The cottage style is a charming and cozy decorating style that conjures up images of quaint country homes and simpler times. This classic style features elements inspired by rural life and nature, emphasizing comfort, warmth, and nostalgia. If your personal style leans towards the casual, relaxed, and timeless, cottage decor may be the perfect look for you. This article will explore the key features of cottage style, offer tips for achieving the look in your own home, and showcase beautiful cottage homes for inspiration.
What is Cottage Style?
Cottage style decorating emerged in England in the 17th century, influenced by the architecture and interior design of rural cottages and farmhouses. It reflects a romanticized vision of country living, emphasizing qualities like simplicity, practicality, and a connection to nature. The look often features elements from traditional English and European country homes mixed with vintage and antique touches.
Some hallmarks of classic cottage style include:
- Natural Materials: The cottage look favors natural textures like wood, stone, wicker, and woven fibers. Painted wood furniture and natural linen fabrics are commonly used.
- Floral Prints and Patterns: Vintage-inspired floral prints with faded, softened color palettes help create a timeworn look. Gingham, plaids, and stripes also complement the style.
- Rustic Touches: Decor includes distressed wood finishes, simple hardware, antique accessories, and elements reminiscent of the outdoors like baskets, dried flowers, and potted plants.
- Soft Color Palette: Soothing, muted, earthy colors like sage, cream, sky blue, and buttery yellow are predominant. Accent colors tend to be muted reds, pinks, pale greens, and blues.
- Cozy Textures: Layering natural fibers like cotton, linen, wool, and cashmere helps craft a cozy, inviting look and feel.
- Vintage Finds: Incorporating antique or vintage furniture, art, accessories, and architectural salvage provides a sense of charm and history.
The overall effect is casual, peaceful, and reminiscent of the past with a focus on comfort, simplicity, and functionality. Cottage decor harmoniously blends vintage charm with rural beauty.
Achieving the Look in Your Home
If you want to embrace cottage style in your home, there are some key ways to infuse the charming look throughout your rooms:
Incorporate Natural Materials and Textures
Natural materials are essential for creating warmth and casual comfort. Incorporate:
- Wood Furniture: Distressed wood finishes, farmhouse tables, and painted accent furniture
- Linens: Curtains, upholstery, and bedding in natural fibers like cotton, linen, and wool
- Wicker and Rattan: Baskets, chairs, storage chests, pendant lighting
- Stone and Brick: For floors, walls, backsplashes, and fireplaces
- Jute, Sisal, and Seagrass: Rugs, baskets, and wall hangings
Layering and combining these elements cultivates organic texture.
Use a Soft, Muted Color Palette
Stick with a light, airy color scheme to evoke coziness and subtle charm:
- Whites, Creams, and Greys: For walls, ceilings, main furnishings, and as a backdrop
- Accent Colors: Muted blues, sages, pinks, yellows to complement neutral base
- Avoid stark colors and opt for faded, weathered-looking hues
- Incorporate nature-inspired color schemes with subtle patterns
Incorporate Vintage Style with Floral Prints and Motifs
Vintage-inspired patterns and fabrics are a cottage style staple:
- Floral prints like roses and wildflowers in soft, muted palettes
- Gingham, plaid, striped fabrics for upholstery and curtains
- Vintage-looking area rugs with floral or nature motifs
- Linens and bedding with embroidered floral details
- Tablecloths, tea towels, and pillows featuring flower patterns
Display Antiques, Vintage Finds, and Upcycled Pieces
Incorporating antiques lends authenticity:
- Seek out vintage furniture, especially painted and distressed wood pieces
- Display collected treasures like old books, framed botanical prints, and china
- Use architectural salvage for countertops, flooring, cabinetry, and hardware
- Upcycle flea market finds by refinishing, repainting, or making new uses for them
These touches add depth, uniqueness, and nostalgia.
Create a Cozy, Inviting Ambiance
Focus on comfort to craft an intimate feel:
- Incorporate plush upholstered furniture and window seats
- Layer in pillows, throws, canopies, billowing curtains
- Position furniture for intimate groupings around fireplaces
- Use hardwood floors with fluffy area rugs
- Display fresh flowers and thriving plants
Add Rustic Touches
Subtle rustic elements connect to pastoral roots:
- Baskets, barrels, crates and galvanized metal for storage
- Twig, branch, and driftwood accents
- Rolled up blankets, sheepskin throws
- Cut flowers in mason jars and vintage bottles, herbs in pots
- Antique-looking signs, framed botanical sketches
Woven textures and natural materials are key.
Work in Cottage-Style Architectural Features
If possible, incorporate architecture that embraces cottage traditions:
- Bay or bow windows with built-in seats
- Beamed ceilings and exposed wooden rafters
- Stone fireplaces, preferably with distressed wood mantels
- Mudrooms furnished with lockers, benches, hooks and shelves
- Screened porches outfitted with wicker seating
These permanent elements establish charming cottage bones.
Cottage Interior Styles
While all cottage style homes share common traits, there are a few different offshoots that put their own spin on the look:
The most traditional take on cottage style, evoking quaint English country homes. Features include:
- Floral fabrics like chintz, rose-patterned wallpaper
- Canopied beds, distressed wood furnishings
- China cabinets displaying collections
- White wainscoting, beamed ceilings, stone fireplaces
- Teacups, embroidered linens, botanical art
Incorporates more rugged, handcrafted, and vintage elements reminiscent of pastoral farm living:
- Wood plank walls, raw edge wood furnishing, galvanized metal
- Checks, plaids and burlap more prominent than dainty florals
- Pitchers, milk cans, crates, bottles
- Buttery leather upholstery, vintage area rugs, ceramic chickens
- Rope, twine, grain sacks, honeycomb shelves
A pared-back take on the look with a simpler, more contemporary feel:
- Crisp whites, modern rustic wood elements
- Graphic botanical patterns instead of chintzes
- Woven accents and earthy pottery instead of frilly linens
- Slipcovered furniture, modern farmhouse sinks
- Black window frames, clean lines
Incorporates coastal elements into the style for a laidback seaside look:
- Weathered wood finishes, whitewashed floors
- Driftwood, rattan, bamboo used for furniture and accents
- Natural fibers like jute, seagrass, linen
- Accents in ocean-inspired hues like sea glass greens and blues
- Sand dollars, seashells, starfish, anchors
- Beadboard paneling, hammock chairs, salvaged oars
Blends the bright, minimalist elements of Scandinavian design with cozy cottage features:
- White walls, light wood floors, airy spaces
- Woven textures, sheepskins, cowhide rugs
- Distressed wood furniture in creamy hues
- Floral accents tended to be graphic and minimal
- Herringbone, timber, and stripes instead of busy florals
- Lots of light through skylights and large windows
Beautiful Cottage Style Decor
To spark inspiration for embracing this charming style in your home, here are some stunning examples of beautifully designed cottages:
Classic Cottage Charm
This sweet blue and white classic cottage is the epitome of romantic charm. Billowing curtains, a clawfoot tub, antique furnishings and a proliferation of florals create cozy character. The distressed wood beams, stone fireplace, and rustic pine floors and cabinetry lend authenticity.
Photo: William Waldron
Rustic Farmhouse Cottage
This cottage embraces farmhouse style with reclaimed wood, galvanized metal accents, checks, and an earthy color palette. The vaulted ceiling with exposed beams, concrete countertops, and abundant plants cultivate organic warmth.
Photo: Magnolia Market
Cheerful Yellow Kitchen
This sunny cottage kitchen uses buttery yellow on the cabinetry to create vintage farmhouse charm. Open shelving, ceramic collectibles, and an apron sink offer nostalgic character.
Photo: The Cottage Market
Modern Rustic Cottage Dining Area
Blonde wood, woven chair seats, concrete floors, and a single rustic chandelier put a modern spin on cottage dining. The distressed wood table and bench offer organic warmth.
Photo: The Glitter Guide
Cozy Living Room with Antiques
Mismatched embroidered chairs, distressed furnishings, collections of books, and fresh flowers encapsulate cottage charm in this living space. A mix of vintage rugs and side tables provide depth.
Photo: DeVOL Kitchens
Relaxed Beach Cottage Bedroom
Breezy linens, weathered wood nightstands, woven accents and greenery speak to coastal cottage style. Neutral tones allow the view to be the star.
Photo: Lindye Galloway Interiors
Rustic Mountain Cottage Great Room
An enormous stone fireplace and perimeter of wood-framed windows allows this rustic great room to embrace the surrounding nature. Exposed beams, pine furniture, cowhide rugs and antler accents speak to pastoral roots.
Photo: Tom Stringer Design Partners
Cottage Style Decor and Furnishings
From lighting to furniture shapes to decorative accents, here are some key components to incorporate for quintessential cottage style:
- Pendant lights in woven rattan, mason jar, or simple farmhouse silhouettes
- Wrought iron chandeliers and sconces
- Lanterns, especially distressed metal and glass
- Candles of all shapes and sizes
- Wood dining tables, dressers, armoires, and headboards in painted, distressed and weathered finishes
- Wingback, slipper and club chairs, often upholstered in florals
- Daybeds and fainting couches for cozy seating areas
- Four poster beds with ruffled canopies
- Cotton, linen, wool, and embroidered lace for upholstery
- Burlap and muslin for accents
- Plaid, chintz, floral and striped patterns
- Wide plank wood floors
- Saltillo tiles, terracotta
- Braided, rag and sisal rugs layered on top
Kitchen and Bath Decor
- Farmhouse sinks, preferably with wood countertops
- Beadboard cabinetry, sometimes open shelving
- Buttery yellows, robin’s egg blue or soft sage green paint colors
- Pale subway tile, flower and chicken motifs
- Clawfoot tubs, pedestal sinks, wrought iron light fixtures
Accessories and Accents
- Collections of ceramic pitchers, baskets, glass bottles, books
- Dried botanicals and pressed flowers
- Antique clocks, copper pots, framed botanical sketches
- Rocking chairs on the front porch
Tips for Achieving Cottage Style
Keep these pointers in mind as you craft an authentic cottage aesthetic:
- Seek out secondhand finds first to cultivate a collected look
- Mix high and low, modern and old, perfect and imperfect
- Add character by displaying collections, books, flowers and treasured antiques
- Embrace signs of wear and tear – don’t make it too tidy
- Work the style throughout – including porches, patios, and entryways
- Use color cohesively to ensure different rooms feel connected
- Let architecture lead – don’t fight against original historic details
- Infuse warmth and texture with plenty of natural materials and finishes
- Keep wall colors light to prevent heaviness
The cottage look values comfort, nostalgia, and a connection to nature so keep your focus on creating an intimate, collected home with authentic vintage style.
Common Questions About Cottage Style
What colors work best in a cottage?
Stick with a light, airy color palette. Buttery yellows, sky blues, sage greens, antique whites, pale pinks and muted reds work beautifully. Accent walls can embrace deeper shades of navy, olive or terra cotta.
How do you decorate a cozy cottage living room?
Incorporate plush seating like daybeds, fainting couches and club chairs. Layer in pillows, soft throws and armchair caddies. Position furniture in intimate groupings around fireplaces. Hang curtains high and wide. Display collections of books, flowers and ceramics. Use an antique rug and fresh greenery.
What fabrics complement a cottage?
Florals, plaids, stripes and lace work beautifully. Embrace cottons, linens and soft wools. Incorporate embroidered and embellished details. Use solids to balance busier patterns.
What type of furniture works in a cottage?
Seek out painted, washed and distressed wood pieces. Weathered finishes have charm. Leather upholstery also feels fitting. Iron beds work nicely. Incorporate vintage finds and repurposed flea market treasures. Mismatched pieces add character.
How do you create rustic cottage walls?
Use reclaimed wood planks, shiplap paneling or tongue and groove boards for rustic texture. Whitewashed brick, exposed beams and decorative trim offer character. Roll on muted paint in creamy hues. Consider wallpaper with delicate patterns. Frame antique sketches, plates or botanicals.
Should I use white or bright colors?
It depends on the specific style you want to achieve. Classic cottages embrace whites for trim, wainscoting, furniture. Farmhouse cottages incorporate more wood tones. For pops of color, opt for weathered, muted hues instead of brights. Accent walls in deeper tones can anchor a room.
Achieving Timeless Cottage Allure
The charming cottage style sets a welcoming scene. This look cultivates cozy comfort by blending vintage treasures with natural textures and muted color palettes for a relaxed sensibility reminiscent of pastoral country living. With its timeworn and collected aesthetic, embracing cottage decor ensures a home filled with character and nostalgic appeal.