House Tours: A Cottage-Style Makeover

See how this once dreary home was transformed into a chic cottage.

Before: Cluttered Chaos

This office was once a cluttered and jumbled corner. Disorganized shelves, shabby floors, and bland drapes made the space seem crowded. The gloomy green paint made this narrow space seem even smaller.

After: Cozy Corner

Starting with warm but neutral colors on the walls and floor, the homeowner created a welcoming and sophisticated reading nook.

Budget Saver: Create an old-world ambience without breaking the budget by shopping for furniture and accessories with an imaginative eye. All these distinctive pieces were found at flea markets and tag sales.

Discover the essence of cottage style decorating and how to capture the look in your home.

What Is Cottage Style?

Learn what cottage style is and how you can get the look.

Before: Seeing Red

Bright red paint and too-large furniture overwhelmed this living room. A mish-mash of outdated accessories strewn about the room made it feel haphazard. Frilly furnishings block one of the room's best features, its large windows.

After: Functional Style

A refreshing space is created by painting the woodwork and walls a crisp white. Aged-paint finishes on flea market furniture hide wear and tear and add to the homeowner's beloved Swedish cottage look. Inexpensive plates hung on the wall are simple and easy artwork.

Space Saver: Baskets tucked under the daybed contribute storage and the warmth of natural texture to the room.

In the Details

A daybed fitted with a foam mattress serves double-duty as cozy seating and a guest bed. Casual, durable fabrics, such as linen and matelasse, soften the daybed and invite relaxation. Fun trims, like fringe, add texture.

Antique Touches

Vintage Mason jars, each holding just a bloom or two, sparkle on a windowsill. They make sturdy and inexpensive vases or drinking glasses.

Before: Dreary Dining

This dining room began as a drab and boring space. A large, rectangular table blocks the path to the kitchen.

After: Bright and Airy

Plenty of paint transforms the dining room into a casually elegant room. Mixing shades of white with a variety of slightly gray, cream, or blue tints add depth to the neutral palette. A round table and chairs are a better fit for the space. Light shelves filled with an array of china and pitchers replace dark wood loaded with books.

Get the Look: To make a home center chandelier sparkle, spray paint it white and add inexpensive crystals. The final product is a creative custom light fixture.

Natural Details

Fruit and flowers displayed in simple ceramics make a beautiful tableau. The homeowner collects white pitchers and serving pieces for their versatility.

Tableware Finds

Utilitarian objects, such as these mother-of-pearl-handle knives found on eBay, become prized collectibles in the homeowner's dreamy Swedish style. The embroidered linen napkins were $1 each secondhand.

Before: Hectic "Heart of the Home"

Busy wallpaper engulfs this kitchen. Dark blue tile meet cluttered wood counters. Open cabinets display disorganized shelves and clashing pink china and stemware.

Fresh and Practical

Continuing the crisp white color scheme, a fresh coat of paint refreshed the kitchen's walls and cabinets, with an antique white accenting the recessed panels. The homeowner even painted the once dark blue tile backsplash a lighter hue.

Quick Tip: Use semi-gloss paint on cabinets for easy clean-up.

Open Shelving

The homeowner removed all the doors and hardware from the upper cabinets to increase accessibility. The painted interiors highlight pretty, blue glasses and dishes.

Unique Message Board

To make a custom message board a mirror was removed from its frame and then the wood backing was painted with an $8 can of chalkboard paint.

Before: Cluttered Cottage Bedroom

This attic bedroom began as disorderly. Low ceilings and neglected corners result in wasted space. Mismatched frames and knickknacks cover the walls and tabletops.

After: Peaceful Sanctuary

Lightening the walls allowed the room's special features, such as its sloped ceilings and wide-plank wood floors, to shine. A flea-market nightstand and lamp from a discount store are affordable solutions that let the homeowner splurge on luxurious bedding.

Designer Tip: To maximize space in an attic, choose small pieces that can be tucked into cozy corners. A petite table can be used as a desk or a vanity.

Multipurpose Surface

Low benches have a variety of uses, besides seating. They're perfect for displaying bedroom accessories such as books and fresh flowers. Baskets can be tucked below to create bonus storage space.

Before: Powder Room Re-do

Short on space and style, this bathroom is an eyesore. The bulky vanity, dingy wall color, and large laundry appliances hide its true potential.

After: Clean and Cute

Wainscoting and a chair-rail-height shelf are elements of cottage style that would be easy to add to any room. A mirror from a discount store got a coating of cream spray paint on top of its silver.

Storage Solutions

Built-in shelves backed with beaded board give the room style and functionality. Corner shelves use every inch of space. Pretty baskets lined with white fabric hold basic bathroom supplies.

Multi-tasking Space

A backless cabinet houses the washer and dryer and offers a surface for folding. A curtain on clip rings conceals the units.

Before: Seasonal Space

This screen porch needs a facelift. The large screen panels make it feel dark. It has strong structure and functionality, but needs a fresh coat of paint and some thoughtful accessories.

After: Revamped Porch

"Walls" of lattice hide the outside world and create a restful oasis. Sheer curtains in white cotton voice hang from curtain rods for an ethereal backdrop. A vintage poster hung on the new lattice wall creates a focal point for the homeowner's tea corner.

Bringing the Outside In

Clear glass cloches over tender garden cuttings make a mesmerizing display on the antique bench. These charming touches bridge the gap between outside and inside.


See another cottage makeover.

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