English Cottage Style for Your Inner Austen
A Cozy Seat
The most thoughtfully arranged rooms look good without any dressings or furniture. The architecture alone should hold its own, and English cottages typically stand up under such scrutiny. This window nook offers a sense of the room's inner beauty, with its tucked-away seat, built-in drawers, rustic wall planks, corner corbels, and angled ceilings. Can't you just picture Lizzie Bennet curled up here with a book?
With the right supporting players, even the humblest items can sprout into signature English cottage designs. Here, an antique pedestal table with peeling paint becomes an object of intrigue. Everything else -- the beaded-board, shutters and even the slouchy banquette cushions -- nods to the table's texture without overpowering it.
Farm to Table
Few things emanate "country cottage" more clearly than mismatched chairs pulled up to a long, wooden farm table. The busy floral wallpaper and bustling pot rack in this lively kitchen make it the perfect space to play host to all manner of friends and family.
From the Outside In
English cottages are often on working farms, where long days are spent outdoors. A mudroom is a smart way to confine grit and grime and provide a resting spot for boots, gloves, and hats before entering the house proper. Plus, durable, rugged slate and a long, trough-style sink look just as handsome indoors as they do outside.
Frenzy of Florals
Bundles of bouquets bloom across this bedding in a nod to English cottage style's love of floral prints. Just one of many ways to bring the glory of a country garden inside, these blossoms last much longer than cut flowers! Popular, too, are planked walls and painted pieces. These heavily distressed blue walls check both boxes.
Bring it Inside
With the right attitude and clever juxtaposition, items more commonly used on patios or in gardens can segue seamlessly into a breakfast nook or kitchen. Here, a pair of old columns capped with iron urns, a rickety hutch strung with chicken wire, and a weathered table and chairs provide plenty of casual style. A swath of antique lace, fresh flowers, and a sparkling crystal chandelier polish the room with glamour.
One of the many appealing elements of English cottage design is that the room is unmistakably lived in. There are no furnishings for looks only, and everything, eventually, takes on a well-worn -- and well-loved -- appearance. In this kitchen, notice the distressed island finishes where paint has rubbed off the corners and edges, and on the hutch, which looks older in age and different in pedigree from the rest of the room. Such versatile pieces are darlings of English cottage design.
Tips for a Cottage Kitchen
Cheery and bright, cottage kitchens often feature simple, white cabinetry, a farmhouse sink, and plenty of charm. Get inspired to add cottage style to your own kitchen!
Decorating an English cottage is a lot like planning a dinner party. You're inviting people (and pieces) from all sorts of backgrounds into a single spot, and the goal is merry mingling and fantastic story-telling. This adorable bedroom scores on every count, as neutral furniture, fabric, and artwork buzz harmoniously, while a few shots of color inject allure. Each item is interesting on its own, but together? They're unforgettable.
Easy Does It
Paint can cover a multitude of sins, which is why it's so popular among cottage enthusiasts. But sometimes, a scraped, seen-better-days surface has just the right patina for a room. Here, no fewer than four hues of blue, all of them worn and weathered, gather in a cottage kitchen whose message to all who enter is clear: come as you are. Pretension has no place in an English cottage.
Gracious and Gorgeous
For a formal room, this living space certainly has not forgotten how to make guests feel welcome. There are just enough homey touches -- sink-in down cushions, carefree cotton slipcovers, and a serene color scheme with a hit of sparkle -- to remind visitors that English cottage living rooms are a place to let your hair down.
Open to Shutters
The English relied on shutters to control sunlight and shield interiors from an unexpected burst of rain or snow. Shutters are still a distinguished dressing for windows, especially in rooms where privacy is key and where curtains might be heavy-handed. Other old-world touches in this cottage bathroom include marble flooring and an assortment of frameless mirrors.
Cottage Bath Ideas
Casual and comfortable, English cottage style is a perfect fit for a bathroom. See the many ways to create a cozy atmosphere in your bathroom.
Cottage rooms provide a spot for old things to find new life. Repurposed pieces are especially popular, whether those items hail from home, a neighbor, or a stranger with good taste. Here, old shutters stand in as a headboard, a vintage suitcase as a footboard, and a castoff chair as casual seating.
Rise and Shine
Streaming sunshine is nearly all the decoration this breakfast room needs, with the morning sun serving as a wake-up call. A long-loved table with a mismatched set of chairs, as well as wide-plank wood walls and homey white paint, create the ideal setting for the start to a day in the country.
Better Than New
Sure, you could outfit a craft room or sewing space with shiny new organizers from the local office-supply store. Or you could scour flea markets and thrift shops for jars, bowls, and bins with a little rust, some scrapes, and a whole lot of history to stash sewing essentials. The second option is much more fun and puts to good use items that would otherwise remain untouched.
Back to Basics
Sometimes the most striking schemes are the simplest, as proved by this nursery swathed in black and ivory. With color stripped out, the focus turns to each lovely piece, from the antique crib painted with a pastoral panel, to the shutters with tulip cutouts, to the stately Roman shade monogram. All of it is prim and elegant like the best English cottage interiors.
Formal but Unfussy
Even more formal spaces, such as a den or dining room, flourish with versatile English cottage style, which blends elegance with a relaxed attitude. High-backed chairs, both wooden and upholstered, are prim but well-worn in this dining room. A chandelier sprouts with antlers rather than crystals, a nod to countryside hunting.
Muted hues -- colors hushed by the addition of black pigment -- are common to English cottage style, as they usher serene sophistication and elegance into a room, while allowing sparkling finishes to shine. Furniture and kitchen cabinetry are popular places for a stroke of muted tones, not only to conceal scratches and marks but also for a dab of color.
Exposing structural elements of a house, such as overhead beams, angled ceilings, or wall paneling, may be avoided in some design circles, but cottage style embraces such displays. Structural elements -- like these beautiful beams and wide-plank wood walls -- imbue a hefty dose of charm and create rustic backgrounds for stately furnishings, rugs, and artwork.
Peace and Quiet
English interiors murmur rather than shout. It's a small detail, but tufting on the back of a chair or sofa is a whispered signal that this room bends toward Britain. The accent is a mark of craftsmanship and more demure than other global styles. Leaded-glass windows also provide a subtle sign of sophistication. It's upon closer inspection that the details reveal themselves.
Perhaps the most recognizable pattern for wallpaper and fabric, toile has long been revered for its bucolic scenes, two-tone colorways, and large repeat. It's a classic best splashed lavishly in cottage rooms, and walls and ceilings are both fair game. Black tole trays, another utilitarian item decorated intricately, are a snappy punctuation over the bed.
Displaying collectibles, whether they're for everyday use or just for show, is unmistakably English. Here, a clutch of aprons, ironstone pitchers, copper pots, and glass canisters gather 'round in the kitchen. They're so lovely that very little extra decoration is necessary.
Cottage style provides the solution to the age-old dilemma of unifying mismatched furniture without a great cost: slipcovers! In crisp cotton canvas, duck, or denim, slipcovers hide worn or stained upholstery, protect heirloom pieces, and pull a room together with a few quick zips, snaps, or buttons.
Good, Clean Fun
Even a utilitarian area like a laundry or craft room can wear the same style as the rest of the house. Paying extra attention to the design of a hard-working room will make it fun, as well as functional. Don't hesitate to transfer detergent into shapely glass canisters, hang vintage metal shelves to hold essentials, or press a large woven basket into service as a hamper. These items have to work hard anyway -- they might as well be beautiful!
A few modern touches aside, this homey kitchen hearkens back to merry old England with its painted island and open shelves displaying dishes and glassware. Putting the everyday on display is a hallmark of English cottage style and a dapper combination of pretty and practical. A black and white checkered floor furthers the countryside vibe.
On the Surface
With so many layers of white in this cottage bedroom, texture leaps to the forefront to distinguish each element. Notice that each shade of white differs a little from the others, and intriguing textures -- chipped paint on the corbels and shelf, pocks on the wooden bench, open stitches on the throw, and ruffles and gathers on the linens -- catch the light differently to tantalize the eye.
English cottage accents strike that tricky balance between elegance and informality. In this kitchen, traditional cabinets are humbled by furniture-like feet and a beaded-board backsplash. A marble surface crowns a shabby-looking island with layers of peeling paint. Such disparate items happily coexist in this cottage kitchen, thanks to a soothing color scheme and a willingness to not take decorating too seriously.
A well-decorated room will reveal its beauty over time, and its many layers will unfold. A pile of white bed linens, painted wall planks, and two different curtains dress this cottage bedroom in serene style. The space is suitable for both sleeping and lounging, thanks to a plush, oversize love seat and a fabulous shaded chandelier.