Cottage Style Decorating Ideas

You don’t have to live at the beach, in the country, woods or lakeside to bring cottage style into your home. In fact, you may even see evidence of cottage style decorating in a Manhattan high-rise!

Cottage style is characterized by comfortable furnishings, fresh colors and natural elements. There’s really no right or wrong way to approach this cozy décor style. By incorporating just a few of these ideas in a room, you can create a warm and inviting space for the entire family!

Primary Elements of Cottage Style

Colors: Keep your large-scale colors (walls, large upholstered pieces, etc.) muted. Pastels and neutrals should guide you as you plan your cottage style room. Bring in soft colors found in nature like blues, greens, beiges, yellows and corals. If children and pets aren’t an issue, try a monochromatic white palette with a combination of oyster shell, white and light taupe for a crisp, clean take on cottage style.

Start with neutral basics and then add color and pattern.
Start with neutral basics and then add color and pattern. | Source
A coat of paint transforms an old chest into a cottage keepsake!
A coat of paint transforms an old chest into a cottage keepsake! | Source


Furnishings: Wood, wrought iron and wicker furniture will take center stage in a cottage style home. Tag sale and second hand pieces fit right in to this homey design style. Painting furniture is a great way to give your existing furniture a “cottage” personality.


Fabrics: Use neutral and floral fabrics on upholstered pieces. Throw stripes and checks in the mix to create additional visual interest. Don’t forget to add trimming and fringe to curtains and pillows as a finishing detail.

Florals and stripes, oh my!
Florals and stripes, oh my! | Source

Finishes: Furniture, cabinetry and accessories should show gentle signs of wear. Don’t go overboard with white washing and sanding or you will end up with a country chic (ala Rachel Ashwell) room, rather than a traditional cottage interior. For the most part, we want the warmth of wood to shine through!

Source

More Cottage Style Decorating Ideas!

Cottage Style Ideas

Add a Punch of Color

If you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of neutrals, add a shock of color to your cottage style room. It can be something as insignificant as a green upholstered chair and lamp.

A single color can liven up a monochromatic palette.
A single color can liven up a monochromatic palette. | Source
Use natural elements to bring the outdoors into your cottage room.
Use natural elements to bring the outdoors into your cottage room. | Source

Use Natural Elements

Balance patterns and warm up hard surfaces with natural elements. A jute rug, reclaimed wood floor and organic fabric slipcover will bring your cottage design down to earth, where it belongs. Bring in an architecturally salvaged mantel as a counterpoint to newer furnishings.

Beadboard or wood planking is the prefect touch for a cottage. Use it on walls, ceilings and inside cabinets and bookshelves. Beadboard looks best painted white or off-white, while wood planks can either be painted or left natural!

A cozy cottage corner with a mix of traditional and casual elements.
A cozy cottage corner with a mix of traditional and casual elements. | Source

Keep It Cozy

Always keep in mind the cozy factor. Cottage style is meant to be relaxing and rejuvenating. Each furniture piece and decorative accessory should look like an effortless addition -- as if they have been collected over time. Your cottage room should exude comfort and livability. Cozy does not mean cluttered. Edit your furniture and accessories to maintain an easy, simple vibe.

Mix Casual and Traditional

Maintain balance in your cottage home by mixing styles. Although I’m not suggesting anything crazy like mixing Queen Anne with rustic log furniture! Use good judgment and pick opposite styles that compliment each other.

Here’s a great example: Top a traditional, turned leg dining room table with formal place settings on wicker chargers. Take the wicker theme one step further by seating guests around the table in casual wicker chairs. See, opposites do attract!

Include DIY Projects

Cottage style decorating is a wonderful way to get your creative juices flowing. If you are a consummate DIYer or simply want to take a stab at it, now’s your chance. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of cottage project ideas online. Or just flip through your favorite shelter magazine for ideas. Something as simple as adding a chalkboard wall in your kitchen to cutting a larger table in half to create wall-mounted bedside tables will add cottage charm to your home!

A DIY project as simple as a chalkboard and a vase of fresh flowers brings a bit of cottage into the kitchen.
A DIY project as simple as a chalkboard and a vase of fresh flowers brings a bit of cottage into the kitchen. | Source
Great place to find vintage items. Be creative and come up with new uses for them!
Great place to find vintage items. Be creative and come up with new uses for them! | Source

Upcycle

This is my favorite part of cottage style. Think outside the box and give new life and a different purpose to vintage items! For instance, take a vintage, tiered wire stand and turn it into a charming spice rack for your cottage kitchen counter. It’s super easy to do, just put on your thinking cap when you’re browsing the antique mall – you can come up with new uses for almost anything old!

Identifying Cottage Style

© 2012 lindacee

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Start a Conversation! 15 comments

Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 4 years ago from Oregon

This was one of the best hubs I've read in a long time! I loved your photos-- especially the "green" themed room with all the large windows. Your ideas were helpful and I'm already scheming about incorporating some of them into my own room.

Have you ever tried painting wicker chairs or benches? I really like the look of white or silver wicker-- even maybe a beige or muted green might be nice.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Jane, thank you so much for your lovely comment! Yes, I have painted wicker furniture (many times!) I think silver wicker is a really unique idea, but any of your selections should look very stylish. I would advise using a high quality spray paint for the project. Also test the color before you get started. They often look completely different on the cap than in real life -- believe me, I've learned the hard way. The good news is there are many beautiful colors to choose from!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 4 years ago from Oregon

The only reason I'm considering silver is because I saw some silver-wicker baskets in a Martha Stewart mag and they looked surprisingly stylish! Thanks for the advice about testing the color-- that's good to keep in mind. :)


Vanderleelie profile image

Vanderleelie 4 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

I'm redoing an older house that's close to the beach, and I plan to incorporate the fresh cottage look you have described so well. Upcycling older garage sale finds is a terrific idea for saving money and preserving charm. Voted up and useful!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Thank you, Vanderleelie for the votes and comment. I think cottage style is so versatile -- and beach cottage is my absolute favorite. Next month I'll be publishing a Hub about the different types of cottage style (there's a section specifically on beach cottage). Keep an eye out for it. I know you will have a great time coming up with ways to decorate the house!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Great job, lindacee! All these pictures look so inviting. Also, I love the idea of mixing casual and traditional styles together. Rated up and tweeted :)


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Awesome Om! Thanks for the tweet! That's part of the beauty of cottage style -- mixing things up just makes it better!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

I love the monochromatic look with a single color to brighten the room. This makes me want a little cottage on the lake to decorate with your ideas, lindacee!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Light-filled, monochromatic rooms are a favorite of mine too, Leah. A lake cottage would be so much fun to decorate. Maybe someday, right?


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

I absolutely love cottage-style homes and rooms!! Thanks for these lovely ideas- they'll certainly come into play in my future dream cottage!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

So glad you enjoyed these ideas, Simone! Cottages are just so darned charming, aren't they? Almost everyone can relate to their welcoming and cozy nature.


alwaysamom profile image

alwaysamom 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

We will be moving to a lake home as our permanent residence soon and want to decorate in Cottage style. I loved your info and ideas.

I will be mixing two styles of decorating together and hopefully will be able to achieve a more relaxed, lakeside, homey feel. I look forward to your next Hub relating to Cottage style! Thanks!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Alwaysamom, you are welcome! I'm so envious. A lake house sounds so wonderful and relaxing. What a fun decorating project! I look forward to hearing how your cottage style turns out. I'm sure it will be positively charming. So happy you popped in to read this Hub!


Mike Lintro 22 months ago

I agree that wood with wrought iron really makes a home feel like a cottage. Also, you have to have the right wallpaper. Being able to paint some old wood furniture, to match the wallpaper in the home, seems to make things look nicer. It's either that, or redo all the wallpaper. http://HerCountryCottage.com


lindacee profile image

lindacee 22 months ago from Southern Arizona Author

Mike, I agree that wallpaper is a good way to impart cottage style. Lovely florals, checks, plaids or toiles give a cottage room a homey, authentic feel.

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