Do you want to instill a quaint cozy style in your home this Christmas? You don't need to live in a cottage to do so, but it helps.
This rustic house in Wales is full of cottage decorating ideas that celebrate the beauty of its thick stone walls, terracotta floors, and original sash windows. With a warm woodburning stove and vintage tile fireplace, it's packed with character and original features that look great at any time of year but truly come into their own during the festive season.
Owner Jane Griffiths has decorated throughout with a mix of influences, including French country style, a little bit of Scandinavian decor, and a touch of country decorating. It is honest, natural, and totally beautiful, trimmed with vintage decorations and clever finds.
1. Returned charm by focusing on architectural details
The cottage is part of a larger house that has a Georgian façade and older buildings to the rear. Jane, Owain and their children live in the main house, and use the cottage for visiting family and as a holiday rental.
‘I think the cottage might have originally been a single-story dwelling for someone working on the wider estate,’ says Jane. An extra story was added at some point, and this is now the kitchen in the main house, while the cottage once housed a workshop.
The building was structurally sound but there was a little damp to contend with – typically, one of the undesirable decor features that put homeowners off. But Jane and her husband Owain were not deterred. The remedied the damp by removing the affected plasterwork and the result is now an attractive exposed stone wall.
Jane also added sound-proofing in the ceiling and has decorated throughout using natural eco paints for their breathability. Removing one of the two staircases has made room for a second bedroom with a quirky internal window, part of the old workshop set up.
With two bedrooms, two bathrooms and open-plan living-kitchen-diner with separate utility, the cottage has everything family and friends need for a comfortable stay.
2. Curated a relaxed and cozy aesthetic
‘I find inspiration from so many sources,’ says Jane. ‘Magazines, Pinterest, Instagram, and interiors shops. I don’t like things to be overly styled. I like aesthetically pleasing interiors but you have to balance that with the fact that you’re a family and have a lot of stuff.
'Having a warm, comfortable interior definitely suits us. Buying this house was such a romantic idea; you’re taking on a neglected old beauty and trying to make her happy again. It’s been a joy to turn it into a family home and make it feel lived in once more.’
3. Styled the cottage sitting room to festive perfection
The cottage is a wonderfully relaxed mix of hand-me-downs and happy finds which give it a relaxed mood and tell the story of this family. A friend gave Jane the sofa and the rocking chair came from Owain’s parents – he was rocked to sleep in it as a baby. The quarry tiled floor is the original.
4. Added character to the lounge with vintage decorations
For Christmas, the cottage is trimmed with an eclectic mix of vintage decorations that suit its rustic style.
The paper lanterns were a surprise find in an old suitcase given to Jane by a friend. And the stag's head, found in a junk shop, has been garlanded with fresh foliage.
5. Pared back the kitchen to evoke a country charm
Here, the exposed service pipes have real charm. This sink was a great find – it was partially buried in the garden where it may have been used as a planter but Jane liked its shape and colour and was happy to retrieve it.
6. Trimmed the kitchen for Christmas
Open shelves are a good choice for display and storage in this simple, rustic space. Jane found out how to dry orange slices and then threaded them on to string to make a simple garland. As well as adding festive color, the orange slices fill the kitchen with zesty scent over the holidays.
7. Dressed up the bedroom with stockings for good cheer
Taking inspiration from wall paneling ideas in other country homes, the couple added wooden paneling to the main bedroom. This simple design technique elevates the décor, giving it a cozy feel at the same time.
One wall of this single-level cottage was affected by damp, so the homeowners removed the render and interior plaster and repointed the stonework with lime.
Surface-mounting pipework and electrics was a practical solution that has its own honest aesthetic.
8. Decorated the mantel with pine cones and holly
While you'd expect to see fireplace ideas in a living room, this cottage benefits from a tiled fireplace in the main bedroom. The owners believe this may be a 20th-century addition, which replaced an original inglenook fireplace.
For the festive season, the mantel has been dressed as part of the cottage's Christmas fireplace decor. Pine cones and boughs of holly are arranged across the top, while a basket of foliage makes an informal display on the hearth.
9. Carved out the second bedroom for guests
Removing a second staircase was a smart move that created space for this extra bedroom. With its twin beds, it is ideal for young visitors. The original wooden floor in the bedroom provides authentic rustic patina and style.
10. Introduced festive fragrance to the bathroom
The bathroom sits where an old utility/cloakroom used to be in this renovated workshop-turned-cottage. Jane has been clever with her budget, mixing second-hand finds and the most ‘everyday’ fittings such as these standard garden taps.
Andrea has been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since her first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. She went from women's magazine Options to Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for sister title homesandgardens.com.
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