The cottage of today reflects a sensibility that sees rustic moving toward refined and shabby embracing chic. Whatever your inherent style is, your cottage is your getaway home. It should welcome with an air of casual serenity.
If you’re tired of the old antlers above the fireplace, the mish-mash of paint-chipped furnishings and the log cabin/mothball ‘musk’ that has heretofore constituted cottage living; here are 10 tips to help you create a refreshing weekend retreat.
- Turn the Inside Out. Enjoying outdoor cottage living doesn’t mean sacrificing the comfort, style and modern conveniences we enjoy indoors. Now, more than ever, there are endless possibilities for outdoor furnishings and accessories. Try slipcovering in weather-resistant fabrics, or utilizing attractive pillows/cushions as an inexpensive way of breathing life into your old patio set. Ensuring outdoor fabrics/colours compliment interior furnishings creates smooth transition from inside to out, extending your living space.
- …And the Outside In. Highlight external elements indoors. If rocks feature heavily in your outdoor space, place river stones in attractive glass containers filled with water or display them in simple bowls. If your cottage is nestled in a wooded area, gather fern fronds which can be pressed and framed, or display antique botanical prints.
- Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. In our extraordinarily busy world, we are continually reminded that clearing clutter is akin to clearing the mind. Because the cottage is your getaway, it is imperative to keep clutter to a minimum. Look into unobtrusive storage options; investigate the powers of Feng Shui; and ensure your colour scheme and fabrics harmonize to create a peaceful environment.
- Green-Up Your Space. Plants and natural elements inject life and soften edges. Take care not to clutter your space with them and choose hardy plants that will survive when you’re away.
- Colour Me…Serenity Now! Create a cottage colour scheme that spells R.E.L.A.X. Stick to a palette with two or three tranquil colours derived from nature. If you’re near a beach, choose soothing blues, greys and sandy beige tones. If you’re nestled in the woods, warm earth tones are ideal. And, the ever-popular ‘all white’ theme creates a crisp, airy atmosphere ideal for cottage decor.
- Mix’n’Match (But Mostly Match). Most cottages seem to be a repository for worn furnishings. Creating an attractive mélange from what is essentially a mish-mash can be challenging, but charm and sophistication can be arrived at with the right touch. After choosing a colour scheme, source out paints and fabrics and coordinate furnishings by re-upholstering/slip-covering, changing paint/patina and, of course, accessorizing.
- Establish A Theme. A decor theme brings life to a tired setting. With a theme established, the eye will become attuned to what fits and will edit out what doesn’t. Consider the aforementioned ‘all white’; a beach or nautical theme; “shabby chic”, Canadiana, etc. Or simply pick up colours and textures from a favourite artwork or object.
- Let There Be Light. Whether outside or in, lighting is a practical element that also creates warmth and atmosphere. Cottage lighting can include lanterns and candles in addition to functional indoor lighting and atmospheric garden lights. Whatever you choose, ensure adequate lighting for your needs, as well as protection from insects through use of screens and repellant products.
- Define An Outdoor Entertaining Space. Because much of cottage life involves outdoor entertaining, it is important to have an inviting gathering space. Alongside outdoor furnishings consider using plants, rocks and natural features to define an outdoor ‘living room’. Consider an outdoor fireplace as an alternative to the standard campfire or barbeque pit and create a cozy sheltered area with either an umbrella or trellis/vine effect.
- Storage. Appropriate and attractive storage for outdoor items is a must. In addition to outdoor storage, consider creating an unobtrusive interior space with hooks for beach towels, shelving for beach toys/accessories, and attractive containers for insect-repellent/suntan lotion, etc.