If you’re looking to revamp your space into a style that’s fresh, comfortable, organic, and airy, then these cottage decorating ideas are for you.
A cottage is, by definition, a small house, usually consisting of only one story. The word is derived from the medieval word “cotter”, a worker on a manor, who trades work for a home. Cottages were usually simply designed with non-essential architectural flourishes. A cottage may carry the connotation of being an old-fashioned building, but in modern usage, a cottage is usually a modest, often cozy dwelling, typically in a rural or semi-rural location such as a farm, lake, beach, or in the mountains.
No matter how they came to be, we love what they are and the romantic images they conjure up. When we think of cottage-style, we think of a cozy home, consciously filled with hand-picked, hand-me-down and acquired pieces. Cottage decor is light, filled with textures, and full of personality.
For anyone looking to infuse cottage-style into their home, we are offering up ideas for every room in the house. Cottages are typically quaint so that means taking full advantage of the space you have available. Use these cottage decorating ideas for inspiration to infuse your home with cozy personality.
Cottage Decorating Ideas
A Light Color Palette
A room with a light color palette is a welcoming look for any cottage. Make everything from the walls to the furniture light and airy, then you can accent with other muted colors. The brightness of the light colors will make the space look open and welcoming for anyone who visits and enjoys the space with you. We love how Liza Marie paired warm woods and metals with the light and airy backdrop, in the image above.
Here are some suggestions for choosing the right color palette for your space:
- Look outside the window – Use your location and the color combinations from outdoor vistas to create an interior palette. Or, create a palette from your dream location.
- Let Mother Nature be your guide – A single moss-colored rock or hillsides dotted with wildflowers can also be your guide.
- Neutral and white – Neutrals and whites are always soothing.
- Use a favorite piece of art – Build on your favorite colors from a piece of art.
An Eclectic Kitchen
No matter the size of your kitchen, one cottage decorating idea is to give it a whimsical look with mismatched cabinets, open shelving, lots of textures and patterns. A cottage kitchen pays homage to the past while utilizing the function of the present. Here you’ll find grandma’s copper pots, mom’s old cookbooks, and aunt Sally’s linens. It’s a timeless and meaningful space that doesn’t have to adhere to a particular style, but fuses tradition with a modern sensibility.
To get the look, choose solid furniture built by skilled craftsmen (such as our collection here at Cottage & Bungalow), you could also shop area flea markets and estate sales. Here is where you can easily combine new custom-crafted dining and kitchen tables with salvaged woods, and hand-me-downs.
We’ve put together a list of five elements that you can use to inspire your own cottage kitchen design.
- A softer palette – Typically cottage kitchens have a more pastel color palette set against a white canvas. Any softer or pastel color will do, from gentle yellows and blues to oranges, greens, and turquoise. Tablecloths and runners are a smart way to keep your color accents flexible.
- Open shelving – Open shelving offers a more airy and spacious feel, especially in smaller kitchens. Look for farmhouse-style furniture pieces, like a hutch, that have a combination of open and closed storage.
- A functional kitchen island – You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cottage kitchen that doesn’t have a functional kitchen island, complete with a work-friendly top and convenient storage below. Add a couple of bar stools for spillover seating.
- Hardwood floors – Hardwood floors are both literally and figuratively warm. Visually, the wood grains and a rich finish are pleasing to the eye, while bare feet appreciate the warmer-than-tile difference. Dress them up with a colorful area rug.
- Hanging lights – Reproduction antique sea glass light pendants add charm, intimacy, and ambiance. Use dimmers to control their task versus ambient effects.
If there is one room in your home deserving of extreme coziness, it’s the bedroom. While striving for a cozy bedroom is certainly not confined to any one particular design style, it’s an unwritten rule that you can go extreme in a cottage-style bedroom.
Here are our cottage decorating ideas for an extremely cozy space you will be thrilled to fall asleep in and wake up to every single day.
- Romantic Bed, Bedding, and Pillows – Surely the star of any bedroom is the bed! Bring in the romance with an elegantly hand-crafted bed frame or headboard. The soft shape, solid base, and beautiful colors of a cottage style bed (or try something global like the Gustavian bed) can offer the perfect starting point to create your sanctuary. No matter the style of your bed frame, you’ll want to refresh your current bedding, pillows and even throw one of our cottage nightstands into the mix.
- Dressers & Chests – When thinking about putting together your bedroom retreat, don’t overlook the other furnishings in the room such as chests and dressers. These are important pieces! Quietly elegant, bedroom dressers or chests are key pieces of cottage home bedroom furniture, providing much-needed storage for your various collections of clothes. They are also a lovely place for your romantic decor like flowers, candles, soft lighting that all work perfectly atop a marvelous chest.
- Mood Lighting – Whether you are curling up, sleeping, working, or reading, the lighting of your room will help set the tone of a cozy space. Focus on how the room is illuminated based on how you use your room most. Just like your bedding, go for a layering of light throughout the room. Consider a beautiful chandelier overhead to add romantic drama and help cast an even glow over the space.
- Play with Colors (and Change Them Out Often!) – A bedroom is a place you can really play with various colors in your cottage home and can mix it up often. Consider vibrant paint with a printed duvet and lively run on the floor.
Home trends have seen a shift in recent years with laundry rooms moving to the second floor and mudrooms becoming a more prominent first-floor feature, typically off the kitchen. Historically, mudrooms were born out of necessity in rural areas where muddy boots and grimy clothes were shed in order to not track dirt throughout the entire home. Today, the addition of a mudroom is definitely a growing trend among families all for the same necessary reasons of keeping dirt at bay, but also as an efficient, organized solution that can be both practical and pretty.
Here are a few ideas for updating the mudroom in your cottage home:
- Handy Hooks – A challenge in keeping your mudroom organized, when you have children is helping them to corral all their essentials. An easy solution is to install child-height hooks with individual baskets in which they may easily discard their essentials and minimize the tracking of dirt through your beach home. A creative coastal solution for your beach home is to use boat cleats as hooks.
- Shallow Bench – If space is not an option for your mudroom, you may consider installing a shallow bench in between walls. A bench – whether installed or free-standing – makes it easier to sit down and remove your belongings comfortably. The bench should be 18-24 inches deep and 19-20 inches high. It also makes for excellent storage opportunities underneath. You can leave open areas for shoes to fit under or even have baskets that slide in and out for each member of your family.
- Individual Spaces – Some mudrooms have windows, in which case you may consider placing small benches beneath. For those without windows, consider a cubby-style design that can function as individual areas for each member of the family. Hooks within these cubbies make it easier to hang coats, clothing, and athletic equipment; baskets beneath offer a pretty solution for beach hats, sunscreen, and other smaller essentials.
Slate floors, porcelain tile, or concrete make excellent flooring options since they are easy to clean. Consider using an indoor/outdoor rug or rug that has a non-skid rubber bottom so people can wipe their feet the minute they walk in the door. A boot scrubber can also help cut down on the dirt.
If you go with a lot of white in the cottage, you will want to make sure you have a mudroom area where people can remove their shoes and coats to keep things as clean as possible. That room doesn’t have to be anything more than iron hooks and a small stool to fit into the cottage decorating ideas you have for the rest of the house.
Divine Dining Area
A cottage-style dining room is relaxed and elegant. With the right colors, textures, and decorative accents, you can bring the invigorating beauty and tranquility of a cottage home to create a dining room that’s warm and welcoming.
Detailed below are some tips for achieving a beautiful low country-inspired dining area.
- Start with a sturdy table – The basis for every dining room is a well-built table. Cottage-style dining rooms tables tend to lean toward solid woods built by craftsmen skilled in traditional woodworking techniques.
- Mismatched chairs – Cottage homes are eclectic and that goes for the dining room, too! Don’t be afraid to use dining room chairs that are mismatched. You could even swap out a few chairs for a nice bench.
- Natural textures – Look for furnishings with natural textures and rustic cottage style that can add comfort and warmth to your living space.
- Don’t forget a cotton rug! – Soft underfoot and simply powerful in the overall look and feel of your dining room.
Quaint Powder Rooms
Cottage bathrooms always make for a fun decorating project. As they are typically the smallest rooms in a home, they tend to be the least intimidating. And, because they’re removed from the living spaces, they are easier with which to be creative and daring.
Below are some of our favorite examples and tips for styling a cottage bathroom.
- Add a barn door – Is there anything more farmhouse than a barn door?
- Paint the ceiling – To keep a bright space feeling light and clean, choose an accent color to use on the ceiling while keeping the walls and accessories white. Add a fun piece of art in your accent color to the wall.
- Go vintage – Vintage inspired materials and fixtures create a timeless look.
- Open storage – Open shelving offers an opportunity to showcase special pieces.
- Baskets filled with amenities – Soft towels and pretty toiletries will be beautifully organized with basket storage.
Serene Patio Elements
Your beach house is your sanctuary and as the coast comes alive again after winter’s slumber, reconnecting with nature from your home can be a relaxing treat. When thinking about the patio design of your cottage home. No matter the style, however, all of the best garden patio designs feature similar basic elements that are best used as building blocks when it comes time to put together your outside living space.
Take a peek at some garden patio basics to help get you going.
- Patio Lighting – Every great garden patio design must have excellent lighting. Just because your home or cottage comes with certain outdoor lighting does not mean you should box yourself in with it. Light and shade are vital elements of your garden. Lighting can produce either a natural or artificial color of light. Typically for a patio you want to take advantage of a natural appearance, but it does come down to your personal taste. Lighting around siding, walkways, and in conjunction with plants and flowers helps to give off a beautiful, dramatic effect. Pro Tip: Consider a chandelier installation on your garden patio for a touch of whimsy.
- Variety in Vegetation – Variety should be the name of the game in your garden patio. Layering in different elements of greenery such as shrubs, trees, flowering bushes, and plants helps bring in additional texture and gives you a more unique appearance. Your variety of vegetation should not only help differ the texture and maybe bring color into the mix but consider height as well. Plants of the small, medium and tall builds can dramatically increase your outdoor garden potential (not to mention taller vegetation can serve as both fencing and sound buffers). Pro Tip: Any surface can serve as the base for your plants! With creative planning, lattices, overhead beams, even walls can serve as the backbone of your vegetation.
- Accents and Contrast – There are different ways you can accent your garden patio and add contrast. This can be done with certain plants or decorative accents. Make areas pop with bright accent pillows and durable rugs against the browns and greens of your plant life. These accent points help bring your patio to life.
With these cottage decorating basics in place, the patio design of your outdoor living space can be a cinch! Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy what nature has to offer, while creating a space to relax at your cottage home.
It doesn’t matter the style of your home, if you choose to embody the feel of cottage-style, it’s easy to do by incorporating solid woods, natural fabrics, hand-me-downs with new purchases, and by simply creating a space that’s warm, inviting, and comfortable. Be sure to stop by Cottage & Bungalow to find your new favorite pieces, and Escape to Your Home.