What Makes a Home a Cottage?

The fairy tale image of a timber frame cottage evokes thoughts of a cozy, charming retreat. Cottages offer a restful alternative to elaborate formal decor or austere contemporary design. While cottages exist with a variety of unique features drawing from centuries of architectural and cultural influence, they hold a timeless appeal. What makes a home a cottage?

What Makes a Home a Cottage

Rendering by Steve Arthur, copyright 2012

Cottages are typically smaller than the average modern home, containing two or three small bedrooms and a small bath. Kitchen and living spaces are also compact and may be combined into one space. Two-story cottages often feature dormer windows tucked into an attic area to create a bedroom or sleeping loft, while the bedrooms of one-story cottages open directly into common areas with no adjoining hallways. The use of natural, rustic elements is common in cottage plans. Exposed rafters, plank floors and other bare-wood features contribute a great deal to the ambience of the cottage home. Alternatively, painted wood surfaces such as white paneled walls, railings and cabinets maintain the rural, comfortable atmosphere of the dwelling. Stone is a popular choice for floors and kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Ample windows allow natural light to enhance these features.

Architectural components of cottages include clean, straight lines or gentle, understated curves. Inspiration for cottage style draws from a variety of sources, from European chalets to the cabins of the Arts and Crafts movement. Wood, stone, brick and stucco are all used for siding in striking combinations. Bold paint colors from rich, earthy hues to light, airy pastels increase the visual impact of the smaller home without overwhelming the senses. Occasionally, stone, wood shakes and even pseudo-thatch replace modern shingles as roofing materials.

Airy porches often extend living spaces to the outdoors. Informal, organic landscaping using natural stone, meandering paths and traditional plants enhance the charm of the cottage home. Arbors, trellises and fences consisting of bare and painted woods or wrought iron are welcoming additions.Timber Frame Cottage Porch

The carefree atmosphere of a cottage lends itself to colorful, whimsical decor. Neutral walls and floors provide the ideal setting for bright, boldly patterned fabrics. Petite furniture pieces stand out in vivid colors. Inviting overstuffed sofas and cushions paired with simple rag rugs provide a pleasing respite. Rustic vintage tables and chairs encourage cheerful family gatherings.

Cottages are ideal as vacation homes situated by a picturesque lake or deep in a secluded forest. They are also attractive additions to small town neighborhoods. Cottage plans incorporate classic, informal design elements into inviting, diminutive spaces.

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One Response to What Makes a Home a Cottage?

  1. Thom Stanton October 17, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Great article, Bryce. Lots of good info, and very well put. So well that we may have to quote you on some of this. Thanks for sharing, and keep up the great work with TFHQ!

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