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.