How-to tips for changing your home’s decor

Sunset  – November 10, 2004 | Updated October 11, 2018


There are no hard and fast rules governing cottage style. But these are some tricks of the trade to make the most of this approach.

Think photographically: Imagine a large space as a series of snapshots, making each area a carefully composed vignette.

Group similar things together, such as a collection of crystal pieces on an old dresser or a group of plates hung on a wall.

Combine painted and distressed furniture with plaids and florals to evoke an Old World atmosphere.

Layer objects, mixing and matching treasured finds. A pretty pitcher in front of a decorative platter propped on edge on a painted cabinet creates a multitextured focal point.

Mix different styles. For example, place Victorian-era porcelain on an art deco tray.

Look beyond the primary function of a piece – a Spode teapot can make an attractive vase or hold a small topiary.

Make visual references to the outside. Use flowers and plants wherever you can, and where you can’t, use their likenesses in fabrics and patterned china.

Keep flowers simple. A delicate posy or pitcher of wildflowers feels softer and more natural than a formal arrangement.