About English Cottage Interior Design

Written by shelly mcrae
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About English Cottage Interior Design
The English garden provides a rich colour palette for English cottage design. (Timber Framed Village Cottage in Normandy, France image by Chris Lofty from Fotolia.com)

The interiors of English cottages were typically small, with warren-like floor plans. These diminutive spaces lent themselves to a distinctive coziness in which comfort and practicality were more important than aesthetics. Cast-off furnishings and repurposed items were a large part of the decor in these humble homes. From these rustic beginnings emerged an interior design style now referred to as English cottage.


Upholstered furniture, in the form of wing chairs and easy chairs, is essential to the English cottage design. The cushioning is deep and overstuffed, with comfort taking precedence over style. No two pieces are of the same style. The upholstered furnishings do share common traits, however. None are overly large pieces, particularly the sofa, which may be more settee or loveseat than couch.

Benches and hardback chairs are tucked into corners to serve as extra seating. Other furnishings include a hutch to display prized dinnerware, makeshift end tables, chests for storage and table lamps with wood or ceramic bases.


A distinctive feature of the English cottage design is the colour palette. The colours are those found in English gardens, a mix of dark greens and browns, pale pinks and rosy reds. Yellow and orange are accent colours in the fabrics and area rugs.

Fabric patterns and prints range from large florals to stripes and chintzes. Fringe and scalloped edging in contrasting colours are used as accents on furniture and large squares of fabric or worn shawls are tossed over table tops and the backs of chairs. The result is an eclectic mix of colour and texture.


Adding to the eclectic appeal is an array of finishes, including wood, stone and ceramic, and metal. Worn wood floor planks, end tables contrived from barrels and crates, and rough stone fireplaces come together in English cottage design. Accessories may include wooden and ceramic bowls, and antique metal watering cans serving as vases.


The rustic appeal of the English cottage design may be updated to suit a more urban lifestyle. The colour palette may remain the same, but add blues and lavenders for additional appeal. Traditional English cottage design conveys a level of clutter that may be overwhelming to modern sensibilities. As homes tend to be larger than the typical English countryside cottage, the outward display of goods and possessions may be tempered with fewer accessories.


Adapt the English cottage design to larger spaces by offsetting the multitude of patterns and prints with solid fabrics on bench cushions and for sofa blankets. Create tight seating areas and divide spacious rooms into zones to maintain the cosy feel inherent in English cottage design.

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