Cottage Kitchen Design Ideas: Overcoming a Dilemma

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Rachel Stone

Do you ever run into design dilemmas when decorating your home? There’s that one part that just has you stumped…we ran into a design dilemma in during our kitchen remodel. I’d like to share with you the cottage kitchen design ideas we learned for getting “unstuck” when designing cohesive space, and hopefully this will help you as well.

The Challenge:

This wall was the headscratcher for decorating in the English country style of the rest of the kitchen. The wall is cut up by this tall narrow cabinet leaving a larger wall space behind the peninsula and a smaller wall on the other. The cabinet is quite deep and holds the trash in the lower section and our cookbooks in the top section.

Since the cabinet is useful, we’ve decided to somehow work it into our overall kitchen design. The problem was first how to make the cabinet look as if it “belonged” and wasn’t floating oddly on the wall. Then once the cabinet is anchored, the next issue is what decor to put on either side of the cabinet. Having the two walls of different sizes was a good start as I wouldn’t have to find matching sets of wall décor. I was also glad the larger wall was behind the peninsula as it was an opportunity to feature the peninsula.

Cottage Kitchen Design Ideas: Use Woodwork

One of our first cottage kitchen design ideas was to make the cabinet look as if it were planned into the kitchen design and not just stuck into the wall. After some thought, I realized that it was the smooth, texture-less sheet-rock that seemed quite builder grade and made the tall cabinet seem tossed on the wall as a second thought. By adding some sort of texture through moldings like paneling, we could create a feeling of deliberate design while adding a custom-built depth to the wall. We settled on the same tongue-and-groove paneling as used on the backsplash to join the wall with the rest of the kitchen.

With this decision made we began by pulling the peninsula away from the wall to install the tongue-and-groove paneling. First, the trim around the cabinet and base of the peninsula was removed, and then the boards could start going up. This process is fairly simple as each board has a tongue on one side and a groove on the other, so each board snaps into the board next to it. Each board is cut to the proper length then snapped into place and nailed.

This entire wall was installed one afternoon in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The next step was to prep for painting by filling the nail holes and any extra-large knotholes. Then primer is applied, and finally a couple of coats of Ivory Lace paint from Sherwin-Williams that we used in the rest of the kitchen.

Quartz Countertops

Another of our cottage kitchen design ideas was to add mixed countertops with butcher block and quartz. The butcher block was well within our budget but we weren’t sure about the quarts until…

I’d like to share the incredible gift we were offered by Miss Shara of Castle Rock Countertops. Her generosity elevated our kitchen beyond what we’d imagined. One day I received this email:

Hello Rachel,
My name is Shara Castillo and I’m reaching out to you for a couple of reasons. I want to tell you how much I have truly loved watching your videos.

You have inspired me with so many projects I have been working on this summer. I live in Edmond now but grew up in north OKC, I had never shopped at many of the Antique shops around the metro area until I watched several of your videos. Thank you for sharing your ideas and talents. The second thing I wanted to mention to you is that I have watched your kitchen remodel. I absolutely love the color you chose for the cabinets. The Laura Ashley wallpaper I purchased in July after falling in love with it in your dining room.

Rachel, my husband, and I have a countertop company. Castle Rock Countertops if you want to look us up.

I wanted to reach out and tell you I would love to help you with your kitchen countertops. I know I have quartz countertop you would like. I’m offering you countertops at cost, along with sink. I promise this is not a plea for business, we choose a couple of projects a year where we share our talents with someone. You have been so inspirational to me that I would love to give back to you. If you are interested in visiting about countertops and English Cottage design and decorating, please call me.

Shara Castillo

As you may imagine I receive requests for collaborations and sponsorships to promote on this channel every day, but I’d not had an offer quite like this! I showed the email to Matt, and we decided to meet Miss Shara and her husband in their showroom one Saturday afternoon.

With her advice, we settled on the pattern HanStone Montauk at 3cm thick. It is a soft white with subtle warm grey veins and what sold me on the pattern was the milky white spray sprinkled throughout the design. Next Matt and I chose the edge for the countertop.

We both like a more “furniture-like” finish with a curved routing design versus the modern block edge. The one we chose is called: “Deep Ogee Specialty Edge”. Then the last thing was to choose the backsplash where the countertop would meet the wall. For this Miss Shara suggested we design our own custom pattern and they would cut it for us! This was amazing and quite exciting! I would never, ever have dreamed all of this was even possible!

Back home I began looking at some Pinterest pins for design inspiration. The backsplashes with the taller profile seemed to add a rich, intentional design element that elevated the countertops. Also, I wanted to keep in mind that this detail would be a supporting layer and not the feature so the words “simple and sophisticated” were my guide. Whatever wall décor I chose would be the feature. This balancing act is a delightfully fun part of creating a space!

With these factors in mind, I photographed the wall and gave it a good stare. Then I took in the feeling the rest of the kitchen gave. My eye was first caught by the pattern routed in the cabinet doors. This pattern is used on the woodwork throughout our home indoors and out. Using this, or something similar would look very intentional.

Then I considered the curve of the edge on the countertop and this cabinet pattern seemed like a good place to start. Then my eye landed on the back piece from Grandpa’s buffet. This was an ideal blend of the cabinet pattern and the edge cut into the countertop. To get a visual I grabbed a piece of cardboard and sketched out the design with a Sharpie and a water glass. Then I propped it up on the countertop, snapped another pic, and gave it another good long stare and it seemed to belong. Finally, I ran the design by Matt and we both gave it a pass!

Miss Shara invited me to see their crew in action at the shop, this was going to be fun! At the shop she gave me a tour of their inventory, as well as showing me the massive island and bar that our piece was cut from. It was fascinating to watch the men as they cut the edges and used the router to get the furniture edge we had chosen. Then one of the workers used my template to trace out the design for the backsplash. We did have to tweak the design a little to work with the angles of the router. It was such fun to watch my design being created! Next is installation day!

This was such an exciting day! What a dramatic change to this side of the kitchen! The soft quartz furniture-like edge elevated the kitchen and gave it a sophisticated, custom vibe that beautifully contrasted with the more rustic butcher block. I’m so glad I went with British designer, Rita Kong’s, advice for mixing the countertops! The other element I really appreciate about quartz is that the light, white color keeps the bright, airy feeling in this relatively small space.

Now it’s time for the backsplash! It was lowered into place and… was too tall and ran into the switch plate. Matt tried to raise the plate the ¼ inch we needed, but the switch plate didn’t give. So… back to the drawing board. The crew took the backsplash back to the shop and cut it down. Now we have a perfect fit! I’m so grateful to Miss Shara, her husband Raul, and the crew for making sure everything was absolutely perfect! I still can’t believe this gorgeous quartz countertop is ours!

Cottage Kitchen Design Ideas: Artwork

With the wall freshly paneled and the new countertop in place, the feel of the space and how it would look with décor became easier to envision. For the smaller side, once again I hear Rita’s voice in my ear telling me to choose pieces that fit the space for that sense of belonging and intention in good design.

Another design tactic that I often employ is using mirrors to open and expand a space. So, a mirror is where I began the search for a piece to fit this space. Placing a mirror on this wall would serve several design functions: It would open up the space, reflect light, and the gorgeous tile over the stove.

As usual, I turned to Marketplace for the mirror and after several weeks this antique carved oak beveled edge mirror popped up with just the right dimensions for $100. I made her an offer of $80 and she countered with $90. It was nearly a two hour drive one-way, but totally worth it! When making a purchase like this it’s good practice to consider where else the piece could be used. In this instance, there were at least three or four other places I could think of in our home where this mirror would work well.

For the larger wall, I’ve gone back and forth between creating a plate wall with antique blue transferware, or a large oil painting. I love the look of a plate wall as it would echo the plates along the plate rack on the other kitchen wall, as well as tying in with the blue in the Zellige tile.

Again, here’s where one design decision helps to direct the next. Once the mirror was hung, I could see immediately that a painting would better balance the weight of the dark frame on the mirror than the soft blue plates. Plus, having one large mirror, and one large painting would carry more prominence than lots of smaller pieces. These two larger pieces also would create a balance with all that is going on with the tile, tongue-and-groove backsplash, oven, and brass faucet on the other side of the kitchen.

After browsing inspiration pictures on Pinterest I ended up favoring a couple of options: either a larger, moodier, with possibly an antiqued gilded frame, or a blue and green seascape with a darker wood frame. Then, I scouted the house to see if we already had something that would work or stand in as a placeholder until something better turns up. It’s always a good idea to shop your own home first as sometimes you’ll be surprised to find you’ve already got the perfect piece on hand. Here are the options I considered.

Ah, now let’s take a look at how solving this design dilemma brought this wall fit into the rest of the kitchen design! By adding tongue-and-groove paneling to the wall the tall cabinet automatically looked as if it were placed on the wall purposefully, the same feeling you get when looking at the cabinetry. It also pulled the kitchen together as a unit with the same textures and paint color. The Ivory lace paint color ties in with the quartz countertop and helps keep the kitchen open and airy. By choosing a single, larger piece of art over the peninsula that fit the space well, it automatically looked as if it belonged.

If you find yourself looking for cottage kitchen design ideas or you are stumped by a design issue as you work on your home my best tips are to:

Start with what you love.

Do what you’re sure will work.

For me, the mirror was a sure item to begin with. Once you have a piece that works it will often inform you of the next step in the process. This was the case for us as the mirror called for a larger more visually heavy piece over the peninsula to balance the space.

Now, if you enjoyed this episode where we solved a design dilemma then stay tuned as our next kitchen episode will be the icing on the cake! We will be thrifting & antiquing for décor to decorate and style this newly remodeled English country kitchen. Until next time ~ take care.



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Author: Rachel Stone
Rachel is passionate about creating a comfortable and beautiful home for her family. She also loves to share the lessons she is learning with her wonderful audience both on this blog and her YouTube channel.

13 thoughts on “Cottage Kitchen Design Ideas: Overcoming a Dilemma”

  1. I am no expert, but I feel like the beautiful mirror needs to be hung a little higher. Otherwise I really like your kitchen and the country green color

    • Good evening Miss Darla,
      Yes, this is a common thought. I probably should have mentioned that I do have a second layer of decor planned for this wall, but am saving it for the final episode where we will be shopping and styling the kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Loved each of your design decisions and what a blessing to have Miss Shara help with the countertop. I wish I had your patience.

  3. I’m just loving this series about your Kitchen remodeling adventures. For years I have thought Farmhouse was my style, until I looked around and realized that what I really loved and made me feel at home was English cottage style. Yes, I have doilies and dark wood, just like my mother and my grandmother did. We live in a 1947 ranch style house that is slowly becoming my cottage in Missouri. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • Me too!
      I originally thought I was vintage farmhouse, but the more I studied the pictures that spoke to me the more I realized that English country was at the heart of my style. Your Missouri cottage sounds lovely. Thanks for following along!

  4. Your kitchen is turning out to be beautiful! I love the Ivory Lace wall color and the attention to detail on the counter edges and backsplash. What a delight to watch your progress and hear your thinking on each step.

  5. I’m so happy for you, Rachel. What a blessing to get your dream countertops! I’m not sure if you’ve made a final decision on what to put on the wall to the left of the cabinet, but my thought when I saw your last video (part 3 of the remodel) was to hang a couple of shelves with the same brackets used under your cabinets. I thought it would beautifully mirror that design element on the other side of the kitchen, as well as offer additional display space. All that said, your kitchen remodel is an absolute triumph! I have been so inspired to begin tackling my builder grade kitchen. Kudos to both you and Matt for a job well done. ~ Blessing

    • Good evening, Miss Kimberly!
      Yes, I had considered an antique carved shelf, but the art won out. I do have a second layer of decor planned for this wall, but saved it for the next episode where we will be shopping and styling the kitchen ~ I can hardly wait to share! Most of all I’m thrilled to know you’ve been inspired to tackled your builder-grade kitchen. I just wish I could see your plans & progress! Thank you for sharing.

      • Rachel,
        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am so excited to see the coming episodes and the final reveal of your kitchen. You and Matt must be so thrilled with how it’s turned out!

  6. Such a beautiful, well-thought-out result, Rachel. How lovely to have inspired someone so much that they want to help you. Congratulations 🌷

  7. Each step adds to your kitchen and style makes it so pretty and cozy. I love that sharing with us so we can understand your decorating process. Thanks so much.

    • Absolutely, Miss Marlene!
      We’re glad to know you’ve found the design process helpful & inspiring!

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