The best design trends have always come into being when people go all-in on their truest yearnings. In the case of cottagecore — the aesthetic that took over Instagram and hasn’t let up — you’ll know it when you see it. Cottagecore is more than florals and quilting and stitching your cares away; it’s living a fantasy of self-sufficiency over modern convenience, with nostalgia for meadows and your grandma’s style.
If cottagecore speaks to you, you’ll find everything you need in the Willamette Valley — not only places to stay where cozy, old-time vibes reign but myriad experiences that can enhance your cottage style. In this 100-mile swath between the Portland Region and Roseburg known for its prime farmland, you’ll find everything you need for the countryside fantasy lifestyle. Here are my recommendations for cultivating the core of your cottagecore — rolling prairies perfect for a walk, quirky antique shops to get lost in, flower farms to gather blooms for drying and displaying, destinations for stocking cottage homesteads, and historic throwback places where you can spend time simply existing as your romantic self.
Outfit Your Home With a Cottagecore Vibe
First let’s talk about what to look for to cultivate that vibe at home. No single element or material speaks cottagecore alone, but if you’re looking for some general guideposts to style your spaces, take your cues from the community leaning into things like domestic crafts, witchy kitchens, florals, chintz, lace, dried flowers, messy gallery walls, mismatched teacups and woodland motifs. Basically, anything that feels plucked from the pages of Beatrix Potter or that falls under the category of “granny chic” will feel at home with cottagecore.
The Willamette Valley abounds with antique malls, flea markets and vintage stores where you can pick up the objects that transform a mundane modern home into a cottagecore fantasy dream — think rattan picnic baskets, apothecary jars, gingham fabrics, embroidered pillows, antiquarian books, floral teapots, rustic furniture, lace tablecloths and more.
My absolute favorite place to take this kind of time warp is the Albany Antique Mall, a place I visit regularly for its collections of vintage clothing, porcelain displays and the off chance I’ll find just the right handwoven basket to add to my collection. I also love the furniture gallery at the Engelberg Antiks mall in Salem and the housewares at the Wine Country Antique Mall in Newberg. I never recommend going vintage shopping with a goal in mind — that’s part of its charm — but I regularly stop by Aurora Mills Salvage in case I need to pick up those old wooden-letterpress trays, perfect for containing collections. Aurora — with its entire small town populated by antique and vintage stores and regular flea-market events — might be the perfect single destination for someone wanting to outfit a home in cottage style.
Become the Maker You’ve Always Wanted to Be
Do-it-yourself crafts are the ultimate pastime in cottagecore — a way to slow down and sink into the pleasures of domestic handiwork. Flex your DIY skills at places like Yo Soy Candle’s Candle Creation Bar in Portland, where you can make a candle and blend your own scent using high-grade essential oils. Get lost in the patterned fabrics at the amazing Boersma’s in McMinnville. Pick your canvas at Northwest Needlepoint in Lake Oswego, and create that throw pillow you’ve always wanted. Drop in at a Sit & Stitch event at Cozy, a yarn shop in Eugene. Record it all by picking up everything you need for an art journal from Runaway Art and Craft Studio in Salem.
Walk the Countryside Walk
What about places that are cottagecore at their very essence? If you want an easy way to live the life of a cottagecore-ist, don your favorite flowy attire and go wandering along one of the 18 National Wildlife Refuges of Oregon, three of them in the Willamette Valley. These are deeply romantic places where the spirit can carve out shared space with a wild cacophony of bird species, grasslands, woodlands, and prairies in settings that feel plucked from a 19th-century novel.
Stay Inspired With a Cup of Tea
For cottagecore galore, there is nothing like a trip to a historic home. Take it up a notch by scheduling a formal tea alongside your visit. Book a tea well in advance at Deepwood Estate in Salem — held in a home with all of the filigree of Queen Anne architecture — or schedule a high tea at the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House in Eugene, featuring tea sandwiches, scones, savory pastries and a dessert. As you sip and nibble, reflect on the small pleasures in life, which cottagecore reminds us are the biggest pleasures of all.
Create Your Self-Sufficient Future
Cottagecore devotees believe that you can create a life that eschews modern conveniences and centers on your own little patch of dirt. Plan the garden of your dreams with seeds, plants, gear and helpful advice from the gardener staff at Down to Earth Home, Garden & Gift in Eugene. For your vegetable bounty to come, Oregon residents can sign up for gardening and food-preserving courses at your nearest Oregon State University Extension Office. There are excellent Master Gardener programs from Portland to Roseburg — or go all-in with the organization’s Master Food Preserver Program to learn to can, dehydrate and ferment what you grow.
For teas, herbal steam kits and potions, stock your larder with supplies and natural products from Mountain Rose Herbs in Eugene. If you’re closer to the Portland metro area, you can take a canning class with cookbook author Sarah Marshall at the commercial kitchen of Marshall’s Haute Sauce, but you should also work in a morning at Cornell Farm’s destination nursery to get inspiration for the growing season.