How to Get the Country Cottage Furniture Look Just Right

Adirondack chair

Country cottage furniture is the perfect complement to almost any interior. This popular style can create a cottage look, offset a modern décor, or tone down a formal room.

The furniture itself is a mixture of low end and high end pieces: crystal drawer pulls on a splintered wood bureau, rusted hardware on an expensive hutch, or overstuffed upholstering on a sophisticated chair frame.

Where to Find Country Cottage Furniture

Country cottage items can be purchased new at high end furniture stores or can be created from flea market and yard sale finds. High end retailers sell antiques as well as newer items designed to work with cottage interiors. French country style furniture also blends well with country farmhouse accents such as toile fabrics and rustic hardware.

Yard sales, estate sales and flea markets are some of the best places to find items for a country cottage décor. Some items work as is such as old trunks, pie safes and farm tables. Other items can easily be refurbished to fit your decorating scheme.

How to Get the Look

When refinishing furniture to achieve a country cottage look, stick to a soft color palette. Pastel blue, pink, green and yellow are common colors as are whites and creams. If you want a fast, simple option, a can of white spray paint can transform a piece in just a few hours.

The distressed look is also popular with this style furniture. To achieve this look follow these simple steps:

To refinish and distress a piece of wood furniture:

  • Clean the item with soap and water.
  • Remove any hardware.
  • Sand the furniture to prepare it for a base coat of paint.
  • In lieu of primer use a base coat in a contrasting paint color to your final color. For example, if your finished item will be white, consider using light blue as a base paint. A yellow item looks good with a base coat of green underneath. Black is also a popular base coat color for cottage style items. A black base coat can make a new item appear antiqued.
  • Allow the base coat to dry and then lightly sand the item.
  • Paint the final color onto the furniture. Depending on how dark the base color is, you will probably need two to three coats. Sand lightly in between each coat.
  • Aggressively and small areas of the furniture such as corners and surfaces in order to expose small portions of the base color. This will give the furniture a distressed, worn look.
  • Replace the hardware with glass or rusted knobs.

Upholstered Furniture

Non-wood pieces can also be made to look like traditional country cottage furniture. This look, made popular by interior designer Rachel Ashwell who trademarked the term Shabby Chic and who wrote the book Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide, is also easy to achieve with fabric. By adding lots of decorative pillows to a sofa or chair, you can create a cottage feel. Think about layering with quilts in contrasting patterns. This look allows for mixing and matching prints in muted, pastel colors. Floral patterns such as cabbage roses, small checks and toiles in cotton and chenille all work well together to create an intimate look.

Metal furniture can contribute to the overall effect too. Spray paint a metal chair or table white and then decorate it with a Depression glass vase or piece of Transferware to finish the look.

If country living isn't your style, keep in mind that a well placed cottage chic item mixed into a contemporary or formal room can add an element of surprise and a welcoming feel to any home.

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How to Get the Country Cottage Furniture Look Just Right