Creating an English Cottage Snug

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Rachel Stone

Good morning, friends!

I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing the next phase of creating an English cottage snug in our living room with you! Today we will address the issues with the brick fireplace wall and mantel, add a window dressing… shop, and put the room together!

Here’s a look back in time at our living room in 2018. You could definitely say this room has a “collected” look, but not in a great way! Not only has some of the furniture changed, but so has the photography and lighting!

In this picture, the blue “sea shell” sofa was still with us as well as the coffee table we got for free when we first got married. There is glittery popcorn on the ceiling and blue wave wallpaper… The room is very cozy and comfortable (which is a great place to start!), but dated and tired looking. I was looking to update, freshen and bring a clear, recognizable style to this space.

Here is phase one of the living room evolution. There is no more glittery pop-corn ceiling texture or blue wave wallpaper! The spindle bookcases have been sold, and the coffee table swapped for an English country upholstered ottoman from an estate sale. The “sea shell” loveseat has been donated, and all the walls and the ceiling smoothed and freshly painted. This phase was mostly elbow grease as we did all the work ourselves. The result is a much “quieter” room. There were several months between this phase and phase two which gave me time to study the room with fewer distractions, refine my style vision for the room, and shop in thrift stores and on Marketplace for the pieces we were looking for to create a more English country look.

I sold the spindle bookcases for $85 and bought this pair of bookcases for $80. The biggest challenge was finding a pair of bookcases with the right dimensions! Since they would be sitting up on the hearth they could only be 10″ inches deep, and only so tall. Finding a pair within these requirements took months. This pair is a bit short, and intentionally a bit too narrow as we want to allow room for the mantel to be redesigned. In time, we intend to build them up and out to fit the space, but for now, this is the next best step.

Initially, I painted the bookcases my favorite grassy green paint color called Pesto Paste by Behr, but I guess after living with a much “quieter” space for a few months (and noticing that most of my favorite inspo pics have calmer color palettes), I decided to go with Universal Khaki by Sherwin Williams.

Here’s a look at the bookcases in place in the green color. Before repainting them we set them in place, decorated them, and let them “settle” for a few weeks first to be sure which color would be best. while the green was lovely I seemed to fight with the strong red brick too much as well as competing with the pops of blue in the shelf decor.

There is just something lovely about this silky smooth sophisticated color. No matter where we put it I love it! This makes the fourth place we’ve used this Universal Khaki. When you find a color that works so well ~ use it! Next, I painted the mantel a dark chocolate brown color called “Espresso Beans”  by Behr in a satin finish to give greater contrast in color with the brick. This dark brown color also more closely resembles the mantel I’d like to place here at some point in the future.

Now that we’ve got the bookcases repainted it was time to focus on window dressing. At first, we were going to simply replace the pull cord curtains that hung inside the window seat previously, but after waiting months for the rod to arrive (and living with a black window staring at us every evening), we canceled the order and went in another direction. We’ve used these gorgeous bamboo blinds in several other windows in the house and they always elevate the room and add great depth of texture. The blinds are a high quality, the company is great to work with, and they often run sales of 30% off!

Matt is hanging a pair of bamboo blinds (which are custom made for each window). The warm, natural texture adds to the interest in the room and pulls the color from the brick wall as well. The blinds are simple to install with brackets to screw into the sheetrock at the top, then a “valance” of bamboo hangs down to cover them. Not only are these pretty, but they also darken a room nicely. We now have these blinds in four rooms in the house and given time we’ll have them on every window! The blinds come from…. and we chose the color… We have an affiliate link that can save you money…

Now it’s time to put the room together! Here’s the before…

I’m excited to share phase two of the English living room makeover with you! Matt & I are both so pleased with how it has turned out! I just love how the colors and patterns play well with each other while still giving a calm feeling to the room. The new bookcases add wonderful symmetry and updated freshness to the space. Painting them Universal Khaki ties them with the back door and helps the room have a better flow. I also love how the pops of blue from the umbrella stand to the lamp all pick up on each other.

When we were first evaluating this room we listed the things we liked and the coziness was at the top of our list. Then the next most important question was: What makes this room cozy? We narrowed it down to four things:

  1. The red brick wall
  2. Comfortable seating, throw pillows, and blankets.
  3. Great books to read
  4. Ambient lighting

Identifying specifically what we enjoyed and wanted to keep helped tremendously in knowing how to move forward! One word I would use in identifying my design style would be traditional. Leaving the red brick as is definitely fits with my design aesthetic. While most people would have painted the wall (and I certainly did look into the German smear and lime-washing!) the bricks were a good color to work with and I love how the rich dark brown mantel looks against the brick.

This room is super cozy, very comfortable, and feels like home to us. It’s been great for entertaining as we still have the same amount of seating (actually more with the popular ottoman).

There is more to do to complete this room and I’m enjoying the slow, sure pace of bringing things together. I’m still searching Marketplace for a mantel, plus I’ve got fabric samples coming for upholstery, drapes, and throw pillows… there may be a lot of sewing in my future!

This gorgeous linen upholstered loveseat is my all-time favorite furniture find from Marketplace to date. After we donated the blue “sea shell” loveseat back in January I’ve been scouring MP for just the right replacement. This one ticked all the boxes of a high, tight upholstered back, English looking rolled arm, and down-filled single bench cushion in an upholstery color/pattern that we could live with.

I looked at so many loveseats in the last four months and this one is perfect! I knew it looked good and seemed well made but hadn’t heard of the Highland House furniture brand. The woman who sold it to me had another Highland House sofa and she shared how the sofa company offered customization of the leg style and upholstery, as well as the accompanying feather filled cushions. So glad I held out for just the right loveseat!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and have gathered some inspiration to move forward in your space even if it’s somewhere in the range of “good, better, or best!”



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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.

2 thoughts on “Creating an English Cottage Snug”

  1. Everything looks wonderful, Rachel. You and Matt really are building your home with your heart and hands! Thank you so much for generously sharing the process with the rest of us.

    • Thank you, Miss Lisa!
      I’m glad you are enjoying the process, our hope is that it is inspiring and encouraging.

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