How To

Designing a Cottagecore Reading Room

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Designing a cottagecore reading room is simpler than it may seem. Cottagecore has been hailed as one of the trendiest recent aesthetics, but it is nothing new. I already loved it back when it was called English Countryside Cottage style. It blends in some of my favorite things: cozy nooks with blankets and pillows, fresh flowers, and time spent in nature, among others. However, over the past couple of years, it has evolved into a full-blown movement.

What is cottagecore?

In a piece for Architectural Digest, Kate Reggev defines it as “a movement hearkening back to agricultural life, skills, and crafts”. In a world where stress, pain, and fear are ever-present, and where deafening levels of noise are something we’ve had to become used to, the idea of running away to a cottage in the countryside, where we can spend our time taking walks, picking flowers, baking, and reading by the fireplace, sounds very tempting.

It goes deeper. Reggev points out that cottagecore is “in part a reaction against capitalism and our increasing time spent in front of a screen, but also related to ongoing interests in wellness and sustainability, and more broadly the idea of social consciousness” When it comes down to it, cottagecore is about opting out of the mad dash in pursuit of more, and finding joy in nature, relationships, and home.

The Pros and Cons of Cottagecore

As anything else created by humans, cottagecore has its pros and cons. This movement has helped a lot of people establish healthier coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety, and it has been an introduction to slow living and sustainability for many. But it is mostly represented by white, cis, able-bodied women. It’s not that people of color, trans, or disabled people don’t partake of this aesthetic – it’s that bigotry, both in consumers and in social media algorithms, make sure that their content is too often buried.

Another problem is the romanticization of a lifestyle, and an era, that are not without their issues. While cottagecore is supposed to be about returning to “simpler times”, it ignores that, for a great deal of people, those times were anything but simple. Like Harper Klotz points out in this excellent article, "the line between reclaiming countryside life and a history of racism, sexism and colonialism is at times uncomfortably thin."

How to Design a Cottagecore Reading Room

Cottagecore is all about coziness and nature. To create the perfect reading room (or reading nook, if your home is on the smaller side), you will need throw blankets and pillows, lamps, candles, and art.

A Comfortable Place to Sit

First of all, you’ll need somewhere to sit. An armchair is ideal, but a rug covered with pillows will do the trick just fine. This armchair is made for curling up with a good book. $379

blue Mid Century Modern Fabric Arm Chair

All the Blankets

Blankets and quilts are a must. The cottagecore aesthetic requires you to amp up the cozy factor, and there's no faster way to do that than by adding blankets. Bonus points if they're in pastel colors and/or nature-themed patterns, like this mushroom blanket. $89

Mushroom Fungi Pattern Woven Throw Blanket in Beige

This chunky knitted vegan throw blanket is another great option. $79

Chunky knitted vegan throw blanket

Pillows!

You can’t curl up with a good book and a mug of tea without pillows. Floral and woodland patterns will make your cottagecore reading room feel like something out a Studio Ghibli movie. I love these gingham cushion covers. $40

Gingham cushion covers on a blanket on the grass

Tea Set

Similarly, you can't curl up with a good book and a mug of tea without a suitably cottagecore-y mug. This tea set is like something out of Beauty and the Beast. $40

Vintage Complete Pier One Tea Set With Tray

Lighting

Ideally, you'd be getting plenty of natural light. But either way, you don’t want harsh overhead lighting. Look for classic side lamps with delicate lampshades, like this beauty. $30

Vintage acrylic table lamp with green lace-trimmed shade

Candles

Scented candles will go a loooong way towards creating the cottagecore reading room of your dreams. This one gives you cottagecore with a hint of fairyland. $20

Cottage Fairy candle made by soy wax

Plants

Greenery is essential to cottagecore: what kind of cottage isn’t surrounded by plants? Give your green friends a home in pretty planters like this one to unlock maximum cottagecore vibes. $42

Toad Mushroom Handmade Planter

Art

Pick designs and colors that bring out the motifs of your blankets and pillows – or vice versa. I recommend these gorgeous prints by watercolorist Paola Merrill. $11

Flower Art Prints - California Poppy/Blue Flax illustrations - Watercolor

Wood and Wicker

Nothing says "cottagecore" like natural materials such as wood and wicker. If you have the room, go for bookcases made of them, like the one below. If not, even a stool or a wooden ornament can contribute to that countryside cottage look you're going for. $120

Rustic Pine Industrial 3 Tier Wooden Bookcase Shelving

Books!

The only thing that can’t be missing from a cottagecore reading room. Everything else is optional, but you can’t do much reading without books. Are you looking for cottagecore book recommendations? Here you go.

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