It's easy to understand why cottagecore decor is gaining popularity; as we've spent more time than usual in our homes over the past few years, we've come to understand the value of coziness. We crave a sense of nurture from our homes. That's exactly what we'll get from this philosophy of decorating, and I want to start an exploration of this broader topic by first focusing on how to create a cottagecore kitchen. After all, it's the heart of every house! Whether your budget is ready for a top-to-bottom renovation, or you want to make modest tweaks to dishes, lighting, accessories, and artwork, you've come to the right place. Let's start cooking, shall we?
Woodland artwork by Elise Thomason
1. What makes a cottagecore kitchen, anyway?
To answer that question, we need to think about the motives behind this style. First, it's about decorating intentionally. It's about giving a warm artisanal sensibility to a space, and avoiding big box retailers. It's about adorning your home with sustainable items and antiques, and rescuing things from the landfill. It's about connecting with your forebears either by using their hand-me-downs, or acquiring things that remind you of any elders that you have loved in your life. It's also about imagining yourself in a peaceful place—especially a country cottage in the UK or France. It's about using materials that feel natural rather than plasticky, organic rather than sterile. That's not to say a clean-lined space can't also be cottagecore (because it can!), but this way of decorating definitely gives you more leeway to incorporate curves and traditional touches if you'd like to.
Bison Art Print by Elise Thomason
2. Let’s think about tables, chairs, and millwork.
When you’re ready to start browsing furniture for a cottagecore kitchen, genuine wood is a great place to start. This style of decorating welcomes back brown woods (or lighter woods) like an old friend that we've been missing for a couple of decades. The color can range from bleached-out gray to deep, warm molasses—and everything in-between. Eclecticism is a welcome part of this way of thinking, as it gives your space that curated-over-time look. So don't be afraid of mixing woods, and even mixing chairs for a mismatched "set." This is not the place for matchy-matchy perfection.
Carrot Artwork by Elise Thomason
This fan-back armchair by Brian Boggs is a perfect example of of using wood to express both nostalgia and sophistication. If you're keen to find a more budget-friendly option, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great ways to find kitchen chairs that you can rescue from death row. Even the classic Wishbone Chair, which expertly straddles a line between modern and traditional, can work well in this style. Merchants like this also carry lovely used furniture.
3. Cottagecore color palette for kitchens: think cozy and comforting.
Fawn Art Print by Elise Thomason
When you're decorating in this style, you can make your color palette light and airy or deep and moody; all values of color are compatible with cottagecore. It's really the hue and intensity of color that seem to define the approach.
In the image below, notice how there's a mixture of light and dark items. Truly intense colors are used sparingly (though not altogether absent), while colors of moderate intensity are applied liberally.
Woodland Art by Elise Thomason
You probably won't be surprised to learn that nature is the major source of inspiration for any cottagecore color palette. What do the grounds surrounding your imaginary cottage (or real cottage, if you're lucky!) look like? Are there vines with greenery and clusters of blushing flowers? Are there haystacks and freshly tilled earth? Are there mosses and lichen clinging to various surfaces? This exercise may seem silly, but it can really help make your color choices more informed and authentic. Check out my woodland-themed art collection if you need inspiration on this.
Squirrel Art Print by Elise Thomason
Woodland Art by Elise Thomason
4. What about shelving?
If ever there were a time for open shelving, it's in a cottagecore kitchen. Don't shoot me! I know it means you have to keep your dishes in good order, but dishes are really important thematic touchpoint to the style (more on that in a minute). Hear me out, okay? You don't have to do the whole kitchen with open shelves—not at all. But if there's a place to display your dishes, it will help you achieve an atmosphere of quaintness.
Oak Leaf Art Print by Elise Thomason
Check out this useful DIY for shelves that are open enough to display your special crockery or dishes. Or if you're not feeling like doing your own carpentry (and I'm with you on this one), head over here for a reasonably priced ready-made open shelf.
Duck Hunting Prints from art collection by Elise Thomason
5. Dishes, cups, and utensils in a cottagecore kitchen
Special stars of the cottagecore decor style, as applied to kitchens, are dishes, cups, and utensils. A variety of styles and materials work in this context, but the unifying theme between them all is that they carry a connection to the past.
Antique leaf dishes are a delightful way to bring color and whimsy to your kitchen. Now do you see why I'm so jazzed about open shelving for a space like this? ;-) I love Ebay as a source for cabbage-leaf dishes. Also don't be afraid to mismatch your dishes in your decorating. You're going for a look that is (or appears to be) collected gradually.
Pottery dinnerware dishes are a classic way to give your kitchen a handmade touch.
Snail Painting by Elise Thomason
Next time you have a sunny Saturday, spend it going to estate sales to find bargains on antique china plates, cups, and saucers. You get bonus point for mixing and matching a variety of styles!
6. Can cookware give you a warm and fuzzy feeling? Why yes it can.
There's so much flexibility in this approach to decoration. There are few hard-and-fast rules, but this one comes close: copper is king. Copper pots and pans are arguably the ultimate item to evoke a sense of "little house en Provence." If you can find antique copper pans, all the better.
Whether you shop for a new copper tea kettle or a used one, you can't go wrong with copper.
Leaf Artwork by Elise Thomason
7. How to choose 3-dimensional decorative objects for a cozy kitchen
How should you pick objects to further enhance your cottage style? In a word: functional. Antique pieces of cookware, vintage scales, and old-fashioned mixing bowls can be both useful and beautiful. You've probably heard the design adage "form follows function" That's especially true in a cottage. Shy away from mass-market items in big box stores that were created for the sole purpose of decoration. The cottagecore look is all about authenticity, and supporting independent artists, craftspeople, and antique merchants is a surefire way to achieve that benchmark.
Wooden cutting boards and spoons can come out of your drawers and be put on proud display. Their natural woodgrain will add warmth and a sense of history to your interior.
Funky Mockingbird Artwork by Elise Thomason
8. What kinds of lighting work well with the style?
Pendant lights, flush-mounts, and sconces that have a sense of history work well in the style, though that needn't limit your search. Lighting choices can be a little bit playful, even a little bit modern. Schoolhouse Electric has some great choices (similar to ones shown below), many of which evoke a sense of historic American buildings, and go well with other elements of your decor.
9. Whatʼs the most important ingredient in your cottagecore kitchen?
Well, it's the memories you make in that space. The times you share with people you love. The fragrances, the happy accidents, and the laughter. And? Maybe some nice art. Check out my pieces at www.ElilseThomasonPrintStudio.com to get inspired.
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