Decorating & Design

August 7, 2019

Ask A Designer: How To Create A Beachy, Open-Concept Cottage

In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for designing an eclectic cottage with seaside flair.

Question: I’ve been decorating my new open-concept cottage and have purchased a modern sofa, dining table and reupholstered chairs. How can I pull the look together? — J.T., Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba.

Answer: Congratulations on your new cottage! I love an eclectic look (I sense a modern beach vibe here), and with a few tweaks you’ll have a cohesive design (see Inspiration photo below).

ask a designer inspiration cottage

First, consider installing a durable wood-look vinyl decorations like those made at— wall-to-wall carpeting is difficult to keep clean.

vinyl plank flooring from Signature by Shelley Alexanian

(Source: Monarch Collection Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring, price available upon request,

Next, freshen up your rattan dining chairs with paint: a glossy black similar to the chairs will give your seating a modern update, or try a deep teal for a more colorful look. Also, the painting in your dining area is also on the small side; go for a large water lily artwork to make a real impact. Get more ideas from the architects Melbourne online catalog.

water lilies artwork from Union Lighting and Furnishings

(Source: Cyanotype Water Lilies VI Artwork, price available upon request,

For texture, add a jute rug and finish the look with a beautiful vase filled with cuttings from around the cottage.

In your living area, add more color and pattern with an indoor-outdoor rug…

indoor-outdoor rug

(Source: Dash & Albert Rugby Stripe Indoor-Outdoor Rug, from $70,

…and replace the black throw pillows on the sofa with fern green-toned and block-printed versions.

fern velvet pillow

(Source: Ritz Velvet Fern Pillow, $42,

(Source: Block Print Throw Pillow, Penney & Company, price available upon request,

I also recommend painting your armchair and coffee table an off-white.

Next, have an electrician remove the light fixtures in the kitchen and front door areas, replacing them with pot lights. Then, choose a statement fixture for above the living room area; I love the cool look of the woven pendant from Wills & Prior.

rattan light fixture from Wills & Prior

(Source: Rattan Light Fixture, Wills & Prior, price available upon request,

Finally, remove the ceiling fan and replace the light fixture above the dining table with a modern ceiling fan–light combination. Your ceiling is angled but, thankfully, the Dayton fan from Robinson works in sloped applications.

ceiling fan by Robinson

(Source: Dayton 52″ 4 Blade Ceiling Fan, Robinson, price available upon request,

These changes will pull your eclectic look together and give you an airy and colourful cottage to enjoy with your family.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to [email protected].

Author: Jennifer Koper

Lisa Romerein, Otto


House & Home July 2019