This charming country cottage is full of pretty ideas for stylish vintage looks

Mixing floral fabrics with toile print wallpapers and antique treasures gives this cottage an eclectic but very pretty charm

living room with white paneled walls cream sofa and leather tub chair bare floorboards and floral paintings
(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

Overlooking a meadow and the village pond, this idyllic cottage, in the Netherlands province of North Holland, captured the attention of its new owners before they even stepped inside. They noticed the house every time they drove past with its steeply-pitched red tiled roof and white shipboard cladding. And when at last a for sale sign appeared, they couldn't wait to see inside. 

Although the little house was in good structural condition, the interiors had been stripped of character and period features. It was dark, dated and claustrophobic, but the couple could see its potential and decided they could turn it into a special home. 

They have gradually refurbished and reinstated period details to the property, which was originally built in 1840. It may be small, but the sympathetic restoration of this historic Dutch home makes it one of the world's best homes. Its vintage-style décor is easy on the eye and full of great ideas that could add interest and character to any style of home. 

Hallway sets the vintage theme

hallway with green toile de Jouy wallpaper straw hats on pegs and view to round table

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

From the moment you step inside the front door here, you know this home is going to be full of interesting period details and vintage charm. Hallway ideas include adding half-height paneling which was painted soft off-white, with toile de Jouy wallpaper above. Adding a quirky vintage display – in this case a collection of old straw hats on pegs – creates a homey feel and a talking point as visitors first arrive.

Kitchen refresh

kitchen with butlers sink skirt under units green toile de Jouy wallpaper tiled floor

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

A previously dark and uninspiring kitchen is now this bright and airy space, thanks to kitchen ideas that included enlarging the windows and installing French doors. The existing cabinets were refreshed with cream paint and new handles. Cottage kitchen must-haves – butler's sink with fabric skirt underneath and rustic storage baskets for fruit and vegetables – add further appeal. 

Vintage kitchenalia

kitchen with black range cooker red tiled floor green toile de Jouy wallpaper and white cabinets vintage plates in rack above

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

A fine collection of vintage kitchenalia is displayed around the range cooker. In fact, the green and white toile de Jouy wallpaper was inspired by the owner’s collection of green and white crockery in the vintage plate rack. These old kitchen accessories really bring the room to life. Note the terracotta floor tiles, which have a distinctly period feel even though they are new. 

Breakfast nook

round kitchen table with patterned cloth and green toile de Jouy wallpaper red tiles and chandelier

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

Channelling the English cottage look, a circluar table in the kitchen provides an informal dining space and is decorated with a pretty toile de Jouy inspired table cloth and more vintage green and white china. 

Atmospheric dining space

dining table with white cloth in room with red walls chandelier dark wood chairs and french windows

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

The dining space is open plan so dining room ideas need to create a sense of flow with the living room but also give the space its own identity. The bold red paint does exactly that and was inspired by the color of the toile de Jouy wallpaper in the bathroom. A large mirror reflects the sparkling light of the antique chandelier and a French vintage linen bedsheet is used as a tablecloth, a great way to enhance a period scheme.

Living room

living room with cream sofa paneled walls bare floorboards leather tub chair and floral paintings

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

At the other end of the open-plan space is this characterful seating area. Living room ideas include walls paneled with planks for a touch of heritage charm. The scroll-armed sofa was a new purchase, but works well alongside an older armchair. One easy way to create a pretty vintage look is to accessorize a room with small scale artworks on a linking theme – in this case floral still life paintings found in antiques stores, junk shops and fleamarkets. 

Attic bedroom

attic bedroom with steep pitched roof paneled walls and ceiling twin beds with floral covers

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

Vintage florals and toile de Jouy prints continue upstairs, where bedroom ideas are focused on making the most of the attic room's dramatic exposed original rafters. The woodwork here has been given a coat of soft white paint to ensure the room feels as bright as possible. The flooring is the original wood floorboards, which have been waxed. 

bed under sloping boarded roof with basket work round bedside table and pink toile de jouy bedcovers

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/


dark wood bathroom vanity unit and mirror with toile de Jouy wallpaper

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

Bathroom ideas got off to a good start when an antique dresser proved to be exactly the right size for this paneled alcove. Topped with marble and flanked with vintage-style wall lights, it has made the perfect vanity unit. The red wallpaper inspired the shade used for the sides of the bath, and for the dining room wall downstairs.

cast iron slipper bath with red sides with part paneled walls and pink toile de Jouy wallpaper window shutters and vintage accessories

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

This bathroom used to have just a small shower but it's now a much more luxurious space. The red and cream toile de Jouy wallpaper sets a classic backdrop alongside handmade paneling, while the traditional roll-top bath, painted in the same red shade, makes a dramatic statement. The bathroom features the same characterful terracotta tiles as the kitchen, bringing warmth and charm in equal measure. An antique stool, towel rack and salvaged French shutters complete the look.

exterior of cottage with red tiled roof and black clad gable and white facade with brick path and tree and lawn

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

The romantic rose-covered exterior of the cottage has been whitewashed and the timber-clad gable end was painted to preserve its picture-perfect look. 

Original feature and styling: Monique van der Pauw
Photographs: Ton Bouwer/

Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.