Rustic Cottage Design Gets a Modern Makeover

cottage; home design; home improvement
cottage; home design; home improvement

By Becky Dietrich

Sure, your cottage is adorable and cozy. But that doesn't mean you have to decorate it in typical cottage style. If your decorating bent is more modern, go for it; your cottage will happily acquiesce. I am reminded of classic pairings: love and marriage, Hepburn and Tracy, red wine and chocolate (yum!), and modern and rustic. This little cottage, with its rustic architectural features, is served so very well by these sculptural and modern Eames chairs.

Beach Style Living Room by Holden General ContractorsWoodmeister Master Builders

Cottages are honest and straightforward, and so is modern design, which prefers basic curves and angles, and clean, simple lines.

Modern interior design as we know it today was popularized by the European designers and architects who were members of the Bauhaus. Founded in 1919, this German art school espoused a philosophy that form should combine with function in all interior designs.

Modern Living Room by Other Metro Architects & DesignersÁBATON

Many cottages were originally occupied by poor, hardworking folk who would undoubtedly have approved of this "form and function only" approach to their decor. One of the reasons modern design works so well for cottage dwellers is that its sleek lines and lack of clutter create the illusion of larger spaces. From its onset, modern design has embraced pure color -- black, white and neutrals, accented with vibrant primary colors. Cottages respond very happily to these palettes. Geometric-patterned or plain area rugs can provide accent colors and accentuate the bold but understated look of modern interiors. Adorable as they are, cottages are very accepting of this "no muss, no fuss" attitude.

Art, rather than accessories, has a firm place in modern interiors. Little trinkets or blankets tossed over the furniture are rarely employed. Rather, art pieces provide a single mesmerizing focal point. In a cottage this approach helps keep "stuff" to a minimum.

Modern Living Room by Minneapolis Architects & DesignersAndrea Swan--Swan Architecture

Modern furniture tends to be streamlined, with exposed legs that float the piece above the floor, so it doesn't appear to take up as much space in the room. Imagine how much more crowded this room would feel if all the seating were skirted or extended to the floor.

Farmhouse Living Room by Portland Interior Designers & DecoratorsJessica Helgerson Interior Design

Modernism rejoices in the materials used, often keeping them unadorned and in plain view. This spare honesty serves a cottage well.

Contemporary furniture also lends itself well to built-ins, which free up floor space, provide storage and generally make a small space feel larger.

Jane Austen once wrote, "I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might ... collect a few friends about me and be happy. I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage."

In her no-nonsense way, I think Jane would have approved of modern design in a classic cottage.