How to Add Cottage Character to Your Home Over Time

How to Add Cottage Character to Your Home Over Time

I was scrolling the interwebs the other day and photos of a little cottage stopped me in my tracks. This coastal cottage in Carmel is almost exactly the big future vision I’ve had for my little house.

This cottage is a sale pending in Carmel (see the post and more images via Hooked on Houses). The listing is here. I love Carmel, have you been there?

But behold….do you see what I see? Besides the charming Dutch door, the paneling, the bookcases, the vaulted ceiling, and the built-ins …

How to Add Cottage Character to Your Home Over Time

Right there in the middle of this living room is my fireplace’s twin (minus my bookcase, but still….it’s so similar!).

Once I read so many of your comments on my post sharing that you like my fireplace and then I stumbled across this home, I felt more confident in the fact that my fireplace can work with the direction of my home. Painted white, it took on a simple and cottagey look. I’m such a fan of simple changes!

Yet with that said, I’m still thinking of making a update or two to my decor, fireplace and living room, which I’ll share more about in a future post! :)

The Carmel cottage is inspiring me, though! It definitely has an abundance of character.

One step at a time, right?

How to Add Cottage Character to Your Home Over Time

I think when you are on a budget (or living life!), it’s good to have a long term vision with shorter-term plans.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t think updating your home over time means you have live in complete chaos for years. :) It might feel that way at times, but you can definitely take breaks in between projects if you plan accordingly!

Timeless Tip: Make simple changes that can be accomplished on your budget and timeline, with a reasonable standard of quality.

How to Add Cottage Character to Your Home Over Time
Lessons from my own white painted fireplace

Here are a few of my cottage style suggestions that can be accomplished over time!

1. Start with a clean slate.

Before you spend time, energy and money trying to add character, it helps to simplify any glaring or conflicting features so you begin with a fresh clean slate (or as much of a clean slate as you can)!

That might mean painting walls and unattractive design elements like ugly brick fireplaces or removing dated carpet and light fixtures.

If you can refinish or install hardwoods and add cottage architecture right away and get it all done at once, that’s great! Ideally we would get all the messy stuff out of the way so the backdrops are complete. But it’s not always possible to do it all first or to do it all at once and that’s OK, too. Do what you can!

Once you have the freshest backdrop you can manage right now, you can more easily determine and pace your future improvements. Plus with a cleaner backdrop you can more easily recognize the most effective way to add cottage elements while staying on budget.

2. Focus on simple updates.

With a refreshed backdrop, there are simple ways to add a cottage feel to room as time and budget allows. You could add classic bamboo blinds, shutters or non-fussy curtain panels to plain windows, or incorporate cottage style furniture, rugs and cozy lamps, ceiling or wall fixtures. Artwork, accessories and hardware are easy to add or change out as well!

3. Add cottage architecture.

While in an ideal world the architecture of a room is completed first, sometimes you have to work with what you have and it can’t all happen at once. Sometimes a delay is a blessing in disguise. Once your home simply feels cleaner and cozier, bigger projects or remodeling may seem less urgent or no longer necessary.

But if and when you are ready to tackle a bigger project, the sky is the limit! You could totally remodel a room, add classic wainscoting or wall paneling over drywall, install simple crown molding, add timeless hardwoods or simple tile, and change out windows and interior or exterior doors. Make a square doorway into an arched doorway! You could maybe even knock out your ceiling if you want a vault or add beams.

Have you remodeled a house all at once?

Or have you worked on adding character to your home over time?

Speaking of my love for cottage style:

Did you see this adorable Cottage By The Sea?
I love this Hamptons Beach House.
Get inspired by Cottage Style Charm
Charming Cottage Tour (and 5 Take Away Tips)
Love this Style: White and Wood Cottage
5 Decorating Ideas from Sarah’s Cottage (Sarah Richardson)
Did you see this post on my home? Blue and White Coastal Style
My interior and exterior cottage paint colors
My house in The Cottage Journal!
Add character: Make a square doorway into an arch

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to a Style You’ll Love

My book The Inspired Room: Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have

How to Have a Happier Home

Here are simple pick-me-ups for a happier you and a more cheerful home.

How to Have a Happier Home
Hallway Makeover Details

1. Clear the Clutter

Intentionally weed out the clutter so you’ll have more room to breathe! Too much stuff in a room stifles the joy in the every day experiences of life.

Start with a manageable goal to remove clutter. Do you want to open your clothes closet and feel happy, or stressed? Give away what you don’t want, so you can bring joy not only to yourself, but to someone else who may need what you have.

Line drawers with pretty shelf paper, invest in attractive baskets and organizers to organize your storage areas.

How to Have a Happier Home
Recent Post on The Inspired Room: Spark Joy with Your Decorating Style

2. Change the Scenery

Simple changes around the house can be so invigorating. Break out of your predictable design choices and try more boldly patterned artwork (like my new botanical art above!) or pillows for a refreshed look. Add new curtain panels to your windows to frame the view outside. Keep your blinds and shutters open during the day so you can enjoy the changes of the seasons.

How to Have a Happier Home

3. Gather with positive people

Think of simple ways you could bring more fun, positive people into your life. Invite your favorite neighbors to watch a TV series together once a week. Host a craft night for local moms. Invite friends to join you for a monthly Sunday brunch. An invitation to your home might boost someone else’s spirits, right along with your own.

Have fun with hospitality! Set the table with cheerful dishes and linens to set the mood for uplifting conversations.

In my new book Dwelling I wrote about the importance of gathering with people! Healthy relationships impact our well-being in positive ways.

How to Have a Happier Home

4. Calm The Daily Chaos

Lack of organization can leave you feeling stressed, tired and frustrated. A lack of planning can make your home feel chaotic, too! Time management and home organization will have a significant impact on the atmosphere in your home.

If you struggle with organization and creating daily routines, my book Make Room for What You Love will inspire you to form new habits, calm the chaos and create more order in your home.

How to Have a Happier Home

5. Incorporate Real Plants to Bring Cheer

Not only do real plants help purify the air, but they bring a spa-like serenity to the home. Use plants in your decor! Set them on plant stands, or put them in baskets and hanging pots around your home. I often use these wood dip-dyed stools as plant stands!

Instead of artificial ingredients that can negatively impact your health and well-being, stick with real plants and quality essential oils that will refresh the air in your home and boost your mood at the same time (I recommend this kit!).

How to Have a Happier Home
Similar Floral Notebook

6. Design a Happy Atmosphere

In order to be happier at home, we need to intentionally invest in a happy place be. Insist the mood of your home be more fun and less serious. Play music that uplifts everyone’s spirits. Dance in the kitchen while you wash dishes. Set a notebook on the counter to make lists of your family’s happiest or funniest moments.

How to Have a Happier Home
Free Printable Quote Art

7. Find More Joy

A sure way to find more happiness at home (and in life) is to put it in plain view! Find creative ways to keep yourself focused on what is good around you. Surround yourself with positive reminders. Hang inspirational quotes on your wall, set favorite family photos on your dresser, or add things that make you smile in unexpected places.

You can download the quote above (from my book The Inspired Room) as free printable artwork right here!

Some happy decor finds:

How to Have a Happier Home

How to Have a Happier Home

More on The Inspired Room:

Spark Joy with Your Decorating Style (my guest room update!)

One Thing I Do Every Day to be Happy

Create Your Happy Place at Home

Dwelling: The Heart of the Home-Maker

Why Dwelling is the Most Important Book I’ve Ever Written