How to Give Your House a Cottage Look


Decorating a home might feel daunting, but cottage style makes it simple, with a result that is both comfortable and chic. This style is easy and accessible because you make do with what you have or revamp it with either a coat of paint or new fabric. When shopping, skip the malls and instead go to the consignment shop, flea market or architectural salvage yard. Cottage style is influenced by shabby chic-style, rustic, vintage and country but, in the end, it is all your creation.

Walls and Floors: No Pleasure Without Paint

  • Transform staid wall treatments by painting the walls and the ceilings a creamy white with buttery yellow undertones. Warm white paint gives the impression of making your rooms bigger and provides a cohesive backdrop to your cottage accessories and furnishings. Wood floors work and can be laminate, wood-look tile or hardwood. Don't fret over and think you should cover floors with dings or scrapes since those imperfections are key factors of the cottage style. If you must use a rug, use one with a pattern such as a kilim or trellis to add visual interest and warmth underfoot. Wood floors can also be painted or stained either one solid color or using two colors, such as black and white or beige and dark brown, to create a checkerboard effect.

Furnishings: Under Slipcover

  • Put cottage style's blend of old and new to use with your furnishings. But to keep your home from looking like an antique store, use restraint. Keep your grandmother's comfortable plaid couch, but cover it with a white slipcover and pair that with a chippy white bookcase or media cabinet. Make use of statement pieces, such as a harvest table in the dining room or a vintage chandelier in the foyer, by keeping them the key features of the room. Pair the table with complementary mismatched chairs and a bench, but keep it the primary feature of the room. Allow the chandelier to shine by using complementary accessories such as a table lamp on a jelly cabinet or vintage children's school desk.

Character: It's All in the Details

  • Add cottage character and charm with architectural details found at the hardware or home improvement store. Beadboard adds instant cottage charm when installed on the walls of your bathroom, mudroom or laundry area. Thin and delicate dentil molding adds visual interest to an otherwise lackluster upper wall area in the family room, while a chair rail adds Colonial-inspired style to a cottage dining room. Use floral wallpaper sparingly as a nod to cottage's shabby chic-style appeal; one way to use it as a highlight is to line the interior of a bookcase with floral wallpaper in shades of sandy beige and blush pink.

Accessories: Make Them Timeless

  • Complete the cottage look with key accessories found in vintage shops, on the side of the road or in your grandmother's attic. Milk glass lends timeless appeal and is available as vases for flowers or bowls for either for candy or your house keys. Use window treatments to bring in visual interest. Toile curtains lend a French country feel, while shutters, especially antique shutters flecked with patina, impart a rustic touch. Adorn the walls with old window frames used as either as picture frames or mirrors, decorative signs made of wood or metal and pastoral paintings of cows or sheep for a rural feel. Candles amplify the coziness and pair well with found objects, such as old cheese graters or camp toasters, as candleholders. If you're in a retail store, look for items that stand the test of time, such as mercury glass, grain sack pillows and wooden furnishings complete with patina and chipped paint.


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