The Secret to Cottage Charm 

A soft palette, found objects, and a carefree attitude turned a dilapidated duplex into a sweet retreat for two.
Amy Bickers Mercer

A young girl in a small Texas town plays with her dolls only after her dollhouse is properly arranged. Dylan Eggleston already knows that a signature style is always appreciated. The 7-year-old can thank her mom, Jennifer, for her budding decorating talents. Dylan's dollhouse echoes the creative style Jennifer has perfected throughout their home.

A Pale Palette
Light is a key ingredient in Jennifer's style--an eclectic mix of minimalist tendencies and flea market savvy. "This house has a sparseness, but it's not contemporary," Jennifer says. Getting that light, bright look begins with shades of white on the walls and on several large pieces of furniture. It's a base that could easily stray into a cold, stark look. Instead, Jennifer warms it up with black accents and industrial-look pieces such as the living room ceiling fixtures and the dining room's metal bistro chairs.

Eye for Design
"I like gathering positives and negatives. My eyes almost work like a camera lens," says Jennifer. That eye for design is put to use daily. She is a stylist for a furnishings and accessories store in Fredericksburg. When working with clients, Jennifer begins by editing their collections, weeding out what doesn't belong in a room.

Jennifer's own various collections come together randomly. She shops with an open mind, purchasing things that appeal to her rather than looking for specific items. Her house is constantly evolving, with Jennifer shuffling things around until they feel like they're in the right spot, unconventional or not.

In her living room, a poster of a 1952 audience at a 3-D film has a quote that inspires Jennifer as she strays from tradition: "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."

Bend the Rules Beautifully

  • Display branches from the yard rather than flowers from a shop.
  • Leave picture frames empty. Prop them on a table instead of hanging them on the wall.
  • Take linens out of the closet. A stack of folded fabric remnants looks soft and pretty on an open shelf.
  • Cluster black-and-white photographs casually in a small bowl instead of in a formal album.
  • Bring dressers out of hiding. A good chest of drawers is useful and beautiful in rooms other than the bedroom.

 

Sources:
Pages 160-162: Sofa, bedroom chair, living room wardrobe, pine table, and some accessories from Homestead, Fredericksburg, Texas, (830) 997-5551 or www.homesteadstores.com (R); some photographs from Photography Is Art, Fredericksburg, (830) 990-1330 or www.photographyisart.net.

"Cottage Charm: Here's the Secret" is from the May 2006 issue of Southern Living.