From Countryside to Coastal, How to Think about Designing the Modern Cottage

The modern cottage can be a tough style to get just right. Lean too much into a rustic, homey vibe, you risk creating a space that feels stodgy, cramped, and outdated. Opt for too much of the modern minimalism, you risk losing some of the friendly charm a cottage should exude. Striking that perfect balance between the two is your goal here.

First consider your cottage style, from coastal to countryside there is more than one definition. Are you remodeling a beachy, breezy New England-style home? Does the rustic french cottage vibe resonate more with you? Defining this will help guide your choices in materials and furnishings. Even accessories!

Many cottages have a family-oriented layout that can feel quickly cramped – so look for clever storage options like built-in benches and other ways to keep the space clutter-free. Leave some air to breathe around your furniture.

You might even consider whether there are opportunities to open up your living space: open up the kitchen, or transform a closed stairwell into a floating open staircase. But do try to preserve the integrity of the home wherever possible, restoring any unique details, but breathing fresh life into your modern cottage.

dining room with table and chairs
There is more than one definition of the modern cottage. From New England coastal to countryside chic to French country rustic - pick your style and let this define your material decisions. 

A cottage or cabin should be all about retreat, rest, and comfort. First of all, think layers. Create that feeling with layers of different texture and material: cozy rugs, soft upholstered furniture, handmade tile, lighting, even wallpaper and other wall coverings like wainscoting. Find layers that complement each other to create a sense of warmth. But do make sure you take a delicate approach, we want to avoid overwhelming a small space.

To help make your cottage feel more open, consider how to bring the outside in, including as much natural light as possible. Preserve that original hardwood flooring if you can, and don’t be afraid to make exposed beams a highlighted feature of your home. Last but not least, choose finishes that let these natural elements shine.  

To ensure you stay on the modern side of cottage, some touches to consider are higher baseboards, understated window coverings such as light roller shades, sheers, or shutters, and updated hardware (door handles, hinges, and cabinetry) unless you are able to preserve and restore originals.

And last but not least. If you can swing it in your budget, heated floors are the perfect luxury touch for a small cottage. Radiant floor heat in areas like the bathroom and entryway really puts an updated, modern spin that plays into the cozy cottage vibe you are creating here.

Excited to start reimagining your space today? Sign up for our free design workshop and get early access to Beam.