Chock-full of appealing traces of the past, the ever-popular country cottage look conveys simplicity, utility, and cheeriness. Plus, the country cottage, inspired by days gone by, is easy to conjure in your home today.
Typically tiny and storage-challenged, country cottages are often fitted with cupboards and armoires that stow essentials. Even if your home has built-in storage, look at farm sales and flea markets for furniture pieces to use for their aesthetic appeal. Stack dishes in a pie safe or tuck linens in a wooden trunk. To display pretty country accessories, everyday essentials, or practical cookware, consider open shelves in the kitchen and bath rather than cabinetry. And hide modern-day electronics and televisions behind the character-filled doors of a weathered cabinet.
The comfort of a country cottage comes from the timeworn patina of age. Wear from repeated use hints at the generations of families who have come before you. Look for linen hand towels, canvas slipcovers, and quilted coverlets that are worn soft with repeated washings. To imbue a cottage sensibility, the color palette for your rooms should be muted and gentle, as if faded by time. Choose creamy whites, buttery yellows, or lamb's-ear greens over bolder, brighter versions. In a humble cottage, hard-used wood furniture wears many coats of paint with chips and worn spots revealing the layers. Buy truly weathered furniture at flea markets and garage sales, or create the effect with multiple coats of paint distressed to replicate years of use.
Besides furniture with worn finishes, country cottages feature myriad textural elements that add to a casual mood. Building materials for old cottages tended to be low-cost and efficient, so cottage walls, ceilings, and floors are often covered in wide wood planks. If you can't replace floors, consider installing plank or beaded-board wainscoting to insert cottage-style architectural detail. For other tactile touches, use woven baskets or galvanized metal trugs to hold supplies. Borrow wicker or rattan chairs from the porch to provide extra seating in living areas.
To mimic the quiet simplicity that is at the heart of a country cottage, limit layering in rooms to the point of austerity. Leave windows undressed or covered with minimal blinds or curtains. A few area rugs are fine, but wood floors in a country cottage are most often bare, which makes them easier to sweep clean. Tables don't feature fancy cloths or place settings, so keep your dining area as unfussy as possible, allowing the glowing wood to shine.
Accessorize your home with the things that would naturally surround a remote country cottage. In particular, the faded colors and graphic designs of advertising signs from local business, farm stands, or seed companies make pitch-perfect artwork. Salvaged garden or architectural implements, such as weather vanes, old windows, or pitchfork tines, have an elegant quality when displayed as sculpture. Arrange a bunch of wildflowers or a bowl of fruit as a casual centerpiece.
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