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Sweet Retreat: Getting the Cottage Look at Home

Who doesn’t love the thought of an endless summer? The easy-going outlook, the airy attire, the alfresco existence appeals to most of us who have to endure the cold winter months. This looming, long-awaited “cottage season” prompts many to incorporate some of those seasonal influences into our interiors, it doesn’t have to end when the summer does. Indeed, “cottagecore” continues to be a highly sought-after look in home design. Here are three easy ways to pull off “endless summer” in your lake house, townhome and everything in between, all year round.

The Look

Cottagecore is an effortless aesthetic, which is the very reason it appeals to so many. Life is hectic enough, so it’s no surprise that people are drawn to the notion of a “great escape” without ever leaving the comfort of home. While this name may be new to the design vocabulary, the style has been around forever, in some form or other. You may remember it in its early days, equated with shabby chic hand-me-downs and vintage finds. The modern cottage has evolved into a light, airy, refreshing and relaxing space – everything your ideal vacation, and home, should strive to be. This look leans into organic elements that strengthen our connection to nature and reinforce the laid-back life.

Mix n’ Match

Cottage-chic is a thoughtful, curated aesthetic. Think of it as all your favourite things, collected over time. These well-used and even better-loved pieces reflect quality construction, timeless style and favourite memories, often going back generations, much like a cottage property might – if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Your furnishings may be inherited, collected, purchased, or a combination of all three. Regardless how you get there, the result is an eclectic aesthetic, whispers – cozy comfort.

The secret to mastering this mixed style is in the art of layering. Contrast is key. Combine some bold, vintage pieces with your modern or minimalist suite of furnishings, or vice versa. Contrasting elements help to highlight the qualities of these different design styles, and adding them in strategic places creates focal points. In much the same way, you can create contrast using colour. Consider offsetting white or a neutral colour palette with a bold choice, like black or a vibrant accent hue.

Invite Nature In

Nature has a way of grounding us when we need it most. When we dream of escaping the daily grind, nature is often looming in the background, whether it’s a lakeside setting, peaceful pastures, a lush, leafy forest where all you can hear is the leaves and the air flowing around you. Incorporating nature, or the essence of it, into our homes can help relieve stress, promote health and wellness, and offer a haven when we inevitably need to “get away.”

Materials that are rooted in nature, such as wood, stone and natural fibres, will always have a place in the cottage and home. But beyond these traditional translations of “bringing nature home,” modern trends are taking us toward less-literal iterations of nature, through the use of colour, pattern and texture, in the form of earthy hues and textiles, patterns inspired by plants and flowers, and unrefined finishes.

Work Less, Live More

This motto can apply to any home in any season, not just the cottage during a blissful summer holiday. I’m all for a “low maintenance” space in favour of finding more time for family, and fun. Believe it or not, maintenance isn’t just an after-the-fact consideration in the design process. Choose products and materials that require less care, can be easily cleaned, and will stand up to wear and tear. Laminate flooring, quartz countertops and composite decking are all durable and low-maintenance materials to consider as part of a renovation.

Beyond these built elements, consider making some “smart” upgrades to make life easier and more enjoyable, such as automated lighting and sound systems, blinds and thermostat,

“Cottage-chic” isn’t just a look; it’s a lifestyle. So, kick back, put your feet up and give it a go, like so many of my own clients have. Once you get a taste of it, likely to never go back. You just might find your own sweet retreat, without ever leaving home.

Bren Petrunick is the creative founder of award winning Simply White Interiors. For two decades this notable Niagara based design firm has become sought after for providing stylish and uniquely personal interiors.

swi.design @simplywhite