Light and airy, yet as homey as slipping off your shoes and nestling into a favorite chair or sofa, cottage-style decorating focuses on what's really important: comfort and familiarity.
One of the refreshing aspects of the style, according to stylist Pamela Porter, is that it's best to start with pieces you already have and reuse them in different ways. In this room, the slipcovered chair served as inspiration, while other pieces were pulled in to round out the vignette. An old table and a wooden shelf were revived with a fresh coat of paint, and freehand-painted roses wound their way into the scene.
"Cottage style isn't matchy-matchy," Porter says. "You can mix patterns to include florals, checks, and stripes, and also bring in old and new pieces of pottery, dishware, and furniture. Things aren't perfect; for example, these flowers are freehand-painted, not done with a stencil. Not every rose is identical."
The flower-filled bower began as a long blank wall with a French door and a wide window. Porter carved out a pretty place to perch bathed in light and refreshed by sheer white curtains gracing the window. Creamy paint tones on the wall and white paint on the recycled table and shelf add crispness and allow the painted posies to take center stage.
A few special details, such as the ruffles on the slipcover and tufts on the tiny-check pillow, add depth, as do the delicate mismatched pottery and china pieces displayed on the shelf and table.
Roses fashioned by decorative painter Rebecca Schlueter provide the theme that ties this sunny space together. While the basics of the flowers and colors are the same on all the patterns, Schlueter matched the scale to the individual pieces. Her freehand painting allows the posies to flow onto the walls and furniture seemingly at will.
To put together a similar nook, Porter suggests starting with a piece or two as inspiration, then mixing and matching pieces and patterns in similar colors or styles for an inviting space.
"Cottage style includes lots of white and creamy-hue tones as a soothing background canvas," she says. Porter recommends adding in patterns through furniture and accessories-even painted floors or floorcloths-and making sure that a few special details shine through. "But be sure to keep things simple, not overdone, for a casual and inviting area," she says.
Decorative painter: Rebecca Schlueter Photo stylist: Pamela S. Porter