Cottage Style

I got an email from a gal named Traci recently, and I thought I’d make a blog post out of it since cottage style is one of my favorite things to talk about. She said it was okay for me to share it here today, so here’s what her email said:

Dearest Layla,
I love the way you mix the old with the new and make it look crisp. I, too, have just moved into a new house this past Fall, and am trying to create the home I’ve always wanted, but I can’t seem to pull it all together. The items I have are dated a bit, not just by the age, but both in style, and colors. I have a needlepoint runner that I just adore that my grandmother made and had on her bedroom on her dresser when I was growing up. I have two very different sets of china in green and pink rose patterns. I have old pieces of furniture that could use a fresh coat of paint and updated hardware. I don’t really care for the “shabby chic” look, but most of the pieces I have seem to lend themselves that way.  I have two boys in the house so I don’t want things to look too feminine. What I have loved about the way you put things together is mixing the old and the new so that you still achieve the a balanced and appealing feel. To sum it up, I would really like to use and display the items I have in my home without making it look too dated and fussy. Being a single mom of two boys, one with significant special needs, I really want things to look crisp and kept. If you can offer some advice, I’d greatly appreciate it!  Thank you, in advance! : )

Best Wishes,

First off, thanks again for the sweet email, Traci! I really do love a “crisp cottage” look, and I’ve found that I’m most drawn to interiors that are made up of a mix of vintage elements with some (or all) of the following things:

– chunky, warm wood tones

– lots of white

– pops of color

– fun fabrics

-painted furnishings

– typography

Here’s a visual, just for fun:

Lettered Cottage Style

So, keeping vintage elements mixed with warm woods, lots of white, pops of color, fun fabrics, painted furnishings and typography in mind…check out the cottage style interiors below. Can you find at least four of each of those things in each photo?


(Shannon Quimby)


(The Painted Hive)


(note: you can read more about Ashley’s workspace at CreativeMama)


(Kristin Alber)


(The Lettered Cottage)


(The Lettered Cottage)


(Polished Pebble)


(Southern Living)


(Country Living)


(Miss Mustard Seed)


(Southern Living)


(Southern Living)


(Sarah Richardson Designs)


(Sarah Richardson Designs)


(Sarah Richardson Designs)

Sarah_Richardson_Designs_Farmhouse_Staircase_Kitchen(Sarah Richardson Designs)


(Sarah Richardson Designs)

These last four photos are of a farmhouse bathroom Sarah Richardson designed. There’s lots of vintage goodie/white/fun fabric/painted furnishings going on in this fabulous little space, too!


(Note to Traci: notice that even though the print on the drapes is a floral in this room, it’s a stylized, gender neutral-colored floral, which keeps it from feeling overly feminine.)


There’s a nice balance in the finishes in this room, too. The (painted) concrete and clear glass elements play perfectly with the glossy whites and shiny chromes.



And how about that yellow-painted secondhand mirror? What a fantastic way to further balance the room by bringing more of that gorgeous yellow color all the way up from the tub!

Anywho- I hope that helps a little, Traci!

PS- My friend Melissa from The Inspired Room also answered a reader question over at her blog today. Click on the banner below to swing by her place for a visit!


Painting The Pantry

Have posts from The Lettered Cottage sent right to your INBOX!


  1. says

    Scrumptuous post — I’m feeling super inspired! We, too, have a new (to us) house + are re-doing in the cottage style. My design isnpirations are all listed above, coincidentally! xo
    Your fan,
    K A Y
    ( – If you’d like to see my blog about our cottage re-do!)

  2. Kim says

    What scrumptious pictures! Love Sarah Richardson’s cottage style – her “cabin” is just amazing! I agree with Traci – you do such a great job of marrying styles – I’ve read your blog for a few years now (the first one I ever followed!) and it’s always inspiring to see what you do to your rooms. Probably why I used your fireplace makeover as my inspiration for our fireplace redo – and I LOVE it!!

  3. says

    well, this has me swooning on a monday morning!
    sarah richardsons farm house is one of my FAVES of all time!
    and the polished pebble has my heart all a flutter!
    of course, i love your home as well! we patterned my girls room redo after your old homes guest/reading room!
    wanna come over? :) #help!

  4. says

    So many beautiful spaces!! I love this round up and the little hints you give about ’em. Love your style – “clean cottage” is one of my favorite looks too!

  5. says

    I bought a 100 yr old house in Wyoming, with the exception of the original wood, it’s covered in white, clean crisp, awesome white! with pops colors all over. LOVE the cottage style. LOVE it. Thanks for sharing the inspiration. LOVE IT!

    Sorry, totally blog stalking you guys!

  6. Dawn says

    Love the pics and your blog – thanks for sharing! My question is, I need clarification on the terms cottage and farmhouse. We’re considering an old house in Portland, Oregon that I’d call a farmhouse, though the listing describes it as both a bungalow and a Victorian. I don’t think it’s either. Can you help?

  7. Gina says

    Seriously, I LOVE every image!! I must have the exact same taste as you…no wonder I LOVE your blog!! 😉

  8. Courtney D says

    Layla, THANKS for a great post! I agree with traci-sometimes it’s hard to make traditional pieces coordinate with a modern cottage style. Great photos of inspiration! I met Miss Mustard Seed yesterday at Lucketts–and I was a big dork fan-practically RUNNING to her booth with the cheesiest Jr. High Smile! Coming to Lucketts anytime soon? If so, I can scare you too!!! -cd

    • says

      Lucky you!!! I moved from VA a few years ago. Had I still lived there we probably would have knocked each other over trying to get to her! I am glad I was not close enough to look a fool, and can only be a dork and stalker via comments:) I’m right there with ya’

    • Layla says

      Hi Courtney!
      Oh, how I wish I could’ve joined y’all at Lucketts! Marian is a dear friend, and I haven’t seen her since last June. Hoping to meet up with her this year sometime though! :-)

  9. says

    Love Sarah Richardson, recommend the tutorials from Miss Mustard Seed in using her milk paint–you can use it without having it all chip off by adding something to it. Her tutorials make it look easy, fun, and do-able! And that Layla is a pretty darn good designer too :) Love this look although I am a mix of traditional/cottage/farmhouse. (I finally figured out and declared my style a few months ago!) If I had a home on the water it would be ONLY cottage.

      • says

        I believe your work with her paint is how you ended up on my morning blog roll! I have sooo enjoyed your posts–from your trip to visit your sponsored child, to your general happenings and your home projects. I brought the “farmhouse” aspect with me from VA when we had 64 acres, a (new) dream farmhouse, and 25 chickens! Things like the buffalo check, big chicken giclee above our buffet, and our wire sculpture of a rooster are signs I am into “farmhouse”. If I could clad some walls in old boards I would, but that is where the traditional comes in. Keeping some of the basic elements of the home intact.

  10. says

    You make it all sound sooooooo easy and the look is layered simplicity! Love the inspiration photos you selected and your explanations were very helpful and easy to remember. Thanks! P.S. You really know how to put it all together … in your home, on your blog, and in your inspiration boards!

  11. says

    I love the cottage style and absolutely love the Shannon Quimby, The Painted Hive, and your last guestroom inspiration from your previous home, Layla! Exactly what I am trying for! :)

  12. Rebecca says

    I love that sign that says “Welcome Home” above the “Wash Your Hands” in Kristen Abler’s pic. Do you have a source for that?

    • Layla says

      Hi Rebecca! Just click on the link to Kristen’s blog, and you can contact her there about the super-cute signs! :-)

  13. Jeannie says

    Love this post …great cottage style ideas…can’t wait to start on my own “project” cottage…so inspiring!!!!!
    Love it!!!

  14. Diane Vaccaro says

    I am grateful for the descriptive words you put to your pictures and tips. Thanks so much. If you have time for a question: when rooms in my home flow one into another (I can see into 5 rooms at one time – living, kitchen, family, dining, master bedroom), how do you recommend coordinating wall color when using whites, and how would you choose accent colors for the rooms?

    I am enjoying this blog so much. Thank you!

  15. Gretchen says

    Oh, what a treat! It sure helps to have some of your signature look broken down into simple elements – and I loved the “can you spot” challenge too! Thanks Layla!

  16. Debi says

    Oh, my gosh!! This is just what I’ve been looking for!! Thanks to you Traci for asking and Layla for providing such great advice and lots of pictures!!! I’m slowing moving my country-style farmhouse to more cottage farmhouse. This post will help soooooo much!!!


  17. says

    Hi Layla!
    I have to let you know right off the bat, if I haven’t said it already somewhere on your blog, you are my go-to “I love this decor” and “I love these tips” site… I love the cottage style you share, and all your ideas and rooms… Seriously, your site is a place for me to come and just go, “Ahhh”. That, and “Bingo”, exactly what I like!

    So, I’m turning to you for help with paint color (pretty please ;-). We’re currently renovating our home, and at the stage (next week) where paint will go on the walls. I’m going for all white, and will inject color with furniture and accents. Of the whites you mentioned above (snow, ivory, seashell etc.), are those all Benjamin Moore please?

    And if you had to chose a white which would go all through a kitchen and living room, would you be able to recommend one please? (I’m not an ivory or beige girl… I like my white whites… Would you chose “Snow”?).

    Thank you sooo much for your time! I 100% understand how much time and love you must put into your blog, and how much effort it takes to answer questions, do social media etc., and I know you’re heading out on a fun road trip, so would appreciate any advice you could send my way.


  18. says

    love this post–I too love love love your style and wish I could afford to fly you and kevin to my house to make it into cottage awesomeness but alas, I’ll have to satisfy myself with trying to figure it out myself from what I learn on your blog. 😉

  19. Lori says

    Your best post EVER! Keep going back to it for so many reasons! So much to look at! Thank you!

  20. says

    I absolutely love this! Thank you for breaking it down so clearly. Sometimes I think I know what I *don’t* like, but I can’t articulate what I do! This gives me hope 😉

  21. Susanna says

    Oh Layla! This post made me happy, happy. The pictures were all so beautiful! And I love how you broke down the elements of cottage style design. The best part for me was looking around my space and thinking, “I nailed it!” LOVE YOUR BLOG, SISTER.

  22. Erika says

    Layla, this is probably the 7th time I’ve returned to this post so I figured I should leave a comment! I LOVE this post. It is so informative and helpful and really provided some simple, direct, and easy to follow advice for creating the cottagy style I have come to love of your house and blog! I would absolutely love to see more posts like this one – keep up the AWESOME work!

    • Layla says

      Thank you, Erika! I loved putting it together, and look forward to blogging about lots more cottage style “stuff” in the future! 😀

  23. says

    I love each & every room. I hope to be able to try to put some of your ideas into my apt. It’s nice to see someone with ideas near my own I can use as a template. Thank you so much for sharing.

  24. says

    What beautiful homes Layla! The earthy textures and crisp hues fuse together seamlessly. The floral drapes in the farmhouse bathroom are an unexpected yet stunning finish – definitely my favourite. Thank you very much for sharing all of these. As an interior designer myself, you have truly inspired me!

    John Croft