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How to Decorate Your Home With Eclectic Cottage-Style in 10 Easy Steps

Ms. Meyers loves to decorate in cottage style. It's economical, playful, relaxed, and easy...ideal for busy households with kids and pets.

Cottage style is casual, cozy, comfortable, and charming.

Cottage style is casual, cozy, comfortable, and charming.

Playful and Unpretentious

If you prefer a relaxed approach to decorating with no rigid rules, cottage style may be perfect for you. It mixes wicker, wood, metal, and rattan, combines antique pieces with modern ones, brings outdoor furniture indoors and indoor furniture outdoors, and embraces asymmetry. It's whimsical, laid-back, playful, and unpretentious. It's an ideal fit for busy families who don't want to stress out if a kid spills juice on a seat cushion, the dog vomits on the area rug, or a toy truck dents the coffee table. With cottage style, imperfections are part of the charm!

10 Ways to Get Cottage-Style

1. Set the scene with pastels.

2. Embrace asymmetry and curves.

3. Mix wicker, wood, glass, rattan, and metal.

4. Have lots of soft seating.

5. Make it cheerful with flowers.

6. Hang plates on walls.

7. Buy painted furniture or create your own.

8. Use tiles for charm and personality.

9. Pair wood floors with area rugs.

10. Make it personal.

Pastels are very cottage style.

Pastels are very cottage style.

1. Set the Scene With Pastels

When striving for cottage style in your home, the first place to begin is painting your walls with pastels. These soft, gentle colors set the scene by creating a calming effect and establishing a playful mood. They make rooms appear more spacious, open, and welcoming. They say: "Sit down and stay awhile. Have a cup of tea and read a book."

A pale, unobtrusive backdrop lets you go bigger, bolder, and brighter with furniture, window treatments, area rugs, pillows, and accents. When walls are painted with brighter hues and paired with colorful furniture, they can be too much and make the room look like a cartoon. Pastels, on the other hand, are soothing and let the other elements pop.

2. Embrace Asymmetry and Curves

If you're a little anal-retentive, a person who favors matching lamps upon matching tables on each side of your bed, cottage style probably isn't for you. To achieve its casual charm, you must throw out the rigid rules of traditional design and embrace asymmetry. It's the imbalance that sets this style of decorating apart, providing the happy informality that puts a smile on the faces of its fans but can make others frown and feel frustrated.

In addition to adopting asymmetry, you need to incorporate curves. This means avoiding furniture pieces with straight lines and sharp corners. Instead, select items for your home with soft curves: rounded corners on tables, carved legs on chairs, cushioned armrests, and oval rugs. In your living room, pull sofas and chairs away from the walls to form a circle, making conversation easy and relaxed.

Rattan furniture is beautiful.

Rattan furniture is beautiful.

3. Mix Wicker, Wood, Glass, Rattan, and Metal

Whether it takes two days or two years to decorate your home in cottage style, you want it to look like it's been a life-long labor of love. Mixing wicker, wood, glass, rattan, and metal helps to achieve this goal, making it appear like each piece was carefully chosen over a period of time. A wooden coffee table, for example, may look like a rare find acquired at a local flea market. A wicker sofa may look like something significant handed down from a deceased relative. A framed mirror may look like something unusual bought on your recent trip to Europe.

The last thing that you want with cottage style is a matchy-matchy look like your furniture was procured as a set. That's why you’re encouraged to mix light and dark woods, painted and unpainted pieces, and rough and smooth textures. Trips to estate sales, antique malls, and flea markets will help you achieve the eclectic look you want. Tell relatives that you're decorating in cottage style and would love to display something in your house from them: an old photo, an antique plate, or a favorite childhood toy. They'll feel flattered and their donations will make your home even more profoundly personal.

4. Have Lots of Soft Seating

Cottage style is warm and welcoming. It says: “Sit down, relax, put your feet up, and get comfortable.” Plush cushions, mountains of decorative pillows, overstuffed chairs, and roll-arm sofas communicate this message. They provide that homey feeling, letting people loosen up and release their stresses and worries.

By draping a blanket or quilt over a chair or sofa, you create even more charm and hospitality. You signal that visitors can wrap it around themselves to get cozier if they so desire. You can further enhance cottage style by adding a cushioned window seat in the bedroom, an upholstered chair in a living room corner, or a primitive bench loaded with embroidered pillows in the hallway.

Flowers in a wicker basket add so much to any room.

Flowers in a wicker basket add so much to any room.

5. Make It Cheerful With Flowers

The most effective and inexpensive way to add cottage style to your home is by adding flowers. Unlike the tacky plastic ones of the past that sat around and gathered dust, artificial flowers today are gorgeous, look realistic, and clean up easily. Daisies, geraniums, and carnations offer a casual vibe while roses and lilies provide formality. Some decorators like to choose one particular flower and use it as their signature throughout the home, creating continuity and charm.

The containers that hold your flowers are as important as the flowers themselves when creating cottage style. Select unique, eye-catching ones such as wicker baskets, mason jars, watering cans, ceramic pitchers, Coke bottles, teapots, and antique umbrella stands. Add floral touches throughout your home with furniture fabrics, wall stencils, area rugs, mats, and decorative pillows. Moreover, make sure you have some kind of natural element in every room of your house. In addition to flowers (real or artificial), decorate with plants, twigs, leaves, pine-cones, feathers, and shells.

6. Hang Plates on Walls

Artfully displaying collections of any kind—hats, mugs, antique toys—is a hallmark of cottage style. It makes your home incredibly personal and a reflection of your life, travels, and interests. It’s a powerful way to make your home both quirky and charming.

Plates—both old and new—are fabulous and affordable for establishing a whimsical look and adding dimension to your design. When using them, think outside the box and put them in places other than your kitchen: the bathroom, the study, the mudroom, or your bedroom. Choose different styles, patterns, and sizes. Hang them with a colorful ribbon if you want to add even more charm.

When grouping them by the same or similar color, you will create a soothing scene. When grouping them by different colors, you will create a bold one. Goodwill, garage sales, eBay, and thrift stores are terrific sources for finding distinctive plates at reasonable prices.

7. Buy Painted Furniture or Create Your Own

Painted furniture gives you the one-of-a-kind look that characterizes cottage style. You can purchase a professionally done piece or spray paint something that you already have. You can distress it so it looks old like an antique or lacquer it so it looks new and contemporary. You can freehand a design on it or use a stencil. You can whitewash it to make it seem worn and weathered.

Having painted your walls with pastels, you can go bolder and brighter with the furniture, not worrying that the room will appear garish. If you have a painted piece of furniture that you treasure, you can turn it into your room’s focal point. If you want even more color and pizzazz, you can paint your doors, your stairs, and even your wooden floors.

8. Use Tiles for Charm and Personality

When‌ ‌contemplating‌ ‌tile,‌ ‌most‌ ‌people‌ ‌think‌ ‌of‌ ‌bathroom‌ ‌and‌ ‌entryway‌ ‌floors.‌ ‌With‌ ‌cottage‌ ‌style,‌ ‌though,‌ ‌it ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌in‌ ‌every‌ ‌room‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌house.‌ ‌It ‌can‌ ‌add‌ ‌interest,‌ ‌playfulness,‌ ‌and‌ ‌character‌ ‌on‌ ‌walls‌ ‌and‌ ‌ceilings‌ ‌in‌ ‌addition‌ ‌to‌ ‌floors.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌glass,‌ ‌ceramic,‌ ‌or‌ ‌porcelain,‌ ‌it can‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌on‌ ‌backsplashes,‌ ‌countertops,‌ ‌stairs,‌ ‌fireplaces,‌ ‌furniture,‌ ‌and‌ ‌shelves.‌ ‌

Decorating‌ ‌with‌ ‌mosaic‌ ‌tiles‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌simple‌ ‌and‌ ‌dramatic‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌add‌ ‌texture,‌ ‌color,‌ ‌and‌ ‌charm.‌ ‌Because‌ ‌mosaics‌ ‌are‌ ‌fun‌ ‌and‌ ‌easy‌ ‌to‌ ‌make,‌ ‌they’re‌ ‌an‌ ‌ideal‌ ‌project‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌parent‌ ‌and‌ ‌child‌ ‌to‌ ‌do‌ ‌together.‌ ‌The‌ ‌finished‌ ‌product‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌a‌ ‌sentimental‌ ‌addition‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌home,‌ ‌evoking‌ ‌memories‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌time‌ ‌creating‌ ‌it.‌ ‌Simple‌ ‌mosaic‌ ‌projects‌ ‌include‌ ‌the‌ ‌following:‌

  • ‌Flower‌ ‌pots‌ ‌and‌ ‌vases‌
  • Birdhouses‌ ‌or‌ ‌bird‌ ‌baths‌ ‌
  • Stepping-stones‌ ‌
  • Frames‌ ‌and‌ ‌mirrors‌ ‌
  • Tables‌ ‌and‌ ‌chairs‌ ‌
  • Jewelry‌ ‌boxes‌ ‌
  • Servings‌ ‌trays‌ ‌

9. Pair Wood Floors With Area Rugs

Wood floors paired with area rugs are quintessential to cottage style, contributing greatly to its cozy and comfy casualness. Needlepoint rugs add a romantic feel. Hooked and braided rugs give a natural, easy-going vibe while seagrass rugs add texture.

With cottage style, it’s best to select rugs that are either round or oval to keep the look soft and romantic. Because your walls are painted in pastels, you can use more dramatic area rugs without the room looking gaudy. You can select bolder patterns, brighter colors, and unusual textures.

As area rugs age and become worn, they’re even more true to cottage style. They reveal more of their unique character. They communicate that your home is unpretentious, homey, and warm.

10. Make It Personal

If you’re not enjoying the process of decorating your home in cottage style, you’re doing something wrong! It should be an activity that expands your enthusiasm as you build layer upon layer. With each new addition, your home should become more of a reflection of you, your interests, and your personal history.

Decorating with cottage style should be an ongoing endeavor and a true labor of love. When you find the perfect piece for your home at a rummage sale or flea market, you should experience tremendous excitement, wanting to hurry home and find the ideal place to put it.

Cottage style is all about making your environment as personal as possible. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Incorporate your family photos.
  • Put your children's artwork in frames to display.
  • Integrate memories from your family's past: old sports jerseys, baby rattles and toys, Grandma's homemade quilts, and Aunt Jo's embroidered pillows.
  • Assimilate your family's collections: teacups, baseball cards, license plates, snow globes, and stuffed animals.

© 2016 McKenna Meyers