One of my favorite magazines has always been Better Homes and Gardens. I love the accessible decor, food, and crafts. Their website has always frustrated me, however, with articles and pictures that were slow to load on individual pages.
I was so glad to read that they had updated and revamped their site, so I visited this week and found that it really is a lot easier to navigate and see all those inspirational pictures. I know I will be visiting more often, as it is a really incredible resource.
One article that caught my eye as I was checking out the website was one titled Fresh and Frugal Cottage Ideas. Can you guess why it might have appealed to me? Frugal and cottage in the same sentence- be still my heart!
As I was reading, I started mentally checking the list with my own cottage to see how I compared. And I thought it would be fun to share what I found with you and ask what you’d add to the list- or what you already have and love.
I found I needed to split this into two posts, though, because I have twenty-two pictures to share with you and, well, you know- I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. *smile* So you’ll get Part 2 in a rare Saturday post tomorrow (this is for those of you who’ve told me you’d like to see me post on more days…).
So here’s An Oregon Cottage’s take on frugal cottage style, with numbers that correspond to the slides from the bhg.com site, so you can check out their interpretation as well.
I went to our bedroom to shoot this photo- its the only place I have lightweight, airy curtains. I love them there, but for most of the rest of the house I have simple, homemade loose roman shades. The fabric might not be lightweight (they’re mostly made of painter’s drop cloth), but they are simple and frugal- I think they count, don’t you?
I made this one from the drop cloth for our couch about 8 years ago. And with the neutral background, it’s super easy and affordable to update like I did in this living room makeover.
And this one covers a lovely *ahem* bright orange terrycloth (yes, apparently a company not only made this fabric, but someone bought it…) slipper chair – a $10 thrift store find. I used a cotton tone-on-tone Jacquard that I found on sale for $3/yard.
I think the mantle you helped me refine and declutter qualifies- I used what I had, learned the tips to make it pleasing to the eye, AND saved money by returning the black lanterns that didn’t work. Score one for An Oregon Cottage’s readers!
I have a weak spot for vintage fabrics, especially hand-embroidered items (I just imagine those hands lovingly working the thread and the fabric into a beautiful design, and I just can’t leave it moldering in a pile at a sale or thrift store…), which I try to incorporate into pillows, quilts, and towels.
On our bed I’ve used some vintage pillow shams with hand-crochet edges and a piece of linen cutwork that has been embroidered on the accent pillow. I’d like to use more of these in our home and I’ve wanted to make a quilt from my favorite vintage pieces for so long… *sigh*
5. Charming Walls
Here the folks at BHG only mention beaded board, which I love and will soon have in our kitchen as well as the bathrooms. However, I also think plank walls and board and batten walls are great for cottages, too- in fact, we added some faux paneling to our master bedroom when we moved into our current house.
6. Simple Surfaces
Otherwise known as worn and distressed painted surfaces. To me this is a hallmark of cottage style- not only do I love the history of a worn piece, but I love the casualness it brings to an environment and the way that it reduces the worry associated with living life (children and dogs? No problem!).
And for Brian and me, our DIY mantra has always been “it’s the cottage style!” when something turned out uneven, chipped, or not square. It’s part of our philosophy to “embrace imperfection” which lets go of a lot of the pressure when doing things ourselves.
Life isn’t perfect and our home doesn’t have to be either- it’s just needs to be a place where we enjoy living.
7. Classic Floors
These are defined as wood floors which we LOVE. We found enough pieces of old oak flooring to cover our hallway shortly after we moved in- for a total of $60.00. That certainly counts as frugal.
The problem is, we have bedrooms and the living room that were just particle board in this circa 1980 house and finding enough wood for these rooms has proved cost-prohibitive. If they aren’t already in your house, wood floors are often not frugal.
What to do?
Using torn pieces of brown craft paper, gluing them down and covering it all with coats of polyurethane is our favorite, frugal “classic floor” option. It gives the feel of wood flooring and holds up really well.
We even have a video tutorial that takes you through each easy step- you can have a new floor in a weekend for about $100.
8. & 9. are Quaint Fence and Seaside Charm.
Hmm, I don’t have either of these, though I do often add some shells for summer decorating. These two don’t seem as universal as the others- they add cottage style, but I’ve seen quite a few cottages without these, whereas wood floors and slipcovers are fairly common.
10. Casual Dining
It’s funny that the only thing mentioned here are chandeliers- which in a different setting can be decidedly not casual. Cottage style is known for the juxtaposition of fancy and rustic, so with the chandelier you need that chippy table and plank ceiling.
Otherwise, it could very well be palatial.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I love our chandelier- it is a memory for Brian and I. We found it for $10 in the first few years of our marriage- before we even had a house! We brought it home, rewired it, cleaned it up, and replaced any missing crystals. This thing will follow us no matter where we go.
But I think other, especially vintage, light fixtures work very nicely for casual dining, too. This eBay find ($43.00- before shipping became exorbitant over there…) hangs in our kitchen, but it would look equally “cottagey” in a breakfast nook or dining room with a rustic table and benches.
Look for Part 2 tomorrow to see An Oregon Cottage’s interpretation of frugal cottage ideas like pretty and natural fabrics, bringing the outside in, sweet touches, and relaxing baths (of course I’d have to bring the clawfoot tub into it, wouldn’t I?).
In the meantime, let us know in the comments or over on Facebook what you think defines cottage style!