1. Tame the Wood: Wood on wood on wood, topped with more wood,,,is simply too much wood. Everything in wood looks like a sea of brown (or orange). If you love wood,,,,,then paint some of it out, this will in turn highlight the natural unpainted wood so it can be appreciated for all its beauty, not drowned out.
2. Clean Sweep: Remove wall to wall broadloom and replace it with a light to medium coloured character grade wood plank or natural stone tile like slate. These will be durable, forgiving, easy to clean and age well. Layer natural fibre area carpets and flat weave kilims for added comfort and coziness.
3. Unobstruct the Views: Strip the windows of fussy ruffled fabric or boxy valances and heavy dark coloured blinds. Replace with retractable rollup blinds, shades or swing open shutters. Alternately or additionally add simple cotton or linen drapery panels on a dark metal or wood rod that fully open to reveal the outdoors.
4. Counter Points: Many old cottages have plastic laminate, tile or plywood counters that are chipped and stained. A new wood counter will add instant quality and substance. Custom made ones can vary greatly in price point depending on species, joinery and edge details but you can also find ready made and easy to install basic solid wood countertop material at most building supply stores. Perfectly suitable and charming for Kitchens and bathrooms.
5. Sinks: a simple swap out can add more function and style, replacing a small kitchen sink with a larger size can make clean up a breeze (or hide the mess til later), or swapping to a smaller size can net you more precious counter space. Adding a second sink makes the kitchen doubly functional for two cooks or family gatherings. In bathrooms, replacing a stained or retro coloured sink with a new vessel or drop in style is an affordable, easy install even onto an existing counter.
6. Faucets & Hardware:
A new faucet and cabinet knobs are an instant update to a kitchens or bathrooms. Look for styles that will enhance your cottage character and evoke vintage or rustic charm. Large goosneck spouts, industrial pulldown sprays, classic bridge style or convenient single lever high arcs. Spluge on solid brass cartridges and you won’t be replacing these anytime soon.
7. Appliances: Replacing older mis-matched appliances is not only an aesthetic upgrade but the newer models are more multi-functional, energy efficient and space saving.
8. Light it: replace generic looking lighting with simple vintage or rustic style fixtures to enhance your cottage character. Evok rustic or coastal charm by selecting fixtures with aged or painted metals. You can add wall sconces, pendants and swing arm task lights without hiring an electrician - just use plug-in style fixtures that can be mounted to walls or ceilings, all you need is an outlet nearby.
9. Shelf it: The easiest and most affordable solution for adding storage without the cost of built-ins. Install wall mounted shelving and brackets or ready to assemble shelves to not only organize but add purpose and function to any unused area.
10. Neutralize it: If you want a relaxing, calming, serene space that lets the outdoors be the main attraction,,,then paint over any loud, bold, intense hues on the walls in lieu of a light neutral palette that will compliment your view of the great outdoors and not detract from it.
11. Panel it: I couldn’t stop at 10 without including my final and favourite way to add instant character and durability to walls and or ceilings - add v-groove panels, shiplap or beadboard panelling. When painted with an enamel paint its also a great inexpensive alternative to tile around a bathroom or kitchen sink and provides a sturdy backing for installing hooks and shelves (see tip no.9!).
To see how I applied all of these strategies in this family cottage make-over check out the links below for individual before & afters:
Photos By: Carol Reed