22 Cottage Decorating Ideas
Earn Your Stripes
Vertical-striped curtains add height to the room. The casual nautical motif that recalls informal ticking and old French naval shirts also pops up on cushions and pillows. Even the shiplap walls and grooved coffee table are in on the striped action. A solid white sofa creates balance in the space.
Love Island Life
This less-is-more kitchen island also serves as a dining area à deux. Ticking-stripe slipcovers on the accompanying stools are a natty complement to the nautical pendant lights. During parties, the island becomes a prime spot to display a spread of drinks and appetizers, because in compact cottages especially, guests undoubtedly congregate in the kitchen.
You've heard of a Model A car? Well, meet the Model A chair. The original version came out in the 1920s from TOLIX, a French brand, and became a stackable staple everywhere from hospitals to factories and cafés. Antique versions can be tracked down, but retro reproductions like these are easy to come by online. The casual, pragmatic look and easy-clean metal make it a cottage yes. Add cushions, as these homeowners did, to soften the aesthetic.
Line It Up
There's something about these bold stripes, graphic patterned sheets, and symmetrical framed prints that recalls hospital-corner beds and throwback style grandmother used to delight in. The effect is both comforting and exuberant. It's a great lesson in remembering that cottage style is not always about relaxed fits or charming chipped wood; this room shows that conformity and order can be just as inviting and cozy.
Be Bold in a Small Space
Small spaces like this one make excellent canvases for bold patterns that could easily be too loud in an open or grand area. Here, the wonderfully wild wallpaper in a bamboo pattern creates a jewel box feel that harkens to the home's tropical locale. (The mirror is framed in bamboo, too, and thus cements a cohesive look.)
Decorate in Honey Tones
Unfinished, natural-finished, pickled, and worn-finished woods dominate this sweet dining room; even the patterns and colors on the chair fabric echo the palette. And while the lines and silhouettes of the pieces are formal, the feeling is casual enough to welcome elbows on the table, in true homey fashion.
Splurge on a Statement Stove
The star of this kitchen is the French-made convection oven. (This particular style first debuted in the 1960s.) Side-swinging doors and polished chrome drawers let anyone who steps into the room know its owner is serious about slow-cooked comfort food. And for guests, that's good news indeed.
Add a Tropical Touch
The rattan coffee table, mirror frames, and side chairs here give a rather mod room instant coastal appeal—not to mention an alluring, curated look. Play with materials that are indigenous to your locale to stay connected with a sense of place and to add personality. True cottage homes always reflect their settings, inside and out.
Set a Sunny Tone
Mudrooms by nature tend toward the utilitarian, but this sweet little one also gives a warm welcome. The whitewashed walls, bleached terracotta tiles, built-in benches, and cheery cushions all speak to seaside cottage charms. Add shelves dressed with salvaged bottles in pretty shades of ocean green and a beachy feel is established from the minute you step inside.
Be Minty Fresh
Here's proof that cool colors can exude a warm vibe. Mint walls and turquoise sofas set an inviting tone in this refreshing setting. Blue-and-green throw pillows in saturated shades of the same hues unify the mix. Their retro pattern takes the room from conventional to cutely quirky.
Go the Distance
Installing one mega shade effectively creates the illusion of a single, large-scale window. Here, a subtle valance, sweetly dotted fabric, and a Roman-style shade hanging above these kitchen windows smooth out the room's prevailing straight edges.
While there's a lot to love about this unique setup—striped fabric, curved banquettes, and a solid pedestal table—the most arresting element (aside from the view) is the room's chrome pendant light. A polished industrial piece injects a sleekness that offsets the lovingly worn wooden elements that appear in most cottages.
Upcycle Your Surroundings
Taking everyday items and repurposing them in newly imagined ways—"upcycling"—may be a hot buzzword, but cottage decorators and collectors have been doing that very thing for ages. Here, a crate becomes a bedside table, and salvaged boards form a bed frame and a bench.
Hang a Shell Chandelier
This hardworking mudroom may sport a sink and an island workstation, but it's still a just-right setting for a seaside-glam touch, such as the all-natural oyster-shell chandelier shedding light on the scene.
Pair Coral and Green
Looking for a color duo that charms without overwhelming? Try peachy coral with kiwi green. It only takes a few splashes of this twosome to give a living room some zest. On the pillows, draperies, and throws, it pairs beautifully with white-washed surfaces and dark wood for a tropical cottage feel.
Paint the Floor
Whether it's because you yearn for color or you just need to pep up shabby, well-loved planks, give your kitchen floors a covering of high-gloss paint for super fresh cheer. Here, a grassy green has the fantastic effect of bringing summer inside year-round and provides a counterpoint to the white cabinetry, countertops, walls, and ceiling.
Relax Over Dinner
Upholstered dining chairs? How wonderfully decadent. Here, sea foam green armchairs sidle up to a honey-stained table and invite friends and family to idle long after the plates have been cleared and the candles have burned down. The upbeat color balances out the plush look and makes the suite of chairs at home in the otherwise informal setting.
Choose an Upholstered Headboard
A room like this—with loads of straight lines, symmetrical silhouettes, and hard surfaces—always benefits from a little softening up. Here, a gorgeously upholstered headboard in a detailed blue pattern does the trick.
Everything in this dining room is perfectly traditional, until you factor in the fabulously unpredictable splatter patterns on the backs of the chairs. Cottage style means celebrating the eclectic. This combo works terrifically because all the pieces fall into the same blue-and-white color family.
While most coastal rooms are all about flooding the space with light, sometimes you need a great escape from the great outdoors. This cool, restful refuge is the perfect spot to take a break from the sun.
Pair Different Periods
While low eaves, exposed timbers, hardwood floors, battenboard walls, and hand-forged candle chandeliers are classic farmhouse elements, this dining room gets a cool touch of mod when acrylic chairs are added to the menu. These reproductions of Philippe Starck's iconic, clear Louis XVI Ghost Chairs are smart picks in a small space.
Paint the Sky
Low, timbered ceilings are another hallmark of cozy cottages. Paint ceilings at this height a cheery pale color, like this sky blue, to give the impression of more openness. Here, the owners played up the intimate space by installing an oversize lantern that owns the space boldly rather than being conservatively tucked away in the beams. With the table placed directly beneath, it's clear that this is a room committed to gathering, whether for meals, a game of cards, or a cup of tea.