Cottage bedrooms offer a unique and refreshing take on style. As a spot that is only used in the warm summer months one need not consider four-season comfort and opt instead for bright, sunny style.
With this in mind I decided to dial up the colour quotient and fill all my cottage bedrooms with perky prints and sassy shades reminiscent of what you'd discover in a country wildflower garden. My decision to embrace all shades of the rainbow doesn't mean I opted for a kaleidoscope extravaganza (after all, this is where I retreat to find calm and tranquillity and don't want to feel like my cottage is part of Doug Henning's stage set).
After seeing some of the rooms I've designed over the years, you might assume that my bedroom would be dressed entirely in shades of white (ecru, oyster, alabaster, snow, parchment and vanilla to name a few). But I decided to step out of my comfort zone and dive into the paint box for this project.
The right red
My husband, Alexander, loves red about as much as I love white. I had carte blanche on the design of the entire cottage and got everything I wanted, so I knew he'd appreciate it if there were a scheme that really represented him amidst the sea of signature SR style. I decided to give red a shot in our bedroom.
The challenge is to make red feel right for summer. It's a fiery colour that is often used to create an atmosphere of warmth, which I really didn't need. For me, the right shade is more tomato soup than cherry and more faded than fire truck. I opted for fabrics that had a sun washed look and tempered their warm tones with a healthy balance of cool denim blues and crisp whites to make it feel breezy and light.
What's under the bed?
In our cottage, there's no need to worry about monsters hiding under the beds: there's no room for them! Since we are tight on space I wanted to make the most of every usable inch. Instead of letting valuable storage space go to waste, I chose a king size bed frame with six giant storage drawers for our bedroom, and tucked trundle beds under the twin bed frames in the kids room. We can stash and stow lots of stuff in our drawers, and two extra little ones in the kids bedroom. Now that's what I call efficient use of space.
Cottage living requires multiple quick changes through the course of a day. From cool mornings to mid-day heat, swim time to nap time and every hour in between, it seems someone always needs a change of outfit. I like it when everything is easy to find (and easy to put away) so hooks and buckets are a recurring design solution for casual living. With hooks mounted low on the wall a brightly coloured metal bucket can be hung up and instantly provide an easy stashing spot for everything from bathing suits to books.
Newer isn't always better
The latest is often the greatest, but not when it comes to cottage furnishings. To get the most authentic "cottage" look I turned to a handful of local dealers to outfit my space in vintage treasures. While the beds are new, just about everything else that fills these rooms is of the pre-loved persuasion. Quilts, lamps, dressers, side tables, desk, chairs, stools, textiles and tchotzkes all had a previous life before they made it to our island. The character and patina inherent in these pieces helps bring a sense of history and charm to our new cottage. The fact that they come from local merchants and cost a fraction of what I'd pay to buy new is just the sprinkles on my sundae.
Perhaps I belonged to a quilting circle in a previous life, because something has to explain my deep affection for handmade quilts. When I was in my 20s and my girlfriends were starting to collect designer handbags I was, you guessed it, buying antique quilts at auction (don't laugh). Fortunately for me I still love my quilt collection (and I don't think I've seen any of them toting a 1990's handbag lately). You can easily find new quilts that are colourful and fun and compliment your room scheme, but they cost at least as much (if not more) than the vintage variety, and don't have the same charm. You'll likely never find a pair that match so focus instead on finding specimens with complimentary colours and patterns and make the mix and match look part of the focus. Always be sure to inspect a vintage quilt before you buy it and only buy pieces in good condition or else you'll be starting up your own quilting bee to try and repair them.
Summer is a season for barefoot elegance and nothing feels better underfoot than painted wood floors. They are easy to sweep up, glisten in the light, and allow the introduction of yet another summery hue to your design scheme. The key to successful floor painting is to ensure you use the right materials, and never cut corners on the prep work. Oil-based floor enamel gives the most enduring finish and high gloss shine, plus it can be mixed in any colour you dream of. Be sure to sand the floor well to allow the paint to adhere to the boards. If you are starting with a raw wood floor, cut the paint by 25 per cent with mineral spirits for the first coat so that it penetrates the wood and provides a lasting base. Sand between coats to remove any dust particles, and don't stop till you have a gleaming and beautiful finish (three coats is a good rule of thumb). As the promise of summer draws nearer, I can almost feel my bare feet gliding across those pretty painted floors.
The kids bedroom
Bedside table - Michael Beasley Antiques, 705-732-1103
Dresser - Flick & Co., 647-439-8697
Green buckets - Pottery Barn Kids, through www.potterybarnkids.com
Lamp - Residential Lighting, 416-537-3138
Paint - Stain (semi transparent) for walls & ceiling, Oyster Bay 90YY 63/044; Floor paint, Glacier Lake 90GY 82/028; Accent stripe, Bay Fog 30GG 72/032, www.iciduluxpaints.com
Quilts, milking stools, ladder - Cynthia Crawford Antiques, 705-732-8249
Trundle beds - Pottery Barn Kids, through www.potterybarnkids.com
Wingback chair - Ritchies Auctioneers, 416-364-1864 or www.ritchies.com
Sarah Richardson is host and co-producer of Design Inc. on HGTV and principal of Sarah Richardson Design (sarahrichardsondesign.com). Sarah's Cottage can be seen on HGTV Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
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