In 2013, “Fixer Upper” first aired, and over the last seven years we’ve learned what a “modern farmhouse” looks like. Even city dwellers, small spacers, no yarders, and definitely folks without cows or chickens adopted Chip and Joanna’s iconic style. They defined the genre. They also inspired all of us to forge our own path when it comes to defining our own style and our home’s design.
Which brings us to “modern cottage.” I get questions every day about the hashtag #cljcottage (read more about that here which is also a fun post about naming your house!) and the response from a few followers–it’s not even CLOSE to a cottage. Stick with me for a minute.
While watching “The Holiday,” raise your hand if wanted Kate Winslet’s house over Cameron Diaz’s. You’re not alone. The whole film crew loved that cottage. the production designer said everyone one set preferred the cottage! And, guess what. The interior was built on a set in Los Angeles. Did you hear the good news? You don’t have to live in “just 40 minutes from exciting London” to get the cottage vibe.
While there are some established definitions for a traditional cottage, I hope you’ll indulge me as I paint a picture of what it means to me…
A cottage has… stony exteriors and stone inside, too. Moody colors, natural materials, cozy spaces, nooks, arched doorways, wallpaper, empire lampshades, woven baskets overflowing with quilts, (quilts!), books, candelabras, built-ins, fireplaces, the ritual of a daily cup of tea, ceiling beams, warm woods, a nod to the past, good stories, layered patterns, divided rooms and spaces (not an open floor plan), lots of land, stone pathways, off-the-beaten path, a steeply pitched roof, a dormer, shutters, (did I already say stone?), a front gate, spindle furniture, interesting ceilings…
A cottage gives and needs love. A cottage is a retreat, an escape from the world.
When we bought this home last year, I adopted a “modern cottage” style for our home because I was so drawn to the traditional elements and warmth of a cottage, mixed with modern pieces. (Not to mention the setting of our home felt very cottage-esque.) However! Again, you don’t have to live in the country or on land or have a stone pathway to start implementing a cottage vibe. We’re NOT saying we live in a cottage. We’re saying we’re emulating the style of a modern cottage in our home. We painted our walls white walls and added contrast trim in some areas a dark and moody in others. To me, a modern cottage is one that pairs a super traditional sofa with a modern lamp (or visa versa). An antique rug warms up a cool credenza. Vertical paneling shows off with pendants that have oversized bulbs. Clean lines marry warm woods with an antique painting hung on the wall mixed with a modern abstract. It’s all the charm of a cottage paired with some of the simplicity of modern design.
We’re going for a modern cottage vibe in this home (hence #cljcottage) but it’s going to take some time to get there. I’ve loved following accounts like Heidi Caillier, Jeffrey Dungan, and House & Garden UK Magazine’s account, whom all have the cottage vibe down! But I’m also excited to bring my own style and personality to it. I know it will evolve as my style evolves, and I want to continue to share that story with you.
A few peeks into the progress of our home below in our kitchen, Greta’s room, and our new dining room!
Most of all, I hope this inspires you to develop your own style story (and house genre?) — no matter where you live. You get to decide that and make that come to life.
Modern cottage I describe as comfortable respectable and homie. I’m through having a house that looks fantastic but no one wants to sit down! A kitchen that looks beautiful but no one wants to mess it up. I have redone the house with the modern cottage vibe and couldn’t be happier. Mixing prints and textures along with some fur some artwork as well as old collectibles people come in and they want to stay they just want to sit in the blankets and pillows and stare around the house.
This is an idea I didn’t also realize I know (or want) – thanks for sharing.
No matter what you call it, I love your taste and style! Keep rockin it! #cljrockinit ????
Thanks! I get it now! Duh. Not literally a tiny cottage, but in the style of a tiny cottage. Got it. Takes me a while. I think my style is “traditional hot mess lived in look.” is that a thing?
I love farm houses, English cottages, French homes but live in a generic subdivision home that we are slowly making ours. To satisfy my love of homes I have made miniature houses over the years. Just like the real homes I flip them for a profit so it’s a self sustaining hobby. The one I kept for myself is an English cottage that I used the Holiday movie for inspiration in decorating the rooms.
Just an added note…your home is beautiful no matter what you call it. Who really cares as long as it gives you that feel. I just dont feel the cottage part from the kitchen, but my preference would lean more cottage and a splash of modern????
Good Grief! Who cares what the name is! Just enjoy the talent and creativity that CLJ brings to their new home.
The word cottage will always have connotations of smallness to me. Words have meanings, lol! The style of your house reminds me of a pared down version of this:
This is perfectly stated. Not sure why it’s so hard for people to understand this. It’s gonna be good, so good!
I think you’re definitely trend setters and trend identifiers. As we seek more comfort around us the cottage look will resonate more to more people. And I’m totally here for it.
I’m currently trying to cozy up and remodel my 1989 3000 sq fr Florida cinderblock ranch. I love all the words you use to describe cottage style. I’m going to work on my own word list for my coastal cottage. Thanks
Omg I’m so glad you wrote this…. it’s like you’re in my brain, putting real words and phrases together to describe this look I’m going for in our new build. I told the architect the other day, I want a “new old house“. We even brainstormed and found a way to get moss growing on the exterior stone so it starts to have character immediately! I just love that you put words to the ideas in my mind. I screenshot your paragraph about what modern cottage style is, and that is going to help me as I choose finishes!
I really enjoyed this post. While your home doesn’t intuitively feel ‘cottage’ to me (so far anyway), this post helped me see where you are coming from based on how you’ve defined what cottage means to you. More importantly, I love that you are not afraid to stand by your view and open a polite dialogue about it despite indignant disagreement from some of your readers. Your authenticity is a key reason that I enjoy following CLJ. I think the country and world could use more of the polite ‘agree to disagree’ / ‘you do you’ mentality you exude – a good influence(r) indeed.
Regardless of the label, the design direction of your new home is inspiring. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
((SAME!)) – I couldn’t say it better. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!
What Hillary said…about what you said! AMEN!
Seriously, well stated Julia and then Hillary ;)
We bought our 80’s split level three years ago, and I struggled with what I wanted the style to be. Or rather what I wanted my style to be. I am influenced by so many different people and styles. I love so many different aspects of them. When I went through though what really called to me it was cottage with a hint of modern. 90 percent of what I own is thrifted or second hand. If I could live in any type of building it would be a cottage on water. So I decided to just embrace it. Cottage to me means cozy, thrifted, blankets, wood, earthy, nothing too precious, comfortable and a place with soul. I have to say that at first when you said you wanted a cottage look I was but taken back. Cottages to me are small and quaint, but how stupid is that??? Who cares! Also it’s pretty hypocritical of me to think that an 80’s split can be a cottage but a huge house can’t. ????. You do you! I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with.
YES YES YES!!! I LOVE this style and I believe it is up and coming honestly. I keep telling people my home is Spanish Revival Modern…?!? Also not a thing…YET! But I believe that the rich blend of old pieces steeped in history and tradition paired with a clean streamlined look creates such a beautiful contrast. It is a striking juxtaposition that allows simple pieces with dings and dents and classic materials to shine against the clean modern background!
And the moment I saw the picture of the cottage…I knew exactly what it was! One of my favorite cottage designs ever!
I love this so much—it so clearly combines specific design elements (materials, proportions, techniques, etc.) with the more individualist “feel” that is so central to deciding on a home aesthetic.
It would be so fun to see you do more of this in a sort of “other lifetimes, other homes” post looking at other styles you like along with recommendations of accounts that are nailing the style.
I love this! Last year we bought a sprawling stone and wood (with shutters, dormers, pitched roofs, and lots of stone paths on our acre large property) home that is built just like an English manor home. My style is English cottage meets clean line colonial (hey, I’m in Ohio- gotta have some american made antiques) and all of the things in this post is exactly what I’ve been doing. White walls with contrasting trim, natural materials that existed when our home was built, cozy quilts, antiques paired with updated sofas or lighting. So I love to see this but also I’m slightly sad it might become popular bc a year ago I saw this no where and I loved being anti farm house. Haha. Oh well. It’s been fun following along as you make your home more cottagey!
I love Greta’s room! I love the wallpaper and I’m wondering if you have any tips for the kinds of things to hang over wallpaper? Thanks!
Just reading your description of a modern cottage have me all the warm fuzzy feelings that a cottage should!!
Have you thought about incorporating an AGA cooker in your future kitchen renovation plans? Nothing says cottage like an AGA. They’re beloved here in the UK – and such a statement piece. Unsure of how easy to find they are in the US?
I love it! I I absolutely agree. I can’t wait to see how you continue to bring this to life in your home.
Yes!!! You put my design taste into the words I couldn’t quite find! I also never cared for the farmhouse vibe and have found myself craving darker, moodier, colors with unique finds over the last few years. I can’t wait to see you finished home!!
We have a 1400 sq ft 1940’s Cape, so I don’t have to try to infuse cottage style, it just is by definition. I have always loved cottage style but have watched it evolve over the last 25 years while living here. It’s what I’ve always been drawn to, but now to see it with some modern touches, it feels fresh and up to date. I do love aspects of modern farmhouse, but I’m with you, that it never appealed to me the way cottage style has. To me, Michele Adams Michigan home exudes modern cottage! She was my main inspiration for my recent kitchen Reno! Fabulous post! So great to see all you’re doing! Such inspiration!
I love this so much! We just purchased our first home a year ago and it’s the first space I’m getting to really design and change to what I like. I’m super easily influenced by others/I really value other peoples opinions, so I’ve found I really have to step back and think about what I like, just me. Case in point, I’ve pinned a ton of white kitchen photos, but when I painted our walls white in another room with the same cabinets as our kitchen I didn’t love it and so I needed to step back and reevaluate what I really wanted to do with the space. I think (as of right now) I fall in the middle of of modern farmhouse and modern cottage, so I’m trying to figure out how to marry the two and make it look beautiful and cohesive. Totally saving this for inspiration as we move room by room (and the DeVol account, holy-gorgeousness!). Thank you so much for all you create and put out!
Love this! I am currently turning our Florida contemporary home into a French Modern Cottage. I started with a Phase 1 of landscaping, painted the exterior, added decorative shutters. In a few months we will finalize Phase 2 of the landscape project. We have lived here a year and a half and so far we have received so many complements about it being the nicest house on the street. Love all the inspiration you all provide. Thank you!
Love the up and coming cottage style. I foresee the ‘cottage’ (or deVol) trend/style will be the new ‘farmhouse’ style/trend. I also recall you guys saying a French range wasn’t that important to you in a podcast, but now they’re the IT stove amongst the designers of IG! Gotta have one too! At least Chris enjoys cooking unlike others. :) I love the trend as well – don’t get me wrong. If I were to build, I would be jumping all over this trend – cottage/French range.
I love this so much — the modern cottage defined (I’m a fan!) and the encouragement to develop our own style story. We have is Scandi-Hemian home. We’ve found the perfect mix of beauty, simplicity, and function while leaving space for the random, unconventional bits of this world that grab our attention. On the surface these styles seem competing, but we feel both at ease and inspired in our home. Our home really does tell the story of our family. And that’s everything.
I have long claimed that my style is “modtage”…and I live in a circa 1984, 1800 sf house in the suburbs. I get it!
Love the way you have defined this style and narrowed down what it means for YOU!
You should check out Bee Osborn https://www.instagram.com/osborninteriors/ for some authentic modern English cottage inspiration. Her house literally looks like the one from The Holiday.
I can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for your place in 2020!!!
Love all of this! Total inspiration. Are you guys going to have a food cart/dining cart that you use to bring food back and forth from the dining room?
I’m totally interested in this, by the way. I know that Chris is a bang up cook. We love to entertain too, and I am sure you are going to show us some fab ways to do it in separate spaces.
We had a few cottages on our property. They would house the workers during the harvest season or other persons that were employed. They’re small, cluttered and filled with leftover furniture. In one of them my dad move my mother’s belongings (the ones he couldn’t part with) after her passing. It was made out of stone but most buildings are in our part of Italy.
This is definitely an American phrase, which could be apart of the confusion. I would add upscale to your description. I’ve never seen anything of worth in a country cottage.
I love what you’re doing with your house! I like the English country cottage/house look and am working on that look in my own cottage, which is technically a ranch style home!
Forever amazed at the people that feel the need to correct you on your blog & instagram. AMAZED. You handle it well though!
I have not heard of this style, but wow! This is inspiring! We’ve lived in our house for a few years now, but I’ve been stuck on what vibe I’m trying to go for. One of the reasons we bought this house is the beautiful arched doorways and stone fireplace, which fits perfectly into the modern cottage look. Now I have lots of pinning to do! ????
I identify with this as we built a new cottage on the lakefront on a large piece of property. Still trying to balance out the aspect that it’s a brand new build with new finishings and adding in the cottage charm to keep it from feeling too “modern and shiny”. Being drawn to clean and simple lines, the modern touches come naturally. Any advice on how to involve the cottage charm without it looking out of place amongst the many new things?
I totally get it…the colors, the wonderful moodiness…just a hint of an old English of yesteryear. Love it!
I have an all brick ranch style house and I have been struggling to figure out how to make it my own and the vibe I am going for. I know the vibe is a personal choice, but you’ve always said to listen to the home to help you. I am feeling lost. Any advice? I am planning on a couple of makeovers this year, including the kitchen, and I want to make sure I am going down the right path.
Goodness, you’d think some people own the word “cottage” and the rights to how it’s defined! Thank you for putting your style label in context, I understand and love the direction you are headed.
We took a tour of the Cotswolds when in England a few years ago. The tour owner (Secret Cottage Tours) hosted several delicious meals in her refurbished cottage, and I fell I love! Yes cottages originally comprised of two stories with four or so rooms, but now owners are combining several tiny cottages into a larger home while keeping the charm of the tumble of rooms. Sitting on squashy sofas by the stone fireplace, cozy kitchen dominated by a huge Aga, black trimmed large panes windows, sort lighting, I totally see these elements from that cottage in your design.
I’m going to call my style #HogwortsHouseLite or #TidierWeasley
Tidier Weasley ???????????????????? That’s straight up brilliant, I love this!
This is an interesting perspective. I am in the process of searching for a new home. I am drawn to grand, center hall colonials (nothing on the market in my area yet that fits the bill) and I have not jumped at some of the recently available beautiful mid-century homes with great views because they are just not my style.
Following along with you recently has made me really think about how I am going to achieve the look I want — traditional and elegant — with the feel I want for my family — warm, inviting and comforting.
Interesting points, and a lot to think about. How do we make these design elements harmonious? Thanks for sharing your perspective.
I think your house has Barton Cottage vibes from the 1995 Sense and Sensibility! https://www.google.com/amp/s/austenprose.com/2010/06/06/austen-film-locations-barton-cottage-sense-and-sensibility-1995/amp/
So far, I am not getting much of a cottage vibe (modern, contemporary, or otherwise) from your spaces. Maybe modern trad. But I do see evolution in your POV, more confidence, and definitely plenty of warmth. (and I am so in love with the dining room that is to come) These days it seems we are all wanting the shorthand of labels, while paradoxically bristling at being labeled. Best wishes from a fellow Heidi Caillier fan and a boho aesthete/rich hippie/layered minimalist/colorfield historicist/maximalist curator ;-)
Hi ! Regarding your home I can see that you want to make it warm and inviting and create a sense of enclosure, comfort, security, safety – which could also come from the fact that your home and property is rather large and creating that sense of being held in a space is so wonderful and homey. Add some style and you’re golden. I think your vision and follow thru has been really great and so fun to watch. Including the changes like the bathroom! Thank you! *love to see what comes in the kitchen – are you keeping the countertops, planning any other changes down the line?
Using calcutta in that way is such a BOLD move! I bow down to your courage! Curious tho was any/what parts of that – were sponsored??
Only other thing is that I think you actually used the term modern traditional…… that just makes my brain all kinds of twisted. Can something really be modern and traditional? Hmmmmm. Why would anyone want that. I can see contemporary, streamlined, eclectic etc. maybe modernized – cant stand the term transitional either so ? Maybe its just me –
Anyway – it all looks great and your kids are so lucky to have you as parents. And your friends and family. You just seem like the best people! ????????????
I love what you said about your home may not technically be a cottage style but that’s what you want to emulate. I live in a city “ranch” but the home is between two lakes. Since you’ve talked about the style of home I’ve been able to pinpoint the style I want to emulate in my home. A lake cottage with a touch of modern elements. It’s taken years for me to commit to a style because I’ve been afraid of choosing wrong. All that to say, thank you for “talking” through your choices and decisions. It has been so helpful!
This is fun! I always say that my home is “coastal chic” but we live, oh about 12 hours from the coast.
I have been loving your style and the warm cozies it gives me! I have a question about light. I find in a dark room, light from the outdoors can sometimes glare and cause my eyes to be very annoyed. Do youR darker rooms have this problem, especially with your black windows framing the bright light? How might one combat it?
This is such a great post. I too wondered how you’d pull off a modern cottage vibe but I think you’re nailing it. And it really inspires me to “go cottage-y” bc that’s the exact vibe I want in my home. Loving it and loving seeing the transformation of the 90s (80s?) McMansion into something is actually want to live in
Love these inspiration pictures and thank you for sharing an insight into how you define and create a “vibe” or style for your home! The example of “modern farmhouse” and Fixer Upper definitely helps put the whole conversation into perspective. I’m really enjoying watching you bring this feeling to life in your home and am excited to move past the heavy construction/remodeling stage and into more of the finishing (although surely not as excited as you), which is definitely where the style will start to come through more.
If you look up the definition of “cottage” as its currently used and understood, all of the examples use the word “small”. That’s where the confusion comes in. If you ask most people what they think of when you mention cottage, “small” also comes to mind. Not at all a word I would use to describe your house or dining room or many of the spaces you’ve chosen. Not saying you can’t redefine a word for your own purposes- clearly you can, and ARE doing so. Just don’t expect it to ring true. Those other words you use to define the aesthetic you are going for fit perfectly. And your style is a look that resonates deeply with your followers. You can even name it the Chris/Julia style. Calling it “cottage” which has humble and small in its definition feels like an attempt to make what you are doing accessible and realistically attainable to your followers, which it probably isn’t for a vast majority. Your home is aspirational, which is fine, but calling it a “cottage” is just untrue.
This is an article I didn’t even know I wanted (or needed) – thank you!
For me what makes a cottage, a cottage, is that it’s traditional yet casual and warm. Traditional can also go formal and stuffy, but that’s not a cottage to me. Personally I think mixing in old pieces that have depth and patina is really nice way to achieve this. It would be fun to see you guys hit up some estate sales!
i named my style industrial mexican. that’s the pure pleasure of discovering what you want your home to look like! i’ll never forget an episode of emily henderson, remember when she was on tv? and she would have couples pick different items to see what style they were drawn to and then she’d give them some combination style name. i loved that and i still use it today when i find an item. i ask myself if it goes with my industrial mexican style.
i love the cottage vibe you have going on! and i would agree cottages don’t have to be small, think the new little women movie. i think people use cottage and cabin interchangeably in the states. *shrug
Cottages in the Cotswolds, England, can range in size to something not much bigger than a cowshed to nearly Manor house size. Your home leans more “Modern Manor House” end of the scale to me. That grand window, the black and white tile dining hall … but in the Cotswolds, it would be a cottage.
Looking forward to each new project. We lived in a Tudor revival house/cottage for 32 years so I do dearly love all the traditional details. Thank you so much for bringing us along as you ferret out the very best choices at multiple price points, ponder colors and work out all the details.
It’s like remodeling our own homes without the dust and noise.
Another example to plead the case that a cottage isn’t always a tiny home—frogmore cottage! (Also, thanks to Andrea I’ve been following Harry and Megan’s move away from England and it’s been so interesting.)
The Breakers. And all of Newport’s cottages spring to mind as well.
Except for it still kind of does refer to its small size… it’s tiny because its frame of reference is Buckingham Palace ????
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We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
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