cottagecore vs shabby chic

17 DIFFFERENCES Between Cottagecore vs Shabby Chic [2023]

Here are some key differences between cottagecore vs shabby chic. 

Welcome to our discussion on the main differences between two popular interior design styles: cottagecore and shabby chic.

Both of these styles embrace a nostalgic, rustic aesthetic, but they each have their unique characteristics that set them apart.

differences between cottagecore and shabby chic

By exploring their origins, color palettes, materials, furniture styles, and overall themes, we can gain a deeper understanding of how these two styles differ from one another.

So, let's delve into the world of cottagecore and shabby chic and uncover the key differences that distinguish them.


1. Shabby Chic Was Created By Rachel Ashwell

Shabby chic is a trademarked interior design style that was popularized by British designer Rachel Ashwell in the late 1980s.

Rachel Ashwell is credited with coining the term "shabby chic" and developing the style's distinctive aesthetic.

She began by selling vintage furniture and home decor pieces that she restored and repainted. Ashwell's approach emphasized combining old, worn-out items with soft, pastel colors and floral patterns to create a romantic and feminine look.

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Books

cottagecore vs shabby chic

Her unique blend of vintage charm and distressed elegance quickly gained popularity and became known as the shabby chic style. Since then, shabby chic has become a widely recognized and beloved design style around the world.

2. Cottagecore Is A Lifestyle

While it gained popularity online, cottagecore also resonates with the back-to-the-land movement pre 1960's, which emphasized self-sufficiency, living off the land, and a return to a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.

The concept of cottagecore emerged as a reaction to the fast-paced, modern world, with a longing for simplicity, nature, and a romanticized rural lifestyle. It reflects a desire to connect with nature, embrace traditional craftsmanship, and find solace in the coziness of a countryside cottage.

cottagecore vs shabby chic lifestyle 

3. Origins

Cottagecore draws inspiration from rural life and the simplicity of cottage living, whereas shabby chic originated from the romanticism of old English country houses.

Cottagecore incorporates elements of literature, folklore, and nostalgic depictions of rural life. For example, the whimsical and nature-oriented children's books by Beatrix Potter, such as "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," showcase the charm and beauty of the countryside.

little house on the prairie books

The cozy and idyllic descriptions of rural settings in the writings of authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Jane Austen also contribute to the imagery and atmosphere associated with cottagecore.

4. Garden Vibes

Cottagecore reflects a more timeless and rustic vibe.

cottagecore vs shabby chic garden

While shabby chic is often associated with large blooms with distressed elements included.

While both styles celebrate nature and evoke a sense of nostalgia, they differ in some ways in their overall aesthetic and design elements.

5. Color Palette

Cottagecore emphasizes soft, muted colors such as pastels and earth tones, while shabby chic tends to incorporate more whites and faded hues. 

The color palette associated with cottagecore reflects a soft, dreamy, and natural aesthetic. It embraces hues that evoke a sense of nostalgia, tranquility, and a connection to the countryside.

cottagecore countryside

While there is flexibility in color choices, certain colors are commonly associated with cottagecore. Here are some key aspects of the cottagecore color palette:

Soft Pastels: Soft pastel shades are a hallmark of cottagecore. Colors like blush pink, baby blue, mint green, lavender, and buttery yellow create a delicate and whimsical atmosphere

cottagecore vs shabby chic yellow

Natural Whites: White is a prevalent color in cottagecore and shabby chic, symbolizing simplicity, purity, and a connection to the natural world. It can range from bright white to off-white or cream, creating a light and airy backdrop for other colors and textures.

Soft Grays: Soft grays are often used as neutral tones in cottagecore. They provide a subtle and calming base while complementing the other colors in the palette.

Natural Greens: Green, particularly soft and muted shades like moss green or sage, is commonly found in cottagecore. It represents the lushness of the countryside and brings a sense of tranquility and harmony.

cottagecore vs shabby chic

Earth Tones: Cottagecore often incorporates earthy colors that mimic the natural landscape. Warm and muted tones such as sandy beige, warm browns, sage green, and terracotta add a grounding and organic feel to the palette.

    6. Materials

    Cottagecore incorporates natural materials like wood, linen, and wicker, while shabby chic often features distressed or whitewashed furniture made of wood or metal.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic materials

    The materials used in cottagecore design are chosen to evoke a sense of nature, rusticity, and simplicity.

    The emphasis is often on natural and organic materials that connect with the outdoors and create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Here are some key materials commonly associated with cottagecore:

    Wood: Wood is a prominent material in cottagecore. It can be seen in exposed ceiling beams, wooden floors, rustic furniture, and decorative accents. The warmth and natural beauty of wood contribute to the overall cozy and inviting feel of cottagecore spaces.

    Linen: Linen, a natural fabric made from flax fibers, is frequently used in cottagecore aesthetics. It is valued for its soft texture, breathability, and ability to create a relaxed and organic ambiance. Linen is often used for curtains, bedding, tablecloths, and upholstery.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic earth tones

    Cotton: Cotton, known for its softness and versatility, is a favored material in cottagecore. It is used for bedding, curtains, throw pillows, and upholstery. The natural and breathable qualities of cotton align with the comfort and simplicity that cottagecore seeks to embody.

    Natural Stone: Natural stone, such as exposed brick or stone fireplaces, is occasionally used to enhance the rustic charm of cottagecore interiors. Stone elements can provide visual interest and contribute to the overall organic and earthy feel.

    cottagecore stone cottage

    Natural Fibers: Cottagecore values natural fibers such as jute, sisal, and hemp. These materials are often used for rugs, doormats, and wall hangings, adding a textural element that complements the natural aesthetic.

    Ceramic and Porcelain: Cottagecore embraces ceramic and porcelain dishware, vases, and decorative objects. These materials, often adorned with delicate floral patterns or rustic motifs, add a vintage and cozy touch to cottagecore spaces.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic pottery

    See our list of the best pottery shops on Etsy

    7. Patterns

    Cottagecore patterns often include floral prints, gingham, and whimsical motifs that embrace the beauty of nature and evoke a nostalgic, countryside charm.

    These patterns reflect a more playful and pastoral aesthetic. On the other hand, shabby chic patterns lean towards vintage-inspired designs like toile, stripes, and polka dots.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    These patterns exude a sense of faded grandeur and romantic elegance, often incorporating delicate and intricate motifs.

    While both styles embrace patterns, cottagecore patterns tend to emphasize nature and whimsy, while shabby chic patterns evoke a sense of refined nostalgia and feminine allure.

    8. Furniture & Décor Style

    Cottagecore furniture & décor style is typically more traditional and rustic, reflecting the simplicity and coziness of a countryside cottage.

    It often features wooden farmhouse tables, vintage-style seating, and natural materials like wicker or rattan. Cottagecore furniture embodies a sense of warmth and authenticity.

    Visit Rocky Mountain Lamps On Etsy

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    Shabby chic furniture and décor, on the other hand, tends to have a more refined and elegant aesthetic. It often includes distressed or whitewashed furniture with ornate details, curvy lines, and plush upholstery.

    Shabby chic furniture is characterized by its romantic and vintage-inspired appearance, combining a sense of faded grandeur with delicate charm.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    While both styles have a nostalgic appeal, cottagecore furniture leans towards rustic simplicity, while shabby chic furniture leans towards refined elegance with a touch of shabbiness.

    9. Distressing

    Shabby chic style deliberately distresses furniture to give it a worn, aged appearance, whereas cottagecore furniture is generally in better condition and may have a more natural, weathered look.

    Cottagecore distressing furniture aims to create a natural, weathered look that reflects the passage of time and embraces imperfections.

    Cottagecore Side Tables by Picadilly Prairie

    cottagecore side tables

    It often involves subtle distressing techniques, such as light sanding or natural wear and tear, to enhance the rustic charm and authenticity of the furniture.

    The goal is to achieve a more organic and lived-in feel, without excessive aging or intentional shabbiness.

    In contrast, shabby chic distressing involves deliberate and more pronounced techniques to create a worn, aged appearance.

    shabby chic vs cottagecore painting

    This may include heavy sanding, chipped paint, or peeling finishes, giving the furniture a deliberately distressed and shabby look.

    Shabby chic distressing is more intentional and deliberate, emphasizing the vintage appeal and romanticized aesthetic of aged furniture.

    10. Home Accessories

    Cottagecore home accessories often incorporate elements of nature, such as dried flowers, botanical prints, and woven baskets, bringing the beauty of the outdoors inside.

    They evoke a sense of rustic simplicity and often feature handmade crafts, vintage-inspired artwork, and a focus on natural textures.

    Cottagecore accessories aim to create a cozy and nostalgic ambiance reminiscent of countryside living.

    Mushroom Decor by Tiny Shiny Gifts

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    In contrast, shabby chic home accessories tend to be more delicate and refined, with a focus on vintage-inspired decor.

    Lace doilies, vintage china, crystal chandeliers, and ornate mirrors are commonly found in shabby chic interiors.

    Shabby chic accessories emphasize a sense of faded grandeur and romantic elegance, incorporating feminine details and vintage charm.

    shabby chic decor vs cottagecore

    11. Upholstery & Fabrics

    Cottagecore typically features simple, natural fabrics like linen or cotton, whereas shabby chic often includes plush, romantic fabrics like velvet, lace, and floral patterns.

    Cottagecore uses lace as well, but try to use lace that has a more vintage feeling like vintage style lace with earthy colors or coffee stained.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic lace

    12. Lighting

    Cottagecore often features warm, soft lighting with vintage-style lamps and candlelight, while shabby chic may incorporate ornate chandeliers or vintage-inspired pendant lights.

    In cottagecore, the lighting tends to be warm, soft, and inviting, creating a cozy and intimate atmosphere. Natural light is highly valued, so cottagecore spaces often incorporate large windows to allow ample daylight to fill the room.

    To enhance the natural light, lightweight curtains or sheer fabrics are used to diffuse and soften the incoming sunlight. Candlelight is also favored in cottagecore, with the use of candle lanterns, candlesticks, and vintage-style candle holders to create a warm and flickering glow.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic candles

    In shabby chic interiors, lighting choices often embrace a more ornate and vintage-inspired aesthetic. Chandeliers, especially crystal or ornate designs, are a common feature in shabby chic spaces, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic lighting

    Both cottagecore and shabby chic lighting choices aim to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, but with different styles and influences.

    Cottagecore lighting emphasizes natural light, candlelight, and soft, warm illumination to evoke a cozy and nostalgic ambiance.

    Shabby chic lighting, on the other hand, incorporates ornate fixtures, vintage-inspired designs, and a touch of elegance to enhance the romantic and vintage aesthetic of the space.

    13. Ambiance

    Cottagecore aims to create a cozy, nostalgic, and rustic atmosphere reminiscent of a countryside cottage, whereas shabby chic evokes a more elegant, feminine, and romantic ambiance.

    The ambiance of cottagecore is characterized by a relaxed, idyllic, and whimsical feel, evoking a sense of simplicity and a connection to nature, while the ambiance of shabby chic exudes a more refined and romantic atmosphere, with a touch of faded grandeur and feminine allure.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    14. DIY Vs. Vintage

    Cottagecore enthusiasts often embrace a DIY approach, incorporating handmade crafts and upcycled items. We have a list of some fantastic DIY quilting kits to try.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    While shabby chic relies more on vintage and antique finds, painting and distressing.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    15. Rustic vs. Refined

    Cottagecore leans toward a more rustic and natural aesthetic, embracing imperfections and a relaxed vibe.

    cottagecore design

    Whereas shabby chic leans towards refined elegance with a touch of shabbiness.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    16. Nature vs. Vintage

    Cottagecore celebrates the beauty of nature, often featuring elements like plants, flowers, and natural textures.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    While shabby chic focuses more on vintage and antique décor.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    17. Overall Theme

    The overall theme of cottagecore revolves around a simple and idyllic country life, embracing the beauty of nature, handmade crafts, and a slower-paced lifestyle.

    It emphasizes the warmth and coziness of a countryside cottage, often evoking nostalgia for simpler times and celebrating the enchantment of the natural world.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    On the other hand, the overall theme of shabby chic evokes a sense of faded grandeur and romantic elegance.

    It embraces vintage charm, ornate details, and a touch of shabbiness, creating an ambiance reminiscent of bygone eras and a desire for a refined and whimsical aesthetic.

    While both themes evoke a sense of nostalgia, cottagecore focuses more on rustic simplicity and the connection to nature, while shabby chic leans towards refined elegance and the allure of vintage allure.

    cottagecore vs shabby chic

    In conclusion, cottagecore and shabby chic may share a common thread of nostalgia and rustic charm, but they diverge in several significant ways.

    From their origins and time periods to their color palettes, materials, furniture styles, and overall themes, these interior design styles offer unique aesthetics and atmospheres.



    Understanding the distinctions between cottagecore and shabby chic can help you choose the style that resonates with your personal taste and desired ambiance.

    Whether you prefer the simplicity and natural elements of cottagecore or the refined elegance and distressed charm of shabby chic, both styles offer a delightful journey into the world of vintage-inspired design.

    How you can support this blog:

    🏡 If you would like to support our blog, we would love it if you would share this article on your social media and with friends & family. We would really appreciate that.

    More Cottagecore Lifestyle Ideas

    Gift Ideas For Cottagecore Lovers

    Cottagecore sub niches

    Back to blog