Cottages are some of the coziest homes around. Tucked away in idyllic locations—like the mountains or the beach—these petite getaways are endlessly charming. While their small size plays a role in their warm and welcoming feel, their décor is even more responsible.
“Cottage-style décor is all about creating a comfortable and casual space designed for easy living,” Sarah Fischer, principal designer of Sarah & Sons Interiors, says. “It has roots in traditional design, but is softened from age and use.”
What Is Cottage Style?
A cottage-style home is equal parts charming and cozy. It gains personality from playful prints, mismatched hand-me-downs, and is softened by invitingly cozy furniture.
Cottage style is packed with traditional prints, cozy furnishings, and handed-down treasures, and it has a way of making everyone feel at home. While cottage-style décor is most popular in cottages, you can get the cozy look in any home. To help you turn your space into a charming getaway, we asked four designers to share their favorite cottage-style décor ideas.
Mix and Match Hand-Me-Downs
“Since cottages were often second homes, cottage décor includes a mix of styles and patterns—as if furnishings were handed down from different family members,” Fischer says. So, forgo the matching furniture sets and piece together a charming collection of antiques and flea market finds.
Keep Your Palette Soft and Light
Set the tone in your cozy cottage by sticking with soft, welcoming colors.
“Cottage-style décor is happy, casual, and charming,” Amy Peltier, creative director of Amy Peltier Interior Design, says. “Make sure the space is light and bright, and use pastel and airy colors to bring comfort to your space.”
Line Your Walls With Sturdy Millwork
Cottages are designed with easy living in mind, so favor materials that will add form and function to your home. “Consider beadboard and wood paneling as part of the millwork to add character that can withstand bumps and dents,” Fischer says.
Make the Most of Tight Spaces
One of the hallmarks of cottage style? “Creative use of cozy spaces,” Fischer says. Sure, your home may be roomier than the average cozy cottage, but there are bound to be a few tight spaces you can transform into charming alcoves.
Give Old Items New Life
When filling your cottage with vintage furniture, try to use old items in new ways. “Bring your aunt’s dresser into the mudroom for additional storage,” Fischer says. “Or, turn]an old tool bench into the perfect kitchen island.”
Leave Your Ceiling Beams Exposed
Make your home look like a cottage from top to bottom by leaving your ceiling beams exposed. “I love to add rustic beams to a bright white ceiling for a look that screams cozy cottage,” Curtis says.
Layer Lots of Different Textures
In any hand-me-down-filled space, you’re bound to end up with texture, so lean into the look. “My favorite way to achieve cottage style pieces is through charming details, such as floral patterns, organic textures, sisal rugs, and woven materials,” Peltier says.
Soften Your Space With Pillows and Rugs
As you decorate your space, soften your sleekest pieces with plush cushions, chunky blankets, and other cozy accents. “Layer on cute and cozy furnishings—think: charming nostalgia,” Peltier says.
Weave in Some Modern Elements
Cottages aren’t exclusively filled with old items. “Typically, it is an eclectic look—a blend of old and new,” Maloney says. Balance out your favorite vintage pieces with a few modern accents.
Stick to Real Antiques
When stocking up on vintage pieces, designers agree: Stick with genuine antiques. “To prevent cottage décor from veering into country kitsch, run away from the brand new furniture sets with faux distressing,” Fischer says. “Find vintage pieces with authentic wear instead.”
Invest in Charming Details
“With cottage-style décor, it’s all about the charming details,” Peltier says. So, invest in homey accents—like weathered hardware, vintage hand towels, and lots of fresh flowers.
Put Your Own Spin on Cottage Style
Don’t get hung up on what a cottage “should” look like. “Cottage décor is all about your unique sense of comfort—and formulaic design won’t get you there,” Fischer says. Instead, focus on designing a space you'll love spending time in. “You'll end up with a style that is authentically your own,” she says.
Cottage décor is all about your unique sense of comfort—and formulaic design won’t get you there.
Edit Your Selection
Stocking up on special pieces is a big part of furnishing a cottage—but editing is, too. “Often, less is more," Curtis says. “Pare back oversized furniture and accessories to truly let special pieces have their moment.”
Take Your Time Treasure-Hunting
“Cottage style has a ‘collected over time’ look and feel,” Curtis says. “Take your time looking for one-of-a-kind pieces.”
At the end of this "treasure hunt," you’ll have a charmingly curated space that looks and feels truly special.