Cottage style bathroom design is equal parts comfort, cozy, and clean design. Pioneered in often very small turn of the century bathrooms, it’s a style that’s remained incredibly persistent, I think because it fits so well with the way we interact with our bathrooms in a modern setting. In fact, as bathroom design moves more towards the modern, cottage style design is more relevant than ever, offering us an equally simple but distinctly more inviting counterpoint to a highly refined modern design.
What Is A Cottage Style Bathroom?
“Cottage style” bathrooms (which are often generally lumped with similar Cape Cod, seaside, and country style bathrooms) have a few distinct features – white hex tile floor, 1/3-1/2 walls made of white subway tile or beadboard wainscoting, overall pastel color scheme, and (typically) a white bathroom vanity, pedestal sink, or console lavatory. Obviously, there’s a lot of wiggle room (and a lot of variations in design), but I think this Hampton Vanity from Ronbow and the surrounding bathroom are a pretty good example. It’s also a great design, with six fully functioning drawers and an adjustable shelf in the main cabinet.
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Why Not Pedestal Sinks?
While pedestal sinks are a classic and quite common choice for a cottage style bathroom, and while I’m personally pretty fond of the look, I have to admit that you basically can’t do worse in terms of storage in a small bathroom. Master bathrooms are a different story (where it’s entirely possible to build a large storage unit between two pedestal sinks), but for a standard smallish bathroom, you’re much better off opting for something like this Juliet Vanity. Clocking in at just barely over 17 inches wide, it’s about the same size as a pedestal sink, but offers a full internal cabinet and storage drawer.
Simple Design With A Casual Style
Modern design is all about simplicity, but simplicity in the form of minimalism – namely, straight lines and sharp angles. The idea is to create a clear, clean, open feeling, but if you ask me, the result is all too often a space that looks overly industrial or sterile. Because cottage style bathroom vanities like this Le Manns Vanity are typically white, simple but not so stark, and paired with warm pastels, you wind up with a vanity that creates a much warmer, more inviting space. If a modern palette tends to feel a little cold, a cottage one is definitely cozy.
Keeping It Compact
Another big emphasis of modern design is compact efficiency. Because the style proliferates in compact urban spaces, many bathroom vanities are designed to be very small and jam-packed full of storage. But again, sometimes this is at the expense of aesthetics. But contemporary cottage style bathroom vanities put their own twist on space saving. Instead of reducing the silhouette, look for shallow vanities like this Adara Vanity that keep a beautiful, traditional shape with a gorgeous integrated sink, but stand only 13 inches out from the wall, giving your bathroom more foot room and making it easier to navigate.
The Power Of White
The use of white in a cottage style bathroom (and cottage style bathroom vanities) is one of the things that really makes all of this come together. After all, white is not only a bright, cheerful, clean looking color in its own right, it also helps reflect both natural and artificial light. A big, white bathroom vanity can actually help make your bathroom seem larger. Plus, the open base of this Newcastle Vanity (a common feature in seaside bathroom vanities) uses figurative white space to help emphasize this wide open feeling.
Beautiful In Black
Now, that isn’t to say you can’t have a bathroom vanity that ISN’T white in a cottage style bathroom – quite the contrary. In fact, black bathroom vanities are actually a great way to put a little modern twist on the traditional style. I like this Venice Vanity especially for the slightly formal feel of the simplified traditional design, which gives it a subtle modern edge without straying too far from the expected. This photo also shows how well the design can work (black and white is especially elegant), with an extremely modern asymmetrical assortment of framed prints (which again give the space a subtle, sophisticated modern edge), while the light marble floor and wall tile and the rustic furnishings and rug keep the look casual and inviting.
If you’re looking to update your bathroom but want to find a middle ground between tradition and modern design, a contemporary cottage style bathroom is an excellent choice. Not only will it add a casual, relaxing feel to your bathroom and make a small bath seem larger, it’ll create a space that’s warmer and more inviting than a strictly modern design. Do you prefer a cottage style or modern design? How do you feel about a contemporary hybrid of the two? Let me know in the comments!
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