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Find high-style, great-value wallpaper online

Boheme from the Drama collection.

Keep corny cottage memorabilia like beer cap collections and fake hunting trophies to a minimum, advise our Arresting Design columnists.

Last week’s column was about how to put together a stylish cottage. The design team made quick work of discarding the odd notion that throwing together a motley assortment of cast-off furniture, dishes and other items will give you a cottage style. In fact, you must carefully construct the look you want, even at the cottage.

For the average cottage, avoid formal or modern-looking furniture or décor, or that which looks too “new.” Instead, focus on selectively and tastefully mixing different pieces of well-used and comfortable vintage furniture, with new items that fit gracefully into a casual and comfortable setting. Here are some more ideas that may work for your cottage:

  • Old-fashioned looking wallpaper with stripes or a delicate floral pattern can look peachy in cottage bedrooms. White or pastel wall paint will work well with an old-fashioned or a Cape Cod nautical or beachy theme.

  • If you favour the rustic woody look, unpainted cedar or other wood boards on one wall of a room can add a delightful rustic touch, but please don’t do this on all walls of a room, unless you like the feeling of living in a wooden box.

  • Consider a rag or braided rug rather than anything that looks more formal.

  • We think a cottage floor looks best in wood, preferably old wood salvaged from another location, or new wood, preferably distressed-looking, in less expensive cuts or varieties.

  • Table lamps in living rooms or bedrooms with bases made of simple organic materials such as ceramic, terra cotta, milky or transparent glass or even wicker work well.

  • Lamp shades can be covered in simple cotton fabrics such as gingham, stripes, checks, small florals or pastel shades. And don’t forget candle lamps — they look wonderful at night.

  • Consider folk art, such as whimsical sculptures of animals or people for table decorations, or simple pictures for the walls.

  • Casual cut-flower arrangements in unusual containers such as large apple juice cans covered with wallpaper add a simple but delightful charm.

  • Display vintage dishes or hang old-fashioned plates on walls.

  • Old-style pictures in old-time frames look great, as well, whether they are actually your relatives or just pictures you like.

  • On tables, use layered linens or simple cotton cloths in tiny florals, checks or soft-coloured vintage patterns.

  • For a lovely old-fashioned feel at the dinner table, get rid of utilitarian plastic cups or plates. Use simple or old china and glass instead.

  • Crafts or collections made by visiting children or other visitors can be a charming addition to the cottage. Think of a series of painted rocks, or framed leaf impressions, a pressed flower arrangement, or a series of shells or fossils in a jar.

  • Hang old-fashioned advertisements, of soap or fruit, seeds, or other products. If you can get old-looking advertisements for locally made products or tourist attractions, go for it!

  • If you want to add a dash of humour or personality, you may add a few corny pieces of cottage memorabilia, such as a beer cap collection under the glass of a coffee table, or a fake fish trophy.

We will tolerate it — after all, it is the cottage. Just don’t overdo it!


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