Decorate With Cottage Style

Use simple, fun ideas to create your own retreat.
Nancy Staab

Taking her cue from the casual cottage attitude, Missouri homeowner Pamela DiCapo transformed a dark and dowdy fishing shack into a light-filled retreat. "The interior of our lakehouse is characterized by floral and other vintage fabrics; a feminine color palette of pale pastels, whites, creams, and off-whites; flea market furnishings--often with distressed, peeling surfaces; comfortable slipcovered seating; and romantic accessories such as candles, flowers, wrought iron or crystal chandeliers, and pretty oil paintings," she says.

Soothing Interiors
Pamela, husband Jack, and daughters Lauren, 15, and Alexandra, 11, spend most of their time out on Lake Lotawana. But when the sun's heat gets too intense, the family retires to the cool comfort of the whitewashed interiors. Beaded-board walls and ceilings lend a rustic note. Fresh white surfaces provide a serene backdrop for slipcovered furnishings.

In the living room, undressed windows maximize the lake views. A white armoire with shutter doors conceals a TV and entertainment system that would have clashed with the old-fashioned decor.

Color and Character
The family room boasts a rugged stone hearth and bookshelves constructed of wooden lattice. Pamela added an antique library ladder on wheels for extra flair. The centerpiece is a pair of rustic wooden chairs painted candy-stick shades of pink, green, and yellow; to encourage relaxation, these are filled with comfortable pillows. The combination of wooden and wicker chairs brings the outdoors in, conjuring an atmosphere of summer camp and a serene retreat.

 

A decorative clock face hangs above a cased opening, marking the transition from the family room to the dining area. To furnish the space, Pamela used a country farm table and a variety of seating options, including an antique bench, ladder-back chairs, and upholstered armchairs. Painted wooden folding chairs with tie-back cushions can be enlisted to accommodate guests, if needed.

Vintage Fabric
An avid collector of old fabrics, Pamela gathers these items from antiques shops and flea markets. She then transforms the precious scraps into everything from pillows to tablecloths and curtains. Faded floral pillows are piled several layers deep on the all-white sofa for a lush look. Likewise, an armchair is upholstered in an eye-popping cherry print.

These linens are also showcased in the cool all-white master bedroom. In keeping with the calming color scheme, an antique shopkeeper's cabinet with glass-front drawers was painted white and serves as an interesting dresser. A flea market painting of roses and an array of old perfume bottles complete the romantic vignette on the dresser. The whimsical chandelier over the bed complements the room's style. A curtained cased opening separates the master bedroom from the family room.

 

Cottage Details 
In her daughters' room, Pamela layered bunk beds with feminine daisy-patterned duvet covers to create an appealing country look. (She even painted the steps of the ladder to the upper bed in alternating pastel shades.) Colorful window curtains were created from baby blankets made of vintage fabrics. 

Lastly, the tiny kitchen has its own charms, including wooden counters, installed by Jack, that were once the floors of an old bowling alley. Silver cutlery, bent into curved shapes, serve as clever cabinet pulls. A chalkboard provides room for grocery lists as well as messages. "Endless Summer" is scrawled across the surface in colored chalks--a sentiment shared by the entire DiCapo family.

"Decorate With Cottage Style" is from the July 2003 issue of Southern Living.