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Ideas to Steal From Your Fantasy Holiday Cottage Kitchen

Continuing our series on creating your future (or imaginary) country bolthole, try these dreamy kitchens for size

Houzz UK editorial staff. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for… More

Ever fantasised about finding a doer-upper in an idyllic spot and making it your own? Or maybe you’ve loved the décor at a cottage, converted barn or tiny seaside house where you’ve spent a long, cosy weekend away and wished your own home had the same, snug interior?

Why stop at dreaming? If your kitchen is due a revamp, or you simply feel like making a few small changes, let these beautiful homes inspire you to turn your cookspace into the sort you’d find in your dream weekend bolthole – but one you can come home to every night!

More in this series
Ideas to Steal From Your Fantasy Holiday Cottage Bedroom

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Do it with dusty pink
This colour combination could be a quickfire way to give your existing kitchen a dash of country cottage cuteness. Isn’t it just lovely?

Be sure to choose a dusty pink shade rather than bright pastels or bubblegum. The idea is that it should look faded, like the colours in a vintage floral fabric. To this effect, an off-white may work best as a partner. Try out a few options and look at them in different lights and positions; simply paint tests onto paper and stick them around the place using masking tape.

This is an especially good hack if you have years-old panelled cupboard doors that you don’t love, or even flat doors. Assess your cabinets and whether or not they’d look good painted (or consider replacing doors and drawer fronts only). If not, do you have shelves you could tackle, or table legs or wooden chairs?

If you’re updating (or ‘old-dating’) an ultra-contemporary kitchen and gloss units with swishy modern appliances, of course, you won’t get this kind of effect without making more significant alterations.

How to update your kitchen using paint

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Think about your view
Don’t have a window overlooking an idyllic country cottage garden, rolling fields or windswept sand dunes? Few of us are so lucky – but that doesn’t mean you can’t pretty up your kitchen’s outlook significantly.

Window boxes – or tall pots, as seen outside this kitchen – can work wonders. Even if you live in a flat and have a kitchen several floors up, it might be possible to attach external brackets to hold a window box (but do consult a professional unless you’re a very confident DIY-er – it mustn’t be at any risk of falling on someone below).

Rather than perhaps more traditional window box blooms, go all out for the country look – think rangy wildflowers, lupins, sweet peas… Alternatively, try the sorts of long, wild grasses you might find at the edge of a beach.

Discover how to create a cottage-style garden

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Combine inky paint with brass
It’s a shortcut to getting the homely heritage look for your kitchen – and the archetypal cosy retreat has to be an ancient building of some sort, so it’s perfect.

You don’t have to go for a full kitchen refit to achieve the look if you’re lucky, either. Depending on your cabinets, it might be possible to switch all the door furniture to brass, from handles (these cup-shaped ones are ideal) to hinges.

A wooden or marble worktop is another quick switch if you have the budget, and a butler sink will always be effective for a cottagey-feel kitchen.

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Get lighting right
Spots or under-cabinet LEDs are great in kitchens, but for a cosy cookspace retreat, consider something altogether softer and more casual.

If you’ve already done your kitchen and don’t want to chase in a wall light like this one, look out for plug-in wall lights, or even a desk or table lamp if you have a suitable free patch of worktop on which to plonk it. You’ll be amazed at the difference this simple addition can make (and if you can source a battered, vintage, painted metal design, all the better).

Clip-on lights are also a good option if you have a shelf to which you can attach one. Pick a soft white bulb to keep the mood inviting, while also providing good task lighting.

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Brick it up
Gosh, where to start with ideas to steal here – from the fisherman’s lamps to the dark paint (this sort of mossy green is going to be a huge trend), beautiful beams, and that clever reuse of aged garden furniture for kitchen dining? But let’s take a closer look at that floor instead.

The manufacture of bricks dates back centuries and a brick floor is often seen in very old buildings. You can cheat your way to this look reasonably authentically by using reclaimed brick tiles. They can be laid over underfloor heating, too, so they don’t even have to be chilly on the toes.

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Add a rustic touch in a jiffy
Even in a modern kitchen like this, there are ways to soften the overall effect very easily.

Here, a long branch has simply been threaded through the shelf brackets and works as a handy hanging rail, as well as adding an instant dash of rusticity. The eucalyptus leaves here look (and will smell) great, but to ramp up a rural vibe even more, hang little jam jars of daisies or other hedgerow flowers from your rail instead.

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Go retro
A dreamy retreat doesn’t need to cancel out your love of midcentury style. This enticing kitchen in a lakeside cabin in County Westmeath, Ireland, cleverly combines traditional country style (solid cabinetry in a dark hue, butler sink, tongue-and-groove wall panelling) with the clean lines of Eames chairs, a curvy, 1950s-style wooden dining table, and original Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen 4/3 pendant lamps in orange.

Be inspired, too, by the rug. Kitchen rugs appear in lots of Houzz US photos, but in far fewer UK and Ireland ones. It’s a shame, as they’re such an instant cosy-upper in a cottage-style kitchen, where you want to linger over warming, hearty, candlelit dinners, forgetting to turn on the TV. If you’re worried about stains on a kitchen rug, choose one with a stain-friendly pattern, like this, and ensure it’s washable.

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Work in some wood
Natural materials will almost always cosy-up a kitchen. If you have beams, get them out! If you can stretch to a replacement worktop, go for solid wood.

And what about this smart idea for more bare timber in the form of shelving and wall cupboards, requiring no fixing? It’s so clever and yet so simple – and could work well if you’re in rented accommodation and can persuade your landlord to let you hang a peg rail but not a whole wall of units.

Note, too, the surprisingly stylish dustpan and brush. Keep your wood radar on while shopping for accessories and see how much difference a few key details can make.

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Be colourful
Pastels, off-whites or heritage hues might be obvious choices for the ultimate home-from-home, but this cosy cookspace shows just how well vibrant colour can work, too.

The key to keeping the look on point is to get the basics right. Such significant details as a big old range cooker, solid-wood cabinets and all those vintage accessories mean bold colours can only enhance rather than change the character.

Should you get a range cooker? Find out what you need to know before taking the plunge

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Rethink the traditional cottage table…
If your style veers towards something crisper than a higgledy-piggledy, cottage-style kitchen, but you’re still drawn to the general feel of one, there’s no need to be torn.

Here, the homeowners have cleverly created a mash-up of old and new, rustic and design-y. Choose a couple of key traditional style features you really like – the black flagstones here are one such idea, along with the fireplace (a kitchen grate or wood-burning stove has to be the ultimate in rural bolthole fantasies).

With your foundation in place, you can – carefully – choose some more contemporary pieces to add. Try to pick designs that nod to the originals; this table, for example, despite its clean lines and contemporary style, still fits into the fantasy of a snug stone cottage, because it’s suitably chunky and made from solid wood, as an authentic antique version would be.

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…or let an original warm up a modern kitchen
A bottle of red, some crusty bread on a well-worn board, a hearty stew and candles or dimmed lights… These are some of the magic ingredients of a cosy cottage kitchen dinner in your dreamy weekend retreat. And they’re all the better for being enjoyed over an ancient wooden table.

This is an easy switch to make in a kitchen with space for a table and it will transform your room. Smaller versions or those with fold-down sections will do just as good a job at creating the atmosphere if you don’t have the room for something like this.

Just be sure to go for a piece that’s seen a lot of life – the older it looks, the better. Give it a good waxing (it’ll then smell amazing, too) and let it soak up some more decades of kitchen life.

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Dream big
If your fantasy retreat is a Georgian farmhouse, this is the look for you: a flagstone floor, a rail for hanging pans (this would also work over an island, too) and heritage paint colours. If you’re on a budget, you could replace existing cupboard doors with MDF panelled versions, painted the colour of your other kitchen woodwork.

Note the lovely solid-wood top on the island. Not many kitchens have the space for a beautiful beast of this size, but a well-worn butcher’s block could give you a similar feel and would work in this kind of period setting, but on a much smaller scale.

Note there’s no extractor over the oven. It’s a nice period touch, but do consult with an expert to ensure you have enough ventilation – a build-up of grease and dampness will not be fun, and if you’re in an open-plan space, you’ll want a handy window to help disperse smells and humidity.

If you take just one tiny tip from this space, let it be that an old-fashioned kettle alone will go a long way.

What does your fantasy home-from-home look like? Share your dreams in the Comments below.
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