Say Hello to Florals
Soften the lines of cottage architectural staples, such as paneled walls and exposed ceiling beams, with a swirly floral print. Taking its color cues from a collection of vintage earthenware jugs, a royal blue motif brings the two plush armchairs in this living room into bloom. Kick-pleat skirting on the chairs adds to the furnishings' feminine appeal, while a striped rug underfoot keeps the room from looking too sweet.
Knotty pine paneling is quintessential cottage cabin fare, but if you're looking for a light alternative to the standard decor, think Swedish. A gentle whitewash on this living room's paneling combined with sky-blue gingham curtains set the stage for a fresh lodge look. A wicker sofa keeps the mood kick-back friendly, but a faux-hide ottoman adds a dash of sass.
Step into the comfy world of cottage style with slipcovers. Skip the tuck-and-stuff variety in favor of custom fits that show off the contours of your furnishings while offering no-fuss removal for laundering. Balance floral prints by covering a large-scale seating piece with a neutral hue. Here, the sofa sports a white cover that's romantic rather than crisp thanks to a matelasse pattern.
Mix Rather Than Match
The beauty of cottage style is its emphasis on comfort versus formality, so feel free to mix together pieces that you love to foster a collected-over-time look. In this living room, striped pink pillows pick up the perky blush of a retro leather-covered footstool, a classic cream-and-beige stripe fabric updates a hand-me down club chair, and a country-style wicker coffee table gets a modern boost from caster wheels.
Mimic the carefree charm of coastal cottage attire no matter where you live by welcoming a host of vibrant colors into your living room. Sherbet pinks, blues, yellows, and greens get a bold pick-me-up in this seating area from cherry reds. Throw pillows sporting tropical floral prints, a dark wicker coffee table, and a spindle-style floor lamp play to a tropical theme.
Country French rooms are renown for their elegance, but devotees of the style will tell you it's the balance of grace and comfort that appeals to them most. This living room marries classic toile fabrics and the curvaceous lines of cabriole legs with informal tab-top curtains, a quilted tablecloth, and a salvaged chipped-paint column to create a mood that's refined yet relaxed.
A faux paint finish on new drywall mimics the rustic beauty of an 18th-century French chateau. Treated to a glaze, the walls in this living room work in conjunction with tumbled brick pavers, salvaged ceiling beams, and vintage light fixtures to impart age-old appeal. The rustic foundation serves as a foil for modern furnishings, allowing the space to function for today while taking advantage of the comforting patina of the past.
White paint is a flea market junkie's best friend -- it can hide numerous sins and instantly refresh tired pieces. Use it to unite a motley assortment of items so they read as a harmonious unit. In this living room, a collection of picture frames shine -- no pictures needed -- after white spray-paint highlights their intricate carvings.
Get creative and find new uses for found objects. An old cart stands in as a charming coffee table in this living room, while an old shelf, once used to hold hotel keys, is just the right size for displaying a budding collection of vintage press letters. A bistro chair adds to the room's casual ambiance and an old farm table lifts a collection of blue glass bottles to window height, where the sun can stream through them.
Instantly bring a room to order by opting for a symmetrical furniture arrangement. A dinged up table, sagging ever so slightly in the middle, finds a newfound sense of dignity when flanked by a pair of reproduction French armchairs in this living room. Old metal window frames retrofitted with gleaming mirrors match the scale of an oversize mantel while reflecting the symmetry of the furnishings across the room. Atop the mantel, an old sailboat sits moored in a sea of leather-bound classics.
Hip to Be Square
To create a room with modern verve, think streamlined furnishings, clean silhouettes, and minimal accessories. A symmetrical furniture arrangement fosters a sense of orderly calm in this living room--an impression that's amplified by a steely palette of soft grays and muted blues. The square lines of the sofa and coffee table echo that of the mantel, but the gently curved backs of the armchairs soften the room's angular profiles.