10 cottage style home ideas: how to create the cottage look

Create a home full of rustic country charm with these timeless cottage design ideas, from adding a must-have range cooker to layering chintzy floral prints

vintage country kitchen
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

From the honey-coloured limestone cottages of the Cotswolds, to the whitewashed crofts of the Scottish Highlands, British cottages offer beautiful expressions of vernacular architecture through the ages and are awash with original architectural features that deserve to be celebrated. 

Whether you have a traditional cottage that you're looking to renovate, or a more modern home that is crying out for some instant country cottage charm, use these ideas to help inspire a quintessential cottage scheme. 

Find out more about how to renovate a house of whatever period in our practical guide.

1. Create a cosy and inviting cottage living room by adding a wood-burning stove  

Set the tone for snug nights in with a classic cast iron stove. While up to 90 per cent of the heat from an open fire can be lost up the chimney, a stove benefits from increased efficiency, radiating more heat throughout the room. 

For more information check out our essential guide to choosing a stove

cottage living room ideas with stove

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

2. …then choose a traditional sofa to curl up on  

With its curvaceous design inspired by the antique Howard models, this Alwinton sofa from Sofas & Stuff is both elegant and relaxed. Available in four-seater through to two-seater sizes, as well as a love seat option (great for those tight on space), it also comes in a range of fabrics, such as linens, wools, checks and tickings, to complement the rustic cottage look. 

Explore more of this charming Wiltshire thatched cottage, and find more sofas for small living rooms in our buying guide.

cottage living room sofa

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

3. Create a classic cottage kitchen by mixing Shaker cabinetry with vintage finds  

For a timeless look, mix and match classic Shaker cabinetry with unique vintage stand alone units. Whether they’re family heirlooms or flea market finds, vintage wooden sideboards, tables, plate racks and cupboards have an inimitable character which perfectly complements the rustic features of a country cottage. Team with classic built-in units in classic cream and you’ll have a look which will stand the test of time.  

Check out how to design a vintage kitchen for more advice, and be inspired by our favourite Shaker kitchen ideas.

cottage kitchen yorkshire

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

4. Create a focal point with a classic range cooker

A classic range cooker has become an iconic feature of a cottage kitchen. Historically many rural cottages were served by heat storage range cookers such as Agas and Rayburns, that would have provided radiant heat for the entire house. Today there's a wide range of sizes, fuel types to choose from, as well as an infinite number of finishes and colours. 

For more information on buying a range cooker, see our guide. 

cottage kitchen with red range cooker

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

5. Make the most of architectural features  

If you’re lucky enough to own a period home you’ll want to show off its unique character. Rather than plastering over original stone walls, or hiding original beams with faux ceilings, incorporate these features into your interior design. However, if doing this, be sure to add softness with textiles and furniture. With its upholstered headboard in uplifting yellow, the Laura Ashley Houghton bed really helps soften the rustic surfaces in this Welsh cottage bedroom.  

Find inspiration for your scheme with our favourite traditional bedroom design ideas.

welsh long house bedroom with exposed beams and stone wall

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

6. Layer up chintzy floral prints for a classic cottage bedroom

Nothing says English cottage style like a profusion of old-fashioned floral prints. For a really quaint country look try them on wallpapers, curtains and bedding. Laura Ashley, Sanderson and Clarke & Clarke will have have plenty of options, alternatively head to the flea markets to find original designs you can't find in the shops for a unique vintage look. 

Tour this traditional cottage for more decorating ideas.

cottage bedroom with floral prints

(Image credit: Huntley Hedworth)

7. Choose a freestanding roll top bath  

More from Period Living

Period Living May 2020

(Image credit: Period Living)

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When you have beams as beautiful as these in your bathroom, you’re bound to want to spend hours soaking in the bath admiring them. A period home must-have, a roll top bath will really enhance the traditional feel. Salvaged originals are available from reclamation yards, along with new traditional cast iron models. However there are also lighter and more affordable fibreglass alternatives on the market, all with a range of finishes as well as feet and plinth options.

If you’re thinking of installing a roll top bath in a cottage then be sure to check that your floor doesn’t need reinforcing, as older properties may not be able to support the weight, particularly if it's a cast iron model.  

For more inspiration see these 11 freestanding baths for traditional homes.

cottage bathroom with roll-top and beams

(Image credit: Andreas von Einsiedel)

8. Create rustic charm with wooden panelling  

Tongue and groove panelling is a brilliant way to capture the country cottage look, especially when painted in a classic green/blue or dug egg shade. For custom panelling try The English Panelling Company

For more inspiration and advice, head to our panelling design gallery.  

panelled cottage bathroom

(Image credit: jeremy Phillips)

9. Fill your home with fresh flowers

Whether single stems in bud vases of a beautiful bouquet of English garden favourites, fresh flowers are the perfect finishing touch to bring the cottage look to life. A bunch, plucked from the nearest meadow would be lovely, but who has time for that when the likes of Bloom & Wild can do it for you, and deliver straight to your door!

But if you do have time... find out how to grow your own cutting garden in our guide.

a hand tied bouquet of country flowers on a kitchen table

(Image credit: Bloom & Wild)

10. Create a chocolate-box entrance

A key component of a cottage facade, front doors contribute hugely to their sought-after, unique character and charm. Whether a solid wood plank design, framed four-panel Victorian design, or 1930s style with upper lights, if your cottage still has its original door, then try wherever possible to preserve it rather than replace it. Find out more about maintaining period front doors in our guide.

To enhance that quintessential, chocolate-box feel try framing your entrance with climbing plants such as wisteria or roses and adorn the steps with plenty of potted cottage garden favourites.

cottage front door with dog

(Image credit: Stuart Cox)

More cottage 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.