Over the past year the concept of cottagecore – which is by definition a little old fashioned – has been very much on trend. But what is it and how can you inject a little of it into your life?
Words by Natasha Were.
Search for ‘cottagecore’ on Instagram and you’ll find yourself in a softly-lit world of wildflowers and well-worn kitchen tables, freshly baked pies and wicker baskets filled with homegrown produce.
The most common description of cottagecore is ‘a romanticised interpretation of rural life’. As a design style, it’s all about warm, inviting spaces filled with florals and fabrics, snug furniture and vintage accessories. But cottagecore’s appeal is that it’s more than an aesthetic. It encompasses a lifestyle – or at least one to aspire to. It celebrates a slower way of life, more sustainable habits and a DIY rather than go-out-and-buy attitude – all values that, in a pandemic, millions suddenly found themselves gravitating towards.
Indeed, if there is one reason for cottagecore’s sudden surge in followers, it’s lockdown. Over the months that millions were housebound, many homeowners sought to make ‘home’ feel like a safe refuge from the events unfolding beyond. But equally, in the absence social events and leisure activities, there was a need to find entertainment at home. And so thousands turned to traditional pastimes: they knitted, quilted and crocheted their way out of boredom; they found calm in feeding sourdough starters and rolling their own pasta; and they discovered the satisfaction of not only starting, but actually completing, home improvement projects.
In essence, cottagecore revisits the old ways, in new times. Embracing the cottagecore philosophy doesn’t mean moving to a remote country retreat, or even a beach cottage in the tropics, for that matter. It’s quite possible to embrace those values and to weave the cosy, comforting elements into a home’s decor, with minimal expenditure of effort.
Cottagecore lies at the other end of the spectrum from minimalist design. Forget stark white, glossy black and dark, moody tones. What you want are warm, earthy hues and soft pastels. Create a palette of sand, oatmeal, and butterscotch tones as your basis, and sprinkle it with notes of dusky rose, periwinkle and sage and you’ll be well on your way.
Banish Sharp Edges
Think back to a time before clean lines, sharp corners and gleaming expanses of stainless steel. Cottagecore is all about softening the edges. Rather than straight, geometrical forms, embrace gentle curves and rounded, undulating forms.
This applies as much to key furniture pieces and appliances as to small decorative items and kitchen utensils. Those retro shapes are easy on the eye and instantly evoke a different era.
Because it takes its inspiration from the joys of country living, bringing nature in is an essential aspect of this design aesthetic.
This can be in the form of potted plants and jugs of flowers, or more indirectly in wallpapers and fabrics with leafy motifs. A wood-framed bed piled high with soft quilts and linens in soft floral prints may be the ultimate expression of cottagecore.
Choose furniture and fixtures made from natural materials to capture that traditional country feel. There’s nothing quite like a hardwood floor to bring instant warmth to a home, and especially when paired with a plush, handwoven rug. Look for dining tables, chairs and bookshelves crafted from natural wood, choose copper cookware, ceramic kitchenware and wooden utensils.
In our tropical environment, where sea and sand are never far away, found items like driftwood, sea shells and palm fronds can add a decorative touch that fits with the location.
Layer Up Textures and Textiles
Cottagecore is all about comfort, so it’s almost impossible to have too many pillows and throws. Although in a warm climate you don’t need piles of fluffy blankets, you can still create that rich textural effect with sheer curtains, slipcovered sofas, quilted bedcovers and mounds of cushions in warm tones.
The joy of cottagecore is that it can be imperfect, a little cluttered, even the teeniest bit twee. And because it celebrates the vintage and the retro, it’s the ideal opportunity to find a home for a family antique, to have a rummage through grandma’s collectables, and to embrace pre-loved items.
Beach Cottage – Label C
Handmade Vintage Rug – Rugs Oriental
Boden Slipcover Sofa – Sticks and Stones
Classic Oak Vinyl Flooring – Stafford Surfaces
Kohler Whitehaven Apron-Front Kitchen Sink – A.L. Thompson’s
Pick Stitch Evergreen Matelassé Coverlet – Bedside Manor
Marcato Atlas 150 Pasta Maker – Bon Vivant
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