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Imagine you’re in a quaint house just at the edge of the woods—something out of a fairy tale. You might have a small flock of chickens, and you definitely have a cup of tea constantly brewing. Your sourdough starter is thriving, and your life faintly resembles a Hayao Miyazaki film. You pass the time knitting and listening to classical music and arranging flowers and reading novels with deeply cracked spines. Congratulations: You’ve achieved peak cottagecore.
This aesthetic has been gaining a following for years, with its roots in the same early 2010s Tumblr culture that gave rise to the flower crown before it was fully incorporated into music festival iconography. But lately, it’s become even more widespread—especially in light of the current global state. When every day is filled with uncertainty, and the spread of bad news feels like it will never end, the thought of transforming your surroundings with technology-free means of coziness—planting seeds, baking bread, crocheting a blanket—is compelling.
For some, embracing cottagecore means following a full homesteader approach, drawing inspiration from the farm simulation game Stardew Valley, or leaving a corporate job for a more hands-to-earth one. But for others, it’s as simple as opting for design that feels soft and nostalgic (the quilt your grandmother made, the brass candlesticks from the attic) and picking up an unplugged hobby or two (painting with watercolors, foraging your local park for pretty moss). You don’t need to live in a literal cottage to draw inspiration from the movement, after all—just a few changes can bring this soothing style to your own space.
Gather Your Linens
Cover a table with a simple white sheet and, suddenly, it’s a little more old school and romantic. Here, designer Liza Reyes also tacked up sheer fabric for a breezy window treatment that masters the art of not trying too hard.
Embrace Country Florals
Chintz is back—and it’s even better when you mix and match a few patterns. The coordinated bed curtains and duvet cover make Kate Schelter’s Manhattan bedroom resemble a country escape, and a few contrasting pillows keep it feeling fresh and fun.
Collect Some Dried Flowers
Admittedly, it’s challenging to make a home office feel like a rustic retreat—but as Ishka Design shows, a few dried flowers can’t hurt.
Hang Old-School Art Everywhere
The freestanding tub and dark wainscoting in this bathroom make it feel warm and cozy, but a framed painting just above a product caddy gives it an extra-quaint twist. If you’re concerned about the potential for water damage, look for affordable art at a thrift store.
Use Foraged Finds as Decor
John Derian’s entire Provincetown, Massachusetts, home is a testament to cottagecore (even if the designer doesn’t ascribe to that label), but this tablescape idea is one of his most magical: A bowl of mushrooms looks like a prop out of a fantasy movie. Pinecones, moss, and other outdoorsy finds are great alternatives.
Hang Up Your Herbs
If your space is starting to feel like a place where a kind (if sometimes misunderstood) witch might live, you’re doing cottagecore right. But if you’re not there quite yet, some hanging herbs and eucalyptus will help.