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Bedrooms: Rustic & Romantic
15 sweet retreats bursting with charm
Cozy and casual, cottage-style bedrooms are a dream come true for anyone who wants a comfy, inviting retreat to relax and recharge.
Inside this charming 1817 farmhouse on Cape Cod, a twin bed clad in sweet linens tucks under the eave in an upstairs bedroom.
Stenciled floors wear a Fortuny-inspired design and spice up the reclaimed chestnut floors in the master bedroom where light floods in through large windows and a set of French doors. A John Rosselli chandelier hangs above the "Branwin" bed from Ironies.
As designer Donna Whelan got to work on this two-story California cottage, she shored up the standout architectural features of the home, such as board-and-batten wainscoting, wood-plank floors, crank-operated casement windows, steep staircases, and exposed ceiling beams, to let their natural beauty shine through. Then she seamlessly scattered antique accessories that nod to the nearby water—glass sea floats, framed bits of coral, vintage globes, and other seafaring gear—among brand-new sofas, built-ins, and bedding for a collected-over-time feel that’s both clean-lined and cozy.
“Obviously the beach was an influence,” notes Whelan, “but there’s a nautical influence as well. One of my favorite things about the house is that when you walk around inside, it feels like you’re in an old boat.”
An iron bed and small-scale dresser tuck beneath the paneling-clad eaves in the upper-level master bedroom.
Warm and Woodsy
Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey and her husband, Brandon Winfrey, purhcased their cedar-shake-clad cottage in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, the cottage possessed just enough historical charm to outweigh its state of disrepair. Built by Philadelphia Quakers in 1901 it retained a wealth of original features, such as stone fireplaces, Dutch doors, and wooden doorknobs.
Now, furnishings imbue the getaway home with an airy freshness that the whole family relishes. Beaded-board walls and a beamed ceiling mix with elegant lamps and fabrics in the master bedroom, creating a cozy, casual space.
After traveling the world for a corporate career in hotel sales and marketing, Diane Willard Kaufman is finally at home. Not in the massive Atlanta house she once owned, but in a sweet little cottage on Tybee Island, Georgia, that is the culmination of her hopes and dreams.
Diane called her friend and interior designer Jane Coslick to help her renovate and decorate the 1920s cottage. They finished the attic and added a light-filled stairwell and dormer windows, creating a serene dormitory-style guest bedroom and spacious bath upstairs. A new double staircase, siding, and fresh paint spruced up the exterior.
Diane leans toward a pretty pastel palette that looks dreamy against a clean backdrop of white-painted plank walls and hardwood floors. In the guest room, an original painting by Bellamy Murphy adds a pop of vibrant color to the soothing green palette. An old table was cut in half to create two nightstands; translucent glass lamps resemble polished seaglass.
Beautiful Guest Room
Atlanta interior designer Carter Kay, worked in close collaboration with colleague Nancy Hooff and Savannah architect John Deering to bring this three-story white clapboard house on Savannah's Skidway River back to its original charm.
Deering reconfigured the relationships of some of the rooms, rebuilt the termite-damaged guesthouse, and designed historically accurate new outbuildings that look as if they were built during the Civil War era. Kay and Hooff responded to the homeowners’ wishes with a softly muted palette. Nature inspired every color in the house. Subtle shades of green are drawn from the river, live oak trees, Spanish moss, lichen, and marsh plants found on the 3-acre property. The designers then played up warm tones of saffron, sienna, and ocher in several places. “The juxtaposition of warm shots of color plays remarkably well with textured linens in shades of wet sand and driftwood,” Kay says.
The design team selected rich and varied textures to add movement and interest, including hand-forged iron lighting and tables, relaxed rattan and wicker seating, easy-care leather and linen upholstery, and honed coral stone and reclaimed wood floors.
In the guest room, modern iron beds are positioned in front of the windows to catch the breeze, an old Southern tradition.
Bright and Cheerful
To unify her disparate collections—which include Foo dogs, French earthenware, and Balinese seashells, to name a few—interior designer Debbie Duggan enveloped her Newport Beach, California home’s interiors in crisp white walls grounded with deep espresso floors. “I like backgrounds to be neutral, so I can layer color in with things I can easily alter, like art and accessories,” she says. “
Vibrant art is a favorite foil for traditional furnishings. Upholstered seating gathers atop seagrass rugs, and linen fabrics prevail. “Linen relaxes everything and lets me balance California’s casualness with my love of formal furniture.” That’s especially true of the hand-blocked fabrics that punctuate nearly every room in the house. Exuberantly patterned and brightly hued, “They’re quintessentially happy California fabrics,” Debbie says. “They make everyone feel comfortable.”
The rustic wood and iron bed hosts overnight guests in a room accentuated with a painting by daughter Julie and thrift store art.
Breezy in White
Cherished treasures hold the spotlight in this Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, home thanks to a the gleaming backdrop of high-gloss white floors, coated with industrial-grade paint to withstand foot traffic; quiet white walls; and ceilings sheathed with whitewashed wood planks. The sofas and chairs are slipcovered in white linen-cotton fabric—for the fresh but rumpled look the homeowner loves—so that pillows, tables, and shelves with tints of gray and blue can draw the eye.
The serene white scheme found elsewhere in the house also quiets the master bedroom. A mirrored nightstand, languid draperies, and a French-style chair introduce touches of refinement.
Stylish Barn Bedroom
To rediscover the character of her family's California cottage, Jen Tidwell took cues from the trees standing steadfast on the property. “We’re surrounded by beautiful trees,” Jen says. “So I thought if I could add found elements of nature and wood to the house, not only would I bring a bit of the outside in, but I could also create some cohesiveness.”
One design element that often repeats itself is recycled barnwood. The rustic boards cover the kitchen island and range hood, scale son Ryder’s bedroom walls, and shimmy up to the ceiling in the dining and living rooms.
“Neutral, natural colors became my palette,” Jen says. Gray, a shade some might consider cold, warms when paired with rich browns. Accents of cool blues and greens, along with fiery streaks of orange and red, liven up the rooms. “A little bit of color, used in the right way, adds a certain energy to a space,” Jen says.
A rope-wrapped bed frame and lamps add texture to Ryder’s room under the eaves.
As though plucked from the pages of a storybook, this oh-so-charming 1949 cottage is the stuff of fairy tales. Located on the western end of Maine’s coast, the Cape Cod-style home is nestled in the small village of Biddeford Pool, which is just a stone’s throw from well-known Kennebunkport.
Designer Tracey Rapisardi was enlisted to take the 1,200-square-foot home from dark and dated to happily-ever-after. Rapisardi began the magical transformation by removing the ceilings to expose beams and rafters to make the main living space and the loft bedroom feel more open and airy. She refinished the floors and coated the home from baseboards to rafters with gallons of soft white paint.
In the loft bedroom, a blue daybed beckons with layers of soft green, cool aqua, and crisp white linens. As she did on the main level, Rapisardi removed the paneled ceiling and bathed the room in white.
Designer Raili Clasen’s California ranch house is so effervescent and easygoing that it could easily win a congeniality award. Though not exactly the farmhouse she’d dreamed of renovating, it was, she says, “as close as I was going to get in Orange County.”
To complement her home’s fuss-free yet charming architecture—which includes exposed beams, unfinished floors, and barn doors—she filled the relaxed rooms with an inspired blend of well-worn furnishings and contemporary accents. Even bedrooms are cozied with vintage furnishings and then energized with colorful print pillows. “My style is a combination of modern and rustic, with a splash of quirkiness,” Raili says. After all, “What is a home if it doesn’t have personality?”
In the guest room, salvaged wood creates a warm backdrop for the iron bed, an antique that’s been in Raili’s family for decades.
Lovely and Livable
Resilient canvas slipcovers, bring-it-on indoor-outdoor fabrics, and even linen—washable, of course—imbue elegant rooms in Jackie and Hal Wiggins' weekend getaway in Seagrove, Florida, with an unexpectedly relaxed air. The fact that nothing quite matches furthers the effect. Fine European antiques pair beautifully with weathered architectural salvage; cotton rugs and gilt-framed intaglios make stunning neighbors. Colorful art and accessories jolt bedrooms awake; whisper-hue linens quiet them back down. “This house is a real mixture of everything I love,” Jackie says, noting that what she loves most of all are the children and grandchildren who come to visit. “We’re making our family memories here.”
Jackie Wiggins’ penchant for neutral rooms spiced with colorful accents is showcased in her Florida guest bedroom, where orange-red energizes white bed linens. An antique chair and accent pillows are identically trimmed for additional verve.
Shabby Chic Style
Kathy and Doug McCabe’s 1930s cottage features a host of white-slipcovered furniture. Sometimes slouchy, sometimes ruffled white cotton slipcovers are Kathy’s go-to secret for stunning, practical decor. “People see all this white and wonder if we really live here,” she laughs, “but what they don’t realize is that as long as your slipcovers can go in the wash, they can handle anything and everything.”
Kathy is an interior designer and shop owner whose sweetly romantic store mirrors her home. Together, she and Doug have married their shared interests to create a welcoming home with uncomplicated, yet utterly charming, ease.
Though largely absent of color, the McCabes’ interiors are rich with visual interest thanks to an array of texture, patina, and character. “Doug and I both collect quite a few things,” Kathy says, noting that their treasures feature prominently in their decor.
Kathy originally planned to use this French zinc awning as a kitchen range hood, but it was too big. Instead she created a canopy for the master bedroom.
When your job is writing about other people’s homes and making those homes look picture-perfect for the pages of a magazine, you learn a lot of useful secrets for creating welcoming spaces. Just ask Carol Schalla, former home editor of Midwest Living. “Mostly, I learned that good style doesn’t have to cost a bundle,” she says.
Her barn-inspired retirement cottage in Wisconsin’s Door County proves her point. Built on a budget, it displays tricks of the trade she learned on the job for producing low-cost high style. “I wanted a contemporary barn look with warming elements of nature, but with a clean, minimal look,” Carol says.
Her own backyard provided free-for-the-taking inspiration. Gnarly branches stand in for artwork. Rocks are piled as tabletop decor. Even Carol’s color palette is drawn from her home’s setting. Vistas of water, forests, farmland, and limestone rock formations informed the grays, browns, and greens united by warm white. Mismatched furnishings and collections of antique pitchforks, ironstone pitchers, barn vents, and even antlers extend the look.
A salvaged fragment of an old windmill stands in as a headboard in the master bedroom.
Gorgeous in Green
Jane and Alex Whaley's new home in West Beach along the Florida Gulf Coast is a three-dimensional canvas teeming with charm and personality. The cottage sports a blend of nature and sophistication. Floors throughout sport a pickle barrel finish. Light but also durable, the surface masks sand and actually looks better with age.
Modern touches like an acrylic bedside table mingle with galvanized tubs filled with extra linens and pillows in the guest room.