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Infuse Your Cottage With Charm And Personality Through Interior Design

Jan 28, 2008
The whole point of cottage style living is unpretentious enjoyment of home, friends and life. Unlike the big manor houses for which cottages originally housed servants, cottages not only are absent of dining rooms where 24 people can enjoy a regal 12-course meal, they rarely have dining rooms at all! In short, cottage style is about the way most of us live today, not about wanting to live the way the very rich lived yesterday!

Since cottage style derives from servants' cottages, which were usually furnished with pieces cast off from the manor house, cottage chic unabashedly turns discards into desirable objects by reclaiming and re-presenting them in a new context. This is good news for those of us on a budget, and who among us isn't?

Flea markets, garage sales and thrift stores are Mecca for cottage style decorators, who train themselves to view the merchandise they find there in light of what it can be, not what it was. An old painted bench can become a stylish cottage coffee table, an old mahogany corner cabinet can keep soap, towels and other bath necessities at hand, a piano stool with a wrought iron base can serve as a small end table, a largish piece of wrought iron can be affixed to the wall behind the bed to serve as a headboard.

Turning pieces from different eras and styles into a harmonious decorating whole by simply appreciating them is the heart of cottage style. Here are a few ways you can achieve a chic cottage look using decorating rather than renovating:

* Think white: White paint can cover a multitude of architectural sins. A too-small kitchen with dark, dated wood cabinets feels more spacious the moment the walls and cupboards are painted white. Inexpensive white slipcovers on furniture with stained or damaged upholstery unify different styles and brighten the living room. Even white sheets can be artfully draped over sofas and chairs to achieve the cottage slip covered effect.

* Showcase collections: Go through your belongings and select the ones you most love and enjoy. Even if you only have one or two items in a category that gives you pleasure, such as antique wicker baskets or wide-brimmed summer hats, put them out to enjoy. What you collect matters less than how you display it: Even three small antique bottles will appear charming on your kitchen windowsill when each bottle holds a single flower; a hat collection displayed on a wrought iron wall rack near the door lets you enjoy viewing your chapeaux even when you're not wearing them. Removing doors from upper kitchen cabinets allows you to easily showcase pottery and china in a very charming manner.

* Focus on comfort: When buying upholstered furniture, look for pieces that appear "overstuffed" and inviting. Ignore inappropriate upholstery and finishes. A little white paint and a slipcover will change them instantly!

* Use accessories: Pillows covered in floral prints, vintage tablecloths and pillowcases, brightly colored Fiesta ware dishes and old china pitchers used as vases are just a few of the things that make a cottage feel homey. Again, don't worry about using things that match; a floral throw pillow can coexist happily with a checked or striped one, and mismatched dining chairs look fine together when painted the same color. Remember... in cottage style, anything goes!

If you are lucky enough to have a weekend retreat or summer getaway cottage, keep the interior décor light, comfortable and whimsical. After all, the reason you purchased a cottage in the first place was to retreat from the stresses of everyday city life. Your cottage should never be a mirror of your home in the city. The country is a place to let your personality shine through in your decorating.
About the Author
Jessica Ackerman writes articles for Wall Décor and Home Accents-visit it to check out their unique selection of classic large iron wall décor and explore decorative candle sconces.
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