Style File: Cottage Decor

A feminine cottage style bedroom with romantic soft floral print curtains and pillows. (KhongkitWiriyachan/iStock)

The cottage decor style is very welcoming and cozy. It is bursting with romance and personality and intended to make family and guests alike feel at home. Its hallmarks are neutral or muted pastel colours and worn patinas, soft neutral or patterned fabrics, wood floors and collections of vintage details.

Beadboard, chunky baseboards, and open shelving are another common aspect of the cottage decor style. This however, is only the beginning. 

Let’s take a closer look at cottage decor, piece by piece.

Whitewashed walls and painted wood floors with an area rug give this room a casual cottage feel. (JZhuk/iStock)
Whitewashed walls and painted wood floors with an area rug give this room a casual cottage feel. (JZhuk/iStock)


Whether painted, whitewashed or left in their natural state, a cottage-style home’s floors are almost always hardwood. However, penny round tile or another vintage-inspired tile can be added to bathroom floors. Note: if you need some softness underfoot, go for an area rug and definitely not wall to wall.

White is the basic colour in this living room with a slip-covered sofa in soft white and neutral coloured accessories. (KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock)
White is the basic colour in this living room, with a slip-covered sofa in soft white and neutral-coloured accessories. (KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock)


Cottage-style fabrics are almost always made from natural fibres and are usually quite feminine. That means lightweight cotton in soft floral prints, eyelet and gingham, swathes of lace, and handmade quilts that incorporate it all. Burlap is also a favourite fabric among cottage style enthusiasts.

Slipcovers are widely incorporated into cottage decor. Pair a good, structured slipcover (no bed sheets please) with a collection of accent pillows in different textures and/or patterns and your space will be well on its way to a cottage-inspired transformation.


Muted pastels, ecru, and warm whites comprise the cottage colour palette. This style often uses white as a base and then incorporates colour to add interest. However, as with most style, the colour preferences can change a bit depending upon where you live and your personal taste. If nothing else, interior design is about adding your personality to your home.

An apron sink and vintage style faucet create a cottage look in this simple white kitchen. (KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock)
An apron sink with vintage style faucet create a cottage look in this simple white kitchen. (KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock)

Furniture and Fixtures

Much of what anchors the cottage style is the furnishings and fixtures that facilitate the appearance of a well-loved, hand me down home. From painted wrought iron headboards and distressed tables, to open shelving, loads of wicker, apron sinks, and sweetly slip-covered sofas, these larger pieces often epitomize the cottage design language.

Note: While cottage style and shabby chic were once fairly synonymous, the style has since evolved past all things chipped. This means that the cottage aesthetic can certainly exist without any distressed elements.


This is where the cottage design style truly expresses itself. The knickknacks and throw pillows, flowers, and other accents are the true heart and soul of cottage style. Picture collections of things, clearly beloved by those who live there—romantic milk glass vessels and whimsical vintage Pyrex pieces, unpretentious bunches of  peonies, hydrangeas, or lavender filling stoneware pitchers, simple vases, or even mason jars.

The Challenge

Many people who design with the cottage style in mind also happen to be collectors. They enjoy estate sales, garage sales, and antique stores. In fact, some would say that cottage is far more than just a design language, but rather a lifestyle.

The challenge with cottage style is finding a balance between careful curation and overindulgence. With the hobby often feeding the design, a bit of this and a touch of that can quickly turn into a cluttered doll’s house. However, when cottage decor is done well, it can be an absolute feast for the eyes.

Darla Grant-Braid is the Social Media and Content Manager for

Article originally published by EiEi Home Inc. For more information on articles, reviews, and contractors in your area, please see their website at

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