As much as I adore simple, I can’t get enough of the 2-weeks of grandiose pageantry that is Wimbledon, a tournament for which ended just over a week ago. As I watched—an annual ritual enjoyed from the comfort of my couch—my mind’s eye drifted happily to the many nearby English villages populated by rows of shabby chic abodes—country cottages—the ultimate in pretty living. It’s where rustic meets the comforts of home—surfaces are weathered, patterns are floral, and materials are natural.
Few sights are more charming than a barely there structure nestled cozily in blooming flora, like puzzle pieces perfectly connected. Equal joy can be found in coming across a single, remote dwelling as wandering past a string of cottages playfully dotting a stretch of landscape punctuated by a village pub. The patinated painted, bricked, and stoned surfaces so proudly announcing a well-aged life— are the perfect complement to the changes phases of the surrounding landscape, and a well-placed bench is the absolute ideal spot from which to take in this marriage of nature and edifice.
Inside is a treasure trove of pretty pleasures, where vintage style most often leads the way. Aged dishware, furniture, art, and textiles add to the look and feel more appropriately than the latest catalog bought accessory. Quilted blankets at the ends of beds and lace curtains adorning windows are what you hope to see, and usually do. Books and pictures tinged with yellow and fireplaces thick with soot are just as ubiquitous. Missing are granite countertops, low-flush toilets, and garbage disposals.
For all of the shared characteristics, each storybook oasis reveals traits of its individual minder. Some edifices are tidier than a soldiers’ barracks, while others have an unkept feel as wild as the nature around them. The choice of walkway, sometimes hidden, sometimes welcoming, sometimes fenced sometimes an extension of a public pathway also reflects the extrovert or introvert caretaker. Once inside you are just as likely to find find little more than a reading nook and a kettle, as you are to be in cramped quarters filled with the collected furnishings of decades past. No matter the choices made, there’s always an unmistakable air of warmth and charm in country cottages everywhere.