5 Essential Cottage Decor Tips

Love the cottage shown in our July 2014 issue by Sarah Richardson Design? We spoke to the designers behind this project, Kate Stuart (left) and Natalie Hodgins. We asked these seasoned cottagers for their insights into decorating a welcoming vacation retreat, and which key items every cottager should own.

1) Source vintage finds

Natalie Hodgins: The cottage shown in the July 2014 issue was a new build and everything was purchased in the last year we worked on it, but it feels like the owners have had it for 15 years. Almost everything was purchased from really good pickers or consignment stores and places like Vintage Fine Objects around Toronto. Almost nothing is new, although the dining table was custom made by the contractor.

Kate Stuart: The upholstered pieces were custom too, for ease. We could specify exactly the size we needed for this large space, in a durable fabric choice. But if you have the time and storage to work away at it, go the vintage, gently used and antique route, certainly your end result feels more curated and collected over time.

2) Consider reclaimed flooring

NH: We used reclaimed pine for the cottage shown in the magazine from Northern Wide Plank. The company sources the wood from old barns and granaries. It brings some soul into a space, some history and street cred.

KS: It also brings a practicality, nothing is precious. The homeowners’ kids might get rowdy, people will kick their shoes off, they own a dog and they might have their friends’ three dogs over too. Reclaimed pine has a great amount of forgiveness which you worry about with something finer.

3) Add architectural interest

KS: The client who owns the cottage featured in the magazine really didn’t want any drywall, she really wanted the beadboard. We pushed for some drywall for the opportunity to do some colour changes, but there is very little. I love how some of the ceiling details add an element of interest.

NH: The windows are double hung. The living room is all about the windows, every room that cottage has has an amazing view and that classic style just frames it beautifully.

4) Avoid themes

NH: I think sometimes people get so caught up in theme, the anchor or nautical theme. I don’t like themes of any kind. That’s one place where people really seem to attach themselves to a theme is a cottage, and it’s not very creative… it’s kind of boring.

5) Make sure you buy a ….

NH: Probably a beer fridge! That’s what my husband would say. Every cottage should have a guest room… but that’s not always the case. In my dream cottage I would love to have a chaise in front of a window overlooking the water, not that I would get a chance to sit with my kids!

KS: A barbecue, and a big dining table, for sure. The cottage really is a place where meals become very important, they take a long time as you linger and talk. I also love the idea of dresser in the living room that holds games, cards and other rainy day activities, rather than what you normally store in a dresser. To entertain kids in a cottage you need nooks and crannies where they can colour and play games, and where adults can engage with kids.

See our gallery of dreamy cottage bedrooms

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