Having been involved in interior design in Oakville, ON and the surrounding GTA for the past 26 years, we enjoy a wide variety of home styles and sizes. We’ve observed that many older homes are a lot smaller than some of the newer homes built in many areas of the Greater Toronto Area. Some of these smaller homes almost have a cottage feel when compared to larger ones. In addition, we have been making use of older industrial buildings and converting them to wonderful residential living space. There are often similarities in the room designs of these living space. The casual nature of the lifestyles of the residents is the link. Whether or not you own a cottage, you may enjoy the ambiance of the cottage lifestyle, lake or no lake. The finished décor of these homes, whether large or small, can be quite dramatic, as well, in some cases. What exactly is cottage style? If you were to ask ten different people what it is, you would likely get ten different answers. There would be a thread of continuity in all, though, because there are recurring elements that we recognize. Some of these are well-worn finishes, touchable surfaces, and a relaxed look. There is always a feeling of fun in these interiors. Nowadays there is also a strong leaning toward an industrial look in furnishings for casual interiors. Sometimes these elements are weathered in the extreme. It is a very interesting look for today’s interiors and we find it in many forms. We find this type of interior design inspiring and fun.
This look is now a very eclectic style but it can easily go wrong if one misunderstands the aesthetic. It is not simply a mishmash of old and scuffed up elements. Reclaimed furniture, salvaged or reinvented industrial pieces, funky accessories all speak to the look. Large framed vintage look maps and typography elements can be charming accessories. The element of surprise is often a part of this wonderful form of interior design. A finesse of rustic, contemporary and formal elements creates a dynamic aesthetic and the resulting room designs appeal to a wide range of people from many walks of life.
Furniture may be new but look as if it is very old. It may be made from wood reclaimed from foreign parts. It often has great natural character and is even full of holes. Traditionally inherited furniture was brought to the cottage to continue a long and useful life. These pieces look great at the urban or lakeside cottage, and also look wonderful in casual urban room designs. Graphic elements are now making a comeback and can add a real wow factor to this dynamic look.
An old chipped chair would look wonderful in urban cottage design. A glass-doored hutch would look nice in both the lake or urban cottage. The finishes may or may not be worn in the city home, but likely would at the lake (some photos courtesy of Better Homes or Houzz). A city bungalow with a relaxed back garden would be similar to a lakeside cottage live in…minus the water, of course. There may be a large, weathered table in the kitchen, if space allows. In the dining room, the table may have a live edge, and industrial style metal chairs. This means that the table edge is as it came from the tree. Accessories may be elements of nature such as large vases of branches, a free standing large piece of wood, or a large, rugged pot. Strong visual impact is the result.
The feeling is easy care, a little or a lot worn, often with reclaimed furnishings or accent pieces. It is an interior design look that is connected to nature, time, and comfort. It is also quite beautiful. Previous casual design was a more feminine look and meant to be charming and cozy. This new eclectic style is much more interesting and makes a stronger design statement.
In the industrial cottage kitchen unfitted furniture pieces lend a sense of time. A farmhouse sink would not be out of place. Fifty’s style appliances and now being reproduced in retro colours. Tumbled stone adds a sense of age and rusticity. Surprisingly, sleek, white surfaces also play well with all these weathered elements. Black is another element that looks wonderful in these interiors. Often furnishings are large, especially if the interior is in a large space, such as a downtown loft.
Seating in this look may actually be quite contemporary looking. The lines of sofas may be square and simple. Conversely, large, leather tufted sofas meld well into this design scheme. Artwork may be large and dramatic. it might be a large abstract work or a map of a historic city. It is all about balance, and keeping a firm grasp on the overall design plan.
Leaving traces of the old finish is easy on the hobbyist and suits the desired look. Cabinets can be painted in pretty colours that would not suit a city look. A stone countertop would look wonderful in these interiors. It should be an easy care living finish that will change with use and age. Bathrooms, as well often will have elements such as reclaimed furniture.
Vintage look accessories, abstract artwork, and wall murals add instant charm. An art wall is a nice feature if it’s well done. Once again, it’s not about just adding a bunch of pieces to a wall, but to keep an eye on balance.
Long gone are the days of pink and blue ducks, geese and birdhouses. The charming small homes build decades ago are being updated constantly to a modern day standard of comfort. They are still small, but they look very different inside nowadays. Often space is found to add another bathroom and the kitchen is updated to todays standards.
A chandelier with retro style Edison bulbs overhead lends itself to this look. A fireplace is wonderful to have in a cottage, whether urban or lakeside. It would be beautiful even in the kitchen. It can be finished in field stone, stacked stone or even tile. In Canada, we have much more stringent rules for fireplace construction than we find in the U.S. The apparently barn board fireplace above is actually a cast stone material which imitates the look of barn board. There are many good looking options available these days. Exposed overhead beams add character. These can be a decorative element which is added and may not actually be supporting anything.
Collections, functional or ornamental are part of the design. The fun of this design style is in the use of utilitarian items with all of the wear and tear that is part of their charm. These items lend a feeling of bygone times, as well as a little nostalgia. Nowadays, these may be industrial related items, actually vintage, or manufactured to resemble the real thing, such as gears, port holes, trolley carts, Edison bulb lighting, pipe structures, barn doors, or what have you. Industrial style furniture has made a huge impact on interior design in recent times.
Clutter should be kept at bay, in order to maintain a relaxed feel. That is not to say that there is not artwork and accessories. Many of our clients have discovered the charm of abstract artwork. It lends itself to these interesting room designs. Area carpets and geometric motif tiles also lend to this style. Area rugs may be cow hide, geometric motifs, or abstract artworks, themselves.
Casual living is a constantly evolving design phenomenon. Its relationship to our cottaging roots go deep. It’s a fun and exciting way to design living spaces for the home. Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a consultation. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.
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