Cottages are usually small homes but they can also refer to old-fashioned, cozy homes, vacation homes, or classic English cottage style homes. While a cottage style home can include a range of designs, it usually has a smaller-than-average footprint with unique architectural elements that lend themselves well to lakefront property. Cottages are very popular around Lake Anna and surrounding areas of Louisa and Spotsylvania, Virginia due to their curb appeal and fairytale appearance.

Key Features of a Cottage

English cottages may traditionally be small but modern and custom English cottages can be quite large and elaborate while maintaining the coziness and charm associated with the cottage style of home. You can recognize the iconic English cottage based on the following characteristics:

  • 1 to 2 stories
  • Asymmetrical design similar to the larger Tudor home
  • Cross-gabled roof that may have a medium to steep pitch
  • Tall, narrow windows that are usually casement
  • Large chimney with decorative stone or brick work and a chimney pot
  • Enclosed, gabled entry
  • Half-round or arched door with decorative hardware
  • Shingle, stucco, or lapped siding
  • Decorative half-timbering is common
  • Irregularly shaped rooms

History of Cottage Style Homes

Cottage style homes in the United States originated in England. The word “cottages” comes from the term “cotters,” who were European peasant farmers during the Middle Ages who were allowed to occupy a home in exchange for performing agricultural labor. Because laborers had very little aside from permission to live in a cottage and the surrounding land, the homes were very modest with minimal ground floor space and bedrooms under a pitched roof.

Despite their size, modern cottages didn’t catch on in the United States as humble homes, however. In the 19th century, cottages were built along lakes and mountains as vacation homes for wealthy families. An 1842 book called “Cottage Residences” helped spark greater interest in these homes as serene, cozy, and warm. These storybook homes really gained popularity between 1890 and 1940 and spread from rural areas into suburbs. By the 1960s, A-frame cottages became popular as summer homes for upper-middle-class families, especially in the eastern part of the U.S.

Cottage homes are considered an off-shoot of the Tudor style and you’ll notice many Tudor elements in a cottage home, including its cross-gabled roof, half-timbering, and oversized chimney.

Decorating an English Cottage

If you’re considering building a traditional English cottage along Lake Anna, you may want to decorate your home in the classic cottage style to maintain the casual and charming atmosphere this home style offers. There are many ways to achieve a cottage look inside your new home in Louisa or Spotsylvania because the cottage design style is more about an atmosphere rather than strict design guidelines.

Color Palette

English cottages are colorful but not overwhelming. The color palette is generally muted with pops of vibrant color. Opt for a neutral, warm color palette with colors you pull from nature such as with the subtle green of a field, sunny yellow, watery blue, gray, and the faded pinks and yellows of roses. Cottage kitchens are dominated by white or cream-colored cabinets with color added in the counters and accessories.

Patterns and Fabrics

Floral and damask upholstery, wallpaper, and curtains are common in cottage decor as well as linear textiles. Fabric is usually plentiful in a cottage, which may have lace window treatments, ruffled pillows, upholstered furniture, and kitchen skirts.

An English cottage can be quite busy, although it shouldn’t be overwhelming. You may choose patterned wallpaper and warm area rugs but large prints will usually be paired with small prints like gingham in a similar color scheme to keep the space grounded.

Wood Accents

A common element of any English cottage is exposed wood, including rustic ceiling beams and wall paneling. Furniture and other design elements typically have a lived-in look with distressed wood and metal that shows its age. The primary material for furniture is wood, which can be dark or light, painted, distressed, or stenciled. Chairs and sofas are usually deep with patterned upholstery. Built-ins are also common in a cottage home to show off your favorite belongings while emphasizing function.

English Cottage Kitchen

Cottage kitchens are typically down-to-earth with white or cream cabinetry and a warm color palette inspired by a traditional English garden like pinks, light blues, yellows, and soft greens. An English cottage kitchen conveys a sense of serenity and a homey feel with a focus on comfort and function — not over-the-top design.

Many cottage kitchens feature beautiful exposed ceiling beams, arched doorways, and functional kitchen islands. Wooden farm tables allow for space for the entire family and it’s completely fine if the wooden chairs are mismatched with each other. Farmhouse sinks make it easier to wash large dishes while a pot filler above the stove makes short work of preparing soups and stews. Upper kitchen cabinets are often open without doors while lower kitchen cabinets may be made up of long shelves or even fabric skirts.

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