Cottage kitchen ideas – design inspiration for homely spaces

We reveal how to create a rustic room full of character with cottage kitchen design ideas, including practical but pretty storage solutions to vintage textiles

Cottage kitchen ideas
(Image credit: Neptune)

Whether you live in a classic country cottage and are looking for cottage kitchen ideas to complement it, or simply love the cottage look, we've rounded up the key things to consider, as well as plenty of inspiration and expert advice from the big names in kitchen design to help plan your interior.

From layout, storage and materials to lighting, wall colors and window treatments, there's plenty to consider when creating the perfect cozy and rustic space, but perhaps the best place to start is to consider what you have. 

See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens

What is a cottage style kitchen?

Traditional cottage kitchens are prized for their original features – whether stone flagstone floors, rustic ceiling beams or weathered inglenooks – it’s these details that give cottage kitchens their unique charm and homely feel. 

When thinking about cottage kitchen design ideas, it’s important to consider how best to make these features really shine while also creating a space which is practical and welcoming.

See: Small cottage kitchen ideas – characterful looks for small spaces

Cottage kitchen ideas

Now that you know a cottage kitchen is all about natural materials, perfectly curated pieces and original architectural features, take a look at our favorite ideas.

1. Create a welcoming feel with a rustic timber table and chairs

cottage kitchen ideas Devol

(Image credit: Devol)

Cottage kitchens are so much more than places to prepare food, they really are the heart of the home and a vintage kitchen table is essential to creating that perfect social hub and homely cottage feel, as Helen Parker, creative director at Devol explains. 

'The charm of cottage kitchens is often their quirky and eclectic mix of old and new as this gives the feeling of a cosy and welcoming space. A vintage kitchen table and chairs is a must; all cottages need a spot for chatting and drinking tea and the ubiquitous jug of wild flowers.’ 

Don't miss our cottage lighting ideas for pretty, practical solutions.

2. Maximize natural light with cabinets in muted colors

cottage kitchen ideas Neptune Henley kitchen

(Image credit: Neptune)

Cottage kitchens often have low ceilings and small windows, so the key to a good design is taking every opportunity to optimise on natural light as Nerine Vacher, Kitchen Designer at Neptune, reveals.  

‘Making use of the natural light will go a long way in creating a harmonious flow in your kitchen. By including cabinetry in soft colors, like Neptune's Sage (pictured above) or Snow, you will see how light and airy the room feels, no matter how big or small.'

3. Choose real wood Shaker-style cabinetry

cottage kitchen ideas Darren Chung Fennick Period Living cottage kitchen green

(Image credit: Future Owns / Darren Chung)

As any cottage owner knows, there's rarely a straight line to be found, with this in mind, bespoke cabinetry is often the best solution to getting the most out of awkward spaces. The simple, paired-back design of classic Shaker-style cabinetry will beautifully complement rustic architectural features. 

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4. Showcase rustic period features

cottage kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Unique Home Stays)

Cottage kitchens are brimming with desirable period features, so make sure your design makes the most of them. Rather than conceal rustic exposed brick or stone walls with cabinets, try opting for simple wall shelves which will allow the history of your property to shine through. Cabinets and a backsplash created from reclaimed timber enhance this vintage French look.

5. Create a blank canvas for layering vintage finds

cottage kitchen ideas

(Image credit: British Standard)

Keeping walls and cabinets white is a brilliant foundation for showcasing the vintage pieces which give cottage kitchens their unique charm, as Adrian Bergman, senior designer at British Standard by Plain English explains. 

'With a clean and light palette you can create a layered interior with an eclectic mix of furniture - think pot board dressers, farmhouse tables, Windsor chairs, open shelves and pot racks. Finish with personal knick knacks and trinkets to add a lived-in charm.' 

6. Consider freestanding furniture

cottage kitchen ideas period living

(Image credit: Future / Malcolm Menzies)

When space is at a premium, as it often is in small cottage kitchens, it's a good idea to factor in some freestanding pieces to bring flexibility to your kitchen layout. Try opting for a moveable kitchen island or butchers block, or small vintage table, as pictured above, which will create extra prep space but can also be easily moved to the side of the room if you need to make space for guests.

7. Factor in plenty of storage 

cottage kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Neptune)

'Effective small kitchen storage is another simple way to create a happy and homely kitchen.' explains Nerine Vacher, kitchen designer at Neptune. 'Including a single piece of furniture, such as a cabinet, or larder, you can completely transform your kitchen, by creating more surface space and keeping clutter out of sight.' 

Freestanding furniture is handy, such as our Chichester potboard, as it provides shelving and drawer space, as well as an extra bit of work surface.'

8. Add a vintage dresser to display collectibles 

vintage dresser cottage kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Future / Malcolm Menzies)

An iconic, practical piece which has furnished kitchens across the centuries, a classic wooden dresser is a mainstay of the cottage kitchen. It offers the perfect space for displaying those prized brocante finds and vintage ceramics, but also lends a homely feel. 

'Shelves with a higgledy-piggledy array of French porcelain bowls, books and vintage glassware is the best way to create a feeling of a home that is more than just stylish, but a sign of a happy well lived life,' reveals Helen Parker, creative director at Devol.

8. Create a warm central focus with an traditional range cooker

cottage kitchen ideas with aga and brick Lovatt period living

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby )

At the heart of the home for centuries, the range cooker would not only have been used for cooking, but would have heated the entire house. With its constant radiant heat, a traditional cast iron Aga is hailed by many as the best oven for traditional home cooking, but it will create a cosy, warm welcome. 

It's the perfect spot to relax  in a rocking chair with a good book, for dogs to snuggle, or to hang the laundry to dry above on a pulley dryer. Alternatively, there are plenty of modern electrical range cookers available with the good looks of the traditional Aga but with increased control and functionality.

9. Choose a real wood kitchen worktop

cottage kitchen ideas British standard white kitchen

(Image credit: British Standard)

The beautiful, varying grain of real timber is the perfect complement to the weathered architectural features of a cottage kitchen. Revealing his key tips for creating a cottage kitchen, Adrian Bergman, senior designer at British Standard by Plain English, says: 

‘The beaded detail on our Stowupland doors sit perfectly in a cottage kitchen. We would suggest pairing the cupboards with a rustic wooden worktop to add warmth and texture. Choose one that weathers gracefully, Oak, or reclaimed Pitch Pine both work really well.’ The wood will require periodic oiling, but the effect is beautiful and the worktop will stand the test of time.' 

10. Introduce vintage textiles

cottage kitchen ideas - quirky cottage kitchen hadleigh period living

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

Whether its chintzy florals, classic ginghams or a hint of elegant french linen, vintage textiles are guaranteed to lend a homely feel to a cottage kitchen. Curtains in a pretty fabric are a brilliant way to hide white goods and a vintage floral tablecloth will certainly create that vintage country feel. A custom-made roman blind at a window in a nature-inspired print to bring color and pattern to a space.

See: Cottage curtain ideas – inspiration for a pretty, cozy home

11. Create a cozy feel with a warm wall color 

cottage kitchen ideas - orange traditional cottage kitchen

(Image credit: Future / Darren Chung)

Cottage kitchens are all about capturing a cosy, homely atmosphere, and wall color can have a huge impact on the look, feel and atmosphere of a space. With its subtle natural tones and soft mottled texture, this orange limewash from Ingilby paints brings a warm cheery feel to this cottage kitchen without being harsh on the eye. 

A natural, breathable formula, limewash is ideal for preserving original plasterwork in traditional cottages. 

See: Kitchen color ideas – to create a vibrant lift to your space

What does cottage kitchen style mean?

Cottage style is a look that is warm, homely, compact and important, full of eccentricities. Of course, cottage kitchens' small proportions and irregular angles can present unique challenges, too, but there’s no need to fret, as small can still be beautiful as Helen Parker, creative director at Devol explains. 

‘A cottage kitchen is small so everything you put in it should be very carefully chosen, there is no room for nasty appliances or ill-considered pots and pans,’ she reveals. ‘You don't have much space so make every vignette and surface look as beautiful as you can, spend money on choosing things that are absolutely perfect and beautiful. Never settle for "okay" in a cottage, it will end up looking mismatched and messy.’ 

Lover of all things vintage, floral and country, Pippa has been working in interiors media for 10 years. A graduate of Art History, and Style Editor for Period Living magazine, she is a nostalgic soul who is passionate about historic architecture and traditional craftsmanship. When she's writing about homes and gardens you'll find her pottering on her Gloucestershire allotment, Pippa's Plot, where she grows flowers for styling her own home and interiors shoots.