Top 5 cool ways to elevate your cottage style

Your cottage is the perfect getaway retreat so it must look the part. HGTV designer Jo Alcorn of whitewash & co has some tips on how to create the ultimate cozy and chic second home. (Photos courtesy Jo Alcorn)
HGTV's Jo Alcorn
HGTV’s Jo Alcorn

Summer is a time of cozy cottage evenings with loved ones, getting away from it all with friends, and beholding the natural beauty of the northern terroir.

Whether we know it or not, the impact of good design can take your getaway space from bucolic drab to cottage retreat chic.

To help maximize lasting memories and reach that blissful state of mind, here are five decor tips for that special second property in your life, from Toronto designer Jo Alcorn of whitewash & co.

Bring the great outdoors into your cottage with some nature inspired art.
Think about your favourite things about Mother Nature and design your art around them.

Choose art depicting nature

If you’re an art-loving city dweller, you may adorn your walls with modern pieces that speak to your urban sensibilities. To transform a rustic cabin to cottage zen, consider a different wall option.

“If you are looking to add a little outdoor feel to your space, think about changing your artwork to something nature inspired,” says Alcorn, whose design talents have been showcased on HGTV, Discovery Channel, The Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television Toronto and many other networks.

She recommends Posterjack.ca for great photo options.

BONUS TIP: For tiny getaways, Alcorn recommends using all of the wall space, surrounding space and floor space possible — and go vertical. Instead of using a large single piece of art in a small space, use multiple smaller pieces.

Some chic picnic table looks will creates that nostalgic feeling all cottages need.
A sleek but casual picnic table can allow family and friends to get close during meal time and late-night glasses of wine.

Recreate nostalgia

Cottages are all about creating lasting memories. After all, summer is short and most of us crave quiet picturesque landscapes to reflect. There’s something comforting and nostalgic about nestling up for a summer salad at a casual picnic table.

“I love how many people can fit around this table, it really brings me back to summer times as a kid,” says Alcorn, who is the design face of HGTV’s Critical Listing show and is designing her way through all seasons of HGTV’s Home to Win. Adding some durable, comfy and fashionable pillows to the space is sure to brighten it up for summer, she adds.

White and green colour schemes give your cottage an earthy yet stylish feel.
White, green and wood give your cottage a natural yet stylish feel.

Embrace earthy elements

Should you embrace the not-so-polished look of the great outdoors at your getaway? Well, yes!

Bringing in fresh local greenery or, even better, fresh flowers in a Mason jar or large vase, grounds the space against neutral hues.

“I love the light and breezy look of white seating contrasted with greenery to really capture the cottage feel,” says Alcorn. “Fresh blooms are a staple in any nature-inspired decor.”

Weathered tree branches or beautiful stones from your own property are budget-friendly and look whimsical on display.

Cozy, comfortable, chic furniture.
With cottages it’s all about being cozy, but that doesn’t mean style can’t come into play.

Cultivate comfort

As the summer moves into fall, we often see some cooler, rainy days that make you want to curl up with a good book and get some well-deserved R&R. Your summer retreat should instantly make you feel comfortable and relaxed.

“I love the look a sectional gives a room,” says Alcorn. “And there is nothing like a cozy little nook on a rainy day to cuddle up in. Find a big comfy chair and some toss cushions and you are all set.”

BONUS TIP: They don’t call them the dog days of summer for nothing. Don’t forget about our furry friends! Your guests may bring pets too, and they may need a space to snuggle in. Here are some great options from Alcorn.

One can never go wrong with accents. At the cottage there's room for creativity, some stones in a wire basket for instance.
Get creative — choose items found outside for decorative bowls to connect the great indoors with the great outdoors.

Flaunt natural accents

In a cottage or lakefront cabin, carefully chosen accessories are often the focal point of the space. “Every room should have a conversation piece,” says Alcorn.

When choosing lighting, there are many wood-inspired options. “If you want to infuse wood into your decor, it’s an easy way to test out the trend,” she says. “Experimenting with accessories made from natural elements such as driftwood and stone will also enhance the cottage feel.”

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