Creating Vintage Floral Cottage Style

Vintage Floral Cottage Style defined | Vintage Floral Cottage

If someone were to ask me what my decorating style is, where others might say theirs was Traditional, or Boho, or even Eclectic… I would say mine is “vintage floral cottage.” That’s because those three little words seem to apply to nearly every decorative or even functional object that I bring into my home. And of course, that’s completely on purpose!

Whether it is  a mixing bowl, or a new-to-me piece of furniture, it is going to evoke  the comfortable,  time-worn  characteristics I have come to love and seek for my surroundings.

Vintage Floral Cottage Style defined | Vintage Floral Cottage

When I started this blog, I knew that if I was going to talk about my decorating style I would have to actually define it. Eventually, I arrived at the phrase “vintage floral cottage.” I thought that it not only perfectly described my style, but was also a great name for the blog itself! Here’s what it means to me:

Vintage – means used, from a time gone by, perfectly imperfect, showing its age and signs of previous use. Being able to appreciate a vintage item’s imperfections, and the history that it has, is very meaningful to me. I think this comes from having been given some beautiful hand-me-down pieces for my home, as well as being a long-time genealogist – I just seek that connection to the past.

Floral – I use silk and real flowers, old-fashioned floral patterns, and floral motifs on objects ranging from dinnerware to bedding. Of course, roses are a sentimental favorite flower, but so are peonies, lilacs, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and even pretty leaves.

Cottage – True cottages to me have a lot of architectural character: stone walls, fireplaces, porches, exposed beams and the like. But any smaller home can be made to feel like a cottage with small cozy spaces, furniture that gets painted or re-upholstered every now and then instead of replaced, over-stuffed chairs, etc. I don’t feel the need for a large home – in fact couldn’t afford one even if I wanted one. I like feeling “cozy, comfortable, and contained” in my 650 square feet.

Rachel Ashwell has dubbed her style “Shabby Chic,” and of course Joanna Gaines is the queen of “modern farmhouse.” I don’t have the books, products, and empires that these wonderful ladies have (and have earned!), but I do have my Vintage Floral Cottage!

Vintage Floral Cottage Style defined | Vintage Floral Cottage



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Garden Junk Yard Sale was a huge success!

I must confess, I love hosting yard sales! I love sorting through what I’m going to offer, putting little bits of masking tape with the price on each item, setting it all up in the yard, meeting people as they come to shop, making deals, making money, and at the end, putting the leftovers out and posting them “free on curb” on CraigsList. The entire process for some reason is very satisfying to me!

This year, I decided to tie my sale into my Facebook “junk group,” The Rusty Robin. This is a group where I sell items locally simply by posting them in the group or on the overall Facebook Marketplace for my area. I had amassed a fair amount of what I call “garden junk,” so I advertised the sale as The Rusty Robin Garden Junk Yard Sale. It was a blast!


With help from my friend Greg, on Day One we set a few items in the driveway but most of it was in the back yard. I absolutely loved this because my backyard looked like the best flea market ever!

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

We had a decent day of sales, but we noticed that people who were “drive-by scouting” were not always stopping to shop. We decided perhaps that was because they couldn’t see well into the back yard, so for Day Two we moved it all into the driveway and front yard. This didn’t have quite the “flea market” look, but it definitely looked like a more exciting sale for the drive-bys, and we did about twice the sales from the day before.

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

At the end I pulled a few unsold pieces back into my garage for future projects, and put the rest on the curb. This is what we listed as “free on curb” on Craigslist… minus the wicker rocker, which I dragged back to my own “pile” behind the garage.

Garden Junk Yard Sale | Vintage Floral Cottage

Looking forward to the next sale!




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In praise of silk flowers

I know you might scoff at fake flowers, and have possibly even been a scoffer ever since you first noticed the thick-plastic blooms your grandmother used to display on top of her console television in the 1970’s. I get it – you’d rather have REAL flowers, because real flowers look beautiful and smell heavenly.

Real Tulips | Vintage Floral Cottage

Real peonies | Vintage Floral Cottage

But here’s the thing: unless you have an endless supply of real flowers at your disposal (meaning, a cutting garden or maybe just a high-yielding flower bed), real flowers can also be kind of expensive – it’s not long before they have to be discarded and money spent all over again to replace them. I’m not saying they’re not worth it – of course they are! (Here is my secret source for real flowers that are NOT expensive, by the way!)

Real Sunflowers | Vintage Floral Cottage

Dreamsicle Roses | Vintage Floral Cottage

It’s just that fake flowers – specifically, silk flowers – maintain their beauty for a one-time investment and can bring a long-lasting pop of color to a space for as long as you want them to. They’re a perfectly  acceptable alternative when the flower budget is shot. In fact, they’re an acceptable alternative without even being an alternative! I daresay that my “vintage floral cottage” wouldn’t be Vintage Floral Cottage – it wouldn’t be floral – were it not for silk flowers!

Silk Hydrangeas | Vintage Floral Cottage

Silk peonies | Vintage Floral Cottage

They are also wonderful for crafting, where they can be used in wreaths, baskets, or anything needing garden-variety embellishments. And, they can do this even if they don’t really look real – I was so fortunate to find a large bunch of silk peonies in dusty-pink/faded hues… not realistic, but they suit my décor perfectly and I’ve used them in vases and projects for years!

Repurposed Radio | Vintage Floral Cottage


Silk Flower Arrangement | Vintage Floral Cottage

If it helps you to overcome your fake flower phobia (phake phlower phobia? Fake flower fobia?), think of it this way: If you wanted a large chunk of rusty, authentic farmhouse windmill hanging on that large blank wall in your entry/kitchen/family room, but you didn’t want to pay the outrageous asking price of a junk dealer who’s onto the whole “rusty farmhouse goodness” thing happening these days…

Half a Windmill | Vintage Floral Cottage

That’s $403.76 for half a windmill, y’all!

…or you didn’t want to shimmy up an actual windmill and try to detach the spinny part yourself (with permission, of course)… well, you might find yourself at Hobby Lobby eye-balling the metal objects made to look like windmill blades!

And what you’d have is an object, manufactured to look like an actual object… but not the actual object. Sound familiar?

Spring silk flowers | Vintage Floral Cottage

Silk lilacs | Vintage Floral Cottage

Not sure I should admit this, but last year I even put silk flowers out in the planters on my front porch. Yep, outdoors. Where real flowers grow. In my defense, I had filled the planters with Fall pumpkins, but they needed a little oomph. A little something more. A certain je ne sais quoi. It actually looked kinda pretty. Mind you, these were Dollar Tree silk flowers… yep, one dollar for a stem with five blooms per stem.

Outdoor Planters | Vintage Floral Cottage

I’m sure my master-gardener neighbor was peeking out her curtains like Gladys Kravitz, wondering if I had lost my mind and crossing my name off the invite list for the upcoming block party. But that’s okay, I see she’s got a bottle tree made from re-bar instead of an actual tree, so… I think we understand each other.



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A celebration of pretty tables

Of course, I’m sharing this post for the 500th Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch! Congratulations, Susan, and thank you for all the inspiration these past 10 years!

If you have enjoyed any of the tablescapes I’ve shared on my blog, you know that I usually link them to the tablescaping blog link party at Between Naps on the Porch. I think I first discovered Susan’s blog in about 2010, and she had already been hosting the weekly link-up for at least a couple years. This week marks the 500th Tablescape Thursday! Can you imagine… Susan has been setting beautiful tables, and giving others a place to link up their own beautiful tables, creating so much beautiful inspiration – for 500 weeks. That’s almost 10 years!

Susan doesn’t normally set a theme for the week’s link-ups, but for Week 500 she suggested that bloggers share a few pictures from some of their own favorite tables. I thought I would do just that, but I’ve only been “setting pretty tables” with any regularity for about a year. So because I’ve got a limited number of tables from which to choose favorites, I’m also going to include in this post the most recent table that I set this past weekend.

First though, here are five tables I’ve set that I really love!


Cinco de Mayo table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Cinco de Mayo table featuring “Serape” by Certified International. This was the first table I set using my new handmade harvest table top. These dishes are so different from anything else I collect but I thought they were really cool – and so easy to pull colors from on the rest of the table!


Late Summer Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Late Summer Table featuring “Florence” by the Pope Gosser Company. I wasn’t quite ready for fall when I set this table, so I proclaimed a fifth season called Faded Summer. I just love all the colors and textures in this one!


Woodland Christmas Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Woodland-themed Christmas table featuring “Christmas Ribbon” by World Bazaar. At the time I set this table, I was debating whether to keep or sell these pretty dishes. I had them listed online the day I was setting the table, and they sold the next day.


Currier & Ives | Vintage Floral Cottage

Blue and White Currier & Ives – the set of dishes given to me by my grandmother, which set me on a path to collecting vintage dinnerware. Blue and white always seems to be a theme in January, with the fresh start of a new year.



Golden Shimmer | Vintage Floral Cottage

My favorite of all my tables so far has been this one, set for Christmas in shimmery gold-shouldered plates with handpainted glassware. This table is a favorite because it was a vision in my head that became a beautiful reality. I couldn’t believe how shimmery all that gold was.


Now for a brand new table… if you follow me on Instagram you might know that I have spent the last ten-or-so weeks with a broken ankle, so I haven’t been able to get around too well lately. This past Saturday though, I was two days away from getting my final clearance to start walking and driving again, so I decided it was probably safe to putter around the house and haul out some dishes.

My inspiration for the table was this little centerpiece that I had styled for my sawhorse coffee table in the living room. I had been looking at it all week (and loving it!) and decided to move it onto the dining table.

Centerpiece box | Vintage Floral Cottage

It occurred to me as soon as I got started that this piece would be perfect if set with my new Pier 1 “Spring Birds” plates – a set of four, each with a different bird scene. I just love each and every little birdie.

Bird table overview | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pier 1 bird plates | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pier 1 bird plates | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pier 1 bird plates | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pier 1 bird plates | Vintage Floral Cottage

Blue and yellow napkins are also Pier 1 – always purchased on clearance!

Place setting | Vintage Floral Cottage

Our place setting starts with those sweet birds. You can barely see the second layer because it’s so close in size to the bird plates. But these are Fireking in the faintest ice blue.

Place Setting | Vintage Floral Cottage

Place Setting | Vintage Floral Cottage

Next are some basic white dinner plates with just a touch of texture around the rim – it looks like stitching, doesn’t it? These are from Home Goods.

Place Setting | Vintage Floral Cottage

I love seeing all the edges together –

Place Setting | Vintage Floral Cottage

Our flatware is Chandelier by Oneida – my everyday set.  The glassware is Whitehall by Indiana Glass.

Place Setting | Vintage Floral Cottage

Glassware | Vintage Floral Cottage

Glassware | Vintage Floral Cottage

And, of course the centerpiece that inspired the table – pretty silk florals are mostly napkin rings, and the wooden trough is hand-made.

Centerpiece | Vintage Floral Cottage

Centerpiece | Vintage Floral Cottage
A few more views around the table –

Bird table overview | Vintage Floral Cottage

Bird table overview | Vintage Floral Cottage


Bird table overview | Vintage Floral Cottage

Here’s an actual overhead shot –

Bird table overview | Vintage Floral Cottage

Here, everything is gathered up and ready to go back into the cupboards.

Put Away Shot | Vintage Floral Cottage

Here is an image suitable for Pinning if you have Pinterest boards devoted to tablescapes!

Bird Table Pin Image | Vintage Floral Cottage






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Happy Earth Day 2018!

Incredible tree | Vintage Floral Cottage

A simple way to celebrate Earth Day is just to get out and observe/appreciate something natural in all its beauty, like this incredible tree I came upon during a woods walk in 2016.

It is Earth Day – one of those days that we set aside to be reminded of, to celebrate, and to think about something specific… like Mother’s Day, Veteran’s Day, and so many others. In this case, we’re asked to think about this beautiful planet we live on and how we might protect and preserve it, and make as small an impact on its resources as possible throughout our lives.

I will admit I probably make a pretty average impact: I don’t live off the grid, I use a lot of plastic, and I drive a fossil-fuel car (though it IS pretty fuel-efficient). But I do have one major area where I know I make a difference, and that is helping keep discarded household stuff out of the landfill.

There are three primary ways I contribute:

I shop second-hand for basically everything except the stuff in the grocery store. If you read this blog at all you know I love to shop at the thrift stores, the online marketplaces, the flea markets, auctions, and antique stores – even the curbs! Over the decades I’ve come to love and appreciate the history and stories that used items have, so my second-hand shopping meets my personal aesthetic – but it has the added benefit of giving a new home to pieces that might otherwise end up decaying at the dump.

I’ve spent the last several years buying and selling used furniture pieces to many talented painters and upcyclers, and I love being part of the chain in preserving a great piece… or even a not-so-great piece that needs repair. I’ve also painted and upcycled a few pieces of my own. Whether I keep them or sell them, all have found new homes instead of going on the garbage truck.

Furniture pieces | Vintage Floral Cottage

Just nine of the more than 100 pieces of furniture I’ve had the pleasure of rescuing over the last few years. Whether I bought to use or bought to re-sell, I helped keep every piece from going to the landfill.

Okay so maybe shopping second-hand doesn’t suit your style, and you have no interest in being a middle-man for outdated furniture. No worries! You can still make an impact beyond just the simple recycling of trash. When I have stuff that I know is still useful but I personally do not wish to keep – whether it’s clothes, kitchenware, furniture, or just about anything else, I use one of these five tactics to purge responsibly… to get rid of it without putting it in the garbage:

  1. Donate it to second-hand stores.
  2. Donate it to a needy family you might hear about in the news or online.
  3. Have a yard or garage sale – yes it’s work, but it’s FUN and you get extra cash!
  4. List it for sale online at a rock-bottom price – CraigsList, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo and OfferUp are four services I have used.
  5. Set it on the curb a full week before scheduled pickup, and post an announcement on CraigsList or one of the online marketplaces to encourage people to come and pick. (See my 2017 garage sale post to get a visual on the impact this can have!)

Now look, I’m not saying I’m a champion of the Earth or any kind of hero – my efforts are very small in the grand scheme of things. But they do make a difference, and I get a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that my regional landfill is a little less full because of what I do.

Happy Earth Day – may you enjoy and appreciate the beauty of our planet, and find a new way to reduce/recycle/reuse that brings you joy and makes a difference!



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