The English country cottage look is a classic aesthetic that’s stood the test of time. While the history of the actual buildings dates back centuries, the approach to cottage interior design has gradually evolved over time, though not too much. In essence, English cottage décor is instantly calming and welcoming – it’s like coming home to a warm hug and wanting to curl up by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa and a good book. The actual space may be small or quirky but it’s imbued with a sense of cosiness that’s often lost in modern architecture and interior design. And that’s the attraction.
If you’ve mentally already thrown in the towel and would prefer a professional to get involved from the outset, your best bet is to ask an interior designer about home furnishing consultancy, such as as FF & E (Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment) Interior Design. “Home furnishing projects focus on the movable design elements within the existing interior space,” explains one expert in the field.
Getting the look right is about comfort as much as style, and not overly worrying about getting everything just so. What’s more, you don’t even have to live in an old property – anyone can bring a touch of the traditional English countryside to their home, whether you’re a town mouse or a country mouse. Whether you live in the Lake District or are thinking of moving to Cornwall, there are many ways to embrace a slice of cottage style in your property. Let’s take a closer look.
Imperfection is key
As already mentioned above, English cottage style is not about perfect interiors. Tap into the heritage of the building (at least metaphorically speaking) and think heirlooms, hand-me-downs and preloved items. This applies to furniture as well as furnishings and accessories. That’s not to say that you can’t buy anything new, just to be selective and aware of how each piece of furniture affects the overall aesthetic. Antique shops, vintage markets and charity shops can be great places to source characterful pieces with which to furnish your country cottage.
Comfort and style
If it’s not cosy, it doesn’t have that cottage vibe. When you furnish the space, prioritise timeless, unassuming pieces that are comfortable over on-trend interior décor that simply looks cool today. The trick is to create rooms that have a casual, homely ‘lived in’ feel – like they’ve always been there. But to avoid making your home look like a museum, add interest with a curated collection of eclectic pieces that you love to create an overall result that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Think of it as planning a dinner party: Each of your guests is interesting in their own right, but when they meet, it’s a magical and unforgettable experience of merry mingling and great storytelling.
Cosy country kitchen
The beating heart of every English country cottage is a rustic farmhouse kitchen. Ideally, it should have a range cooker, not just for cooking and baking but also to provide warmth all day long. There should also be a wooden dining table with mismatched chairs, a Welsh dresser, open shelves with colourful ceramics, hanging pots and pans, a Butler sink, flagstone flooring… or at least a nod to some of the above. Opt for a neutral or muted colour scheme to create a calming backdrop for a cosy and welcoming kitchen.
Country patterns and colours
Playful patterns and colours are part of the English country cottage aesthetics when it comes to wallpapers, curtains, upholstery, cushions and other soft furnishings. Create charm with vintage floral prints, stripes and checks, making sure you choose natural fabrics and humble materials such as cotton, linen, hemp, wool or leather. Less luxury and opulence, more simplicity and honesty. If you’re uncertain of how patterns would work in a room, introduce them gradually, perhaps with one statement wall or a few floral cushions on a plain sofa, and go from there.
The English have a reputation for being a quirky bunch when it comes to homes and interiors, and nowhere is this more obvious than with cottage interiors where there is no central ‘theme’. Channel your inner individualist and break a few rules when it comes to designing your country cottage interior. From collecting intriguing curios – thimbles, vintage mirrors, taxidermy, rustic salvage… – or singular, dramatic statement pieces, whimsical additions to your room scheme only make for more personal, and more interesting, results.
Country cottages are not, by nature, high-tech places. To get the authentic feel, conceal your TV and media devices behind cupboard doors and keep the tech out of the room. Instead, stay in keeping with the cottage aesthetic and show off your love of literature with a wide and varied book collection on overflowing bookcases and shelves. Foster a sense of cosiness with reading areas and book nooks – all it takes is a squishy armchair or sofa, a bookcase in the corner and a floor lamp or reading light.
Pay attention to how you decorate your country cottage walls. Art can be original oil painting or watercolours, botanical prints, posters, family photographs and more. Create your own gallery wall to achieve a considered yet eclectic look by mixing textures, colours and patterns while ensuring that the pictures all have something in common to unify the display. Perhaps you have old family photos you would love to display together? You can create cohesion in your gallery wall with a common colour scheme, or theme, or age.
Plants and flowers
Finally, no English country cottage would be complete without a strong connection to the natural world outside. From nature-invoking colour pattern such as neutrals and greens, to floral patterns on soft furnishings and wallpaper, together with natural materials including stone, wood or natural textiles, there are many ways to bring the outside in. Ensure you make the most of any views of the garden by keeping windows decluttered, and adorn your house with houseplants, floral bouquets and fresh herbs on the windowsill.1