Cottage style is a personal, charming, and fresh way to decorate. Try these ideas for a warm and romantic cottage look.
Bring the outdoors in with garden furniture and ornaments. Wire plant stands, metal garden chairs, tole-painted trays, and botanical prints are often inexpensive, easy-to-find elements that mix well in a cottage room.
Barely-there window treatments are perfect for a cottage room, especially if you're blessed with a beautiful view.
Create intimacy with comfy spaces for conversation or lounging. A wonderful old wing chair or a bed plumped with pillows offers an invitation to cocoon. Layer on the details with ruffles, lace, buttons, and handmade needlework to gain romance with every touch.
Accent artfully with the things you collect and love. Favorite books, heirloom jewelry, old family photos, and other mementos express who you are and can have a place in your decorating scheme. Composing like items in groups tells a story and adds to their overall impact within a room.
Plain pitchers overflowing with bouquets of flowers increase the feeling of garden abundance. Whether from your own garden or purchased from your local supermarket or farmers' market, flowers add life to any space.
Include quilts. They offer all the comforts of home and are the perfect inspiration for cottage color schemes. Pick the wall color to complement the quilt, then add slipcovers or bedding.
You'll want the quilt to be the star of the room, so keep the other colors slightly more subdued. Search for a vintage quilt at a flea market or on eBay. Or consider a new one if you want to be able to launder the piece regularly.
Unify with paint. It melds most mismatched furnishings and fixtures. It also can hide imperfections that mar an otherwise useful piece. Buy what you love for size and shape, brush or spray on primer, and bring it all together with a coat of cottage color.
Pick cottage colors from nature's subdued palette. That might mean paint colors that match the blues and greens of sea and sky for one space, soft garden pinks and lavenders for another.
For blues and greens, consider Sea Swell from Glidden, Sterling Blue from Sherwin-Williams, and Damariscotta from Ralph Lauren Paint.
For pinks and lavenders, try Pink Bonnet or Lupine from Martha Stewart Everyday Colors at Kmart.
At about $30 per gallon, buy 1 gallon of paint to cover 375-400 square feet of space -- a bargain for any budget. (For a calculator that figures how much paint you'll need, check out www.glidden.com.)
A soft matte finish best suits the cottage look; add crisp white semigloss woodwork for contrast.