Main Elements of Cottage Style Decor
Cottage style is characterized by comfortable furnishings, fresh colors, and natural elements. There’s really no right or wrong way to approach this cozy décor style. By incorporating just a few of these ideas in a room, you can create a warm and inviting space for the entire family.
Cottage style is a great choice for those of us decorating on a budget. Floral patterns, organic textures, weathered finishes, and traditional lines typify this charming decorating style. The casual nature and shabby appeal of cottage decor make it one the easiest and inexpensive styles to curate.
Anything from true white to soft, muted colors are suitable for your cottage style walls. Paint colors like muslin and eggshell can serve as a neutral palette for floral artwork, pillows, and upholstery. If your taste runs more toward formal English cottage with elaborately patterned chintz fabrics, you may want to opt for subdued tone-on-tone stripes so as not to upstage the fabrics.
Use floral wallpaper as an accent, rather than papering all four walls. A lovely floral pattern looks quite fetching on the feature wall in your bedroom or lining the back of built-in shelving, an armoire, or china hutch.
Beadboard is an economical way to add architectural interest and that touch of cottage to your walls. Purchase sheets of beadboard from the home improvement center and wrap your room with bright white or distressed wainscoting and top it with simple rail molding.
Pastels and neutrals are your guide as you plan your cottage style room. Bring in soft colors found in nature like blues, greens, beiges, yellows, and corals. If small children and pets aren’t an issue, try a monochromatic white palette. Combine it with either an oyster shell, light taupe, or a soft gray for a crisp, clean take on cottage style.
Another take on a cottage color scheme involves three balanced hues against your neutral background. For example, use pink, white, and blue or primary red, blue, and yellow. These color trios convey simplicity and make the room easy on the eyes. It works best if you keep the colors in the middle of the saturation spectrum so they're not too pale or too bright.
Wood, wrought iron, and wicker furniture take center stage and add to the casual feel of cottage interiors. Pair those hard surfaces with soft, down-filled cushions—perfect for settling in with a cuppa and a good read. Tag sale and second hand pieces fit right in to this homey design style.
When selecting used furniture, look at the overall style and quality of construction before you purchase. Minor imperfections can be fixed with a coat of paint and fabric. Slipcovered furniture is a popular option for cottage style rooms. You can slipcover a rescued sofa or check out retailers for economical slipcovered seating.
Use neutral and floral fabrics on upholstered pieces. Throw stripes and checks in the mix to create additional visual interest. Don’t forget to add trimming and fringe to curtains and pillows as a finishing detail.
Rumpled cotton and linen fabrics embody the feeling of comfort found in cottage style rooms. Natural and pastel solids are a lovely backdrop for subdued cabbage rose florals, vintage yardage, stripes, and plaids. Chunky knit throws add a cozy touch when draped over a chair or the foot of a bed. Rag or hooked rugs warm up a room and highlight the vintage nature of this style.
Furniture, cabinetry, and accessories should show gentle signs of wear. Avoid going overboard with white washing and sanding or you will end up with a country chic room rather than a traditional cottage interior. For the most part you want the warmth of materials to come through.
Painting furniture is a great way to give your existing furniture a special personality. Give gently used wood furniture a second lease on life with a distressed chalk paint finish and new hardware.
Wood should range from weathered surfaces that highlight years of wear to painted finishes with clean and crisp lines. Distressed furniture should be subtle without appearing too crude. Metals can be shiny or patinated, simple or ornate, and even slightly rusted.
Hit up antique malls for items that can double as unique accessories. There’s nothing like scoring a weathered corbel to place on the mantel, a crystal doorknob to use as a paperweight, or an old pitcher as a vase for fresh flowers.
This is the quintessential example of one man’s trash transformed into another one's treasure. Your possibilities are truly limitless given a little imagination and persistence as you search for vintage accessories.
Cottage Decorating Ideas
- Add Some Punch: If you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of neutrals, add a pop of color to your cottage style room. It can be things as insignificant as a coral accent chair and lamp. They will give the space a needed boost of energy.
- Use Natural Elements: Warm up hard surfaces with natural elements. A jute rug, reclaimed wood flooring, and organic fabric slipcovers brings your cottage design down to earth. Bring in architectural salvaged pieces as a counterpoint to newer furnishings. Use beadboard or shiplap on walls, ceilings, and open front cabinets. Beadboard looks best painted white or off-white while shiplap can either be painted or left natural.
- Keep It Cozy: Always keep in mind the cozy factor. Cottage style is meant to be relaxing and rejuvenating. Each furniture piece and decorative accessory should look like an effortless addition—as if they have been collected over time. Your cottage room should exude comfort and livability. Cozy does not mean messy. Edit your furniture and accessories to maintain an easy, simple vibe.
- Mix Casual and Traditional: Maintain balance by mixing styles. Use good judgment and pick opposite styles that compliment each other. Top a traditional, turned leg dining room table with formal place settings on wicker chargers. Take the wicker theme one step further by seating guests around the table in casual wicker chairs.
- Include DIY Projects: Cottage decorating is a wonderful way to get your creative juices flowing. There are thousands of cottage project ideas online. Or just flip through your favorite shelter magazine for ideas. Something as simple as adding a chalkboard wall in your kitchen to cutting a larger table in half to create wall-mounted bedside tables will add charm to your home.
- Upcycle and Repurpose: This is the best part of cottage style. Think outside the box and give new life and a different purpose to vintage items. For instance, take an antique tiered wire stand and turn it into a spice rack for your kitchen counter. It’s super easy to do, just put on your thinking cap when you’re browsing the antique mall, yard sale, or thrift store. You can come up with new uses for almost anything old.
Identifying Cottage Style
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Linda Chechar