Cottage-Style Decorating: 16 Fresh + Simple Design Ideas

Cottage homes are renowned for their charm, purity and natural comfort. Add cottage-style coziness throughout your home with these 16 fresh and simple decorating ideas.

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November 25, 2014

Photo By: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Photo By: Design by Sarah Richardson

Embrace Natural Elements

One of the most charming aspects of cottage living is its natural, simplistic and bare-boned style. Rather than cover the small guesthouse walls in artwork, designer Sarah Richardson wanted to showcase the architectural beauty of the salvaged pine boards on their own. The little imperfections and discolorations of the boards create an earthy, distressed look that provides the perfect backdrop to the crisp, white headboard and nightstand.

Fall in Love With White Again

A mix of oyster shell, taupe and gray make for the perfect color palette for cottage-style living. When combined, these hues are fresh, natural and beautifully vibrant. Designer Brooke Giannetti added wood-beamed vaulted ceilings to further expand her already spacious master bedroom retreat. By sweeping a soft, white coat of paint across the walls and ceilings, the room appears open and refreshed.

The Power of a Sanding Block

One of the key elements to cottage-style decor is distressed and weathered furnishings. Although scouring flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores, estate sales and auctions to find a stunning piece of furniture for an amazing price may be exciting, don't look over a piece you may already have right in front of you. The power of a sanding block can work wonders if you just want to rough up the edges a little and add some character and style. For a generations-old look, you'll need a few more materials and a little more time, but the finished product is well worth the effort. Image courtesy of Layla Palmer

Opposites (Always) Attract

Everyone knows the saying: opposites attract. The same is true in decor, too. You should always achieve some sort of balance by marrying opposites, whether it's glossy and muted or contemporary and antique. Designer Sarah Richardson wanted to interrupt the mix of traditional and well-dressed dishware, fixtures and furnishings in this country-cottage dining room by surrounding the table with ultra-casual, rustic wicker chairs. The space feels how a cottage space should — perfectly at ease but always beautiful.

If It's Not Cozy, It's Not Cottage

As soon as you walk into a cottage-style home, you should feel right at home. The neutral color palette and natural materials should instantly rejuvenate your senses. The space should look and feel comfortable, easy and livable. Throw a cozy slipcover on the sofa and add plenty of throw pillows for comfort. Favorite materials include linen, burlap and wool. Image courtesy of Melaine Thompson

Flowers Can Make Any Room Shine

You'll never enter a cottage home without coming across fresh blooms of some sort in almost every room of the house. Based off rural architecture and design inspiration, plants and flowers are a natural and essential element to find within this type of home.

Take It to the Floor

Don't be scared to pick up a paintbrush and swipe it on wood floors. In this nautical-inspired kids' retreat, designer Sarah Richardson brought a smooth and glossy look to the pine floors by painting them in muted shades of gray. The floors beautifully contrast with the salvaged pine boards on the walls and ceiling and enhance the deep-red accent around the room.

Make Sure the Space Represents You

Pull in your favorite elements to create a space that is entirely and solely yours. This cottage-style dining room has clearly been created to be used as a daily eating spot. The casual table, bench seating, loosely slipcovered chairs and everyday dishware all indicate daily use, but the exquisite chandelier proves the space can easily be dressed up for more elegant occasions. The homeowners clearly loved the chandelier and wanted to work it into their country-cottage decorating scheme.

They're Not All Small

When most people think of cottages they think of quaint, worn homes filled with well-worn furniture and old fixtures. This isn't necessarily the case. While some are more rural and simple, other “cottages” feature all the elements you would find in a state-of-the-art home. The appliances, modern recessed lighting and top-of-the-line tile, countertops and cabinetry are made to purely look timeworn. Design by Shane Inman

Colorful Debut

When that white-on-white color palette needs a shot of color, just add something small — nothing permanent or expensive. In this stunning bathroom mix of marble, mosaic tiling in various shades of white and gray, beadboard and porcelain, designer Sarah Richardson simply added a rustic grass-green chair in the corner. It adds a playful splash of color and breaks up the hard material elements.

Layer and Mix Patterns

Get creative. Don't be afraid to mix and layer different patterns in various colors. Crisp, white walls will always provide the perfect backdrop. Design by Sarah Richardson

Treasure Your Found Objects

In cottage-style homes, found objects are most often the focal point of a room. Whether it's an eye-catching find on the mantel or distressed, robin's-egg blue shutters hanging in the kitchen, a free or inexpensive find can add instant charm to any room. In this shabby-chic master bedroom, designer Maria Carr of Dreamy Whites propped up weathered doors against the wall to serve as an easy and rustic headboard.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and DIY

If you enjoy do-it-yourself projects, then start by cutting out images of cottage-style decor, inspiring color palettes, furniture favorites and accessories that you like from magazines and websites. Organize them into style boards by room, and then find various projects that meet your skillset. Want to revamp your living room? Create custom, wall-mounted end tables by cutting a vintage bench in half. Then dress up an old lamp with a coat of white paint, too, for a project that can be done in less than 30 minutes. Photo courtesy of Layla Palmer

Live by the Sea

If your cottage is by the sea or if you just want to bring the sea to you, integrate beach elements into your home. Starfish, coral, seashells and sand all pull in the soft, neutral hues associated with tranquil cottage living. Design by Anissa Swanzy

Repurpose Anything

Find a new purpose for something that has been collecting dust for decades. A vintage, three-tiered wire cupcake stand now holds fruit, tea and other kitchen supplies in HGTV fan Heather Bullard's kitchen. Plus, she doesn't leave any extra space to waste; two open shelves were added to the small side wall to display milky-white, vintage dishware for additional cottage-style appeal.

Elegant and Warm

Designer Shane Inman brought an elegant and contemporary twist to cottage living with a 20-foot stone fireplace, warm lighting, pastel color palette, sleek display shelves and minimal accessories. So if you prefer chic over distressed, stick with simple and streamlined furnishings in muted hues.

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