If I could transport to an old stone cottage with weathered cedar shake shingles tucked behind a wall of overgrown landscaping…well I would in an instant! And if we could transform our next home into something that resembles that of a stone cottage…well we’re awfully tempted to do that too.
Perhaps you’re just as in love with this look and you have the budget and creative freedom to achieve this look in your current home…wonderful! Or maybe you just want some ideas on how to get an English cottage vibe without fully committing to the look entirely…that’s great too!
There are a lot of key elements to creating an English cottage look (at least 17 that I can think of) so if you’re aiming to achieve an English cottage style in your home, focus on these these 17 elements (in no particular order) –
STONE & OVER-GROUTING
Stone exteriors are one of the biggest attributes of English cottages, but not all of us can wrap our exterior in stone. A stone fireplace or a few stone interior walls (like in the photo above) are the tricks to making your home feel like it’s been there for hundreds of years. Bonus points for over grouting the stone for a softer look.
Kitchens are a perfect place to really tap into that English cottage look and deVOL kitchens is an excellent source of inspiration for that! If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that true English cottage kitchens have somewhat of a primitive feeling. You might not see a lot of upper cabinetry and if you do, it’s not uncommon to see them without doors or simply as open shelving to highlight dishes and food canisters.
It does not however, lack in efficiency. English cottage kitchens still cover the basic needs of appliances, a working island, and plenty of storage throughout the lower cabinets and hutches.
FLUSH INSET CABINETRY
Flush inset cabinetry appears to be quite common in English cottage kitchens because of its classic appearance. To clarify, flush inset cabinet doors and drawers sit in the frame of the cabinet so that when they’re closed, the doors are flush with the face of the cabinets. Both the face of the cabinet and door/drawer are visible. Still confused? Stoffer Home Cabinetry sells strictly flush inset cabinetry and is a perfect example.
This is opposed to overlay cabinets where the doors and drawers cover the face of the cabinet when closed.
Absolutely a staple for this look! Wood knobs on antique furniture or painted wood knobs on cabinetry are almost always seen in cottages.
You wouldn’t be wrong for installing a few peg rails throughout the house. This concept derived from the Shaker style but it blends so well within English cottages too. Put them in the bathroom, kitchen, hallway, laundry room, entry, or honestly anywhere!
WEATHERED WOODS & ANTIQUE FURNITURE
Authentically weathered woods and antique furniture are a must for English cottage interiors. From aged wood beams lining the ceiling to dark weathered wood floors….it’s what makes the house look like it’s sat there for a century. And while it’s ok to use new wood and age it yourself, you’ll find the final look much more authentic when you use old wood.
Antique dressers, dining tables, and stools accentuate the look even more which leads me to my next point…
NOTHING LOOKS NEW
If there’s one “no-no” to creating a true English cottage look, it’s incorporating pieces that look brand new. The idea is that your home has been here for hundreds of years and your furniture should reflect that. A shiny new dining table surrounded by antique chairs is going to look out of place. That doesn’t mean that absolutely nothing in your home can be new…not everyone is up for a used couch…but perfecting that imperfect look is going to be the key.
COLLECTED AND ACQUIRED LOOK
You know it’s a true English cottage look when it has somewhat of an eclectic and evolved look. This style isn’t meant to be created in a day. Acquiring antique furniture, artwork, and vintage serveware over time will result in nothing in your home perfectly matching…which is kinda the point!
VERTICAL SHIPLAP / BEADBOARD
Years ago I would’ve coined vertical shiplap as strictly a farmhouse vibe, but then I started dissecting photos of English cottages and was so surprised to find both vertical shiplap and beadboard tucked into so many homes. I’m telling you, this element is a classic for so many styles!
LOTS OF PATTERNS!!!
Perhaps the most important element is including lots and lots and lots of patterns! This style is not shy when it comes to toile wallpaper, paisley furniture, striped pillows, and floral…so much floral. The rules of pattern mixing go out the window and you can get as “matchy-matchy” or as funky as you want when blending patterns within a room.
Keep your eyes peeled for pleated shades in the thrift stores! Doesn’t matter if they’re solid, floral patterned, or even a little bit ugly…trust me it belongs in an English cottage.
Comfort is important and oversized club chairs or plush couches are pretty common. If you sink into the cushions then you’re doing it right.
ENGLISH ARMS ON CHAIRS & SOFAS
Bonus points for picking seating with english arms! English arms (or rolled arms) have rounded arms with folded fabric like in the photo above.
Creating a cozy feel is essential and it’s ten times easier to do that when you have grilles in your windows. It’s not essential to the look, but it is incredibly impactful in my opinion.
MUTED BOTANICAL COLORS
The colors of your home should reflect the colors of a botanical garden. Creating a color palette that mirrors the outdoors is key. While some saturated colors can be found in English cottages, we’re more likely to see a muted palette highlighting faded blues, sage greens, pale pinks, etc.
LOTS OF BOOKS (AND NOT JUST THE PRETTY KIND)
If there’s one thing that pops in my head the second I think of an English cottage, I think of books! A makeshift library or a bookshelf filled to the brim with pretty AND not so pretty books will do the job…Because the English cottage look is about embracing imperfection all the way from weathered woods, and worn furniture, to books that don’t have designer covers.
A LITTLE CLUTTER
And last but not least, because this style is all about collecting antiques and acquiring over time, it’s not uncommon for an English cottage to look a little bit cluttered and a little bit busy…but in the best way possible!
And that’s 17 key elements to an English cottage look. Did I miss anything? Share more key elements in the comments below!
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