Top 8 Design Tips for your Cottage

Your cottage is your sanctuary—and it should be a reflection of who you are. But not only that, it should also facilitate the type of lifestyle you’re trying to live. A cottage is a relatively simple building, but that doesn’t mean every cottage will work for you and your family. So, whether you're looking to update your cottage or build a new one, some good design tips can help make the process easier. Here are 8 tips on how to design your cottage right.

Your Cottage is your Sanctuary

1. Open Concept

Most cottages opt for the open concept design because it allows for maximum flexibility within a limited space. It is often the case that you’ll need to leverage your space for more than one activity. A living room may need to act as a dining area and as a social or lounging area, and at night you may need space to roll out air mattresses—an open concept design makes it easy to move your furniture around. And if you’re situated in a particularly scenic area, an open concept allows you to enjoy unobstructed views from any part of the building.

2. Bedrooms

Speaking of rolling out the air mattresses, providing guests with comfortable sleeping arrangements is a priority for any host. One simple and fun way to keep your guests off the floor is to build bunk beds in your guest rooms; this will also give your guests space for a dresser or a desk.

If you’re still not convinced you have enough sleeping space, you should consider building a bunkie. A bunkie is a small building used for extending living space. Typically, they’re just a single bedroom and have no electricity, but some zoning bylaws will allow for a toilet and a sink as well. Using bunk beds in your bunkie can be a perfect solution for providing a private sleeping space for guests, and when used with bunk beds, you can get a lot of mileage out of that space.

3. Laundry Rooms

A room that is often forgotten when it comes to cottage design is the laundry room, but having onsite laundry capabilities is imperative if you plan on staying there for long periods at a time. No one wants to drive all the way home just to clean some dirty linens. The question is, where do you put your laundry machines? Not every cottage can afford to fit in a laundry room. One simple solution is to put a stackable washer and dryer set in your kitchen or bathroom.

If you intend on using your cottage as an Airbnb, having onsite laundry can help make the turnover between guests easier and more seamless.

4. Prioritize Outdoor Living

The point of being at your cottage is to enjoy the outdoors with the amenities of your home. That doesn’t mean you want to bring the outdoors indoors, however. A great addition to any cottage—especially if you have water nearby—is an outdoor shower to help you get sand, dirt, and lake water off before tracking it inside. It’s also great for cleaning up your pup!

Another excellent addition to any cottage is a screened sunroom, especially when the bugs are bad or when you want to enjoy some fresh air on a rainy day. But before we get carried away, it’s important to remember to leave room for outdoor essentials like a large deck, storage space, or a garage.

5. Garages

Detached garages have become very popular for storing boats, patio furniture, and toys like paddleboards during winter months. When designing this space, it’s important to consider how you can maximize the usefulness of the area. Unique storage racks that suit your specific needs, and overhead storage are all great ways to do this. Golf cart doors also provide access to lawn care equipment and the aforementioned toys more easily. One thing you should consider is that maximizing storage space in your garage will help you keep your cottage clear of clutter.

6. Exteriors

When it comes to the materials you use to build your cottage, we encourage you to consider low maintenance materials like vinyl siding, composite decking, and steel roofing. The reason for this is because your cottage should be a place where your mind can rest, rather than having to worry about re-painting or replacing materials.

For example, driveways are often built with gravel as it can be difficult and pricey to get asphalt equipment down skinny cottage roads. And when thinking about windows, make sure they are large enough to draw in the wonderful view as well as fresh air; vinyl windows can also help ease the burden of maintenance.

One overlooked, and unfortunate truth about cottage ownership is that they can be targets for criminals, as they’re often unoccupied. Therefore, it’s imperative that you ensure your cottage is equipped with proper deadbolts—and if you’re fortunate enough to have good internet access, security cameras can help put your mind at ease.

7. Storage

It isn’t always easy to leave your cottage to run to the store. Having space for essentials like extra blankets and toiletries is essential. But how can you maximize what little space you may have? A few quick ways to find more storage:

  • Use dead space under your stairs
  • Invest in raised bed frames and use the space under the bed
  • Instead of a raised bed, use a captain bed to avoid dust and add storage
  • If your ceilings are vaulted, use the space on top of closets or even over areas such as bathrooms and bedrooms where the vaulted ceiling may not be necessary.

Those are just a few tips, but with a little creativity, we’re sure you can find plenty of space for storage.

8. Miscellaneous Tips

Typically, the design process begins with a discussion of your ideas and a look at photos, drawings, or product literature that you may have collected or that the designer has provided—this includes a number of bedrooms and bathrooms. But there is more to consider than just how you want your cottage to look. It’s very important to get an accurate land survey—getting this early in the design process will help to avoid headaches later. We also strongly suggest you review zoning laws such as lot coverage and setbacks. Lot coverage rules and setback distances can be highly influential on your design, and may limit the size and shape of your cottage.

Ready to build your sanctuary?

If you’re ready to start enjoying your dream cottage, you can get started by booking a zoning or phone consultation, or you can check out our pre-designed plans online!