How to Style a Cottage Home (Without Breaking the Bank)

how to style a cottage home on a budget house decor frugal

Your home should be cozy, comfortable, and well-decorated. If this is the space that's supposed to be your retreat away from the rest of the world, then you should put some care into the way it looks. 

There is no one right way to decorate a home. After all, it's about reflecting the homeowner's style. But certain ones are better for different people and their houses. 

If you like a combination of comfortable and casual with vintage and natural accents, you probably love the style of a cottage home. 

Want to decorate your space with this style? Try these frugal house decor tips to achieve the cottage look. 

What Is Cottage Style? 

Cottage style falls under the larger umbrella of shabby chic, which also includes popular design styles like beach chic, French country, and rustic. 

Though all of these styles look different in practice, they share many the same base design principles. The most common similarity is the appearance of the furniture, which tends to look purposefully worn down. 

However, these styles differ in the fabrics and color schemes they utilize and the details on the furniture. In essence, cottage tends to be the more eclectic style of those under the shabby chic umbrella. 

You should think of cottage style as a spectrum. On one end, there's traditional and vintage, and on the other, there's stylish and contemporary. 

The differences come down to the details. But there are a few idiosyncrasies of the cottage style that every designer follows. 

Furniture Style 

The furniture is often what sets the cottage style apart from others. Simply put, cottage furniture feels storied. It's often recycled, collected, or bought second-hand. 

One of the best tips for styling a cottage home is that the furniture doesn't need to match perfectly. In fact, it's better if it doesn't. You can have two armchairs, a side table, and a bench that all come from different sets. 

This means you can handpick your furniture and choose pieces that speak to you. Whether you choose to go traditional or modern with your overall design, cottage furniture tends to have a vintage feel. 

Flea markets, antique stores, yard sales, and thrift shops are all great places to start looking for cottage furniture. 

Color Palette 

The best tip for how to decorate a cottage home is to choose a light color palette. The cottage style is light and airy, regardless of how vintage or modern the decor pieces are. 

When choosing a color palette, it's not just about the wall color. The color palette runs throughout the space, and the right one will unify your design. Furniture, fabrics, decor, and accessories should all follow the color palette. 

Cottage color palettes tend to be light, airy, and neutral with a few pops of color. Start with a neutral base—a crisp shade of white is best. From there, add a second complementary color and a maximum of three accent colors. 

Earth tones look great in a cottage design—think hunter green, beige, and terra cotta. But you can also use bold colors like a muted teal, a deep yellow, or a burnt orange as a pop. 

Walls, Windows, and Flooring 

In most cottage homes, you'll find the walls as a light neutral color. Both crisp and warm whites are popular choices for an all-over paint job. This opens up the room and allows you to have freedom with accent colors and patterns. 

A cottage home always feels a light breeze, so the windows are an important feature. Window treatments should be light and informal like they could blow in the wind. Consider sheer or lace curtains to dress your windows. 

Cottage homes embrace nature and all of its imperfections, and your floors should reflect that. Think bare or raw wood with little to no staining. Boards with texture or that look weathered are a plus. 

Cottage Fabrics and Textures 

When it comes to the fabrics in a cottage design, you want to follow the one design principle: light. This isn't the place for heavy materials, both weight and visually. 

Lean into details like slipcovers for couches, antimacassars for chairs, and dust ruffles for beds. These quintessential details may have fallen out of favor in modern designs, but that's why they're ever-popular in a cottage design. 

Texture is also important because you want to portray a comfortable and cozy environment. You'll want to have a lot of soft pillows and knitted throw blankets to capture that look. 

Common Patterns 

Since cottage style ranges, the patterns in the designs do as well. In vintage-inspired designs, you'll see more floral prints, while modern designs may use cleaner patterns like stripes. 

But that doesn't mean you can flip the two and make floral modern or stripes vintage. What's important about using patterns is not overwhelming your overall design and making sure they match or complement each other. 

Introduce patterns through your furniture, window treatments, and decor accents. You don't have to use all the same fabric to create these three elements, but they should go together in color scheme and style of your cottage. 

Accents and Accessories 

A home comes alive when you add accessories and decor accents. This is where your personality can shine through. When it comes to cottage accessories, maximalism is always trending. 

The goal of a cottage design is to feel cozy, comfy, and lived-in. That means creating arrangements of interesting items that tell a story, anything from passed-down items, personal collections, or thrifty finds. 

Though having lots of accessories and accents is a staple of cottage decor, you don't want the space to look cluttered. Follow basic design rules to make the space look thought out. 

Place accents in odd-numbered groupings, vary the heights and directions of items in the same groupings, and mix colors and prints to create visual interest. 

A Cottage Home All Your Own 

Your cottage home should reflect your style and personality. Everyone deserves to live in a space that displays their uniqueness and surrounds them with the things they love. 

If the cozy and quaint style of a cottage home makes you happy and relaxed, then you should do everything possible to cultivate that style. Fill your cottage home with the pieces that bring you joy, and you'll create your personal oasis. 

Inspired to redesign your small home? Check out more home and design articles for inspiration. Then send this to a friend to inspire them to redecorate their own house!

New Frugal Finance Blog Posts & Articles