Cottage décor is light and casual, a touch of vintage mixed with a bounty of quaint comfort, it often feels right at home within a bathroom. If you don’t have a large budget for your bathroom renovation, try a few of the following ideas to make your cottage style bathroom on a budget.
The Elements of Cottage Style
Cottage décor is actually an umbrella term for subcategories that include the coastal cottage, English cottage, camp cottage, shabby chic… and other various interpretations. While these styles might differ slightly from one another – some that feel more neutral and some that are decidedly feminine – their elements tie them together. As you pull together a design for your cottage bathroom renovation, consider how you might use these elements:
A light, cheerful palette:
White is a great basis for any décor, and it suits cottage style very well by supporting the typical mix-and-match patterns that cottage is known for. Any pastel shade (even light gray) will be appropriate as the backdrop, to which you can add touches of a few bright, bold colours. Steer clear of somber colours, or use them very sparingly. However, black is useful as an anchor colour here and there, such as for the mirror’s frame, a black oil lantern, or black metal hardware on white cabinets.
Simple, organic textiles:
One outstanding hallmark of cottage style is its heavy use of floral motifs and a tendency to mix up many different patterns in the same room, such as plaids, stripes, and solids. However, cottage textiles can be very simple and utilitarian, which would work well if you want a campy-cottage bathroom. A canvas shower curtain and pure white towels work very well with any palette. Whatever you choose, use organic textiles.
While wood is a crucial part of the décor, you don’t need or want a great deal of stained wood, especially in the bathroom. Not only does it weigh down the palette with dark hues, but it may not hold up well in the damp environment. For that reason, wood floors are never recommended in a bathroom, where it is certain to be trodden on with wet feet. Elsewhere, painted wood is very common in cottage décor, and in the bathroom is a good choice for sealing it from humidity. Wood details can transform any ordinary bathroom into cottage style. Bead board wainscoting works very well for that purpose, but you can also use bead board on the ceiling for unexpected architectural detail. Wood shutters are perfect cottage window treatments, or if you have a bathroom closet, consider long, shutter-style doors.
Vintage, salvage, and flea market finds:
Once you have the basics in place you can add the touches that finish off the cottage look in your bathroom. Whether you choose heirlooms and antiques or reproductions, your bathroom needs something that looks old. It can be as simple as a mug and brush for shaving, a tin pail holding rolls of toilet paper, or a vintage vase filled with cotton balls. Re-purposing items is a great way to add an element of surprise, but use creativity in choosing items that serve dual purposes of charm and function. The details are up to you, but the goal is to achieve a welcoming but not-too-upscale look – the kind of bathroom that anyone could enter and feel delighted with, and instantly at home.
Cottage bathroom fixture ideas
Pedestal sinks and wall-mounts will work very well, and are economical choices. A sink in a vanity is hard to beat in practicality. One option is to buy a short chest of drawers and ask your contractor to use it as a vanity. Choose reclaimed faucets or a reproduction of a vintage style; the color or finish is entirely up to you.
While claw-foot bathtubs are a very hot commodity now and look sweet in a cottage bathroom, their price can be daunting. If you can’t afford the claw-foot but want to replace your bathtub or one of those moulded shower units, consider a tiled walk-in shower. Choose simple 4” tile for the lowest price, but also for the beauty of choosing one of the most common of materials. Its simplicity blends well with everything, yet it is a sentimental touch. A shower curtain might work better than a glass door, but this is the kind of choice that is up to personal taste; cottage style is always about blending the old and the new.
The options are practically limitless for light fixtures, because even newer styles can fit into a cottage décor. Your choice will depend on which way your cottage style leans – a chandelier and candle-like sconces will be right at home in a romantic or shabby chic cottage bathroom, and simple utilitarian pendants or hanging lanterns work well in coastal, camp, or rustic cottage bathrooms. Just make sure your contractor is qualified to wire the lighting correctly. Some antique light fixtures can be a fire hazard, so if you don’t have the money to have them retro-fitted for lighting, consider using them as decoration.
Every bathroom needs adequate storage, no matter what the style. Besides the vanity sink, include hidden storage in the form of old cabinets, a bench with a lift-up lid, or a small side-table. Built-ins are popular for cottages, but you can also perpetuate the look with flea market finds. Open shelving will also go a long way to promoting cottage style, upon which you can put everyday items (like rolled-up towels) next to decorative details. Slat-style shelves allow linens to breathe, and also lends that feeling of visiting the beach.
Saving Money in Your Cottage Bathroom Makeover
You will save the most money by doing the work yourself. Going that route will depend on your skill level, willingness, and time. Tackle the tasks that you are able to, but leave plumbing and electrical work to a professional if you are a beginner. If you need to hire a contractor, hire someone willing to think and work creatively. Hiring a contractor with good references is essential, but in this case you also want someone who has projects under his belt in which he used reclaimed materials. An experienced contractor in such projects will know the best places to find deals, but whether you or he gathers the materials, do so far ahead of the project to give yourself time to find the best deals.
Where to start:
Start by visiting a construction salvage company. These types of places sell everything from fireplace mantles to kitchen sinks. If you need to replace a bathroom sink, you’ll save money by buying it there. You may not find everything at a budget price, but it doesn’t hurt to leave your name and number with the manager, along with your wish list.
If you can’t find the wood you need at reclaimed materials venues, visit your local big box store regularly and keep an eye on the lumber section. Occasionally they bundle timber (of various sizes) at a reduced price – sometimes at 75 per cent off retail. Look for a bundle that is the least warped or damaged. Another possible source of wood is pallet wood, which, if painted, can be used in many types of projects.
The best advice for saving money on your cottage bathroom makeover is to take your time with it. Cottage style almost demands a gathered-over-time look, a cohesion of this and that. Edit the details carefully so the bathroom doesn’t look too busy or feel crowded. You’ll know you’ve reached your goal when your bathroom makes you feel like you’re on a relaxing vacation.