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What is a Cottage Style House?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Fairy tales and country meadows may come to mind when hearing the term cottage style house, but the actual design may draw from a variety of eras and styles. A cottage style house is typically based on a rural type of dwelling constructed primarily from wood. Cottages, sometimes also called bungalows, are often small houses of one or two stories. Although typically found in countrysides, some cottage style house elements are also worked into suburban and urban design.

Many countries and regions have houses that are referred to as cottages. Some of the most familiar versions are from the British Isles, where a cottage is a small, country dwelling made from natural materials, such as wood and stone, and often surrounded by a garden. Early 20th century house design in the United States was greatly influenced by the English cottage style house; the American versions, called Cotswold cottages, frequently feature a steep, asymmetrical roof line, small rooms, low doorways, and a large stone or brick chimney.

An Irish cottage style house is possibly the most romanticized version of this type of design. These dwellings, fit for a leprechaun, are often very small buildings with a thatched roof and whitewashed walls. Although examples of this type of design do exist in Ireland, they are frequently constructed for the benefit of expectant tourists, rather than as a reflection of true Irish design.

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Cottages are often defined by what is inside and around them, rather than the exact architecture. Several popular interior design styles are often cited as a perfect match for a cottage style house. Shabby chic, which features floral patterns, painted wood furniture, and old fashioned wrought-iron bedsteads, is frequently a hallmark of cottage design. Colonial furnishings, such as early American designs, are also commonly used to accent the history of the cottage. Most interior design styles that go well with cottages continue the rustic theme, featuring hand-carved designs and skilled craftsmanship throughout.

Since cottages were originally typical of the countryside, many modern versions feature a garden or large outdoor space. Although flower gardens are popular, traditional cottages were originally made for working people who would grow some or all of their own food; therefore, vegetable, herb, and fruit gardens are common to cottage design. In terms of accessories, whimsical fountains, stone or rustic wood benches, and even wishing wells are typical features. For anyone with a fondness for garden gnomes, a cottage style house is the perfect setting to indulge.

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Hawthorne
Post 4

@hanley79 - You're right, floral patterns seem like a bit much to me. The advice on furniture is great and very helpful, though -- thank you! I'll have to check out yard sales and maybe thrift stores in my town and see what kind of old furniture I can come up with.

hanley79
Post 3

@Hawthorne - You can make your apartment feel like a cottage on the inside with shabby chic, although modern architecture will take away from it somewhat. A cottage's neat pointed roof style often creates pretty wooden rafters and stuff on the inside, adding to the atmosphere.

Anyway, some ways to get your apartment more shabby chic style are the furniture and the accent items. Accent items are things like potholders and towels. Pick ones that have floral patterns, or at least that are soft earthy tones if you think flowers are too girly.

For furniture, shabby chic is all about painting over natural wood colors. Green or white paint is best. My mom buys little old beaten-up antique

furniture from yard sales and such and paints them white by hand, and they do turn out pretty adorable. Worn and used furniture isn't a problem for shabby chic -- it puts the "shabby" part in!

Look for wood furniture in older styles -- from the '50s and earlier are the best. Some of the most gorgeous furniture is from the earlier 1900s, and would be antiques if it wasn't so worn or damaged. Shabby chic and cottage decorating styles just snap those kinds of pieces up.

Hope this helps. Have fun with it!

Hawthorne
Post 2

@hanley79 - As much as I adore the look and fairytale feel of little cottage style houses, I have never once heard of shabby chic style before. It sounds pretty cool, though, if it makes a house cozier.

I don't suppose there are shabby chic ways to make an apartment cozier without, say, being able to change the wallpaper or paint or anything? I want to live in a cottage, I just can't afford to buy one -- yet!

hanley79
Post 1

My mom absolutely loves the shabby chic style described here in the article. She collects magazines on decorating that way, buys knick-knacks that seem to match the style like little wrought-iron candle holders and floral potholders, and has always dreamed of renovating the house to look cottage style.

The only down side is that my parents' house is an enormous, 13-room affair, technically considered mansion-sized by official standards. I think the house would feel more cozy and cottage-like if it was decorated in shabby chic style, though, even as large as it is. I hope mom finishes it some day.

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