30 Decorating Ideas To Wake Up Your Cottage
It happens every year without fail: as the air starts to warm up, we start dreaming about cottage life. Getting out on the water, kicking back on the dock, coming together for laid-back dinners — there’s plenty to look forward to! And aside from cracking open the windows and bringing out the patio furniture, there are lots of simple ways to wake up your cottage for the season ahead. Here are 30 bright ideas from some of our favorite getaways.
Bring outdoor lighting inside. At the cottage, formality gets checked at the door. So why not mount some fun, unexpected light fixtures? In this Chester, Nova Scotia, home, factory-style pendants strike a cool, industrial note.
Layer with natural textures. Designer Montana Burnett decorated her family’s screened-in porch with wicker seating and woven accents for a breezy feel. A white-painted wood crate serves as a casual coffee table (and would be a super easy DIY!).
Add a daybed to a covered porch. John Baker and Juli Daoust-Baker’s sunroom feels like a boathouse, thanks to its screened windows and classic storm shutters. “We like that the room is out of the sun, but still gets the lake breezes,” says Juli. The couple added two daybeds (that convert into full beds), creating cool spots to read or nap.
Mount bold drapes to highlight the view. In Melissa and Mark Redmond’s Muskoka, Ontario, cottage, white wall paneling and soaring ceilings create a fresh, airy atmosphere, while graphic patterned drapery draws the eye to the main event: those stunning lake views.
Tour this cottage on H&H TV.
Blow up a favorite snapshot. Melissa and Mark mounted one large photo of their sons in their cottage’s basement — a personal touch, and more contemporary take on the usual framed family snapshot.
Tour this cottage on H&H TV.
Add open shelves in the kitchen. The cottage is the ideal place to take a pared-back, relaxed approach to storage. Designer Carrie McCarthy uses her open shelving to display everyday essentials and an edited selection of locally-made ceramics.
Go without large mirrors. Instead of blocking off their bathroom’s windows with large mirrors over the vanity, the homeowners of this Lake Erie cottage simply embraced their outdoor views. After all, as one owner notes, “it’s not so important what you look like at the cottage.”
Put together a games area. The four young inhabitants of this Ontario cottage love to hang out in their reading, crafts and games nook. A couple of bookshelves offer plenty of storage, while wing chairs and an upholstered window seat provide comfy seating around the vintage table.
Go modern in your bunkie. You don’t have to decorate your bunkie with untreated wood and Canadiana if that’s not your style. Get inspired by retailer Youssef Hasbani’s contemporary guest space, with its fresh white-painted walls and graphic black windows.
Have some fun with scale. Lend kids’ rooms a bit of whimsy by experimenting with size. Here, the homeowner hung large wicker pendants in front of petite side tables. Splashes of color and botanical pattern complete the playful, fuss-free look.
Mix global and vintage finds. To add character, color and texture to her cottage living room, designer Karen Cole paired a weathered elm console with vintage lamps, blue Chinese lanterns and a woven African basket.
Tour this cottage on H&H TV.
Put paddles on display. Don’t just cram your oars into a storage shed. Brand-new or well-loved, they’ll look beautiful hung against the siding of a boathouse or out building.
Line cabinet doors with cheerful fabric. Gingham-lined uppers give Cory and Catherine DeFrancisco’s cottage kitchen a touch of country charm. For a similar effect, try replacing the glass panes on an antique armoire with a fresh floral or ticking stripe.
Get creative with storage. When it comes to your casual weekend getaway, why not think outside the box? A bank of battered lockers from the 1930s adds a dash of color and patina to the hallway of this family cottage.
Build a themed art wall. Love to garden, fish or maybe sail? Build your displays around your favorite activities to tell guests what cottage living means to you. Mix drawings, photos and found objects in different sizes and colors for an eclectic effect.
Use bottles as casual vases. String lights, candles and pretty, unfussy glassware make dinners by the water even more special. Vintage bottles make particularly sweet and inexpensive vessels for freshly picked blooms.
Embrace contemporary art. Juxtaposing modern artwork with traditional bones is a surefire way to bring energy to a space. Here, designer and homeowner Heidi Smith hung a vibrant canvas against her classic beadboard walls for a refreshing look.
DIY a towel rack. Keep floors clear of wet towels, jackets and other cottage gear with a custom towel rack. Cottage owner Brad Hilton fixed hooks to an old water ski, but this project would work equally well with a weathered plank or a vintage wooden sign.
Bring in bunk beds. If your kids and their friends are always clamoring for space, consider swapping out twin beds for bunk beds. Built-in bunks (left) are a great space-saver and make sleepovers fun, but we also like models with a double bed on the bottom and a single on the top (right), since they’re great for hosting families.
Paint on a faux-runner. This paint treatment lends definition to wooden stairs without carpeting (which can be vulnerable to moisture), and is super simple to clean. Designers Christine Ralphs and Michelle Lloyd went with Benjamin Moore’s Stormy Monday (2112-50) on this cottage’s classic staircase.
Replace sconces with outdoor lanterns. Give your family retreat some old world appeal by swapping out standard exterior lighting for handsome metal lanterns. We love the matte black finish on these hanging fixtures.
Create vignettes with natural finds. Bring nature’s beauty indoors by displaying smooth stones and interesting branches on your shelves and tabletops (just make sure items are clean and completely dry before setting them on fabrics).
Go for sleek outdoor furniture. If you’re tired of your old Adirondacks, take a look at some contemporary seating options. Canadian designer Martha Sturdy’s patio chairs are neutral, clean-lined and seriously inviting.
Paint out your paneling. When it comes to beadboard, think beyond basic white. In this classic cottage kitchen by designer Sarah Richardson, soft blue-painted paneling beautifully highlights a collection of white ceramics.
Lose the window treatments. If you’re lucky enough to have the kind of privacy H&H editor-in-chief Suzanne Dimma has at her off-the-grid cottage, keep your windows uncovered, and let the sun — and natural views — shine in.
Tour Suzanne Dimma’s cottage here.
Hunt for nautical accessories. Colorful buoys, a bronzed lantern-style light fixture and sea-blue throw pillows remind this cottage’s occupants that the water is just minutes away.
Elevate weathered furniture. Instead of refinishing your distressed wooden pieces, try layering them with vibrant textiles, instead. Here, blue-and-white printed pillows and a custom-made seat cushion give a timeworn bench new life — without covering up its lovely patina.
Revisit all-weather materials. Gone are the days when outdoor cushions and seating had to be made of natural fibers to look great. This summer, you’ll find plenty of beautiful and moisture-resistant pieces on the market to choose from (at a range of price points).
Draw inspiration from nature. If you’re up for redecorating your bedroom, consider pulling your color palette from your natural surroundings. In this dreamy space, shades of sky blue, fresh green and cloud white on the walls, pillows and bedding create a serene effect.
DIY a mini oasis. Put outside walls to use by creating a shaded area on the side of a bunkie or boathouse. To create a makeshift awning, attach a sheet or drop cloth to the roofline and support its corners with two sturdy branches staked into the ground. Set a bench or pair of chairs underneath and enjoy.