A comfy sofa piled high with pillows enhances a cottage-style living room.

How to Decorate a Living Room Like a Cottage

by Mary Cockrill

Experience the happy informality of enchanting cottage style in your family's living room. The mood is casual and carefree, and the furnishings are comfortable and charmingly eclectic with a mix of old and new items. Create a relaxing cottage-style living room where your family can kick back and spend time together. You can fashion your own living room cottage retreat when you choose the right colors, patterns, textures and furniture.

Walls and Ceiling

Cottage decorating colors deliver a refreshing, soothing feel. Apply a coat of paint in a washed-out tone -- soft yellow, pale green, barely blue -- or a neutral shade of white, gray or beige to deliver a bright cottage atmosphere. Use paint with a satin finish for the walls and a semigloss finish for the baseboards and trim. Although both finishes are easy to clean, semigloss may be slightly easier. Create a feature wall by affixing reclaimed wood planks or traditional bead board to one wall in your living room to enhance the rustic charm of cottage style. Add bead board or exposed wood rafters to the ceiling to increase the cozy cottage feel.


Install white-painted interior shutters with a weathered finish over bare windows to combine practical function with cozy cottage design. You can adjust the shutter louvers to alter the direction and amount of natural light entering your living room to keep the space cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Shutters can also eliminate annoying glare from the sun on electronic devices, such as televisions, computers, tablets and phones. If you prefer to dress windows with a soft touch, hang curtains in a lightweight fabric -- cotton, linen, sheers -- over a white-painted wooden curtain rod. Choose a solid-colored curtain in off-white or barely beige for a calming effect to enhance any color scheme. Or, delight your kids by hanging curtains with colorful patterns, such as playful stripes, bold checks or pretty plaids.

Furniture and Floors

Comfortable seating is a "must" when you're decorating your living room in authentic cottage style. Select a casual sofa with plump seat and back cushions that your family can sink into. Create additional seating with a pair of oversize cozy armchairs that beg you to curl up and read a book. Choose upholstery colors that won't easily show grime and dirt from your kids and pets; avoid the temptation of a pristine white sofa -- it's just not practical when you live with small tots and furry pets. Furnish your living room with wood end tables, armoires, coffee tables and shelving units with a distressed, weathered finish to add charming old character. Lay a large area rug over hard-surface floors to make bare feet extremely happy. Natural sisal or durable braided rugs enhance the simple cottage look.


Accessorize your living room with decorative items to accentuate a snug cottage atmosphere. Although cottage decor is definitely not minimalist, avoid cluttering your living room with excessive accents. Decorate with stacks of old hardback books, pots of natural greenery, wooden candlesticks, vintage clocks, woven baskets and ceramic vases and pitchers filled with fresh flowers. Drape a woven furniture throw over the back of your sofa and nestle colorful throw pillows in each corner. Dress the walls with framed prints that give off soothing vibes, such as panoramic countrysides, fields of colorful flowers or green meadows with grazing sheep. Center a wrought-iron chandelier on your living room ceiling to illuminate the space in cottage style.

About the Author

Mary Cockrill's education and certifications in interior design and home staging have allowed her to author numerous home-related articles. Cockrill has been a top design consultant for a renowned home store and is the owner of Starwood Home & Gifts, LLC, an interior design, decorating and home staging business. She holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education with a comprehensive major in office administration.

Photo Credits

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