22 Fresh, Frugal Cottage Ideas

This Maine cottage was transformed with custom-made furniture, antique quilts, and one-of-a-kind artwork. Use our ideas to create your own home sweet cottage for less.
Ideas 1-6
BargainStyle_SrgSmr05_Detail of sage living room with large patio doors

1. Simple window treatments ensure ample light. Any lightweight cotton fabric will do. Find tab-top panels for less than $20 at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond. Or simply hem all raw fabric-by-the-yard edges and use clip-style curtain rings over rods for an easy project.

2. Slipcovers reflect the easy-living attitude that's crucial to cottage style. Sewn from affordable canvas, these slipcovers easily slip off and into the wash.

BargainStyle_SrgSmr05_Detail of colorful ceramic vase and seashells

3. Colorful vases look charming with or without flowers. Select flowers that might grow in the cottage garden, such as hydrangeas, roses, and daisies, and fill the vase to overflowing. Try your local farmers' market for bouquets that offer the perfect combination of color and abundance.

BargainStyle_SrgSmr05_ Living room with white furnishings and staircase

4. Vintage fabrics might seem pricey, but consider their design punch. A curtain panel should yield enough fabric for three 20-inch-square pillows. Shop for damaged or stained pieces that can be cut to make a pillow top; add new coordinating fabric on the back.

5. Beaded board creates cottage style faster than any other element. Wood paneling called Ply-Bead from Georgia Pacific looks like beaded board, but it's really a 4x8-foot sheet paneling with tongue-and-groove edges. At about $19 a sheet, it offers a lower-cost option than traditional beaded board at $8 for a piece 8 inches wide and 8 feet long.

6. Hardwood floors offer warm wood tones and an easy-care surface that looks good with soft fabrics and subdued color schemes. Leave the floors bare in summer and add rugs in winter. For an affordable large rug, buy several small rugs and stitch them together.

Continued on page 2:  Ideas 7-12