Even before the pandemic triggered a boom in retro hobbies, busy modern life may well have left you yearning for a simpler, more wholesome existence. Part progressive movement, part pastoral fantasy, cottagecore is all about living in harmony with nature.
Many of us have spent more time indoors over the past year than ever before. So it’s no wonder that the cottagecore aesthetic – based on a fairytale version of the English countryside – has grown so much in popularity.
Read on to find out how to bring the cottagecore aesthetic into your home, whether you want to completely overhaul your home or just make quick, small changes without spending much money.
If what your home needs is more space as well as a décor update, check out our extensions advice guides for ideas and information on costs and planning. Then find a Which? Trusted Trader builder to ensure you pay for high-quality work carried out by a reputable, reliable tradesperson.
What is cottagecore fashion?
Cottagecore is partly an escapist fantasy about eschewing busy modern, urban life. It’s nostalgic – inspired by romanticised interpretations of rural and farmhouse living. But it’s also forward-looking, with a strong focus on sustainability and inclusivity, and it has a large LGBTQ+ fanbase.
Think quaint floral patterns, muted, natural colours, vintage and handcrafted furniture – anything bucolic or whimsical.
1. Welcome nature into your home
A key part of cottagecore is living in harmony with nature, and one of the best ways to do this is to bring nature into your home. The more living decorations, such as fresh flowers, houseplants and trailing vines, the better.
Check out our plants advice guides for help with planting and growing flowers, or consider foraging for wild flowers. Check the law and type of flowers before doing this: it’s illegal to pick cultivated flowers or fully uproot any wild flower, but you can pick non-protected wild fruit, foliage, fungi or flowers for non-commercial use.
Our grow your own vegetables guide has tips and tricks for growing a vast range of produce. If you’re stuck in a flat in a city, and can’t easy frolic across a wildflower meadow, try growing herbs and chillies in pots.
One caveat: houseplants have many mood-boosting effects, but don’t rely on them to boost your indoor air quality. You’d need vast numbers of house plants to make a discernible impact. Discover other ways to improve your indoor air quality at home.
2. Use floral patterns
Floral patterned wallpaper, cushions, vases and rugs also help create a natural, soft look that can have a calming effect.
To avoid spending too much, scour charity shops and ask your relatives and friends if they have any decorative plates, flower pots or soft furnishings they no longer want, but that you could make use of.
Reusing and recycling ornaments means they are authentically retro, and aligns with the sustainability aspect of cottagecore, as you won’t need to buy new products.
If you’re on a bigger budget, and redesigning your décor makes you want to update your furniture too, use our guide on how to buy fitted bedroom furniture to find out about costs, installation and the best brands.
3. Create a cottagecore kitchen
A healthy lifestyle is an essential tenet of cottagecore, and your kitchen should be an orderly but busy space full of ingredients, utensils and recipe books for creating nutritious food.
An Aga is a quintessential part of the idealised, rural-inspired kitchen. However, should you buy an Aga? Follow the link to find out the pros and cons of buying an Aga, and other range cooker alternatives.
Keep the kitchen in touch with nature by placing vases of wild flowers, pots of herbs and bowls of fresh fruit around the room.
If you need tips on how to arrange a great kitchen, check out our in-depth guide to kitchen planning.
4. Mix it up with a dark cottagecore living room
If a darker, gothic aesthetic is more your style, this can blend strikingly well with cottagecore ideas. For example, you could create a Victorian-inspired parlour that plays on ideas of traditional fairy tales.
Dark wooden furniture, red berries, scented candles and picture frames full of evocative, fog-draped landscapes and twilight woodlands will create an atmospheric living space.
Dark cottagecore has a very different tone to other cottagecore ideas but maintains the sense of reimagining the past in a more positive, modern way.
A new, dark carpet will change the tone of your room and invoke that gothic atmosphere. Our advice on how to choose a carpet will guide you through the various styles and materials that are available to bring your cottagecore vision to life.
5. Embrace the cottagecore sustainability ethos
Cottagecore isn’t just about baking some rustic pies, cakes or bread in your newly designed cottagecore kitchen.
A whole community, primarily existing online, has grown around cottagecore, with a strong sense of identity and purpose.
The cottagecore ethos is driven by sustainability and inclusivity. By using creativity and imagination you can reinvent an aesthetic from the past, with a modern twist that aims to reduce environmental damage and social division.
If your home and attitudes are shaped by positivity and beautiful design, you’ll be a welcoming host in an aesthetically pleasing environment.
Alongside the visual aspect of cottagecore, consider making practical, environmentally friendly improvements to your home, such as adding insulation or switching to a better-value energy tariff. To learn more about the schemes and financial help available to boost your home’s sustainability, take a look at our guide to government energy grants for your home.