Though cottage style can be translated to any size of kitchen today, its roots are in the quaint, small homes of the early 1900s when money was tight and homeowners had to make do. The resulting look was unfitted, unpretentious, comforting, and friendly. These cottage kitchen ideas show how to capture that quality in your own home.
Early cottage kitchens were not designed to be fancy or showy. They were necessary spaces that evolved with industry and technology: As plumbing evolved, wet sinks were added; when electricity became common, wood stoves were replaced by electric models. The result was a look that was charmingly cobbled together. Cottage kitchen cabinets were often separate pieces of furniture, with glass-pane doors and furniture-like touches such as knobs and feet. Sinks were large and cavernous because they might have been used for everything from dressing a chicken to washing a baby. Inexpensive open shelves were common for displaying collectibles or housing glassware and dinnerware. There was usually a seating area of a small table and some benches or chairs because most cottages would have been too small to include a separate dining room, and the stove-warmed kitchen was the natural gathering spot.
The hallmarks of a cottage style kitchen arose because it was important to use what was handy and inexpensive. Therefore, any cottage design has a mix of materials including wide-plank flooring and beaded-board paneling on the walls. Cabinets and furniture gathered at over time are sometimes painted different shades or weathered from age and use. Other common sights in a small cottage kitchen include wicker baskets, canning jars used to store pantry staples or serve drinks, and patterned cotton fabrics sewn into towels and curtains.
In cottage-style decorating, there's often an overlay of country or farm touches. The motivations behind the country cottage kitchen designs are the same: Use what you have. Farm elements include barn beams on the ceiling, hanging pot racks, and farmhouse sinks—deep, wide porcelain sinks with apron fronts. Heavy oak farm tables that seat a crowd also set the right tone in a farmhouse cottage kitchen.
A common variation of cottage-style homes, coastal cottages are often located near an ocean, lake, or river, or they might simply feature elements—such as color palettes or accessories—inspired by watery locales. A beach cottage kitchen might display a collection of seashells that washed up on the shore, or feature an all-in-one metal sink and counter that is handy for cleaning fish. Big, minimally dressed windows capture the view. And color schemes mimic the surroundings: sunshine yellow, sandy tan, sea blue, reed green, and cattail brown.