In the first part of Frugal Cottage Ideas, I used a list from the Better Homes and Gardens website to see how our Oregon Cottage does interpreting the “cottage look.” In this second part we’ll look at the rest of the items on the list.
So far, it’s been a lot of fun for me to seeing our cottage ideals compared to those listed by the venerable BHG- in addition to remembering some things I’ve always wanted- like more wicker and a cool architectural fragment. Are you finding anything you’d like to add to your home?
11. Pretty Fabrics
I used to have a lot more floral fabrics, but then I started to feel like our cottage didn’t represent Brian very well (though he’s not the kind to care about that, thank goodness!).
Now I’m using the soft florals I love in smaller doses, like these loose roman shades I made out of a $10 duvet cover from an Eddie Bauer Outlet Store, or the comforter at the foot of the bed in our master bedroom.
The pretty fabric I use more now is Toile. It’s sort of floral and sort of not- and works equally well in an office or bathroom. In fact, I have it in both areas! This set of French doors hides our canning pantry in my workroom and they are lined with a green and white Toile. I also love how the black and cream Toile in the main bath cuts down the sweetness of the periwinkle walls- it’s one of my favorite rooms in our cottage.
12. Feminine Curves
I have a rounded mirror on the mantel, does that count? Though I wonder if this is a bit of a stretch- doesn’t every home and decor have round things?
While this is defined in the list as a key cottage component, I still think worn surfaces are more indicative of cottage style, because you can easily have a cottage without a collection, but there should be at least one surface somewhere that tells a story!
Plus, there’s a fine balance with collections- I like the personalization collections bring to a space (whether is a collage wall or a table of items), but I’m always turned off by pictures with too much stuff in them. Hundreds of items just seems a bit “hoarder-ish” and definitely ignores the simplicity part of the classic cottage lifestyle.
I liked my collection of white pottery so much more when I edited and redid our living room shelves. Less clutter is becoming more of a “key cottage look” for me!
14. Natural Fibers
Natural fibers like cotton, burlap, and wool, as well as baskets are cost effective and real. I’ve mentioned our cotton drop cloth shades and slipcovers and I recovered our ottoman/coffee table with burlap during our living room makeover.
We also have a patterned wool rug under the footstool (attempting to hide a hideously stained white carpet), but that soon will be a wool-jute rug over a new engineered wood floor (yes, we finally found a deal on Craigslist- more on that to come!).
15. Charming Light
I wish I had more sweet little lamps. These column lamps sit on our bedside tables and while they are really too small (notice the books under them? That’s how they are high enough for reading!), they do have a story. I found them at a flea market about 20 years ago. They were glazed with that white-with-gold-speckled glaze that was popular in the 60s and 70s (let’s hope that never comes back in style) and they needed to be rewired.
In other words, they weren’t selling. I had never spray painted over glaze at that point, but I loved the classic shape, and knew we could rewire, so I bought them for about $5.00 for the pair (which Brian rolled his eyes at- I don’t think he would’ve paid even that much!). Of course the spray paint covered beautifully and paired with some classic shades, I had a pair of lamps I could love.
And a story. You can’t buy that at Target.
16. The Small Things
Decorative touches like buttons, ties, and ribbons. In the previous lamp photo, you can just see the ties I left visible on our homemade headboard slipcover (made of drop cloth again…), and on this pillow I added vintage bone buttons and a handmade, vintage cutwork-and-embroidered linen piece. It’s simple, but not mass-market, so I love it (oh, but I did just add them to a pillow I found on clearance- so easy!).
17. Bring the Outside In
Fresh flowers are great, but when nothing’s blooming, I keep a small number of houseplants to remind me of the outdoors. This wicker plant stand belonged to Brian’s grandma and the harp table was given to me by an acquaintance who knew I’d be able to fix it up (the top was broken).
I really adore wicker and would love to bring more into the house- I’m thinking a couple of chairs for the dining room. If you have wicker, where do you have it?
18. Architectural Fragments
I would LOVE a grand piece from an old building (what a story that would tell!), but I haven’t found one to fit my budget yet. In the meantime, I like the look of my old screen doors we found for our storage space when we remodeled our garage into living space.
19. Sweet Touches
I changed all the knobs in our house from ceramic-and-brass to glass and silver when we remodeled. I’ve tried to find a variety of knobs I like, but I usually end up with glass. They just make me happy.
Plain cupboard doors opened with shelving or glass to show off glass and pottery is a sweet, cottagey touch, too- but not all, as most of us still need hidden places to stash unlovely things we can’t get away from in our kitchens!
20. Smart Storage
Any baskets are smart storage to me- and you can never have too much storage, can you? These vintage wire baskets came from our old church years ago- they had been used to house Sunday School items until they were deemed too old and piled up outside to be given away. Of course I helped them out…and got another story!
21. Relaxing Bath
Finally, we get to the tub. You can read about how much this $100 Craigslist tub ended up costing us, but suffice it to say- I still love it. It makes me smile to see it, and it is relaxing (you can even watch a video of Brian’s interpretation of our remodeling saga- if you dare…)
On the rare occasions I’m able to use it. *sigh*
Can you have a relaxing, cottage bath without a clawfoot tub? Of course! I’ve seen tubs that have been surrounded with wood planks and vintage tin tiles that scream cottage to me. The main idea is to soften the room up and make it a place you like to visit, because you all know that we do spend a lot of time there!
That’s it for this list- I think the BHG list had one more about walls, but it was mentioned in Part 1 as well. And while there are a few things I’d like to add to our cottage, I’m happy to think we’ve got the basics covered. *smile*
However, the biggest impression I’ve come away with isn’t that we need another thing to make a home a cottage- it’s having items we love that tell a storyabout where we’ve been and who we are. So not only is a cottage imperfect, simple, and joyful, it should also reflect us.
What defines cottage for you- something on this list or something else?