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 need it most.

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, reading a book of poetry in a cozy nook or knitting our own blankets ahead of winter's arrival can be seen as cottagecore.

While the aesthetic's influence on the domestic really took off during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (hello, 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.

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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Here are five ways to embrace autumnal cottagecore vibes:

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.

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. 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. You also don't have to repaint your home to tap into fall's colors. Fill earthenware — like this Sullivans Urn Vase — with a spray of dark burgundy and rusty orange dried flowers or tie a room together with a chocolate throw rug.

Autumn cottagecore is all about achieving a lived-in feel, too, so drape your couch or cozy nooks with plaid blankets and oversized pillows — like these medieval animal tapestry pillows or these brown oversized chunky pillows.

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.

While you can go with faux gourds, you can also 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.

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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 a macrame hammock or this set of jute wall hanging baskets, which will take your kitchen from ordinary to rustic.

Bring a touch of farmhouse chic to your space by employing the use of natural-colored wicker baskets — an excellent way to declutter your home or store cozy throw blankets. For a touch of autumnal whimsy, especially in a kid's bedroom, decorate with this mushroom basket or this woven fox bin.

4. Bring the greenery 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.

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."

Try decorating a bookshelf, mantelpiece column, or wall of art with a few long vines of ivy, a cottagecore staple. Or you can go with the printed vintage botanicals look. For a fun DIY project, find frames for the prints and arrange a few in a reading corner or in your kitchen.

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5. Embrace the light.

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. Or, pick up these adorable mason jars with solar-powered fairy lights included.

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Lisa Marie Basile is a freelance writer, author of several nonfiction books, and editor.