What do you think of when you think of the word “cottage”? For some reason I think of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and their little cottage nestled in the woods. (After Snow White had given it a good scrubbing, of course.) I also consider it to be synonymous with coziness, its connotation inferring smallness, but not smallness in a cramped way – a comfortable and together way.
In home decor, creating a cottage feel is exactly that. It is creating a cozy space that rises up and welcomes you, invites you to stay a while and snuggle in together. It is a place that makes you feel happy. Like Grandma’s warm kitchen or a soft quilt on a winter night.
I write a lot about the trending farmhouse chic style but the sister to this look is definitely a cottage style. Since I have a lot of new readers (welcome to the blog!), I’ll catch you up with a quick before and after tour of my sun room/home office as this is the room that has the most cottage influence in my home. (And it is the one I love the most!)
Take a look and let me know if you agree?
Do you like it? Oh good, I do, too!
But it didn’t always look like this.
When we first bought our home the entire room was knotty pine with very dark wood blinds and tinted windows. It was more a cabin feel. The base of the room was so dark it was impossible to create a cottage setting until the walls and window treatments were addressed.
Are you ready? Here is the room the week we moved in – (excuse my poor iPhone photos, this was before I invested in a good camera):
And here is the same space a few months later. You can see me attempting to make this space cozier. We bought a different sofa for our lower level and moved my (favorite!) ivory sofa up to my office in an attempt to cozy it up. (Also to get it out of my children’s disaster zone. White sofa + kids = insanity.) The sofa helped warm up the space a bit, but only slightly.
Hard to believe it is the exact same space, isn’t it?
Although it was just fine the way it was for the cabin look the prior owner was shooting for (and achieved), it wasn’t the cottage style look that I like. I spend the bulk of my days in this room for my career in sales (writing this blog entry from it now on Saturday!) and I really wanted to create the perfect cohesive space that would be bright and welcoming, express my personality and preference plus be a multi-functional space for family entertaining where people loved to hang out. (My daughters love to host sleep overs in here now so I feel it was a success!)
One more look at some of the after photos of this space I’ve shared previously on the blog:
Yes, I love this room. I really, really really do!
In fact, I’ve recently stumbled upon the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced Huh – GAH). Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” while other definitions of it say it is the feeling of coziness and togetherness. While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as: charm, happiness, security, contentment, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.
Danes created the concept of hygge to tackle the endless cold, dark days. The simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home cooked evening meal with friends made a huge difference to one’s spirit, and so the Danes called this feeling hygge.
I feel that any time you can insert cottage elements into your spaces, you are in fact on the road the hygge. And considering my great great grandmother, Anna Wilhelmina Nielsen (Minnie), migrated here from Denmark in the early 1900’s – I feel like hygge is a part of my soul.
So what were the main elements that were transformed in my sun room/home office for a cottage/hygge feel? It’s pretty basic.
Cottage Transformation Elements
- Knotty pine walls were painted a soft blue (ceiling was left stained for contrast, visual interest and texture).
- Tinting was removed from all the windows. (You peel it off like wallpaper – it isn’t hard at all!) — I still have to remove the tinting from the two triangle shaped windows at the peak. If you look closely at the after photos you can see it. That is on my hit list for this summer! It brightened the space beautifully when it was removed. (I am not a fan of tinted windows – sorry! I know it is energy efficient but it mutes the lighting and your windows look dirty with it on.)
- Dark wood blinds were replaced with soft Roman shades in a neutral oatmeal color
- Lighter pieces were added (cream bookshelves and a soft blue sofa table – it was originally a sage green from Pier One Imports – I chalk painted it).
- My black writing desk was replaced with a vintage oak roll top, we removed the top portion. The natural wood balances out the lighter pieces and compliments the knotty pine on the ceiling .
- Texture was brought in with an office chair in muted floral navy as well as a tufted ottoman in a soft grey.
- Additional softness was added with a wreath above my desk and baskets for storage
- In regard to the wreath, florals are a must for a cottage feel. I’ve scattered them throughout this space – faux and real.
- And of course – vintage items inserted anywhere and everywhere brings in that cottage style as well (antique suitcases for storage, a vintage picnic basket and a family heirloom crib for extra seating.)
- Last but not least – you can never have enough pillows! I firmly believe this. Clearly.
Moving on from the sun room, other areas of my home that demonstrate a cottage style are pictured below from prior blog posts. Note the neutral collar pallets for furniture, paint and window treatments as well as the insertion of florals and pillows for color – and the ever essential vintage elements that I personally love.
Our Family Room
Our Formal Dining Room
Last but not least, don’t forget your outdoor spaces. This time of year is the perfect time to insert some cottage into your curb appeal and backyard by utilizing vintage and chippy flower pots or garden lighting in a farmhouse/cottage style. Planting floral shrubs such as lilacs, spireas and hydrangeas also add to that cottage look. Here are some outdoor shots of our garden spaces and landscaping.
Our Outdoor Spaces
And of course, when all is said and done – don’t forget to relax! After all, hygge is a feeling, right? Don’t forget to experience your spaces with friends and family – after all, relationships and nurturing your spirit are the most important aspects of this life.
Case in point, my husband, Matthew, built this gorgeous fire pit this spring with rocks from my parents’ farm and a grate that we found on the curb during clean up week. I yelled, “Stop the truck!” as he was singing the Sanford and Son theme song on our treasure hunt. “Grab that fire deal – those things aren’t cheap!” (I learned later it was called a grate.) I had a wood burning fireplace in my single girl colonial before I married my husband and I’d once paid $200 for one of these fire deals. I was not just going to drive by this abandoned treasure. (Who threw this out? Are you crazy? Your loss – our gain!)
The free grate was all the inspiration he needed and we were soon enjoying cozy backyard fires next to our custom rock fire pit he built in an afternoon.
Ooooh – gimme some more hygge. All day long.
Thank you so much for stopping by! If you love the cottage look, don’t forget – many of the vital elements are sold at our shop, Grace 1972 (1404 33rd St South, Fargo), housed within my husband’s family business, Mehl’s Bakery. (Cupcakes and throw pillows are pretty much a recipe for hygee. We hope you enjoy the feeling of the space when you stop in!)
You can also email me design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow Grace 1972’s Facebook page or find us on Instagram @_grace_1972_. From my husband’s crazy antics to my rants about what slobs my children are (love you, you little piglets!) – our daily Insta Stories give a glimpse of reality if you’d like to come along for the ride.
But more than anything, it is my passion to help people create spaces that they love. Pick up vital elements in our shop or stop by the blog for ideas and inspiration any time.
Have a wonderful Memorial Weekend, friends! May your cottage days be filled with charm, coziness and togetherness.
Peace, Joy and Blessings,
P.S. If you are local to the area, I will be on the North Dakota Today show at 9AM on KVLY on Wednesday, May 31st. Tune in for tips on home decor and let me know what you think of my outfit. I’m kind of stressing about what to wear. I’ve gained ten pounds so on tv I think I am going to look like I’ve gained 30! (Oh the joy of being a petite person.) No matter how old we get, we all think about these things – don’t we? I am excited to talk about something I’m so passionate about and am looking forward to it. Now then – the green jacket or the blue? Decisions, decisions . . .