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How to Make Your Home Feel Like a Cozy, Charming Cottage

how to light any room

Design by Becca Interiors

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.

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Mix and Match Hand-Me-Downs

A cottage-style dining room with mismatched antique chairs

Bespoke Only

“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.

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Keep Your Palette Soft and Light

A cozy bathroom with sage green beadboard walls

Katie Leclercq

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.”

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Line Your Walls With Sturdy Millwork

A cottage kitchen with white beadboard walls, dark green appliances, and rustic wooden accents

Rikki Snyder

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.

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Favor Comfy, Casual Furniture

A sage green living room with a cozy armchair topped with a gingham pillow and a textured blanket

mStarr Design

The best cottages don’t just look charming—they also feel incredibly cozy. So, stock up on soft, inviting furniture. “Favor ultra-comfortable furnishings that are very lounge-worthy,” Ginger Curtis, principal designer of Urbanology Designs, says.

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Make the Most of Tight Spaces

A small, slanted-ceiling room that's been converted into a cozy laundry room

Jessica Nelson Design

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.

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Give Old Items New Life

A charming home office with wallpaper-lined walls and an antique console table that's been converted into a desk

Becca Interiors

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.”

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Play With Classic Prints

A cottage-style living room with white beadboard walls, floral window treatments, and plaid throw pillows

Ashley Montgomery Design

Prints and patterns add personality to any cottage—just be sure to keep your picks traditional. “I love a blend of buffalo check patterns, mixed with stripes and block prints,” Mary Maloney, owner of Bee’s Knees Interior Design Studio, says.

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Leave Your Ceiling Beams Exposed

A cozy breakfast nook with walls lined with floral wallpaper and a ceiling lined with exposed structural beams

Jessica Nelson Design

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.

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Layer Lots of Different Textures

A bedroom filled with floral wallpaper, woven rattan furniture, a pleated lampshade, and soft linen bedding

Rikki Snyder

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.

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Soften Your Space With Pillows and Rugs

A forest green mudroom filled with wooden furniture and plush pillows

Ashley Montgomery Design

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.

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Weave in Some Modern Elements

A dining room with wood-lined ceilings and floors, a sleek dining table, and antique chairs

mStarr Design

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.

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Stick to Real Antiques

A bedroom filled with antique furniture, like an iron bed frame, a wooden nightstand, and a wooden armoire

Katie Martinez Design

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.”

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Invest in Charming Details

A cottage-style bathroom with printed wallpaper and an antique sink

Katie Leclercq

“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.

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Put Your Own Spin on Cottage Style

An entryway with traditional wainscoting, plaid wallpaper, a sleek light fixture, and a modern printed rug

Katie Leclercq

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.

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Edit Your Selection

A cottage-style kitchen with dark green cabinets and brown plaid curtains

Ashley Montgomery Design

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.”

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Take Your Time Treasure-Hunting

Wooden kitchen shelves lined with cookware, antique decor, and other accessories

Ashley Montgomery Design

“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.