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1. Soft colors. The cottage palette is usually light and airy, and kitchens follow suit. It's hard to go wrong with crisp, classic white, but soft yellow, pale turquoise or light khaki all look fresh and appropriate as well. Or try a mix of cabinetry colors: one shade on the island with a contrasting hue on the cabinets.
2. Open shelving. Installed in place of traditional upper cabinetry, open shelving recalls the days when kitchens were more utilitarian than decorative. Not only was cabinetry expensive, but open shelves allowed cooks to retrieve dishes and tools quickly. Today open shelves are as much about aesthetics as about practicality: Their openness helps make a space feel larger, and they often house accessories in addition to kitchen implements.
You don't have to be obsessively neat and organized for open shelving to look attractive, but you'll want to make an effort not to let clutter build. Keeping dishware to a single color, as shown here, creates a striking effect.
3. Beadboard. Nothing says cottage kitchen more clearly than beadboard. This grooved style of paneling warms walls and cabinetry and adds architectural interest with a minimum of fuss. Because it has so much visual impact, you don't need much to create a cottage effect. Go the classic route and paint it a creamy color, choose the same hue as your cabinetry or sand it slightly for an aged, distressed look.
5. Furniture-style cabinet details. Years ago, before cabinets as we know them came into vogue, freestanding armoires, pie safes and presses were the rule. Evoke that time period by adding furniture features to built-ins. Tuck bun feet beneath lower cabinets and corbels beneath upper ones, or paint a built-in hutch a contrasting color to give the illusion that it isn't fixed.
8. Pendant lights. Low-hanging pendants help a kitchen feel cozy and also provide all-important task lighting. Select models that have a retro feel, with shades of seeded or frosted glass or brushed nickel. If you like, mix the pendants with vintage-inspired sconces and perhaps even a lamp or two to create a collected feel.
In this series: How to Find Your Kitchen Style | How to Remodel Your Kitchen
So Your Style Is: Cottage
10 Reasons to Bring Back the Kitchen Table
How to Add Cottage Charm to Your Kitchen