Although cottage style today graces even the most upscale homes, its roots lie in modest means and making do. The hallmark elements that characterize this popular look—pale paint colors, distressed surfaces, humble fabrics, and found treasures—were born of practicality in an era when high design was available only to the wealthy.
Cottage style doesn't follow rigid guidelines; instead, it's more of an attitude. It's about relaxation and resourcefulness, easy living, and a sense of contentment. Casual, comfortable, and lighthearted, it embraces imperfection and nimbly straddles both the past and present through its mix of weathered furnishings and fresh simplicity.
These designer rooms employ cottage style beautifully:
- Sunny Laundry Room by Mary Anne Smiley
- Transitional Galley Kitchen by TerraCotta Properties
- Sweet, Simple Cottage Bedroom by Celi St.Onge
- Airy Transitional Beadboard Bathroom by Kathryn Scott
- Open, Woodsy Cottage Kitchen by Jessica Helgerson
Get the Look
If cottage style strikes your fancy, try these strategies for blending it into your interiors.
Pale colors. White tones anchor the cottage palette, but other light and neutral hues round it out. Choose faded greens, yellows, and blues, or weave in dusty lilac, lavender, and rose. Cottage style can handle a few jolts of brighter color as long as you cut it with swaths of pale neutrals. Golden wood, such as pine, maple and oak complement the color scheme.
Natural fabrics and classic patterns. You can't go wrong with linen, muslin, cotton, or canvas. Light-colored solids always feel appropriate, but for a dose of pattern, choose gingham, subtle stripes, or mannerly florals. Materials such as eyelet and lace also work, as long as they aren't overdone.
Open storage. Old-fashioned cottages didn't always have an abundance of case goods or built-ins to conceal household items. Incorporate open shelves into your kitchen, store china in a simple hutch, or cluster objects on the mantelpiece.
Weathered accents. As with furnishings, cottage accents tend to look as though they've survived years of use. Antiques and flea market finds, such as mismatched pitchers or a grouping of transferware platters, make natural partners for this style's layered, collected aesthetic. Top it off with a bouquet of wildflowers for instant cheer and charm.
If you like cottage style, you may like country style. Click to explore!