country cottage surrounded by green grass with ivy climbing the doorway

Cottage-Style Homes: Everything You Need To Know

Morgan McBride5-Minute Read
December 10, 2021

There are lots of popular house styles that potential home buyers look out for as they’re trying to buy a house. One common type buyers might encounter is the cottage-style home.

What Is A Cottage-Style House?

Cottage-style homes are typically small houses that prioritize function in a limited living space while also providing comfort and a rustic look through various architectural designs and floor plans. Cottage-style architecture often reflects a mixture of multiple styles, including Georgian and Tudor.

Cottage-style homes are naturally charming and cozy. Traditionally, the term “cottage” refers to a small home. European countries often refer to their homes as cottages, while in the United States, a cottage is more likely to be a vacation home.

Historically, cottages were small homes on the property of a greater manor, inhabited by indentured servants or slaves. They were initially small, cheap and purely functional in design.

However, this style of home has since been romanticized to represent quaint, country living, without regard to the negative aspects of servitude and class inequality that they initially depicted.

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Common Cottage Characteristics

While cottage-style homes can encompass a lot of different looks, they have some recognizable characteristics. A few of the most common features you can find in a cottage are cedar shingles, gabled roofs, stucco walls, small front porches and bay windows.

If you’d like your home to have more of a cottage feel, try to incorporate some of the following ideas.

Irregular And Varied Designs

There isn’t a singular architectural style used for cottage houses, but characteristics can be combined to create very distinct properties. For example, there are Tudor cottages as well as Cape Cod cottages.

This lack of specific architectural elements leaves a lot of wiggle room for transforming any small home into a cottage. Adding a variety of historical home elements will help you to achieve this look.

Smaller Size

While many cottages are one-and-a-half or two-story properties, the overall square footage tends to be lower. They tend to be more about the surrounding property and outdoor spaces than sprawling floor plans.

Many cottages can be described as “quaint” or as having “character.” Of course, many modern cottages are often quite large. However, the style and feel of the home should be cozy and comfortable.

Cottages don’t have cavernous great rooms and closed-off layouts like the ones found in Colonial homes or Victorian-style house plans. Even large cottages should feel snug. If your home features large, open rooms, you might designate different “zones” or “nooks” to help give it a cozier feel.

Outdoor Spaces

Nature tends to be a valued aspect of cottage living. Common features of many cottages can include a front porch, a back deck or some other kind of area conducive to spending time outdoors.

Focus on making these spaces feel comfortable and cozy with plenty of seating, layered cushions and potted plants. Window boxes go a long way toward adding lush greenery to the facade of a cottage-style home.

Beautiful landscaping can also be a major component of a cottage house’s exterior. The yard surrounding a cottage should make you feel like you’re in the countryside. You could layer on evergreen greenery for a year-round lush look, with seasonal flowers mixed in for pops of color like an English cottage-style garden.

Cottages can really get away with unruly-appearing plants, as they just add to the charm of the space. Natural stone elements like rock walls and stone paths also go a long way toward giving a yard a cottage feel.

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Cottage-Style Homes Interior Design

While no two cottages are identical, there are some common characteristics found in the interior of a cottage-style home. A big trend currently is the cottagecore style. This aesthetic reflects a return to simpler times. Cottages have that old-timey, cozy feeling, like the coziness of other interior decor trends, like hygge.


A key feature of a cottage-style home’s interior is a cozy, comfortable atmosphere. Smaller rooms go a long way toward making spaces feel cozy. However, you can add to that feeling by layering lots of textiles – pillows and blankets especially, as well as curtains and rugs – for a very homey feel. Focus on furniture that feels comfortable and inviting to really perfect this look.

Open Floor Plan

Open and informal floor plans are a common feature of cottage-style homes. A formal dining room isn’t really cottage-y, so you should work to create more accessibility and functionality for everyday living. Traditional small cottages don’t have the square footage to waste, so it’s important to make each room feel usable.

Turn sections of a large living room into eating areas or reading nooks to instantly get a more cottage feel. Add built-in bookshelves to add charm while creating additional storage for your small home. Eliminate anything overly elegant, like a crystal chandelier, and instead focus on making spaces feel broken-in and comfortable.

Natural Elements

Wood, brick and stone elements are crucial to giving a home a cozy cottage design. These textures combine to make a real historical feeling. A great way to add characteristic elements to a home is by adding DIY wooden beams on the ceiling. This can really make a larger room feel smaller and more cottage-like. Incorporate natural stones into bathrooms, backsplashes and fireplaces for another layer of coziness.

Pros And Cons Of Cottage Style Homes

There are definitely benefits and drawbacks of living in a cottage-style home. You’ll have to balance them to determine if this is the right home style for you and your family.


Cottages are an appealing option for many home buyers. The smaller size can be good for those who are downsizing, and smaller houses are often more affordable than their larger counterparts. If you love the feeling of a garden in the country, then you’ll likely enjoy living in a charming cottage setting. Cottages are also perfect for those who enjoy historical homes with natural elements incorporated into the decor.


There are some drawbacks of living in a cottage-style home that could deter some potential home buyers. Traditionally, cottages are located in more remote locations. If you want to be near a city, this might not work for you.

Additionally, if you have a large family or want sprawling space with extra rooms that you use only occasionally, a cozy cottage might not fit the bill. If you prefer sleek, modern design elements, then the cottage style is definitely not for you.

Where To Find Cottage Homes

Cottage-style homes are most traditionally found in the countryside of England. However, there are pockets of cottages in the United States, as well. These cottage-style homes are most often found in older sections of New England, but cottages are one of the most popular styles of homes across the northeastern United States. This makes sense, as these areas of the country were historically more populated and therefore only had room for smaller, cottage-style homes.

Modern cottage-style houses can be found outside of the traditional rural settings. These homes are more like cottage reproductions but can still evoke the same style and feelings as their more authentic counterparts.

The Bottom Line

While cottage homes are known for their small size, they still can be full of character and charm. They can also make the perfect everyday getaway for an affordable price.  If you’re looking for a cozy, comfortable home with a historical appeal, a cottage-style home might be perfect for you and your family.

To find your storybook cottage today, check local real estate listings to see what houses are for sale in your area.

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Morgan McBride

Morgan McBride is a DIY-lover and home decor enthusiast living in Charleston, South Carolina. She has been blogging at alongside her husband since 2012, where they empower their readers to craft their current home into their dream home through the power of DIY.