February 20, 2022
Even if you’ve never heard the word cottagecore, you’ve most definitely seen it in action, and if spring and fall product lines are any indication, you’re about to be seeing a whole lot more of it. Wikipedia defines cottagecore as “a fashion aesthetic popularized by teenagers and young adults celebrating an idealized life. It was developed throughout the 2010s and was first named cottagecore on Tumblr in 2018. The aesthetic centers on traditional rural clothing, interior design, and crafts such as foraging, baking, and pottery”. If you’re a follower of Jillian Harris, her recent farmhouse renovation is cottagecore to its, well, core. Thrifted chairs, found pillows, family heirlooms, charming cherry wallpaper, vintage style appliances, and a burgeoning flower farm all tucked into a perfectly rustic setting. There are Instagram accounts, clothing lines and home goods collections dedicated entirely to the cottagecore aesthetic, but what accounts for it’s sudden rise in popularity?
Cottagecore had been gaining popularity in the years leading up to 2020, with renewed interest in thrifting, homesteading and anything vintage, but it was the arrival of the pandemic that accelerated it’s cross over to mainstream. Cottagecore provides a way of experiencing the look and feel of a simpler time, even as our fast paced, technologically advanced way of life swirls around us. It’s not-so-subtle references to grandma’s house filled our urgent need to feel safe and our yearning for a time when things were, seemingly, much less stressful. Baking sourdough bread, an interest in all types of gardening, and a focus on the safety and comfort of our homes provided us a sense of control in a world that was turned upside down pretty much overnight.
The off-shoot tenets of cottagecore, coziness, comfort, and pleasure in simplicity or a simpler way of life, may bring to mind the Danish concept of hygge. Defined by Oxford as “the quality of being warm and comfortable that gives a feeling of happiness”, Oxford goes on to give this example: “The hygge experience includes warm cups of mulled wine, blazing log fires and candles galore.” And while there are definite parallels in the feelings offered by both lifestyles, they aren’t interchangeable. Where hygge more broadly focuses on the feelings created by items and activities no matter their style, say a cozy blanket and a candlelight dinner, cottagecore is more narrowly defined by its aesthetic (a vintage quilt and a home-grown meal with hand rolled beeswax candles). In other words, cottagecore is almost always hygge, but hygge isn’t always cottagecore.
As a style, cottagecore might not be for everyone, but the great thing about it is that it’s accessible to everyone. Thrifting, making use of family hand me downs (or heirlooms if you’re lucky), and hand crafting mean that, no matter your budget there is a way to participate. So, what are the hallmarks of a cottagecore home aesthetic and how can you spot it in the wild? Simply put, if it would work in your grandmother’s house, it’s likely cottagecore. Tiny floral prints, farmhouse plaids, ticking stripes, antique (or antique looking) dishes, embroidery, chenille bedspreads, oversize chairs with cabbage rose prints, chintz, wicker, ruffled trims, and a variety of “old world” or vintage farmhouse items.
If you’re looking to incorporate a little cottagecore into your every day, like any trend, you don’t have to go all in. Start small by incorporating something with a bit of history and maybe some personal meaning. If you’re light on family heirlooms, remember similar items can often be found relatively inexpensively at thrift stores, it doesn’t actually have to have belonged to your grandmother for it to remind you of her. Use an old Royal Doulton serving dish as a fruit bowl, add a ruffle trim pillow to your bed, do a little cross stich and frame it. Pick a corner or a space and make it your little cottagecore nook.
Just as mid-century modern style developed post World War ll in response to a world eager to leave the past behind, cottagecore has developed as a respite from our overwhelming and stressful way of life. Throw in a pandemic for good measure and the idea of creating a space reminiscent of a time of safety and nurturing seems like the antidote to all.
If you’re interested in exploring cottagecore more thoroughly, below are a few of my favorite accounts to follow.
Flower Farm Inspiration
December 11, 2022
October 16, 2022
September 11, 2022
"Don’t you love Okotoks in the Fall? Makes me want to watch You’ve Got Mail."
Well, I guess if I’m being completely honest, I always want to watch You’ve Got Mail, but the urge is especially strong at the first hint of Fall. In a lot of ways, I’m not typically nostalgic when it comes to the 90’s. I’m not eager to revisit my grunge phase, but I do have a special place in my heart when it comes to 90’s interior and set design. Enter You’ve Got Mail and, more specifically, Meg Ryan’s apartment.