What would Granny do? The essential tips for creating country cottage spaces.
Imagine living in a little cottage-farmhouse nestled in the flowers with rain falling on a tin roof; clothes being carried in from the line; a wooden table filled with Sunday supper; stacks of worn books; coffee brewing; soft quilts layered on a big cozy bed; hallways lined in black and white photos.
…BUT, but, (in a whiny tone) most of us don’t own an english country-cottage. Nor do we live in perfectly preserved 1800’s farmhouses.
So how do we create a cozy, charming cottage without owning an actual cottage? How do we design a lived-in farmhouse without living on a farm? How do we tone-down the pouting voice in our head and make our own spaces feel like a cozy dose of nostalgia?
What would Granny do?
For me, I inadvertently, ask: “What would Granny do?” Did you know grannies are the inventors of cottage+farmhouse style? I have nothing to base this fact on, but I’m betting they wrote the non-official book on creating a cottage farmhouse. And they did it by applying two simple secrets:
Let’s dig a little deeper into Granny’s way of thinking, and apply these cottage secrets to our own homes.
Secret 1: Use what you already own.
The keystone element of cottage-farmhouse decor is just this: repurpose, reuse, and creatively, use what you already have.
I often think of older generations, like my grandmother, who grew up during the Great Depression. Everything they had served a purpose. And if something was needed in their home, they didn’t go out and buy it. They built that necessity, grew it, or created it by hand. These items are always the most charming pieces of all. ((And typically the things we collect today and treasure as heirlooms)).
Where to start.
When you start the process of designing a room, first acknowledge what you have. Rather than buying new furniture, think if you already own a piece that can be moved to this spot, repainted, or repurposed.
- use items you already own to build a table?
- make or buy a slipcover for your current sofa?
- repurpose an item for something other than what it was intended?
Get creative with linens.
The same mindset applies to other elements, specifically curtains and table linens.
- Do you have fabric that could be sewn to accommodate the space?
- Could you use window curtains in place of a shower curtain?
- Could two tablecloths serve as window treatments?
Quilts are another great item to repurpose. Watch this short video below for a fun baby quilt decor hack!
Feed sack love:
My grandmother would tell stories of her childhood; she would go to the feed store with her dad to pick out which fabric she wanted for her next dress. At that time, dresses were made with leftover feed sack material. Feed sack companies even started making their bags in various colors/prints for this reason.
Still to this day, I use old feedsacks for all sorts of home decor projects (just not dresses).
Secret 2: Prioritize Sentimental Items
Using sentimental pieces in your home creates a story. It makes your home authentic to you and your family; it cannot be recreated.
I always thought my granny invented collage walls. She had one large wall in her living room that was covered in various photos and frames. Each of our family members had a photo on that wall. She would update the kids’ photos each year with their most recent school photo. It’s fun to look back and think how “On Trend” her photo gallery would be today. Just a simple reminder of, again, how grannies know a thing or two about making charming spaces.
Look to your past.
Using pieces from your past creates nostalgia and charm like no other. Examples include: family photos, heirloom furniture, silhouettes, quilts, recipe books, knick-knacks.
For clear ideas, look to your past: your travels, your schooling, the moments in your life that bring you the most joy. Then, find places in your home to tell those stories and your journey.
When every home on Pinterest starts looking the same, like aisle 9 of Hobby Lobby or the spring Target ad/// step back! I love Target and HL like everyone else, but you have to use restraint and only fill in the blanks with reproducible items. Don’t let them be the star of your space.
Search for the unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else has, so your home can feel like no one else’s.
Where to shop?
My favorite places to “shop” are my grandmother’s cellar or out-building, my mom’s barn, or dad’s garage. Thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets, yard sales, and Facebook Marketplace are also my preferred places to find perfectly worn, patina decor.
The next time you want to buy a sign that proclaims some clever “farmhouse” saying; put it back. Alternatively, shop for a map of where you traveled that year you found yourself. Hire an artist to create a silhouette of your mother. Frame a favorite book page or music sheet.
Let your decor serve as reminders of special times in your life, people from your past, or pay homage to the artist’s hands that created it.
Some of my personal sentimental pieces:
So right now, looking around your home, what could you replace with (a) something you already have that (b) brings sentiment to the space?
Start imagining that dream worthy cottage-farmhouse. What would Granny do?
Let’s create something charming together! I’d love to hear in the comments what things you could switch out today!
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