Cottage Design Reimagined: A 100-Year-Old Home in the Hills of Mill Valley

Cottage Design Reimagined: A 100-Year-Old Home in the Hills of Mill Valley

Decoration and Design
Interior Design
By Dikran Seferian July 19, 2022

Perched high up in the hills of Mill Valley, California, this two-story cottage house redefines color and design. The 100-year-old home initially served as a summer retreat for San Francisco's elite. Thanks to Laurel Harrington’s unique perspective and bubbly flair for interior design, the cottage was reborn as a workshop for her company, honey dudley

Based in Marin County, the designer creates vibrant pieces of furniture that are meant to inspire joy. The uplifting vibes that Laurel’s creations exude are evident in every corner of her cottage, a seemingly humble abode bursting with colors and shapes. A tasteful combination of bright hues and playful details characterize each room in this Mill Valley home. 

Introducing Laurel Harrington

Harrington’s impressive background in interior design is sure to raise eyebrows. Before moving on to interior design, the California native worked at highly acclaimed companies including Pottery Barn and Gloss.com (later acquired by Estée Lauder). She launched Harrington Design in 2002 and handles projects from San Francisco, Napa, the Peninsula, and Marin County — one of the most expensive counties in the United States.

Laurel currently resides in the 1920’s Mill Valley cottage with her son, Crosby. Her latest magnum opus is honey dudley, where she created her signature collection of Daisy Doo chairs and tables. 

The 100-Year-Old Cottage

A splash of green and blue appear at the entrance of the Mill Valley cottage.

A splash of green and blue appear at the entrance of the Mill Valley cottage.

Pops of color don’t wait to reveal themselves in this cottage. A wall painted in sky blue adds visual interest to a small yet charming mudroom. A white entryway bench — with a mirror and hanging hooks for added functionality — provides balance to the color palette. The detailing on the chair-shaped bench tastefully reveals the blue wall behind it.

Adding to the whimsical nature of the cottage design is an owl-shaped umbrella stand. Laurel ties the space together with a patterned blue and green area rug set on a hardwood floor. Even the front door doesn’t hesitate to add a jolt of color to the space, donning an apple green paint.

Vibrant paintings and patterned throw pillows accentuate the color palette of the living room.

Vibrant paintings and patterned throw pillows accentuate the color palette of the living room.

In keeping with the playful aesthetic, the same color palette appears in the living room. Sky blue walls surround plain white sofas beneath a barndominium-style ceiling. Colorful accents throughout the room appear in the form of a yellow lampshade, vibrant wall art, and throw pillows that match the patterned rug we see in the entryway. A vintage buffet cabinet pays homage to the rich history of the cottage while perfectly complementing the room’s color scheme.

White sections of the cottage house help in creating a bright living space for Laurel.

White sections of the cottage house help in creating a bright living space for Laurel.

The abundance of white surfaces creates a bright and airy atmosphere throughout the cottage. It also allows colorful accents to stand out while providing a balance that keeps the palette from overwhelming the eye.

Daisies are a recurring theme in Laurel’s cottage house. Sitting beside a Scandi blue counter, her signature Daisy Doo chairs feature a rounded pedestal base holding up a circular padded seat and a five-petaled back. Let’s not forget the bouquet of daisies reinforcing the vibrant theme while serving as an element of eco-friendly home decor.

Bouquets of daisies appear abundantly in Laurel’s cottage home.

Bouquets of daisies appear abundantly in Laurel’s cottage home.

To maintain a light and lively mood in her living spaces, Harrington enjoys making use of sculptural shapes such as curves to offset the straight lines of modern design. The Daisy Doo table, for instance, is another one of her creations. Shaped like a daisy with five petals, the table features three cascading layers of colors. The playful approach to design is also evident in details such as a bird cage that Laurel repurposes into a lantern.

Laurel’s selection of lively paintings tastefully resonates with the interior design of her cottage.

Laurel’s selection of lively paintings tastefully resonates with the interior design of her cottage.

Tastefully curated wall art makes up a considerable part of this cottage’s interior design. The hues that appear in the paintings resonate with the overall color palette of the surrounding spaces. Perky shapes and figures serve as the subjects of these pieces of art.

Awash with colors and patterns, Laurel’s sleeping nook seems as though it’s straight out of a fairytale.

Awash with colors and patterns, Laurel’s sleeping nook seems as though it’s straight out of a fairytale.

A cozy sleeping nook features a queen-sized bed for which Laurel chose floral cushions and green zebra-striped linens by Christopher Farr — all nestled beneath a white shiplap ceiling. The whole space gets a splash of color with apple green walls and Roman blinds that match with the floral cushions. A couple of antique impressionist paintings provide a unique twist to the vivid setting.

Teamed with bright accents, pops of blue and green create a unifying theme in the cottage-style home.

Teamed with bright accents, pops of blue and green create a unifying theme in the cottage-style home.

Laurel can’t seem to get enough of blue and green walls — and rightfully so. The combination of these colors truly lends the cottage house a one-of-a-kind character. Meanwhile, colorful accents such as pink throw blankets and floral blinds add to its unparalleled charm.

The natural light from the window helps in highlighting the special features of the bedroom.

The natural light from the window helps in highlighting the special features of the bedroom.

In her son’s bedroom, a puzzle headboard takes center stage and is accentuated by colorful elements throughout the space. An owl-shaped night lamp — identical to the umbrella stand in the entryway — keeps the whimsical theme going. The white walls coupled with the white barndominium ceiling maximize the natural light coming in from the bedroom window, creating an open and airy atmosphere.

Spending considerable amounts of time at home during the pandemic, Harrington felt the need to create an uplifting space. She adopted the elements of color and curve to express an aura of calm and continuity during turbulent times. Ultimately, the design of this cottage house is a nod to the notion of happily ever after.   

Cottage Interior Design Tips

From decor choices full of character to charming colors and patterns, a handful of cottage design tips can help you achieve this stylishly modest style. You may also find out that it’s not very different from the popular cottagecore design which has been trending for a couple of years. 

Repurpose Antique Items

Cottage designs often involve vintage items that are repurposed for different uses. A kitchen table, for instance, can serve as a desk whereas a bench can become a coffee table. You can even repurpose a part of an old wooden or iron fence into a headboard. In her cottage, Laurel reuses a vintage bird cage as a lantern for candles. Depending on the color scheme you’re going for, you can either repaint the item into a bright hue to give it a fresh look or leave it as it is to maintain the antique vibe. 

Choose Light and Airy Curtains

The casual nature of a cottage house welcomes the use of light and airy window treatments. Ditch the heavy drapes or opaque panels for sheers or lace curtains. Should you need more privacy, consider going for simple shades that you can open during the day. Laurel chooses thin Roman blinds for her bedroom, allowing natural light to filter through. 

Opt for Wood Flooring

Bare wood flooring makes for a cozy cottage interior design. You can give new wood floors a weathered finish to create a vintage aesthetic, or you can leave them as they are for a more modern approach. Another way you can achieve the cottage look is by covering raw planks with antique throw rugs. Harrington opts for modern hardwood flooring to go with her vibrant theme.

Don’t Hold Back on Accessories

You can accessorize your cottage-style home with just about anything from charming bowls to heirloom items. Try scouring thrift shops, flea markets, and antique shops for items that you think would look nice on, say, the living room sideboard. In Laurel’s entryway, for instance, you can see handmade straw hats hanging from the bench unit. 

Make a Theme out of Color and Pattern

A unifying theme of colors and patterns is always a good idea in a cottage setting. A coastal cottage home, for instance, hints towards tones of light blues and sandy beige combined with nautical patterns. For a brick cottage design, think earthy shades like green and rust. Floral patterns in pink combined with accents of green, on the other hand, work well in an English cottage design. Laurel’s Mill Valley home primarily features swathes of apple green, sky blue, and pure white. She also chooses a variety of whimsical shapes and floral patterns to complete the design.

Decorate Living Spaces With Garden Flowers

A freshly picked bouquet of flowers can serve as a charming centerpiece on a kitchen table, or just about anywhere in your cottage-style home. For the container, you can use household items like jam jars, earthenware pots, or apothecary vases. Differences in stem lengths or a clash of colors shouldn’t be an issue since variety is actually a fundamental element in achieving a quaint cottage aesthetic. Harrington adorns her home with bouquets of daisies to go with her Daisy Doo chairs and tables.

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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