Start with casual, comfortable furnishings. Incorporate classic, no-frill architectural accents. Keep a simple color palette. Then, add personal touches in an eclectic manner that makes you feel happy and at home. Cottage style easily mixes old and new, rare and inexpensive, and simple and ornate pieces, pulled together into the look you love.
In this slideshow, explore the design elements, architectural accents, and decorative touches that give cottage style its wide appeal.
Elements of Cottage Design
Certain features speak cottage loudly and clearly. Beaded board, incorporated into furniture pieces or mounted on the wall or ceiling, is a favorite trademark accent. Woven window treatments, petite stripes, and soft and sweet floral patterns all foster the light, airy, relaxed feel.
A cottage kitchen is always bright and cheery, frequently outfitted with crisp white cabinetry. Plain-front or Shaker-style doors keep the look clean and simple. Incorporate glass-front cabinets or open shelving to put dishes on display. Extra touches, such as a farmhouse sink or an old table repurposed as a kitchen island, add that personalized character indicative of cottage style.
Subway tile is a timeless accent often associated with cottage style. The classic white ceramic pieces are always popular, but a wide array of colored ceramic and glass versions add a splash of color and a contemporary touch.
Whether it's a cozy window seat in the living room or a cheerful bench in the breakfast room, a built-in seating nook is the perfect complement to the informal nature of cottage style. A rustic table and charming vintage chairs pull up to this built-in bench to create a casual and inviting eat-in kitchen.
Cottage architecture is filled with charming woodwork. Exposed beams, beaded board, and wood planks add no-frills character to walls, ceilings, and floors. Painted white, the wood details add interest while keeping rooms bright and inviting.
Avoid heavy drapes or dark blinds when creating cottage style. Fabric sheers, lace, or lightweight natural fabrics are a perfect way to achieve a light and airy feel. Wooden shutters are also a signature look of cottage style, reminiscent of coastal living and able to let in refreshing breezes and cheerful light while providing privacy when needed.
Cottage style has many decorative faces that make each home unique. Incorporating vintage treasures is a popular look that creates a personal story. A farmhouse sink and rubbed-bronze fixtures, accented with an old chandelier and throwback pottery pieces, mix comfortably in this cottage kitchen with stainless-steel appliances and other modern amenities.
Cottage style welcomes a little throwback design to the mix sometimes. Vintage-inspired plumbing fixtures and classic subway tile are popular ways to add retro flavor to the kitchen or bathroom.
For some, cottage means coastal and speaks of beachside vacations. Wooden-plank or board-and-batten walls painted creamy white are a great way to set the cottage ambience. Inject a few furnishings in cheerful pastels that reflect the colors of the sea and sky, and complete the look with seashells and nautical accessories. Distressed finishes on case goods, plus woven rugs and window shades, keep with the casual nature of the cottage look.
Timeworn and Sophisticated
Timeworn mixed with glam is another popular approach to cottage style. The easygoing nature is achieved by mixing and matching flea market finds with pretty new pieces and repurposing old relics in creative new ways.
White is the color of choice for cottage style, establishing a bright and airy setting for relaxed, casual living. Still, pops of color are welcome ways to bring a cottage space alive. Yellow and blue make up a favorite nautical scheme, and bright primary colors in limited doses can be a playful touch.
Neutral is nice, but cottage style has room for color, too. Watery blues added to the mix harken to seaside living and make a cheery statement.
Pretty in Pastels
Faded pastels and sherbet shades add wonderful visual interest to a cottage room while keeping to the soft, relaxed mood.
Power of Pattern
Mixing pattern and color is an easy way to bring cottage flair into the bedroom. In this bright, inviting bedroom, board-and-batten white walls and pickled wood flooring establish a crisp, clean backdrop for a colorful medley of bedding.
Room for Fun
Part of what makes cottage style so popular is its versatility. Its light and airy look leaves plenty of room for personal touches and splashes of fun to make the space your own. Don't be afraid to mix in something modern, for instance, such as these fiery red metal stools, if it adds a pop of color or interest.
Keep It Casual
Casual fabrics and rustic wood finishes set the informal, comfortable setting of cottage style. Mix in slipcovers and layers of pillows for a relaxed look. Paint a table and sand it to a weathered finish for a splash of color and character. Complement the laid-back look with an eclectic mix of new and old accessories that bring in personal style.