What Is Traditional English Cottage Style? 21 Ways to Get It

February 14, 2023

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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One movie instantly comes to mind when I think of a classic english style cottage–The Holiday with Cameron Diaz. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-see. The english cottage vibe is all over that movie. It’s so good! One that I can’t miss every Christmas.

Whether you love quaint floral prints and fresh country colors or prefer the rustic charm of traditional features such as oak beams, leaded windows, and flagstone floors, this classic design concept can bring timeless beauty to any space.

Kicking off the first style in my “What is your interior design style?” series, we’re exploring the components that make up traditional English cottage design. And how you can use them in your own home!


Continuing our “What’s Your Interior Design Style?” series, let’s dive into the land of old-world nostalgia. We’ll start off by touching on a little bit of the history behind English Cottage. Then we’ll get into the really good stuff: styling ideas, and all the tips needed for creating your very own cozy little corner of England!

What is the traditional cottage style?

The traditional English cottage style has been around for centuries and continues to be a popular choice by interior designers today. It originated in 16th Century England as an extension of the Tudor style.

This classic look came from cottages in England’s countryside, but can be adapted to any modern home with a few simple touches of rustic charm and vintage pieces!

An english cottage style banquette area with large picture windows in the backdrop

Characterized by its picturesque, romantic, and cozy feel, it is one of the most popular home designs today.

The interior of traditional cottages is often decorated with botanical prints and fabrics, distressed wood furniture pieces, and vintage-style accessories.

To get the look right, think english countryside.

Focus on timeless pieces such as:

  • cozy antique furniture
  • floral prints
  • bold and muted stripes
  • vintage mirrors
  • antique textiles and antique items
  • rustic style accents
  • natural elements like wicker baskets
  • dark woods

A light blue room with light blue sofa and large full length windows

“The interior of traditional cottages are often decorated with floral prints and fabrics, distressed wood furniture pieces, and vintage-style accessories.” 

Where did the traditional English Cottage Style originate?

Traditional English Cottage Style originated in England, where it was initially used as a type of rural housing.

It has since developed into a simpler, great way of living that is still popular today!

Beautiful english cottage style home with a thatched roof

The style was designed to be practical, functional, and simple yet comfortable.

It’s believed to have been popularized during the 16th century. This was a time when many wealthy people built modern cottages in the countryside as holiday homes or hunting lodges.

The style has since been used in interiors all over the world for its charm, character, and timeless aesthetic.

English cottage interiors naturally capture that cozy home feel.

Cozy sitting area table next to a fireplace

And english cottage exteriors–oh so dreamy.

English cottage style home with a thatched roof and lots of beautiful flowers

Why Is the Traditional English Cottage Style So Popular?

The traditional English cottage style has an inviting, cozy atmosphere that makes it perfect for a relaxed home.

Cozy cobblestone fireplace with fire blazing hot

It’s so versatile and can be adapted for any room in the house – from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen or the dining room!

An open floor plan layout helps to make the most of natural light while still preserving your privacy.

What’s more, you don’t need to invest heavily in new furniture. A slipcovered sofa is an easy way to get the english cottage look. In addition, accessories like cushions and throw blankets will help you achieve the look with minimal effort!

Traditional English cottage style has stood the test of time thanks to its charming, romantic, and cozy vibe.

Traditional style living room with two sofas facing one another and a fireplace to the right. Large rug in center of room on top of cherry hard wood floors

With a few simple pieces, you can easily recreate this timeless look in your home and enjoy the feeling of living in the countryside without ever leaving your city!

So if you want to get this traditional look, let’s go over its key features.

“The traditional English cottage style has an inviting, cozy atmosphere that makes it perfect for a relaxed home.”

What are the key features of the Traditional English Cottage Style?

The key features that define Traditional English Cottage Style are:

  • Exposed beams

English cottage style room with an exposed beam and a cobblestone fireplace

  • Steep gables
  • Wattle and daub walls

Wattle and daub exterior to an old english home

  • Thatched roofs
  • Arched doorways and windows with small panes of glass

Arched doorway on an english cottage style home

  • Floral prints and fabrics
  • Distressed wood furniture pieces
  • Vintage accessories.
  • Flagstone floors
  • Leaded windows
  • Window seats

Window seat with floral pillows and the sun shining through. Vase of sunflowers in the background

  • Open shelving
  • Live plants and fresh flowers
  • Stone wall
  • Natural wood element

So if you want to get this cozy look in your home space, where do you start?

Getting started with English cottage style

First off, as with any room project, start by decluttering your space – often just tidying up a room can make all the difference when trying to achieve a homey cottage style.

I also like to start any room makeover with freshly painted white walls. The furniture and accessories is where I bring in color. I love how they pop against the white backdrop. It’s a wonderful way to truly accentuate the color scheme of a room.

White walls in a living room with neutral color sofas and black accents

Using soft nature-inspired colors – earth tones and muted shades of green, brown, or blue will help to create a cozy atmosphere.

Don’t forget to add warmth to your space with textured fabrics like velvet and sheepskin rugs that bring the outdoors in and make a room feel inviting.

Oh my gosh! Can’t you already feel the warmth of this space?!

An essential element of the traditional English cottage style are wood furniture pieces. Tying in armoires and side tables are ideal for adding a rustic touch to any room.

You can pick these up from antique stores, thrift shops, and online marketplaces such as Etsy and eBay, for a unique look that won’t break the bank.

Read on to discover 21 of the best ways to bring this charming look to your home.

How to get this look in your home – 21 best ways:

  • Add plenty of floral prints or fabrics to upholstery, curtains, or bedding.
  • Incorporate wicker furniture pieces into your living room design for a rustic touch.
  • Invest in wooden furniture pieces with distressed finishes and ornate carvings to recreate the Old World feel of traditional English cottage homes.

Dark wood furniture and woodwork in a kitchen nook

  • Hang vintage paintings or mirrors on walls to add more character to your space.
  • Use white paint as an accent color when painting furniture to add a clean and airy look to your room.
  • Incorporate natural materials like stone, brick, or wood elements into your living space for a more rustic touch.
  • Hang plenty of vintage-style chandeliers and light fixtures for an old-world feel in your home.
  • Use muted tones like cream or beige to create a calming atmosphere in the room.

English cottage style family room with green accents

  • Incorporate floral patterns into carpets, rugs, or wallpaper to add more color and texture to the room.
  • Add plenty of greenery inside the house as plants are often found in traditional English cottages to bring an outdoor vibe indoors!
  • Install wooden flooring or carpets with neutral tones like beige or cream for an inviting atmosphere in your living space.
  • Use copper jugs, and flea market kitchenware along with added vintage touches such as bone handled cutlery

Kitchen with white countertops and gray cabinets

  • Use white-washed walls, or repaint existing walls in off-white shades to reflect the cottage atmosphere.
  • Choose light-colored window treatments like sheer curtains or Roman blinds for a soft look.
  • Hang an array of paintings and photographs on the wall for a cozy touch.
  • Add some comfy cushions to chairs and sofas for maximum comfort.
  • Place small potted plants around the home to bring nature’s beauty indoors.

Queen size bed with blue bedding and light blue accent pillows

  • Incorporate rugs and throws throughout the living space for a warm feel.
  • Install exposed wooden beams from ceiling to floor for a classic touch.
  • Add a brick wall and give it a somewhat distressed look with a limewash treatment.
  • Finally, use vintage-looking furniture pieces to complete the whole look.

Limewashed brick and a view of a front porch with a dark colored wooden door

Want to limewash your exterior brick? I lay it all out in this easy to follow blogpost. I actually completed this project in one day. The before and afters are amazing! Go check it out here!!

To wrap it up…

Traditional English cottage style is a mix of old-world charm and simplicity. It can be easily achieved by incorporating a few key design elements into your home!

I hope you’ve discovered some of my favorite ways to bring traditional English cottage style into your next room makeover. Remember, sometimes it’s just the little things that can make a big change.

Don’t forget to check out my blog for more style tips, renovation ideas, and DIY projects.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

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