buttery yellow. Add small pops of deeper colours like poppy red, violet or burnt orange for diversity.

  • Earthy tones: rich browns, sandy beiges and mossy greens.

  • Spring shades: pale green, lavender, peach and coral.

  • Muted tones: olive/sage green, cadet blue, and dusty rose.

6: Lighting

a cottageore chair with a floral print with a lamp and bookshelf behind

Lighting has a huge impact on the atmosphere of a room. In our opinion, lighting choices can make or break a design and cottagecore spaces are no exception.

Maximising natural lighting is a must for boosting the fresh and calming atmosphere cottagecore designs are favoured for. 

To optimise natural lighting:

  • Opt for sheer curtains to let in light while maintaining privacy, such as lace or linen.

  • Keep your windows clean and avoid blocking them with too much decor.

  • Opt for light and airy colour schemes so light can bounce off the walls and make the room appear brighter.

  • Use reflective surfaces such as mirrors or metal accents to help light rebound and better illuminate the room.

With natural light maximised during the day, what about the evening? Warm ambient lighting beautifully complements cottagecore spaces as it infuses warmth and cosiness when it's dark outside.

Tips on creating ambient lighting:

  • Layer small light sources such as lamps, string lights and candles rather than relying on a singular overhead light.

  • Opt for warm colour temperature lightbulbs over cool ones such as warm white.

  • Use diffuser lampshades to soften the light.

7: Embrace Imperfections

a rustic kitchen with pots, jugs, wooden counter tops and plants

A key characteristic of any rustic space, cottagecore included, is the presence of weathered or imperfect decor elements. 

It adds another level of authenticity by evoking history and nostalgia while elevating depth and increasing the scope of textures in a space.

You can find new furniture pieces or decor items with a weathered look, or consider exploring secondhand stores for pieces with a story.

Weathered and rustic decor ideas:

  • Stoneware and ceramics with subtle imperfections.

  • Weathered wooden surfaces.

  • Distressed picture/mirror frames.

  • Exposed stone or brick walls.

  • Authentic wooden beams or pillars.

  • Worn painted wood surfaces, e.g. cabinets or doors.

8: Fabrics and Textures

a spindle rocking chair with an embroidered lace blanket and pillow next to a table with teacups and a bouqet of wildflowers

The right fabrics and textures will add warmth, depth and tactile satisfaction to your cottagecore design.

Focus on natural options here too, opting for sustainable choices such as ethically sourced materials or organic fabrics.

Cottagecore fabrics and textures:

  • Quilted fabrics: patchwork quilted blankets or wall hangings.

  • Fabrics made with natural fibres: linen curtains, woollen blankets, cotton sheets, and leather upholstery.

  • Knit or crocheted soft furnishings: knitted blankets and crocheted placemats.

  • Lace: curtains, tablecloths and doilies.

  • Embroidery: throw pillows and wall tapestries.

  • Wicker and rattan: chairs, baskets and trays.

Non-Decor Ways to Embrace Cottagecore Living

While decor choices are one way to embrace the cottagecore trend, there are plenty of non-decor ways to delve into simple and rustic living:

  • Wholesome crafts: knitting, crochet, embroidery, carpentry, bushcraft.

  • Simple life hobbies: home baking, cooking, preserving (jams, etc).

  • Botanical activities: foraging, gardening, plant identification.

  • Countryside mindfulness: hiking, birdwatching, cloudgazing, stargazing, litter picking.

How do you bring the joys of the countryside and the cottagecore way into your home? Let us know in the comments.

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