Cottage kitchens: 16 inspiring ideas for your room

These classic cottage kitchens are brimming with inspiration for creating your own timeless scheme

cottage kitchens
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Prepare to get lost in a chocolate box daydream with these inspiring cottage kitchens. There's something irresistibly nostalgic and homely about traditional cottage kitchens – we just love them. What they can often lack in size and mod-cons they make up for in character and their warm welcome. Whether you own a period cottage and are wondering how to create a classic kitchen in tune with its character, or have a modern house and simply love the cottage look, here's some ideas to get you inspired.

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1. Create a relaxed cottage feel with freestanding kitchen units

Hadleigh cottage kitchen

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)
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Not only do freestanding pieces lend a more relaxed feel to a space than a fully fitted cabinetry, they are a great way to bring flexibility to your kitchen layout as they can be easily repositioned when needed to create extra space. There are all sorts of freestanding pieces available from islands, vegetable trolleys and butchers blocks to sink units and larders. For a similar wooden sink unit to the one below try Scumble Goosie. Looking for freestanding kitchen ideas? We have plenty more to inspire. 

2. Make the most of original cottage features

Mackay cottage kitchen with original range

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

The authentic architectural features of period cottages are what make them so appealing and are a vital part of their inimitable charm, so wherever possible we say preserve them and make them shine. When Neil Mackay and Helen Davison restored this near derelict thatched cottage (above) they chose to keep the Victorian range in situ as a focal point and restored the ceiling using reclaimed beams to preserve the character of the property. Opting for a simple neutral scheme and fuss free furniture will really help prized features stand out. 

3. Choose a classic butler's sink for a cottage kitchen

spurling cottage utility room

(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)

No cottage kitchen would be complete without a classic Belfast or butler's sink. Usually they are set into a unit, but you could try mounting one on a reclaimed piece of furniture or even opting for a vintage model complete with original pedestals like the one pictured below that Susan Spurling picked up from Ebay.  For more vintage ideas take a tour of her idyllic country cottage (above).  

4. Try Shaker cabinetry for a timeless cottage kitchen

Fenwick cotswold kitchen green

(Image credit: Future / Darren Chung)

Taking its name from the 18th-century Shaker religious sect who championed the principles of purity, quality and handcrafted manufacture in design, this cabinetry has become synonymous with country kitchens. In cottage kitchens, space can often be limited, to make them feel more spacious and airy opt for base cabinets only with shelves above, and if you're wondering what colour to paint them, you can't go wrong with a timeless sage green. Find out more about designing Shaker kitchens in our guide.

5. Install a range cooker in a cottage kitchen

aga traditional kitchen

(Image credit: Future / Malcolm Menzies)

A cottage kitchen must-have, the iconic range cooker has warmed the hearts of our homes for centuries. With their radiant heat, the traditional cast iron models do far more than just cook – they heat the home, you can use them to dry, bake, boil the kettle, oh, and certain little critters love to curl up to them! If you need help choosing then check out our guide on how to buy a range cooker.

6. Create the perfect utility area with panelling and open shelves

nordic house kitchen shelves

(Image credit: Nordic House)

White-painted wood panelling and open shelves are guaranteed to bring a relaxed, feel to any cottage kitchen or utility room, and can be installed by a competent DIYer over a weekend. For similar Georgian-style panelling, try The English Panelling Company and why not give the space a twist with some feature floor tiles? Use the shelves to store classic table and serveware such as these pieces from Nordic House

7. Create an English eccentric look with collectibles and floral fabrics

Hadleigh kitchen-diner

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

Kitchens are where we spend most of our time, so it makes sense to fill them with our favourite things, right? That's exactly how Brian and Denise Hadley have treated their quirky space. A large kitchen dresser and open shelves make the most of the height of this room and are used to display cherished collectibles such as taxidermy and china. Explore their quirky cottage (above) in the New Forest for more quirky decorating ideas. 

8. Create a snug seating area in a cottage kitchen

lovatt cottage kitchen dresser beams sofa

(Image credit: Future / Bent Darby)

Anyone who has a cottage kitchen will know that creating the perfect room is more than just getting the look right – it's about creating a space that is comfortable and homely and where all the family want to congregate. If space allows, factoring a seating area, or space for a sofa will make the room into a social space where you can catch up with the family while others are cooking. A curved design with a timeless cream and raspberry stripe is guaranteed to give that nod to country kitchen ideas.

9. Mix and match furniture

Colourful cottage dining room

(Image credit: Stuart Cox)

Be inspired by the colourful interiors of Dynamite Cottage (above) to create a joyous, unique space by painting an array of kitchen chairs and furniture in vibrant shades. if you fancy a go check out our tips on how to paint furniture, or why not try some vintage paint effects

10. Decorate with vintage-style wallpapers

Devol kitchen with jelly wallpaper

(Image credit: Devol)

Wallpaper is a great way make your cottage kitchen stand out from the crowd. Just like colour, pattern can really impact the mood and feel of a space, so it's important you chose a design you love and can live with. Pictured in a Devol kitchen, this novelty wallpaper inspired by Victorian Jellies would make a brilliant talking point for a period home and is guaranteed to raise a smile. Just don't use them behind sinks , directly behind the hob or other areas which need constantly cleaning. Instead try a feature wall away from the action, or perhaps use it to back a dresser?

Like the idea of wallpaper in your kitchen? Check out our kitchen wallpaper design gallery

11. Go classic country with cream and pastels

Andreas von Einsiedel cottage kitchen

(Image credit: Andreas von Einsiedel)

If in doubt, play it safe with cream – kitchens are, after all, the spaces where we spend most our time, so calming neutrals can't be underestimated. Try The Cotswold Company for pre-painted cottage units. If you feel the need for colour, introducing pretty pastel textiles is an easy way to create a country look – try striped tablecloth from Susie Watson Designs and tea towels from Cath Kidston

12. Create a vintage French cottage look with reclaimed wood

renovated rustic cottage

(Image credit: Unique Home Stays)

You could easily be mistaken for thinking that this (above) was a Provencal farmhouse – wrong, it's actually a cottage in rural Herefordshire. Indeed, with some clever decorating its owners have managed to create a beautiful holiday feel. Start with an uplifting off-white base, add in open shelving, reclaimed and lime-washed wood units, ceiling and splashback, and a French linen curtain to cover unsightly white goods and you have a French retreat. Ok, we admit, it does help having beautiful original features like stone walls and an original quarry floor!

13. Finish a cottage kitchen with pretty floral fabrics

cottage kitchen with floral fabrics

(Image credit: Jeremy Philips)

Cottages are treasured features of our picturesque country landscapes, so where better to draw inspiration for interiors than from nature itself? Layering fabrics that capture the beauty of the countryside, from garden roses to hedgerow brambles, and pairing them with neutral shades and natural materials, makes for a timeless feel. A sink curtain, cushions or blind in pretty linen from Vanessa Arbuthnott would make the perfect finishing touch in a kitchen. 

14. Save space in a cottage kitchen by adding a ceiling airer

wigg arts & crafts cottage kitchen sheila maid

(Image credit: Future / Darren Chung)

Since the 1800s a ceiling clothes airer or Shelia Maid would be a common sight in any kitchen, scullery or laundry and they remain popular with period homeowners today. Rather than pile washing on radiators, or clutter up floor space with standing airers, these can make can be pulleyed up out of the way where they can make the most of the rising heat in the room, plus they a great way to save energy on tumble drying on a rainy day. Positioning them by an Aga will make the most of its constant radiant heat. 

15. Showcase a cottage kitchen's rustic architectural features

cornish cottage kitchen

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

If you are lucky enough to have a cottage kitchen with beautiful original flagstones, exposed stone walls, and characterful wooden beams, then be sure to draw attention to them. Rather than cover up this beautifully aged stone wall, this homeowner has opted for a stripped-back kitchen, limiting cabinetry to the base, with just a simple wall-mounted shelf to let the rustic patina of the stone take the lead. 

16. Fill a vintage dresser with pretty ceramics

country kitchen with dresser

(Image credit: Susie Watson Designs)

Is there anything prettier than a dresser brimming with floral ceramics? We think it's hard to beat! For a similar look try hand-decorated pieces from Susie Watson Designs and mix them in with flea market vintage finds. 

More kitchen inspiration:

Pippa is Style Editor for Period Living magazine and spends many a weekend exploring the Cotswolds for decorating shoot ideas. A collector at heart, she is currently looking for a vintage cabinet to store her favourite wares.