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Cottagecore has been trending on Tiktok and Instagram, but this aesthetic is more than a design fad, according to interior designer and HGTV star Francesca Grace, it’s a lifestyle. “Cottagecore is a way of living based on a feeling of comfort, self-dependability, and a curation of one’s most-loved pieces. There is a heavy English rural influence which I die for. When it comes to cottagecore there are no rights or wrongs in my book.”
Although Grace lives in Los Angeles, which is far from any countryside setting, the designer not only lives in a cottagecore-style home— she truly embraces this way of life.“For me cottagecore is all about celebrating the aspects of a more rural and quiet lifestyle. Running a company requires a lot of attention to detail and time,” she says. “When the workday comes to an end, I love being able to step outside my backyard and get the feeling I’m living in the countryside surrounded by my chickens, dog, and cat. I also love to display all of my vintage and antique finds throughout my home. My collection continues to grow, creating a fluid rotation of pieces that excite me.”
Still, cottagecore isn’t about becoming someone else, rather it’s a very intentional way of being explains interior designer and HGTV star Breegan Jane, “It isn’t cosplay or transforming yourself into someone from a different era. It’s truly embracing the decision to intentionally invite tranquility and sustainability into many areas of your everyday life.”
The cottagecore craze can also be considered a reaction to the modern farmhouse trend, which is finally starting to fall out of favor after years of popularity. The problem with modern farmhouse is that it has become extraordinary inauthentic. After all, how many modern farmhouse homes are actually located on farms? Most people with shiplap walls and “Live, Laugh, Love” signs aren’t waking up early milk cows. Yet, when it comes to cottagecore, true devotees are more likely to embrace some elements of the lifestyle, whether it’s growing plants or spending weekends exploring flea markets for antique ginger jars.
Cottagecore is built on authenticity. “Especially since March of 2020, people want a bucolic, peaceful home with calm vibes, earthy tones, and a garden. How many people do you know with a Covid-spurred garden?,” says Los Angeles Realtor Lori Harris. “Everyone became a farmer two years ago, and they want their home to be similarly on-brand with their new interests. The bright whites and neon signs are out (hopefully for good) and people are more and more seeking refuge in their homes.”
Here are some helpful tips and ideas for incorporating the cottagecore aesthetic into any home.
One of the easiest ways to create cottagecore vibes is to add vintage pieces. It’s best to opt for true vintage items as opposed to just a vintage aesthetic. This is also a more eco-friendly choice, explains interior designer Kirsten Blazek. “We love being able to give life to old furniture, rather than buying new products.”
Using re-claimed finishes can elevate cottagecore to another level. “Many of our designs feature repurposed existing finishes, reclaimed tile, and refinished original cabinets,” she says.
However, if real vintage isn’t accessible either due to cost or accessibility, there’s lots of vintage-inspired furniture and decor available at HomeGoods in-store as well as online. “By mixing in era-inspired pieces into your space, you can create a layered and vintage look often found in charming cottages. Think damask rugs, the look of aged stoneware pottery, woven baskets, arched gold mirrors, and the cozy feel of embroidered blankets and throws,” says HomeGoods Style Expert, Ursula Carmona.
An object or piece of furniture doesn’t necessarily have to be antique or vintage to be cottagecore, but embracing those old family heirlooms creates a more authentic cottagecore vibe. Lindsey Jamison of Rumor Designs tells me, “With a little extra thought, add an old family heirloom or one-of-a-kind piece from a local antique shop to your living spaces for an easy way to achieve the cottagecore look,”
The designer’s Cow Creek project is a great example of this. “We incorporated a dining table that has been in the owner’s family for generations and added tea kettles and pots from the owner’s grandmother to bring this slowed-down rural look to life. The owner has stories of babies being born on this table way back in the day!”
Plants have become a major design trend in recent years. Being a “plant parent” is a point of pride for many and natural elements like greenery are a major facet of cottagecore. “Plants and flowers can always be incorporated into any home to achieve a cottagecore aesthetic, even in a more contemporary space,” says Blazek.
“It is important to add lots of greenery, plants, and flowers, which can be pivotal in bringing life and softness to a more modern aesthetic that typically has harder edges and colder finishes.”
If there’s one material associated with cottagecore, it’s wood. “Go for lots of wooden pieces like tables, headboards, and chairs,” says Jane. Look for materials like wicker, rattan, and even bamboo. You can go bold with rattan framed sofas and large accent chairs or opt for more nuanced pieces. The Dolores 38″ X 90″ Cane Etagere Bookcase from Pottery Barn is a perfect example of a subtle cottagecore element. With a mango wood frame and woven rattan backing, this piece has a light and airy vibe that can incorporate elements of both old and new.
Wallpaper can instantly transform a space, especially when going for a cottagecore look. We see this in Grace’s bedroom with a bold bird and flower print. It can also have a major impact in bathrooms, powder rooms, and dining spaces.
Renters and DIYers can even consider peel-and-stick wallpaper, which can be removed without damage to the wall. Forget-Me-Not from the recently launched Alice + Oliva collaboration with Tempaper is a perfect example of cottagecore wallpaper. The flower print harkens back to the English countryside and has an air of sophistication.
Those transitioning to cottagecore from modern farmhouse or contemporary looks should keep their open shelves, but re-style them.
“Styling your open kitchen shelves with interesting artistic dishware is an easy way to achieve the cottagecore look within a contemporary kitchen. In my own home, I selected a modern shaped vase with a hand-painted eclectic design from a local artist to marry both styles,” says Jamison.
Coziness is key to cottagecore. Jamison suggests adding throw pillows, blankets, and accent chairs to living rooms and bedrooms.
Jamison tells me, “In our Behr Cabin project, we added character through layers of pillows, throws with plenty of texture, and wooden logs mixed with freshly painted chinking to achieve the ultimate cozy cottage feel.”
Cottagecore is about small details as much as the bigger lifestyle picture. So it’s important to think about where these elements can be added. “Wildflower prints, toile and even small touches of lace are quintessential cottagecore. Anything that makes you think of a rambling English countryside will do, and it’s easy to incorporate, especially in the bedroom with cozy, floral quilt sets or in the dining room with elegant tablecloths and tablescapes,” explains Carmona.
While cottagecore shares some design elements with minimalism, Grace’s cottagecore home is highly maximalist.
“Although the cottagecore aesthetic might lean more towards a softer color palette, I think the real intrigue behind the new craze is the feeling it brings you. That being said, my best tip is to simply make it your own, whether that means being a maximalist like myself or keeping it more neutral,” she says.
In New York, commercial mortgage foreclosures can take years. Mortgage lenders find themselves tempted
to short-circuit the process by taking, as additional collateral for their mortgage loans, pledges of equity interests in the borrower entities. Here, the members of the limited liability company borrower pledge their membership interests to the lenders to give the lenders additional security.
This type of pledge might sound like a mortgage. It is, however, a security interest established under the Uniform Commercial Code, a different body of law. Governed by the UCC, foreclosures of these security interests move much faster than New York mortgage foreclosures, because they don’t involve a court. If a lender seeks to foreclose on the equity interests in the borrower, the lender will in most cases end up owning the borrower rather quickly. Once that happens, the mortgage foreclosure no longer matters.
New York real estate lawyers have historically counseled their lender clients not to take equity pledges as additional collateral. They worry that old court decisions suggest that a “dual collateral” pledge somehow “clogs” the borrower’s “equity of redemption” – i.e., the borrower’s right to pay off the mortgage loan and get rid of the lender. In other words, without the dual collateral pledge, the mortgage borrower can pay off the loan, no problem; but introducing the equity pledge opens the door to a foreclosure sale that moves with such blinding speed that it doesn’t give the borrower enough time to repay its mortgage.
Lawyers have agonized for years over whether the dual collateral structure “clogs” the mortgage borrower’s equity in its property, potentially making the dual collateral structure unenforceable. Some find the whole idea to be quite silly. They reason that the law allows both real estate mortgages and pledges of equity interests, so combining the two shouldn’t invalidate either. Other lawyers take “clogging the equity” very seriously, urging their lender clients to avoid taking dual collateral at all costs. Both sides approach the issue with religious fervor. Debates about it often become personal. To the author’s knowledge, though, they have not yet devolved into fistfights.
One might think the courts would resolve the debate over whether a dual collateral structure “clogs” the borrower’s equity. But very few recent cases have considered the issue. In 2018, one New York court expressed some skepticism about the theory. A 2020 decision in essentially the same litigation left the issue entirely open.
In late 2021, a New York trial court squarely considered the validity of a dual collateral structure. In Atlas Brookview Mezzanine LLC v. DB Brookview, LLC (New York State Supreme Court, Index No. 653986/2020), a borrower challenged a UCC foreclosure sale of equity interests in the mortgage borrower, on the basis that the equity pledge clogged the mortgage borrower’s equity of redemption – i.e., the theory described above.
The judge found the parties to the financing to be “commercially sophisticated people represented by able counsel,” who had chosen to negotiate a loan structure with additional collateral, i.e., an equity pledge. The judge refused to declare the structure void from inception. The whole thing, he said, was a “business deal that [the borrower] entered into.” And, at all times, according to the judge, the borrower remained free to pay off the financing and prevent any foreclosure sale, whether under the mortgage or under the UCC. So nothing was clogged.
The judge dismissed the borrower’s litigation. The borrower has appealed the dismissal, so it’s not necessarily the end of the story. At time of writing, nothing has happened to the appeal.
At least until this appeal is resolved, many New York real estate lawyers – those who don’t roll their eyes at the whole “clogging” issue – will still hesitate to rely on the trial court’s decision. But the decision might spell the beginning of the end for the “clogging” doctrine in New York courts.
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