Cottage Style Brown and Cream Living Room Ideas

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Rachel Stone

I’m so excited to share something Matt & I have been working on behind the scenes for a while now! Ever since we bought this cute little 1960s cottage a few years ago we’ve slowly been transforming it room by room into the English country style I adore. This January we decided it was time to tackle stage one for the living room.

Are you looking for inspiration for your cottage style living room? Because of the color scheme we have chosen, we were looking for cream and brown living room ideas for our home.

Keep reading to see the transformation!

Planning our Brown and Cream Living Room

Here is a “before” shot from a couple years ago. We love how intimate and comfortable this space is. Plus the fireplace is delightfully cozy in the winter months. All the furniture you see here (except the wing-back, and one floor lamp) was given to us.

I’ve tried several different furniture layouts to maximize the seating while keeping the traffic flow from the adjoining rooms. The puffy blue couch you see was very comfortable, but unattractive. You can see in nearly every arrangement I’ve tried to cover it… But you know, as long as we have blue ocean waves on the wall, the blue seashell couch has an ugly companion to look “intentional” with!

The large brown couch folds out into a bed and has come in handy a time or two. For now it will definitely go with the brown and cream color scheme that we have chosen.

Important Questions for Designing a Living Room

In the design process, important questions to ask are:

  1. How, and by whom, is this space used?
    We spend every evening here together, reading, talking, or playing games. We’ve also enjoyed sharing this cozy room with guests. 
  2. What are the main structural features of the room?
    This room has two strong structural features. There is the brick wall and fireplace, and the huge picture window and window seat.
  3. What would you like to change?
    • The wallpaper! We don’t love the blue ocean wave wallpaper (which seems more appropriate for a bathroom), or the mauve and teal rose border.
    • The mantel. In case you hadn’t noticed the mantel is actually too small for the fireplace and it’s crooked! Why would you install your mantel off-center? I’m keeping an eye out for a mantel on Marketplace that would cover the length of the fireplace and reach the hearth on either side.
    • You can’t see from this angle, but the popcorn ceiling has glitter – not our fav… plus there are patches that don’t match and old termite damage near the brick wall.
    • Swap the ceiling fan for a vintage light fixture.
    • Replace/update curtains. The curtains in the picture window are the original window dressings from the mid-1960s and are falling apart.
    • Smooth the texture and give all the walls/ceiling a fresh coat of paint.
    • In the long run we’d like to replace the carpet throughout the house with wood flooring of some sort.
    • I’m also looking into the idea of adding faux aged cottage-style beams to the ceiling. We’ll see...
  4. What is the final look/style you’re going for?
    I adore the English country style with soft shades of cream, blues, greens, and browns, comfy throws/cushions, layers of pattern, glowing lamplight, and original oil paintings.

Preparing the Living Room

Here’s a shot of the wallpaper, yellowed fan, and patched glittery popcorn ceiling.

The original wallpaper was applied straight onto textured walls, which if you know anything about papering walls, they must be smooth so the paper can effectively adhere. The border was loose in several places and at the entrance to the hallway, we stuck down the worst places with scotch tape!

Our operating goal for all our home remodels is: “Good, better, best”. We aren’t going for the all-or-nothing-get-it-done, or for having things be perfect.

Our Cream and Brown Living Room Ideas Come to Life

Fast forward a couple weeks worth of hard work and the room is stripped of wallpaper, walls are smoothed, primed, and painted a nice light putty brown color. It looks so much better! This “clean slate” box of a room was a relief in a way. I didn’t realize how busy the wallpaper and bookcases were in this space. This fresh, minimal box was a delightfully fun place to start from!

Here are some before and after pictures. Without the distraction of the wallpaper, I was able to play with the art pieces we have and get a feel for how the room would come together at this stage.

Things are a bit bare in some places as we are waiting for the right pieces of art, and fabric samples for curtains to arrive… Eventually, I’d love to have both these comfy wing-back chairs recovered in greens and blues. This would go perfectly with the cream and brown walls. But, until other things are in place (like the curtains) we’ll make do with throw blankets.

To retain the cozy feeling in this room I decided to go with the brown/green tones of the Urban Jungle paint color from Sherwin Williams versus a lighter neutral. Not only does this color have the “cocoon-like” feeling of a smaller space, but it is gorgeous by lamplight, and sets off oil paintings beautifully! The light brown shade of this wall offsets the lighter cream color “Ivory Lace” by Sherwin Williams we painted on the ceiling and other walls.

The transformation on the main wall where the wallpaper was is remarkable! The “neutral” putty tones of Urban Jungle by Sherwin Williams have a sophisticated, calming effect.

One delightful surprise is how this corner of the living room turned out. At Matt’s suggestion, I painted the back door in the soft Universal Khaki. Not only was this a satisfying project (crisp, straight paint lines are thrilling), but it tied in beautifully with the slightly darker Urban Jungle and created a gorgeous sight line as you walk down the hallway.

This was one of those surprise moments when I saw the chair put in place and I instantly knew the wall above was perfect for my collection of antique blue plates. The two round plates were a gift, and have the design balance of three, I popped into a local antique mall, went straight for my favorite booth, and bought the oval dish. I knew she’d have just what I was looking for and she did! It is so rewarding when you begin to see your spaces coming to life the way you’d imagined ~ even if ever so slowly.

BEFORE & AFTER!

These simple, affordable improvements have made such a difference and moved us much closer to our final design/function goals!

Let me encourage you, to make a plan for where you’d like to end up design-wise. Then choose simple steps to get there. Instead of waiting another year or two to show the “final reveal” in HGTV style, we thought it would be more encouraging and relatable to share the steps along the way.

This phase was a lot of de-cluttering, elbow grease, paint, and cleaning and the results are terrific! I find moving through home improvements in stages like this to be motivating and valuable. If we were able to do everything all at once the room wouldn’t have time to “settle”. I wouldn’t have time to see how the art mixes with the furniture, or the fabric samples blend with the room overall. Rooms created over time are the best rooms.

“The best cup of tea, and a well designed room must steep.”

~ Rachel Stone

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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.

21 thoughts on “Cottage Style Brown and Cream Living Room Ideas”

    • Thank you for the feedback, Miss Mary!
      We do intend to bring back the books once we have a properly fitting mantel and built-ins to replace the spindle shelves. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
      Warmly,
      Rachel

  1. I love how this makeover turned out. Thank you for inspiring me to work with what I have (my couch) and not try to do everything right away the first time. Especially when it costs a lot more money. I miss your bookshelves though! Do you have a plan to put your books somewhere else? Thank you for all you do on your blog and YouTube channel, I am always inspired!

    • Thank you, Miss Joanna!

      We are thrilled to know you were inspired! Our plan for the books is to find a properly fitting mantel and add built-in bookcases on either side. It does look a little bare at the moment! Thank you for your kind support and for following along. Have a lovely day!

      Warmly,
      Rachel

  2. This room is off to a great “steep”! I love the urban jungle paint color choice. I can’t wait to see what else is next for this room!

  3. I love everything about this transformation. There is a warmth, calmness and cohesiveness to the room. Cream and brown are so lovely together.
    Excited to see what you choose for the wingback chairs.

    • Thank you, Miss Nancy!

      I’ve been looking at fabric samples for curtains and for the wing back chairs. It will be fun to see this room evolve! Thanks for dropping by.

      Warmly,
      Rachel

  4. This is a wonderful transformation! I can’t wait to see how your project progresses. Love watching you on You Tube, btw. I would much rather watch houses like yours being transformed instead of someone decorating an already beautiful house.😊

    • Thank you, Miss Gwen!

      We are glad you’re enjoying the process and are excited to see what the next phase looks like. Have a beautiful weekend!

      Warmly,
      Rachel

  5. I love that I have your blog also, because I went back through all your steps and really looked. Love the pictures you chose and colors, your furniture placement. It truly is a work of love, thank you for showing what can be done. No need to reply.

  6. I could sure grab a cup of steeped tea and enjoy sitting in this transformed room. Love the colors and it was a great idea for the back door color.
    Now waiting to see the results of the new mantel, bookshelves , and curtains . Good job as usual.
    MiMi

    • Hello Mi Mi!

      It’s so fun that you get to follow along and see what we’re up to. We’ve let the room “steep” for about 6 weeks now and the solution for the window treatments has finally settled. We’ve ordered the blinds and chosen the drapes. I’m excited to see what this next layer add to the room!

      Love,

      Rachel

  7. Love your YouTube videos and the blog as well. Fun to look at the pictures and read your explanations and future plans. Really enjoy your content and sweet spirit.

    • Good evening, Miss Laura!

      I’m happy to know you arr enjoying the blog and channel. Thanks for following along!

      Warmly,
      Rachel

  8. I’m so in love with everything you do. I try very hard to create my own English Cottage style in my home. If your ever in Guthrie, check out the wonderful shops downtown. . Especially Country Corner.

    • Thank you, Miss Shannon!

      Yes, we love downtown Guthrie and make it there once or twice a year! Happy cottage style hunting and decorating!

      Warmly,

      Rachel

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