The wistful English cottage decor style is instantly calming and welcoming—whether it’s the sense of coziness or the whimsical feeling of the space, there’s just something about the countryside aesthetic that makes you want to curl up with a good book and unwind.
Thankfully for us city dwellers, the English cottage aesthetic is not reserved for country roads or curated Instagram feeds. In fact, embracing the English cottage style at home is much easier than you might think.
Read on to get expert advice on how to bring a slice of the cozy countryside aesthetic into your space.
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Remember not to make everything too perfect.
“English homes have history and are usually pieced together with items that are found and inherited,” says Liberty Riggs-Nichols, Founder and Lead Designer at Studio Riggs. This is great news if you’ve been storing old furnishings or decor from family members—but can be just as easily emulated with a trip to your local thrift store or antique shop.
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Comfort is king.
Comfortable furniture is going to be your best bet—not just in terms of English cottage aesthetics but also for the overall homey feel that the English countryside is known for. “Although you won't see a La-Z-Boy in the classic English cottage, you will see pieces that are comfortable and casual,” says Riggs-Nichols. “Whether that's a slipcovered sofa or a cozy rolled-arm accent chair.”
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Embrace a little quirkiness.
“In America we tend to take ourselves a little more seriously than our self-deprecating cousins across the pond,” says Riggs-Nichols. “I think one of the reasons English design is having such a moment right now is that it's not afraid to be a little playful and weird.” Embracing a little quirkiness can be challenging if you’re not used to letting go and allowing for a little weirdness to come out in your decor but will become easier as you lean into themes or interests you’re naturally drawn to.
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Don’t overlook plants and flowers.
Whilst many people think the inside is more important, there are lots of things you can do to the front of your house to give it an English cottage feel. Smaller changes include incorporating a stone path in your garden alongside plenty of rich green plants.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Warm to patterns and colors.
The English cottage aesthetic leans heavily on playful patterns and bright colors—especially in terms of wall treatments and textiles, shares Richard Petrie, Interior Expert at Thomas Sanderson. Rather than overhauling your space with a whole catalogue of different patterns right away, consider starting with a statement wall or investing in slip covers and going from there.
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Consider adding mirrors—strategically.
Traditional English cottages are often light and airy. Whether you're working with large windows or you're dealing with a tighter space, consider placing a mirror opposite your windows to give the impression of more light in the room, and don't forget to experiment with placement to get the best view!
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Embrace whimsical DIY projects.
Smaller DIY projects can be an eco-friendly way to add some flair to your space without spending too much on new items—and are also a great way to foster a sense of English cottage at home. Simple things such as replacing the handles on your wardrobes and doors for old fashioned vintage styles ones and creating wicker baskets for storage will also add to the authentic cottage feel.
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Create your own art gallery.
Another way to foster a sense of English cottage serenity at home is by curating your own selection of fine art and prints. Consider picking up second hand-done oil paintings (you can usually find them for cheap at second hand shops!) or investing in high quality prints or reproductions of your favorite works of art.
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Foster a love of literature.
Traditional English cottages are packed with bookcases, shelves, and stacks of books waiting to be explored. If you want to foster the same sense of coziness in your space, consider adding a casual reading nook in a spare corner of your bedroom or incorporating a small bookcase into your sitting area or living room.
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A cozy kitchen is key.
Bright and modern kitchens have become the norm in North America but a cozy cooking space is much more inviting—and is key to achieving a traditional English cottage look. Mismatched wooden furniture, open shelving with colorful enamelware, deep Belfast sinks, and hanging pots and pans are all staples that make the English cottage kitchen so cozy and welcoming.