By Karen Darlow
There's something very comforting about cottage bedroom style. Based on simple, traditional designs, it's a look we turn to again and again when decorating and furnishing rooms. We've rounded up the key elements for a cottage bedroom look, along with advice and inspiration from interior design experts to help you create the cottage bedroom of your dreams.
See: Bedroom ideas – designs and inspiration for beautiful bedrooms
'The cottage is all about low-ceilings, exposed beams, wooden floors, sloping ceilings and small windows,' says textile designer Vanessa Arbuthnott. 'The bedroom can be challenging to decorate, often squeezed into small spaces and nestling under steep rafters.
'A lack of storage and little room to maneuver can be serious practical issues, but the charm of cottage bedrooms is undeniable. Originally built for workers the interior of a cottage should reflect its heritage, with rustic simplicity.'
Cottage bedrooms are not just for real cottages, however. Cottage style can work just as well in townhouses, apartments, and new homes. And in any case, it's not just one look. Cottage bedrooms come in all shapes and sizes and draw on a host of different influences and traditions.
Whether you live in a classic cottage with exposed beams and polished floorboards or simply want to create a cottage bedroom illusion, the key is to work with the bare bones of the space you have. Look at the fixed features of the room and use those as your starting point to create a coherent scheme, where all the added design elements will work together.
Cottage bedroom ideas
Keep scrolling for cottage bedroom inspiration. You can see more cottage decorating ideas in our dedicated guide
1. Head to toe floral prints for walls and fabrics
‘If you want to use a floral why not use lots of it?' says Daniel Slowik, associate director, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler. 'I’ve always been a great fan of rooms with matching floral fabric whether chintz, linen or cotton. Curtains, beds, upholstery, walls… there should be no limits! If you wanted to dilute the effect a touch subordinate designs could be in linen or a weave.'
The walls in the cottage bedroom pictured above are covered with Colefax and Fowler's Greenacre design, with matching fabric for the bedding and armchair.
'If you choose plain linens, then contrast piping will break up the form and add visual interest which can link back to the colors in the stronger design.’
2. Clever storage solutions for tricky spaces
Incorporating the right storage solutions can prove a challenge in small cottage bedrooms or in attic rooms with sloping ceilings. However, in smaller spaces it's even more important to keep things clutter free.
In the top-floor bedroom above, designed by Louise Jones Interiors, a run of smart paneled cupboards have been built to fit the sloping roof. A false wall behind the bedhead hides additional walk-in clothes storage.
3. Vintage accessories add character and a comforting sense of days gone by
The space above and around the bedhead is a great place to create a mini gallery wall of vintage accessories and old family photographs. Add in a foxed glass antique mirror as a focal point and to help reflect light in a low-ceilinged room.
Don't miss our cottage lighting ideas for pretty, practical solutions.
4. Toile de Jouy – the ultimate country look for walls and ceiling
In a small cottage bedroom it can be very effective to emphasize rather than disguise the room's bijou proportions. Here, the toile de jouy wallcovering continues right onto the low ceiling, creating a cozy cocoon of a bedroom space.
This room contains all the elements interior designer Miles Redd, from New York City-based Redd Kaihoi associates with cottage bedrooms.
'Cozy, tucked up in the eaves of a roof, charming, comfortable – something in which Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle would feel comfortable,' he says. And his favourite color choices for cottage bedrooms? 'Always pale blues and greens, but I like the idea of toile and old-fashioned prints in many colors, which add to the charm.'
See: Small bedroom ideas – to make the most of a compact space
5. All under one roof – open plan cottage living
When a cottage bedroom incorporates an ensuite bathroom idea, plus an open-plan living and kitchen space, it's more important than ever to keep furnishings simple and harmonious.
Here, vintage window shutters have been repurposed as bathroom doors, and walls and linens are soft whites and pinks to increase the feeling of light and space.
For more cottage bathroom ideas, don't miss our dedicated gallery.
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6. Complementary checks, stripes and chintz
Daniel Slowik, associate director of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler agrees: 'Self patterned weaves, checks and stripes which have a geometric structure contrast well with the natural forms of floral patterns and can also be very effective. The balance of colors is crucial – warm with cool, strong with soft, light with dark. All are important to heighten the effect of the floral pattern.’
See: How to mix patterns in a room: an interior design masterclass
7. Pretty in pink for classic cottage style looks
When an antique bed has exquisite detailing, it's best to make that the star of the show and keep the other elements of the room fairly pared back. Kate Forman of Kate Forman Designs agrees.
'The bed should make the big statement with plenty of layering of throws and cushions. Everything else should be kept very simple. If possible, keep original old floorboards on show with rugs rather than wall to wall carpets.'
And when it comes to furniture for cottage bedrooms? 'Less is more. My preference would always be antique but simple and classic in style,' she adds.
8. Cottage bedroom, but with a contemporary twist
And for cottage bedrooms where a more urban, contemporary look fits the bill – how about this zesty color combination? Including panelling ideas for walls instantly puts a modern twist on the space.
Vanessa Arbuthnott says: 'Painted wooden panelling or walls and a bright white ceiling make the small space feel bigger; with accents of color introduced with throws and cushions. Paint the walls or panelling a dark blue or grey and use accents of brighter colours such as saffron yellow.'
Kate Forman also favors this more sophisticated look for the right space. 'I love bold deep wall color which isn’t always associated with cottages but it can give a cool contemporary feel. And choose hanging bedside lights rather than lamps, very select retro furniture and amazing art to complete this look.'
9. Panels offer an adaptable look
Emily Battersby, stylist at Sanderson agrees that panelling is a look we're going to see more of in cottage bedrooms. Though the historic firm would argue for using both panelling and wallpaper in tandem.
'Panelling and wallpaper are now very popular in cottage bedroom styles. Creating features on the walls, centralizing the furniture and making everything have a place in the room. These features add a strong contrast to the subtle use of fabrics.
'Panelling and wallpapers are also very adaptable, and can be changed easily, whether you paint a different color on the paneling or change your wallpaper – you can always have the room feeling and looking the way that works for you.'
10. Choose Ikat prints and bold colors for a striking look
In this cottage bedroom under the eaves, an eclectic mix of boho and ikat prints, together with the sunny yellow walls, create a relaxed, comfortable look. It might not be what comes to mind when thinking of cottage style, but there's no denying the layering of earthy warm colors work together well in this scheme from Kate Forman Designs.
Kate Forman says that 'warm colors and comfortable furniture' are the essence of bedroom cottage style.
11. Simplicity is key
Simple furnishings combine to create a harmonious look with bright raspberry pink cushions from Amber Interiors in LA providing an accent color. A simple bed frame, natural sisal floorcovering, and vintage rug keep the look calm and unfussy. The elegant chair is from Soho Home .
12. Getting it right with white
You can't go wrong with white walls and ceilings in a cottage bedroom. Vanessa Arbuthnott agrees, addding, 'If the room has wooden beams, consider painting them in with the ceiling, to give the room an airier and more spacious feeling.'
'Nothing says cottage to me like classic florals and neutral walls,' she adds. 'Also simple small scale patterns, spots and dots and tickings all work wonderfully well in cottage rooms.'
I'm the homes editor of Period Living magazine and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. I've also moved house quite a few times – totting up 10 homes in 12 years during a particularly nomadic time in my life. I like to think that makes me quite the homes expert, or at least very experienced and with a clear idea of what I like and don't like in a home.
I love visiting and writing about old houses for Homes & Gardens' sister magazine Period Living and working with photographers to capture all kinds of historic properties. It's inspiring to talk to people about their traditional homes and to hear the stories behind their furnishing and decorating choices. And by the time I've finished an interview with a homeowner I've always got a handful of new ideas to try in my own house, as well as plenty of good stories for the magazine. It's the perfect work-life balance.
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