If wildflower bouquets, afternoon tea, and sun-lit stone cottages are a few of your favorite things, read on.

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If you’ve noticed a steady stream of dreamy, warm-hued images of everything from flowing dresses and cozy sweaters to pies and picnics seep into your social media feeds lately, you’re not alone. These are all part of a trend called “cottagecore,” which distills the romance of a slower, simpler, self-sufficient life in the country into perfectly Instagrammable images of happily overgrown flower gardens and cozy Tudor cottages. And if these idyllic images of a quiet life in the countryside brought you momentary escape from 2020, then you’re definitely not alone. NPR reported that between the months of March and April of this year, #cottagecore increased 153% on Tumblr and the number of ‘likes’ on posts using #cottagecore saw a lift of more than 500% during the same period.

Though use of the hashtag dates back to as early as 2014 on Tumblr, and a Reddit dedicated to the aesthetic began in 2018, cottagecore made its way to the mainstream via TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest in 2020–and for good reason. It’s no coincidence these search terms skyrocketed as stay-at-home orders began and we all turned our attention to the nuances of our own homes and hobbies. Cottagecore provides a visual escape to a world with all the romance of domestic life–and none of the chores. Think: crafting, reading in cozy nooks, baking, tending to the garden, picnicking, sipping tea, and frolicking through fields in flowy dresses.

Cozy Cottage Kitchen
Credit: Getty/Andreas von Einsiedel

Luckily for Southerners, chintz, shabby chic, and farmhouse styles all parlay well into the cottagecore look. (Good news if hygge always erred a little too minimalist for your grandmillenial sensibilities!) And house plans like the Cloudland Cottage and Cotton Hill Cottage prove classic Southern design has always been well ahead of the cottagecore curve.

For cottagecore inspo that feels all grown up but with all the same charm, take a cue from Paula Sutton. She gardens in floral dresses and serves tea on striped tablecloths, all for display on her ever-delightful Instagram, @hillhousevintage. Sutton’s feed of equally fresh bouquets and baked goods transports followers to a worry-free world of gingham, hydrangeas, and candle-lit suppers in the garden.  

You can live the cottagecore dream anywhere you can curl up with a good book or tend a little windowsill garden. And if you’ve already tried making your own sourdough or picked up sewing thanks to quarantine, then you’re well on your way to your own cottagecore happily ever after.