What is Modern Cottage Style? Plus, How to Incorporate It Into Your Home

Entryway in a rustic cottage

Jersey Ice Cream Company

When you think "cottage" you probably think of fairy tales or your grandma's house. There's something utterly nostalgic about the idea of a cozy cottage and you can't help but smell cookies baking or think of crisp air rustling through trees outside. The modern cottage style is all of those feelings—but updated to feel a little more relevant in the here-and-now.

Living room with wooden walls
Jersey Ice Cream Company

While modern cottage style doesn't necessarily mean an actual cottage, it is a decor style that lends a certain feeling and has a few key elements. A welcoming, homey look reminiscent of decades past, modern cottage is a trend we're certain to see more of in the years ahead.

What Is Modern Cottage?

There is no textbook definition for modern cottage, but it is considered a decor style that borrows from architectural and design styles of the traditional cottage with modern elements woven in.

The History of Modern Cottage

There is not a clear timeframe for the inception of the term "modern cottage," but according to Google Trends, the phrase has risen in popularity since mid-2019. That said, modern cottage style draws upon elements of traditional cottage decor, which dates back to 19th century England. Though the word "cottage" can be traced back as far as the Middle Ages to describe small abodes similar to a hut, it is more commonly used to describe a quaint, two-story home, often with just four rooms.

Wood burning stove
shauna.speet.interiors / Instagram

Since the 2000s, modern farmhouse style has grown in popularity, thanks in part to shows like HGTV's "Fixer Upper." We think of the modern cottage style as an evolution of modern farmhouse that incorporates many of the same elements but embraces quaintness. It's a little more rooted in the country aesthetic with traditional English elements, but still maintains a similar feel.

Cottages are traditionally considered country homes and sometimes thought of as a second home. They often have stone exteriors, a pitched roof, and small interior rooms. The modern cottage look embraces the antique aesthetic, but folds in modern elements such as moody paint colors, reclaimed wooden pieces, and chunky textiles. The goal is always comfort when it comes to modern cottage, and every room should be styled in a way that feels homey and welcoming.

Bedroom with wooden wall
Jersey Ice Cream Company

Key Elements of Modern Cottage

When decorating in a modern cottage style, consider the following elements to evoke the look. That said, this decor style is a fluid one, so you should make it your own.

  • Cool, neutral color palettes: Focus first one neutrals such as white and gray and then fold in bold accents where you can.
  • Exposed beams: Where you can, expose natural beams to give a rustic look and feel.
  • A focus on the hearth or fireplace: Warmth is key when it comes to modern cottage style, so fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are big.
  • Vintage fixtures such as farmhouse sinks: When possible, mix in vintage country-inspired pieces.
  • White beadboard and wood paneling: Whether on the walls or the ceiling, white-washed wood paneling gives a cozy, cottage feel.
  • Open kitchen shelving: Modern cottage style is humble, and relaxed and open shelving works well here.
  • Woven textiles: Accessorize with warm throws and pillows, ideally handwoven.
  • Arched doorways: You'll often see arched entryways and interior doorways in cottage-style homes.

Common Materials in Modern Cottage Decor

Living room with wooden beams
Blue Cooper Design

Traditionally, cottage-style homes incorporate natural materials such a stone and wood. When it comes to modern cottage style, focus on natural materials over manmade. Think real wood pieces, exposed brick, and stone in the bathroom.

Vintage pieces are popular in modern cottage style, with a focus on "old meets new." For example, try incorporating a vintage lamp with a modern leather sofa or chair. Modern cottage can sometimes feel a bit eclectic with a mix of materials and pieces, but they should all feel purposeful and cozy. Avoid more stark or cold materials such as metal and plastic.

The best thing about modern cottage style is that it's an aesthetic you can truly make your own. Because it's more about a nostalgic feel and a sense of warmth than it is a cut-and-dry list of features, you can incorporate many of the common features in your home however you see fit.