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Style at Home: Internet aesthetics: cottagecore vs. cluttercore

By Katie Laughridge
Tribune News Service

New traditional design is always adapting and growing to include inspiration from like-minded design movements to remain a stimulating and timeless style choice, and I for one love to look at all the new visions coming into the spotlight. Gen Z and millennials are taking to their social platforms with new image combinations that create a visual feast and a surprisingly specific design viewpoint.

The aesthetics tend to be more than just a design choice, sometimes also embodying a fantastical-seeming lifestyle. This last month I stumbled across two aesthetics I found to be both fun and encouraging to my own design tastes. These two genres have been branded as cottagecore and cluttercore.

Cottagecore is an escapist aesthetic. It takes you to a place where there are no phones ringing, no errands to run, and the pie on the natural wood countertop is always baked from scratch.

Cottagecore is an escapist aesthetic. It takes you to a place where there are no phones ringing, no errands to run, and the pie on the natural wood countertop is always baked from scratch. Think of an English countryside where all you have on the schedule for the day is baking bread, picking wildflowers and finishing up your tiresome tasks with an afternoon-long picnic (and perhaps some slow stitching before bed). It is the beginning of the fairy tale before the villain shows up.

Cottagecore is romantic and soft, based around natural elements. The liberal use of white and cream and lack of artificial colors provides a stunning backdrop for fresh florals, intricate embroidery and woven grass accents (plus it hides all the flour you have no doubt spilled from all the baking). Feminine, fresh and airy textiles add softness to the look that is complemented by purposeful, delicate accessories like vintage teacups, dried flowers and mossy hued knickknacks. It is the perfect visual masterpiece to reduce anxiety and to help you re-center on the simple things in life.

If cottagecore is sunbeams peeking through fluffy clouds and a lazy afternoon, then cluttercore is sitting by a warm hearth after a quick walk in a fall rainstorm. The art of achieving a cluttercore aesthetic is to create an organized mess that feels like a big hug. This movement takes to heart what I have always believed: Less might be more, but more is certainly better! I find comfort in (organized) clutter and think filling your home with beloved sentimental objects is both creatively stimulating and creates a “homey” atmosphere. While this look does require some self-discipline — it is a fine line from cluttercore to hoardercore — when done correctly it shows off design skills and an eye for balance. When practicing this visual approach, try to use your free space by filling your surfaces with curated vignettes and stack your books and baskets up to create height.

The art of achieving a cluttercore aesthetic is to create an organized mess that feels like a big hug.

Sometimes this loud and unapologetic movement leans toward the bohemian, but I prefer the antique approach where the collections are reminiscent of walking into your favorite hole-in-the-wall antique shop. By using picture frames for bold and beautiful gallery walls and upping your #shelfie game with plenty of books and knickknacks, this look is easy to edge into. Plus, think of all the storage room you can free up when you actually put all of your belongings to good use!

Adapted from nellhills.com. Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s. For more information, contact Katie at info@nellhills.com.