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What Exactly is Cottage Style?

I love cottage style! But what exactly is cottage style?

"Technically speaking, Cottage Style isn’t really a style. After all, a cottage is meant to be lived in, to be enjoyed, and is usually the recipient of all the cast-offs from the real home. But Cottage furnishings and accessorites have grown in popularity in recent years. In Cottage Style anything (and everything) goes."

Okay...that explains it perfectly, well, not exactly! To me, cottage style is filling my home with warm and cozy things which make me happy. It really is a state of mind. I live at the beach and love seashells but don't want that typical "beachy" decor, you know what I mean...everything in the entire house matches and is white or blue with lighthouses and stuff plastered everywhere ~ now, if this happens to be you and you like everything to match and have lighthouses on it...good! Decorate in a style which makes YOU happy!

I'm personally drawn to warm colors so although I live at the beach, in a home which is nothing like a cottage, it still has a warm, inviting and lived in (cottage) feel to it. When we moved here I had the chance to go through all of our belongings and donated or sold everything in which I (we) didn't love. (I've also read several Feng Shui books and to keep things which remind you of bad memories is not a good thing to have around).

I'm certainly not a professional decorator, although I have ventured into many different types of arts and crafts over the years. I've also had numerous people ooh and ahh at the homes that I've I'm not a professional and the comments posted in this blog just mine. I'm hoping to share some of the tips and tricks that I've learned over the years as well as share interesting articles which may inspire you when decorating your "cottage" whether it be in New York City or Denver. Below is an article I found which provides a general overview of the types of things which "normally" go into a cottage home...enjoy!

The furniture in a Cottage Style home is often recycled, purchased from a flea market, or collected from family rejects. Nothing really needs to match -- and it shouldn’t --yet the overall effect is charming and comfortable. Anything found can be painted or recovered to help it fit into your scheme.

Reuse Vintage Items
In Cottage decor, pieces are often adapted from one use to another. For example, a bench might serve as a coffee table, an old kitchen cupboard can hide towels in a bathroom, or a kitchen table might become a desk. You might also reuse a section of old wooden or iron fence to serve as a headboard. To fit into the scheme the piece just needs to look old and loved with signs of wear-and-tear.

Floors in Cottage Style homes are often informal and even imperfect. Bare wood floors are a good option. New wood can be made to look old and painted floors can have patterns stenciled on, either to add interest or define areas. Raw planks can be covered with vintage braided throw rugs. Wall-to-wall carpet can be too perfect for this style yet tile is okay. Covering any type of flooring with vintage area rugs is another way to get the cottage look.

Window Treatments
Since Cottage Style homes are informal, windows should look light and airy. Consider lace instead of heavy drapes or sheers instead of opaque panels. For privacy, if you need it, pick simple shades that can hide away during the day. When privacy is not an issue the windows can be left bare. Valances can be sewn in fabric or made of grapevines. Swags of lace help add a softer look.

Cottage decor usually calls for a mix of fabrics used for slipcovers, upholstery, curtains, draperies, table skirts, pillows and more. Coordinate a variety of prints like florals, stripes, checks, and plaids for a collected look. Slipcovered furniture is also very popular in a cottage look, offering relaxed and easily updated furnishings. Throws for snuggling under can be tossed anywhere.

Color and Pattern
While there can be many colors and patterns in a cottage style setting, it’s good to have a unifying theme. English Cottage suggests pinks and greens in floral prints. Rustic style, with twig or rough-hewn wood furniture, works well with forest colors—greens, rust, and golden tones. For a Cottage Style home near the shore, try beachy colors of soft blues and sandy beiges with lots of white. Patriotic or faded color schemes also fit well in these casual homes.

Any odd thing can serve as an accessory in a Cottage Style home, so be on the lookout wherever you go. Charming plates, old hats, musical instruments, interesting frames and heirloom samplers become the center of attention in a comfortable cottage room. Antique shops, tag sales, grandma’s attic, and flea markets all reveal a treasure trove of items both useful and decorative.

Collectibles can easily be adapted into lighting fixtures by installing inexpensive lamp parts. Turn an old jug, vase, or tin into a one-of-a-kind lamp. Not sure you want to tackle wiring a lamp? Take a vintage find to a lamp store where you have it adapted to your need for minimal expense. The more unusual your item, the more fun you’ll have looking at it when it’s electrified with a cute shade.

Begin collecting your favorite style of hand-me-downs and treasures to create a unique version of cottage for your own home!

Get Comfortable With Cottage Style
Coral Nafie, former Guide


  1. Very nice! I like the style... an eclectic mix of things you love makes for a happy environment! And lucky you, living on the beach! I'm relaxed just thinking about it. =D
    Thanks Marie!


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