How to decorate to break up an abundance of wood.
Q. We recently purchased a 40-year-old all-red cedar log cottage. How do I tone down all of that wood and still remain true to its tradition? Most of the furniture will be replaced. Please suggest styles, fabrics and paint, as well as exterior colours.
— H.D., Ottawa
A. The best way to tone down all of that cedar in your cottage is to paint it white. Although covering up all that wood may seem like a drastic move, the white will provide a neutral, soothing backdrop and will also make the space much easier to decorate. Paint out all the walls, trim, baseboards and ceilings in the cottage, leaving your floors and ceiling beams untouched. It may take some getting used to, but you will find that the space will feel larger, airy and fresh. Be sure to consult with a professional painter to find out what kind of primer would be best with the type of cedar in your cottage.
For furnishings, select casual pieces in upholstery that is sturdy and easy to care for, like canvas or denim. Choose colours that reflect the cottage’s natural surroundings, such as greens, blues, tans and browns. Purchase a few area rugs in natural fibres like sisal or sea grass to place throughout the cottage. These will perpetuate the rustic look, provide softness underfoot and break up the expanses of cedar flooring.
For the exterior of your cottage, use nature as your inspiration again. A soft grey-blue such as Para’s Pebble would bring new life to the cottage’s exterior and echo the nearby lake. An alternate choice would be a neutral colour with a green undertone, such as Para’s Sand Trap, which would give the cottage a more understated look that will blend nicely with its surrounding wooded area. Painting out the deck’s railing in a creamy white will give the exterior a crisp, welcoming appearance. For best results, be sure to carefully clean and prepare the exterior surfaces prior to painting.