Restoring and decorating a cottage can be extremely rewarding, but there are pitfalls and potential problems, as with any project. This guide gives an insight into the process.
Cottages are beautiful buildings desired by many, and most people have at least once thought about living in one in a lovely location in the future. Cottages are very desirable and quirky and tend to be in gorgeous getaway areas like seaside villages, or rolling rural areas where space is in abundance. Whereas huge town houses used to be the property of choice for city dwellers looking to relocate to enjoy the good life, price hikes have meant that smaller properties like cottages are much more achievable.
To live in, cottages are cosy and they go hand in hand with a simpler life, if you want it. They also offer a wonderful sense of connection to times gone by, particularly when the cottage has retained a lot of original features. There is also a sense of excitement and pride in the fact that every cottage has its own characteristics and history.
For the reasons above, and many more, a lot of people choose to take on a cottage, restore and decorate it to its former glory and put their own stamp on it to make it their own. If you’re considering taking on this kind of chocolate box property, there are some things you should know first.
These are just some basic considerations you should make before buying an old cottage. If you get everything right, do your research and proceed with caution, you will have a wonderful opportunity on your hands.
So now you have a cottage, how do you restore it? Clearly the process is detailed and specific to your cottage, but there are some great tips to follow whilst making your plans:
Obviously, there are no set rules apart from the ones relating to the law, so really it is just about restoring the cottage to please your own taste and needs whilst also respecting and embracing the different quirks and characteristics of the property you now own. You may well want to embrace some of the period features and leave others alone, you might want to modernize some parts and keep others traditional; it is your choice entirely. Just make sure before you make any major changes that you research first whether you’re legally allowed to, and second if you really want to or should in relation to the overall property.
Now all the hard bits are over you get to play a little and decorate your cottage. This is a much less serious part of the restoration because an ugly cushion or a bad chair can be taken away as easily as they are put in. You can have a ton of fun with your cottage design and make it as traditional, quirky or modern as you like.
Here are some top tips for decorating your cottage:
One of the most beautiful ways to make your cottage look traditional and gorgeous from the outside is to have a cottage garden. This is where you have wildflower and grasses growing along with other British flowers and shrubs, like roses and perhaps a trellis around the door. This is a wonderful idea at first, getting a landscaper in to help you get the garden started and then the first summer comes and it is beautiful. However, as time goes on, winter’s come and go and weeds and insects do their bit to change the landscape, the garden will need a lot of upkeep. If you do not have green fingers and don’t want the work, consider some potted plants and garden accessories in traditional cottage garden style using British plants and easy to care for fruits like strawberries. A Victorian style bench is an great, easy to care for garden accessory that is very cottage garden in style.
There will be a lot of period features you want to make the most of, like beams and little nooks and crannies to put tables and accessories in. But don’t feel you have to embellish each feature, as sometimes less can be more, particularly with decorating. For example, a fireplace with traditional wall tiles might look beautiful with just a wicker basket holding logs next to it.
Don’t be afraid to buy second hand furniture for the property. It means you can get antiques that will fit right in with the overall feel of the place. It also means you can make the decor just as quirky as the property itself.
There is a difference between making decor cottage style, and sticking with the style of the period so much you end up creating a museum. Take inspiration from the era your cottage was made in, rather than literally sticking to the exact type of decorations that were used.
The little nooks and crannies of the cottage should be inspiring to you when you decorate. Little corners and indents are ripe for creative accessories and decorations.
Cottages are naturally dark, so you need to be really careful not to make them entirely cave like with your decor. Try and stick to paler palettes as a general rule for things like paint, floor tiles, wall tiles, wallpaper and carpets. Bring in colour and pattern with furnishings, cushions, rugs and curtains.
There are lots of lovely British details you can add to your cottage that will make it look pretty. Bunting for example is a great way to add colour and pattern to your kitchen. White crochet quilt sets and bedding look beautiful in traditional bedrooms, and a victorian roll top bath in your bathroom would look simply divine.
Cottages should be cosy and comfortable. A teapot on the stove, a blanket basket by the sofa, cushions galore: your cottage should feel comfortable and cosy everywhere.
Fairy lights, candles and lamps all add to the romance of a cottage. Consider using scented candles to add to the ambience even more.
One common mistake people make is using window ledges as shelves for decorations and it just doesn’t work in any capacity, let alone cottages where there’s not much light getting in anyway. Keep window ledges free from plants and ornaments. One vase with flowers in, or one small plant or ornament won’t be an issue, but a window ledge full will suffocate the place.
Hopefully you’re feeling inspired and excited about your new cottage! Remember, take your time and consider every major decision properly. But when it comes to decorating: have fun! You have a quirky cottage, so let loose with your personality, if anything doesn’t work you can easily change it. With a little care and creativity, your cottage will be beautifully restored and your unique decorating will make it just as quirky as its meant to be.