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Cottagecore – A return to the good life

Cottagecore – A return to the good life

The Cottage aesthetic has been bubbling below the surface for a few years now, but late 2020 really saw a major eruption. Cottagecore is a celebration of traditional English country living, a romantic and nostalgic spin on a sustainable lifestyle. In many ways, it’s an Anglo-American version of what the Danish call Hygge (Hoo-gah), a term that essentially means a cosy, comfortable and content way of living. Cottagecore adds lots of whimsical nostalgia and romance stirred in for good measure. It celebrates a more rural way of life that is simpler, more traditional and in harmony with nature. Many who embrace the mindset share a love of home-baked sourdough bread or tending to their garden, growing organic fruits and wonky vegetables. Typical Cottagecore images include thatched roofs, rusty tractors, apple pies and groups of youthful hipsters sat on hay bails in plaid shirts and floral floaty dresses. We have happily embraced this stereotype here at Shaws - and why not? Cottagecore is a wholesome, hearty, low-impact way to live.


Image Credit - Eadonstone Bespoke Design

The Cottagecore kitchen

The Cottagecore aesthetic has been very growing on both Instagram and Pinterest for a while now, with content spanning interiors, fashion and food. Social media seems to have taken the decorative floral baton from a 1990’s Laura Ashley and run with it – in several directions. 

Oak work surfaces sit on handmade, cream-coloured, wooden Shaker-style cabinetry - punctuated with a brightly enamelled wood-burning cooker. An original (and perhaps well-weathered) Shaws Belfast sink is the pearly white focal point here, accompanied by a burnished brass tap. This sits commandingly beneath a garden-view sash window, framed by bright floral curtains, perfectly tied back. Warm red fireclay tiles adorn the floor and beautifully patinated copper pans drape down on meat hooks from thick chocolate brown beams that gently bow under the weight of the building’s history.

Image. Credit:  Devol

The lime rendered walls splashed with period colours like burnt ochre and sage green are earthy and textural. And, of course, the Welsh dresser should be littered with an eclectic and asymmetrically stacked collection of earthenware crockery. Add a small vase of dried flowers to a heavy set oak dining table that bears all the scars of four generations of family mealtimes for the perfect finishing touch 

Perhaps this is a slightly clichéd, overly romanticised version that would be too much for most people, but by simply taking a few design cues from this whimsical vision you can create something that is warm, charming and completely personal to you.

Getting the cottage core look

The sink, cooker and cabinetry are the cornerstones of this style; the rest can be a reflection of your own personal inner farmer. So let's start with the sink. For hundreds of years, the sink (not the stove, as many might think) has been the heartbeat of the country kitchen. Traditionally it was used to prepare vegetables from the garden, scrub pans, do the laundry, wash the dogs after a country walk, and even bathe the children before bed. But to do all these things people needed a sink that was a large robust vessel capable of withstanding the daily grind of a hard-working kitchen. Arthur Gerald Shaw was responding to these demands when he made his first fireclay sinks, over 120 years ago in 1897 in Darwen, Lancashire. 

Shaws sinks are still made in the same workshops using the same handmade techniques to this day. However, they now available in many more shapes and sizes. If you want authenticity, the traditional Belfast is still the classic option, as is the equally popular and timeless Butler sink. If you’re looking for a more distinctive country look, why not try the more ornate Ribchester with its fluted-front apron and double bowl. Try adding some handmade Perrin & Rowe taps like the Armstrong Bridge Mixer in Aged Brass to complete the look.

Image Credit: Devol

When it comes to the cooker it also needed to be a large robust piece of equipment with the traditional choice being the range cooker. These beautifully formed pieces of cast-iron have been an iconic staple of country life for over a hundred years. Although brands like Aga are the aspirational choice, there are other more affordable, yet equally charming options. Stoves, for example, are an English company that was founded in Warrington over 100 years ago on Valentine’s day (which coincidentally, is the same day as Shaws). Both Stoves and fellow English company Everhot have a wide range of models and colours to suit both contemporary and traditional country kitchens and slightly lower budgets.

Image. Credit: Devol

The one thing that brings both of these design icons of the kitchen together and gives them a home is the cabinetry. Traditionally this would have been handmade by a local craftsman - and if you’re lucky you may still find someone who can build something from scratch - but there are a number of British kitchen makers who create traditional country kitchens designed for modern living. Brands like DeVol and Plain English have small but beautifully-designed collections that are very Cottagecore. If you want to blow the budget, and want a more pared-back approach to Cottagecore, Clive Christian offers a bespoke service for those with a taste for true luxury.

Once you have these key pieces covered you have a base to complete the look. Cottagecore or not, an authentic country kitchen is timeless. Shaws have been doing the country cottage aesthetic for over 120 years, so we feel confident in saying that it’s here to stay.