How to create a cottagecore room on a budget – 9 inexpensive ways to get the look

Adopt the charming aesthetic without the expense

Wooden dresser in living room
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Cottagecore originally went viral on social media around two years ago, however, the trend is still going strong as we continue to be charmed by the rural, vintage-inspired look. Plus it doesn't hurt that it's easy to create a cottagecore room on a budget.

The cottagecore aesthetic has become a long-lasting home decor trend, that we expect will only continue to grow.  ‘As we approach spring, it's likely that the popularity of this trend will continue to grow, as people start to bring a touch of nature into their homes and look at softer aesthetics that match key associations of the new season,’ Nick Drewe, Trend Expert at Wethrift, explains. 

‘That’s everything from floral prints, to vintage-inspired art, dried flowers, a garden inspired palette, and nature themed designs.’

How to create a cottagecore room on a budget

Out of all the trends we've come across on social media cottagecore with its rustic, second-hand look is one of the easiest to bring into your own home without spending a fortune. So we've asked a panel of experts for their top tips for creating a cottagecore room no matter what you’re looking to spend.

1. Shop second-hand

Wooden dresser in living room

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One of the easiest ways to create a cottagecore room on a budget is by utilising the likes of local markets and charity shops and buying secondhand furniture instead of new.

‘Antique markets, thrift shops, and online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay are excellent places to find unique and cottagecore-inspired pieces,’ reveals Online Sofa Shop’s Sofa Expert, Jeanette Hudson. Keep an eye out for antique or vintage furniture and decor which has a lot of character to lean into the cottagecore aesthetic.

2. Rummage for baskets

Wallpaper in green bathroom with white sink

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Wicker baskets will instantly make a room look cottagecore, and you can pick them up for around £10 from Hobbycraft or IKEA. We're a big fan of the Hobbycraft hampers which can be easily stacked up as a cottagecore-friendly living room storage idea. They also make a brilliant cottagecore bedroom idea stacked on top of a wardrobe or under a bed. 

You don't need to buy them new, they're also easy to source secondhand from charity shops or freecycle sites such as Olio. 

3. Mix old and new

Molly Mahon Living Room Deerhyrst Cottage

(Image credit: Molly Mahon)

One of the biggest pros of the cottagecore look is that things don’t need to match. This means that it is alot easier to mix old and new affordable buys together to create a fresh look on a budget. 

To take an eclectic scheme to the next level Andrea Waters, Marketing Director at Portmeirion and Spode recommends, ‘Combining different textures and patterns to create something more memorable and interesting.'

‘For example, pair jute placemats with a gingham tablecloth and tableware with whimsical motifs, like wildflowers - that way your scheme won’t look too matchy-matchy.’

You can mix and match everything from decor and furniture, through to flowers, patterns and colours.

4. Dry flowers

Dried flowers in room

(Image credit: Future PLC)

This next tip will immediately give you that cottagecore look for less. ‘If you struggle with the upkeep of fresh flowers, try drying your favourite bunch before displaying, which will add a rustic charm to the room,’ says Catharina Björkman, Interiors Expert at Contura

‘Simply hang the bunch of flowers upside down to airdry over a week in a cool, dry space. Once the blooms have lost their moisture you can either arrange them in a vase with their stems attached or just keep the head of the flowers and stack in a clear glass bowl for a more contemporary look.’ This lets you benefit from a bouquet of flowers far longer than you would ordinarily. 

5. Frame a wallpaper sample

Floral wallpaper is a key part of the cottagecore look, however, investing in four full walls of wallpaper to bring your cottagecore living room ideas to life can be expensive. However, a clever money-saving hack is to paper just one wall, or frame a sample. 

‘Go for patterned or mural-style wallpapers to transform your space,’ says furn.com’s Room Styling Expert, Suzi Samaddar. ‘Think floral prints or woodland motifs. And if you’re on a budget, my top tip is to order a sample and simply frame it,’ Suzi adds. That way you can ‘create your own unique piece of art without needing to commit to full wallpaper in your home.’

6. Add colour with sample pots

Blue ladder

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're keen to dabble in the sage green or sky blue shades that have emerged from the cottagecore trend spend your money on a sample pot. There are so many things you can do with sample pot of paint. ‘Gentle blush, wistful baby blue or soft mint tones,’ can be used to upcycle and transform everything from bookcases and bedroom drawers to kitchen cabinets, while ‘brightening and lifting the whole space’, Catharina affirms. 

Alternatively, you can pick up a handle of wallpaper samples and use them to decoupage or upcycle secondhand furniture. ‘Upcycling aged furniture and the tradition of decorating with wallpaper has also become increasingly popular with the emergence of cottagecore,’ Rebecca agrees. 

8. Change cabinet handles

olive green kitchen cabinets with white worktop holding an assortment of items

(Image credit: Future PLC / Caroline Mardon)

‘Quick and easy DIY projects such as replacing the handles on your wardrobes and doors for old fashioned vintage styles ones and creating wicker baskets for storage will add to the authentic cottage feel,’ says Rachel Binks, Stylist at Hillarys. These inexpensive swaps can completely transform an existing piece of furniture and breathe new life into it.

You can source second-hand handles in bundles for under £10 on eBay, or Etsy. Alternatively, we love the range of cabinet handles from Plank Hardware, available at B&Q.

9. Get crafting

A hallway with an arched doorway and a gallery wall

(Image credit: OKA)

If you’re particularly crafty, you could get knitting, crocheting or embroidering to add unique and personalised pieces of decor for that cottagecore look. Think crocheted throw blankets, knitted cushion covers and pottery.

One of our favourite easy and affordable craft ideas for getting the cottagecore look is pressing flowers and then framing them. You can switch them out with the seasons, and all you need is some crease-proof paper and heavy books to make them. 

10. Source old pictures

Navy wall with picture

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Charity shops are filled with framed prints and are a treasure trove if you're looking to build a cottagecore-inspired gallery wall idea. When hunting for artwork in charity shops think about looking for frames and picture separately, as you can easily swap these around. 

Keep your eyes peeled for decorative small frames for that cosy cluttered look, and fine art-style paintings. All that matters at the end of the day is that you like it and are happy to look at it in your home every day.

FAQs

Which rooms can benefit most from cottagecore?

‘Almost any room can be designed with the cottagecore trend in mind but kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms offer more opportunity to add that rustic flair,’ reveals Marie Goodwin, head designer at Prestigious Textiles. And we have to agree. 

Essentially, any room or space where you’re looking to add a homely or sweet touch is where cottagecore really flourishes. However, where this look has really thrived has been in the kitchen. Cottagecore kitchen ideas have been the driving force behind the kitchen trends for under-counter curtains, utensil rails and open shelving. It has thrived in this space as the cosy heart of the home. 

Which patterns or colours are most cottagecore?

‘Floral prints, gingham checks, and patterns depicting birds are hallmark motifs of cottagecore design,’ explains Debbie Leigh, Design Manager at ILIV. ‘Floral patterns, in particular, bring a whimsical and romantic touch, adding a sense of natural beauty and country charm. Gingham checks, with their rustic simplicity, evoke a sense of nostalgia and homeliness, while patterns depicting countryside scenes further enhance the look.’

In terms of colours, ‘soft, muted hues dominate the cottagecore colour palette perfectly, reflecting the serene beauty of nature and the changing seasons,’ Debbie adds.

Ellis Cochrane
Contributor

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.


Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.