Want to add cozy, old-fashioned charm to your rented living space, but not sure how to do it? Use the following tips to create the cottagecore apartment of your dreams.
More than ever before, the year has left us longing for a simpler time. Modern life brings so much anxiety and uncertainty into our lives. Moreover, bustling cities can feel downright scary in the middle of a global pandemic.
As a result, gen z and millennials are longing for a cozy life in the countryside. Now, this has been my dream for more than a decade now, but, like many of you, I’m still living in an apartment, unable to afford the land and cottage I dream of.
But the best part of simple living is that it’s available to everyone. While you may not be able to live just where and how you want, today’s the day to start your cottagecore life. If you’d like to learn more about homestyle cooking, apartment gardening, and old-fashioned living, please join me in the apartment homesteading project.
For today, though, let’s talk about cottagecore style. Though apartments and dorms can feel pretty cookie cutter, yours doesn’t have to! Incoporate the following tips to create the cozy, cottagecore apartment you’ve been dreaming of.
Cottagecore Aesthetic Essentials
Antiques and vintage items
Cottagecore has alternately been dubbed “grandmacore” for good reason. Visit estate sales, antique stores, and thrift stores for unique, homey, and gorgeous finds. Not only will you find items that add the perfect ambience to your space, but you’ll be embracing sustainability, a key cottagecore tenant.
You may not have a full orchard and gardens yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start developing your green thumb now. Grow a few herbs in a sunny windowsill, love on those houseplants, arrange a bouquet of flowers, and hang some drying flowers or herbs from a curtain rod or wall hooks, using a bit of twine or string.
If your cottagecore style leans farmhouse, you might like this herb planter. If you prefer a boho look, hanging planters are a great option. And if you like something a little more traditional, this trio of ceramic planters might be for you.
If you were living in a cottage in the nineteenth century, you would have relied on candles or kerosene lamps to light your way in the darkness. Admittedly, you wouldn’t have had electricity either, but you don’t need that level of commitment to recreate a cozy, old-fashioned lighting effect in your modern home.
Lamps, fairy lights, and candles can all create pockets of coziness throughout your apartment. So consider where you like spending time, and see if you can add a little visual warmth with accent lighting. Then turn off those bright overhead lights and enjoy the calming, sleepiness-inducing effect of reading by a single light in a dark room.
Built in, wall-to-wall cabinets weren’t a standard home feature until well into the 20th century. Kitchens were designed for utility, and, while an uncluttered space might look nice, it’s pretty tedious to have to dig through overstuffed cupboards every time you need a spatula or flour.
As a result, I’d encourage you to bring your most-used kitchen supplies out into the open. Keep a jar or crock near the stove top full of the large utensils you need with most recipes – things like spatulas, mixing spoons, ladles, and tongs. Buy pretty jars for pantry staples like flour, sugar, oatmeal, and brown sugar, and then keep those jars on your countertop. It looks beautiful. Even better, I promise the ease of access will make you more likely to cook.
I’ve already started buying the anchor hocking jars linked in the last paragraph, and I love them, but if I were starting over, I’d consider these gorgeous, airtight containers instead:
Soft, cozy textures
While cottagecore is heavily visual aesthetics driven, it’s also known as “cozycore” for a reason. Make your apartment comfortable, not just cute.
While you may not have a lot of control over the furniture in your apartment as a renter, a few added details can make all the difference. Cozy things up with a downy comforter, soft pillows, plush throws, and fluffy towels.
Cottagecore Apartment Design
Farm and woodland animal motifs
Along with plants, animal motifs can add a little woodland charm to any cottagecore apartment. The cottagecore aesthetic is heavily influenced by French Country and especially English Country style. As a result the animals most seen in cottagecore decor include western European forest and farm animals like foxes, owls, rabbits, sheep, horses, and honeybees (my personal favorite). Feel free to experiment with animals that feel familiar to you, though!
Here are a few favorites:
I have these adorable honeybee magnets on my fridge, and they make me smile every time I grab a snack.
Natural, muted colors
Now, if you love bold colors, go for it, but many cottagecore apartments and houses feature softer hues – chambray blues, sage greens, dusty rose pinks, and faded yellows. These colors are both commonly found in nature and easily created from natural dyes. As a result, people of all income levels have decorated their homes in these shades throughout history, so they’re a natural fit for a timeless interior.
Since you’re going for a timeless, cozy style in your cottagecore apartment, consider the types of patterns and prints you’d see in a wide variety of time periods. Stripes, gingham (though I think we’re all a little over the black and white buffalo check variant), eyelet, toile, and especially calico prints all come to mind. Incorporate them in bedding, decorative pillows and throws, curtains, and knickknacks throughout your apartment.
Cottagecore Apartment Accessories
Vintage (or vintage style) books
For me, books are one of the very best decorative items. They add warmth and a lived in charm to any apartment or home. I’m a sucker for leatherbound books, like those from Easton press or even Barnes and Noble.
But you don’t need to spend a fortune here. I have an ever-growing collection of leatherbound classics, but I’ve never paid more than $15 for any of them. As is the case for so many items on this list, thrift stores are a cottagecore lover’s best friend.
And be sure to hit up any used book stores in your area too.
Framed embroidery, hand-knitted blankets, homemade quilts, and original paintings or prints all have a place in the cottagecore apartment. To find these items, check facebook for local art and craft fairs in your area. In Utah County, where I live, I make sure to visit the Beehive Bazaar each time it happens, and I always come home with a much-loved item or two. My most recent finds include a birdfeeder made from a mason jar and vintage china, and a gorgeous painting from Lovetta Reyes Cairo. Doesn’t it remind you of Renaissance art, especially something DaVinci would create?
If you don’t have frequent art fairs in your area, Etsy is a great alternative. Though handmade items tend to cost a little more than the mass-produced alternatives you’d find in a big box store, you’ll love the handmade items more. And it feels great to know that your money goes directly to an artist’s livelihood, rather than to a faceless and potentially exploitative corporation.
Quality over quantity should be our goal.
Artwork and photograph gallery walls
As a young adult living in an apartment, art, especially original art, can prove WAY too expensive. And the same goes for custom frames. One way I’ve found around this is in creating gallery walls. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a big piece of art and a frame to go with it, invest in a variety of smaller items that you really love. In particular, look for these items at thrift stores, and you’ll find it’s easy to build up a collection inexpensively.
Better yet, you’ll come away with something far more unique and personal than those mass-produced Hobby Lobby items (though I’ve got a few of those items in my home too – no judgement here!).
Currently, I have an art and photo gallery wall in the works in my bedroom, and I’m excited to share the results. Ultimately, It will feature paintings and prints, a few antiques, and photographs of my ancestors. The items and their frames don’t necessarily match perfectly, but that’s the fun of a gallery wall! As long as you incorporate a few repeating colors and materials, a wide variety of items can go together
In the end, cottagecore is country style for a new generation, and inclusiveness is a major part of its appeal. If any of these tips don’t speak to you, throw them out! Making a space you love is the number one rule of cottagecore design.
Remember, vintage style, not vintage values!
Enjoy that cozy, cottagecore life!