This week I’m doing a little series on What I learned from the Painted Cottage.  We stayed there last weekend and I loved the warm, inviting feeling of the cottage, it was homey but not cluttered.  Although this cottage is not someones home, and I know there are some things that if someone really lived there all year around, would be added {like family photos, more books and toys} I still felt like it was a good lesson in how to decorate if you want this look.  And I LOVE this look.

Look at this room.  It basically sums up the entire cottage.  Beautiful wood floors, {the downstairs has painted concrete floors}, a wood beamed ceiling, deep inset windows with thick molding, let’s face it, this room would look great empty.  I’ve talked about my love of accessories over the years and I know why I gravitate towards collecting all my tchotchkes.  Most of my homes lack character.

Here’s a closeup of a corner of the front room.  The window casing alone is show stopping.  Add that to the floors, the basic yet hefty floor molding, and the horizontal painted paneling, and you have built in interest.  This room is not just a black slate, it is a carefully prepared canvas. {and a CLEAN one too, no dust anywhere!}

So, for all of you lucky people who own your home, the way to get the cottage feel is more about preparing the canvas than it is picking the right paint color.  Walls, ceilings, windows, doors, hardware–if all of that stuff is interesting and attended to, then half of the work is done.  Focus on the home itself, first.

Those of us who are renting have a more difficult battle.  I found myself fighting that battle with an over abundance of accessories. That is not the best choice of weapon. When you have 4 white walls and a small window with no molding and carpet it’s a challenge to get that feel you are after without changing the body of the room.  We have to focus on the furniture. The large pieces in the room will dictate the feel of the room.

See this photo. Imagine that the walls were just plain wall material, and the floor that you can’t see is carpeted like your run of the mill rental.  It would still look good.  The green dresser sets the tone with the lead role, the slip covered parsons chairs are supporting actors and the sunburst mirror really is show stopping.  Lastly, the pillows, shapely candle holders and antlers that you can barely see are all the perfect compliment to the main characters.  But, the main characters needed to be in place first before the accessories were added.  The old me would have bought accessories first, then wondered what I would set them on.

2 lamps, 3 pillows 3 wall hangings–that’s all the accessories needed

Usually, due to my budget, I find myself spending $12 on an accessory hoping that it will distract attention from my big piece in my room that isn’t my style.  That’s a wrong way to approach a room.  If I don’t like the big pieces, no amount of cute accessories will fix that.  It’s time to invest in large main characters that compliment my style.  And, that doesn’t have to cost more than an armload of cute accessories.  That’s another thing I learned from the cottage–I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.

15 minute assignment:: remove the accessories from a room.  When you quiet the room, does it still tell the story you want the room to tell?  Are the leading roles right for the room when they aren’t masked with accessories screaming “look at me!”?

More style with less stuff is possible, you just have to know what to focus on.

Join me in the seasonal Cozy Minimalist Home Class to learn how to get a fresh seasonal look without wasting all your money or home.