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What Branch of Cottagecore Are YOU?

cottage painting with autumn colors

In 2020, whispers of a mysterious and somewhat alluring word known as “cottagecore” began to sweep across the Internet. The term had emerged a few years before, but truly gained prominence during isolation, particularly as Taylor Swift’s woodsy folk albums Folklore and Evermore were released during that period. Such a trend did not, however, disappear then. It remains to this day and begs the question . . . what exactly is cottagecore?           

The answer to that question is more complicated than you might think. On one hand, it seems that most of us can agree that cottagecore involves a return to simpler times and overall embrace of natural surroundings. Yet, beyond that umbrella definition, there appear to be multiple branches, different ways in which people have related—and can relate—to the movement.

The Little House/Walden Branch

vintage cottage picture

Oh, to live in that Little House in the Big Woods!

Some proponents of the cottagecore phenomenon are drawn to a renewed focus on self-reliance and traditional home activities, such as baking and sewing . . . and, in some instances, literally live in a cottage or at some distance from civilization. Preferred attire for women may be flowery and slightly more romanticized than the traditional garb, but largely associated with simple prints—gingham dresses and the like—and practicality. 

vintage picture of cottage with woman

If you’re a guy, you are likely embracing bushcraft—chopping wood, fishing, hunting, and quite possibly carving your own wooden spoon. In addition to the tasks at hand, deep reflections may be found through harmony with nature and its quiet simplicity. Thus, perhaps this camp may be called the Little House or Walden branch of cottagecore. 

vintage cottage picture with man

I myself grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books. Likewise, I still have a photo on my phone of the blueberry muffins that I spontaneously baked a while back, and some of my most treasured childhood memories involved baking bread with my grandfather. But, like undoubtedly many, I admit that I cook far more often these days than I find time to bake and have not developed the level of skill to gift a friend embroidered napkins or make my own clothes. While the Little House books still hold a special place in my heart, they are also less defining for me than those that I associate with another branch of cottagecore. 

Bridging the Gap:  The Woods of Kinkade

forest cottage

If you look at a Thomas Kinkade painting, you may catch a glimpse of the Little House/Walden branch of a tree in the cottagecore woods. After all, he is known for his paintings of old-fashioned cottages, and, when other subjects are addressed, there remain nevertheless a warmth and sense of home pervading each piece. Yet, while Kinkade embraces all facets of cottagecore, there is a mystical wonder inherent that may be connected especially to its second branch.

That is, when I say that I am a cottagecore fan, I am referring more fully to . . .

The Fairy Tale/Anne Shirley Branch

cottage painting with pink and light

Bring me the fairy tale woods, flowing dresses, and poetry found in “little things”!

Like me, other supporters of the cottagecore movement view the world through a poetic lens, finding the romance in nature and life as they embrace a worldview filled with lyricism and wonder. They delight in whimsical fancy as if stepping into Anne of Green Gables or the hushed woods of a fairy tale. The deep reflections of the Little House/Walden branch exist, but are intensified emotionally. Philosophically, the simple moments or “intermissions” are seen as some of the most important and rewarding, sprinkled with a wondrous enchantment as God’s creation is traversed.

cottage paintings with flowers

The Little House/Walden fashion may include puffed sleeves, but this branch definitely does—along with exceedingly twirlable skirts, and, even as they remain at least speculatively historical, more ethereal gowns in general. The Fairy Tale/Anne Shirley Branch trades the practicality of LH/W for more imaginative exploration, such as dancing in a sunlit meadow while envisioning that you have found the castle of an enchanted kingdom, stepping across a bridge to find a lost world or hidden dwarf abode, ruminating among ruins that speak of days long past, or gazing at the waves of the sea as you pen verse, spin tales, or paint in soft hues and great flourishes of light.

You may also be Snow White. Or a bard. Or both.

fantasy forest with unicorn and cottage

If you are a guy, you will likely be the quiet woodcutter who is actually a prince in disguise, living out your life in solitude whilst the twin “pauper” is being prepared for the throne . . . until, that is, you encounter your lady fair.  

Or, again, you just might be a bard. 

pink and blue landscape with cottages

With the FT/AS branch in hand, you may embark on a perilous quest . . . but it will likely occur off set. Nevertheless, your deeds will be forever immortalized in song, handwoven in tapestries, and quickly penned on parchment imprinted with a wax seal. 

Whether consisting of writers and other artists in a literal sense or not, this nevertheless remains the place where the ballad weavers dwell. 

The Frog/Toad Branch (Addendum 2/13)

cozy autumn cottage

Of cozy nooks and hedgehogs!

After hearing feedback from readers, I realized that we were missing a key category. Jenne Bergström from Facebook aptly named it the “Frog and Toad” Branch and elaborated thusly:

“Cozy, friendly and lots of snacks.”

cottage room; frog art

So, if you enjoyed the Frog and Toad children’s books—or happen to be a Winnie the Pooh/cottagecore hybrid fan—this might be the branch for you!

Melody Ward, also from Facebook, echoed Jenne’s thoughts on “that cozy feeling” that she loves about cottagecore. She added details to the picture, such as hedgehogs and moss, with the focal point of a “fairy cottage.” Therefore, while this quaint and homey version of cottagecore is unique enough to warrant a third category, it does have some overlap with the Fairy Tale/Anne Shirley Branch.

book nook; hedgehog reading

Since we are pretty far along in the poll already, the official options will remain the same. However, if you identify the most with the Frog/Toad Branch, please let us know in the comments section!

My Cottagecore Journey in Photos

In my collection of personal photos may be found several that I see through the lens of cottagecore. Join me in this pictorial journey below!

Why, yes, I will get excited if I find a rose garden! 😊 ESPECIALLY one with an arch that makes me think of tales of yore . . . ❤️

Gina Marinello-Sweeney near rose arch


It may not be a secret passageway, but the storyteller in me loved taking this photo of a little hidden glimpse through the trees. 😊

hidden glimpse between trees of ducks


A little Narnia, a little fairy tale, and, on the whole, a delightfully Romantic (with a capital R) entrance. 😊 What more can a lyrically wonderstruck girl ask for? ❤️

garden entrance with lantern


Back in high school, this bit of shrubbery inspired notions of enchanted portals. Would it lead to a secret garden?

Teen Gina Marinello-Sweeney near shrubbery


When you have a writing journal that so perfectly resembles the lost volume of an ancient kingdom that you wonder if you can truly write in it . . . until you find the perfect purpose for it. 😊❤️

vintage blue and gold journal

No matter how many technological advancements may ensue, the delightful secrets of music boxes and snow globes wait to be uncovered just as in the days of old. In them are contained a certain mystery, a certain beauty, and a certain quiet joy, forever captured in its mystical wonderland. 

flower and butterfly snowglobe

On my wedding day, I loved twirling in a ballgown in a field near a lake. Twirling with my prince. And just twirling in general.

Gina Marinello-Sweeney on hill in ballgown with tiara
Gina Marinello-Sweeney twirling on fairy tale wedding day with ballgown.


Gazing at the world around me on my college graduation day . . .

Gina Marinello-Sweeney near tree and shrubbey on college graduation day.


And, finally, little me embracing cottagecore with a pensive gaze at a garden immortal!

Gina Marinello-Sweeney as a little girl in hot pink gazing at garden.

Oh, and yes . . . my current desktop background is most certainly Kinkade's Snow White Discovers the Cottage.  😉

Learn more about Gina's cottagecore-infused novels, The Veritas Chronicles!


What is your favorite part of the cottagecore phenomenon? 

collage of cottages and cottage windows and doors

Let us know the "branch" with which you identify the most by taking the poll below! 

Gina Marinello-Sweeney

Gina Marinello-Sweeney is the author of The Veritas Chronicles, a contemporary YA trilogy that has been compared to the writing of L.M. Montgomery. The first book in the series, I Thirst, received the 2013 YATR Literary Award for Best Prologue from Young Adult Teen Readers. Gina lives in Southern California with her husband, where she is at work on a fairy tale novel and short story collection. Visit for more information.
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