Cottagecore is a social media hashtag and internet-based lifestyle trend inspired by a quaint vision of country life. Based on an idealized back-to-nature concept of simpler times, its romanticized aesthetics center on natural materials, wholesome pastimes, handmade crafts, homemade baked goods, gardening, and other hallmarks of bucolic domesticity.
Unlike past historical aesthetic movements that arose as a backlash to industrialization and technology, Cottagecore provides its escapism via an internet portal where urban and suburban influencers and followers can tap into the collective fantasy of running away to a cabin in the woods or a cottage in a meadow. All without ever leaving home or facing the realities and challenges of rural life.
A Short History of Cottagecore
Cottagecore became a hashtag around 2018, and boomed as an internet phenomenon in large part due to the pandemic-related stay-at-home orders that became a reality for people around the world in 2020. Cottagecore influencers fetishize country life, creating dreamy pastoral imagery that allows their followers to teleport themselves into an escapist oasis built to counteract the pressures of modern life. It’s the stuff of flowy prairie dresses and sourdough starters, of hand-dried wildflower arrangements and hand-stitched quilts strewn on antique beds, of handmade pies cooling in open windows with the sun shining in. In an era where just about everybody wishes they had a bucolic getaway, Cottagecore brings the stylized movie set dream of a fairytale cottage in some magical woods or an enchanted English countryside meadow to you, wherever you are.
But what The New York Times called a “budding aesthetic movement” at the start of the Covid pandemic and Vox branded “the aesthetic where quarantine is romantic instead of terrifying” is in fact nothing new. It’s just the latest iteration of an age-old nostalgia for an agricultural life that humans routinely long for when human invention or social change accelerates the pace of modern life. The Arts and Crafts movement of the 19th and 20th centuries was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and Victorian-era opulence. The countercultural movement of the 1960s and its back-to-nature, DIY ethos that carried into the 1970s was in part a rejection of capitalism.
What makes Cottagecore distinct is that it was born on the internet and largely exists there, far away from the realities of country life. Critics argue that Cottagecore skews white, female, and cis gender and celebrates a past synonymous with patriarchy, racism, colonialism, and white supremacy that shares a similar aesthetic to the TradWives movement. But Cottagecore includes black women and lesbians among its ranks, and it’s not uncommon to find a social justice hashtag on a Cottagecore post, proving that the digital escape of Cottagecore belongs to everyone. Cottagecore adjacent subcultures include naturecore, meadowcore, frogcore, grandmacore, faeriecore, farmcore and goblincore.
Key Characteristics of Cottagecore
- A wistful, romantic take on rustic simplicity
- A back-to-basics, slow life spirit as seen through a rose-colored lens
- Focus on tactile and sensual pleasures
- Coziness and domesticity
- Focus on sustainability
- Prioritizing handcrafted and vintage items that have history and tell a story
- Embracing nature by bringing the outdoors inside, with flowers, plants and natural elements
- Celebration of skills and craft such as knitting, sewing, embroidery, crochet, baking, gardening, candle-making
- Focus on self-sufficiency, such as foraging for mushrooms in the woods, raising your own chickens, cultivating your own vegetable garden
Cottagecore Decorating Tips
- Embrace rustic furniture and accessories
- Use natural materials like wood and stone and textiles like linen and wool
- Rediscover granny chic with items like vintage tea cups, lace doilies, and embroidery
- Use of earthy, warm, neutral tones in everything from textiles to wall colors
- Source second-hand furniture and decor from yard sales to reduce waste
- Showcase family heirlooms
- Incorporate natural elements such as fresh or dried flowers, plants, or nature-inspired decor
- Collect and display coffee table books about cabins and classic literature by Beatrix Potter or Laura Ingalls Wilder or vintage copies of The Secret Garden
- Install a chicken coop in the backyard
- Make regular use of your fireplace or, if you don't have one, create an inviting focal point (or faux fireplace) with a floating shelf mantel full of candles and pine cones in winter or dried flowers in summer
- Add cozy, homey touches like vintage quilts, crocheted plant hangers, or handmade beeswax candles, all the better if you have made them yourself
- Hide technology to create a timeless feel