The basic foundation of cottage style is to respect traditional elements, recycle, and reuse when possible. The virtue of this evergreen style putting salvaged and found items back into use in a way that fits the present. Breezy and light, this home decor sensibility ultimately reflects senses of calm and comfort from its sensible philosophy.

Cottage life is about keeping things simple so one can enjoy the pleasures of summer and the outdoors; it’s the low-maintenance version of homemaking that is easy, seasonal living. The furnishings and accoutrements are usually refurbished seconds or cast-offs from the main house, which is why many cottages have a comfortable, lived-in feel.

With some creativity, and a can of paint, it’s surprising how easy it is to find the spirit of cottage style. Remember that it’s not about buying stuff; it’s about reusing the things you already have. If you’re looking for the basics, better neighbourhoods will often have some interesting pieces on the sidewalk the night before garbage day. Or try the local thrift store for potential treasures that can become a weekend project. These cast-offs are perfect for starting your cottage-style projects.

One side effect of this eclectic style is an extremely diverse palette of colours and influences. Bring it together with a quality warm white paint and using it everywhere. A canvas white becomes the backdrop for experiments in seasonal colour. For example, a creamy white room with wooden furniture painted in a fresh hue is a soothing and informal design that is typical of cottage style.

If your cottage has wooden or concrete floors, a quality deck paint will transform them into a uniform base of subtle colour. Choose calming hues that will stand the test of time. Topcoat with a acrylic polymer in high traffic areas.

When it comes to textiles and dishware, a comfortable mix of analogous colours such as orange and red will satisfy a need for energy. These, and other colour combinations, go together in a pleasing way without appearing to be styled for the sake of styling. Of course, pure white dishes always match effortlessly regardless of pattern or size.

Cottage style isn’t an instant look. Rather, it’s a philosophy for seasonal living. Allow it to mellow and develop slowly in harmony with your family’s lifestyle and (changing) tastes.

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