How to Design a Fall Cottagecore Space With Autumnal Magic

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As the bustling energy of summer gives way to autumn, tending to our space with intentionality becomes more and more important. It's time for us to retreat into our homes for cozy warmth and some much-needed downtime.

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Cue cottagecore, the uber-popular English countryside-inspired aesthetic that has taken over countless design catalogs and TikTok videos. Maybe you've even started pulling cottagecore elements into your own space because, thankfully, the trend can truly bring comfort into the home during a time when you crave it most.

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What is cottagecore all about?

This trend calls on the beauty and nostalgia of a slower, more agricultural life, and it trickles down not only into our decor but into our activities. For instance, baking homemade bread in a quaint kitchen or knitting our own blankets ahead of winter's arrival can be seen as cottagecore.

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While the aesthetic's influence on the domestic really took off in 2020 — we can't forget when everyone's Instagram feeds became dedicated to sourdough — some say its roots are thousands of years old. After all, people have been romanticizing the pastoral since, well, ‌forever.

Cottagecore is all about bringing nature into your space.

These days, the trend is thought to be a response to an overstimulated, overworked society, giving us the chance to bring simpler, more natural components into our lives and homes. With this in mind, cottagecore can be woven into the home during any season, but it's especially compatible with autumn.

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So, where do we begin? "I define cottagecore as a conversation between you, your home, and your surroundings," Krista Stokes, design and art director at private luxury resort Hidden Pond, tells Hunker. "[It's] using what you discover in nature as a form of self-expression, and integrating it into your space."

Looking for some inspo? Go outside. "Look up, look down, and see what Mother Nature is showing you. She decorates our world with amazing orchestrations of trees, rocks, moss, plants, sticks, stones, shells, and animals," Stokes says. Which colors and textures speak to you? Cottagecore, after all, is more than a design trend. It's a way of living in sync with nature.

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To bring the trend into your home, we rounded up five simple ways to embrace autumnal cottagecore vibes this fall:

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1. Darken the palette.

Since Stokes sees cottagecore as taking inspiration from the outside world and bringing it in, pulling in the colors of autumn is the simplest way to go.

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If you've already been enjoying the light colors of spring or summer cottagecore, now's the time to go darker and deeper. Think the dusky gold of falling leaves, rusty earth tones, and spicy herbal hues like saffron and nutmeg, which can easily be incorporated through throw pillows, blankets, vases, and more. These colors will feel especially magical if they stand out against a predominantly white- or cream-colored room, blending the more minimalist cottagecore vibe with an earthy feel.

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For autumn-inspired decor that speaks to natural elements, look no further than Target's Casaluna collection, where cotton, comfort, and cottagecore intersect. Here you'll find everything from sage green knit blankets to Dark Clay throw pillows as well as autumnal brown duvet sets that bring the seasonal cottagecore-style into your bedroom.

And for vases and weave-work similar to that above, the retailer's Opalhouse collection is a great place to start.

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2. Go with gourds.

Pumpkins truly tap into the quintessence of autumnal cottagecore. With their rich, orange color and their invocation of all things cozy, spooky, and natural, they make for an easy decor element. Think about picking up a few small ones for key areas, like your counters and tabletops, and a few larger ones to act as a centerpiece on a dining table or mantelpiece.

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You can pick up the real thing at your local market. Autumn wing gourds or warted gourds, which are smaller and used mainly for decorating, are usually dark green, orange, and yellow with wings and horns. They will easily lend their magic to a bookshelf or coffee table.

There's also the option to go faux without losing the natural appearance, with fake gourds and pumpkins that look real (I mean, I won't tell anyone if you don't). Create your own fall-ready bundle with these realistic looking pumpkins and gourds you can get on Pottery Barn, available in seven life-like colors, including a speckled rust and a perfectly-imperfect white and green.

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3. Elevate your storage items.

Ditch the Tupperware and plastic containers and go for more natural items, which will automatically create a sense of outdoorsy elegance. Accessorize your space with this set of jute wall hanging baskets, which will take your kitchen from ordinary to rustic. And you can even bring a touch of autumnal whimsy into you kid's bedroom with this mushroom basket or this woven fox bin.

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In communal spaces, consider natural-colored wicker baskets — an excellent way to declutter your home or store cozy throw blankets. And if you're not sure where to start, World Market is always brimming with beautiful wicker pieces, including this customer-loved basket that is available in three sizes.

4. Bring autumn-inspired plants and foliage indoors.

Search "cottagecore" and you'll find that lovers of the trend are obsessed with greenery. Want to fill a reading nook with plants, but have no idea where to start? Order these autumn houseplants from The Sill; prop them atop a stack of books, or place them in a macrame hanger over your reading space.

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And if you don't have a green thumb, don't worry about it. Marion Falchi of U.K.-based luxury interiors practice Falchi Interiors reassures us that there's no shame in utilizing faux greens: "Don't be embarrassed to choose fakes if the real thing is not going to work for you. Think of them not as a substitute but as a practical alternative."

For an autumn-inspired bouquet that will last until next fall, consider opting for dried and faux florals. Afloral makes beautiful greenery people would be shocked to learn isn't real, including these autumn-colored peonies and eucalyptus branches. Add this wreath to your door to bring the fall-inspired cottagecore theme to the outside of your home.

5. Embrace the light.

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What would an autumn night feel like without a sprinkling of string lights and candles? Once it begins to get dark earlier in the evening, you'll want to create a sense of natural light with fire and fairy lights.

Arrange tall white candles on mantelpieces and in windowsills (bonus points for candles scented with apple pie or cinnamon), and drape string lights on shelves, over your bedroom headboard, and even in hanging plants.

You can even take it one step further and get holders for your candles that will throw that light in different colors, directions, and patterns. This set from Amazon includes nine unique glass holders for tea lights as well as a wooden tray for display. Place this in the center of your coffee or dining room table for ultra-cozy fall lighting.

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