The cottage lifestyle is as much a state of mind as a physical environment. It can be the decorating theme for an entire home or just a single room. Lately, this look has been turning up even inside seaside McMansions and mountain retreats. Though “cottage” conjures images of cozy childhood vacation homes, the look portrayed in design magazines today is more refined and elegant than ever before. To help you realize your cottage fantasies, we’ve gleaned great ideas and objects from Sarasota sources.
Bathing Beauty The ultimate bathtub is bedecked in the same Italian glass mosaics by Sicis of Italy that match the tiles on your walls and floor. The tiles are sold locally, but for now this new claw-footed work of art ($15,000) must be special ordered. Sicis, 470 Broome St., New York, N.Y. (212) 965-4100, www.sicis.it
Rug Artisan Cottage cognoscenti know anything is possible with the expertise and sources available to custom rug designer Gail Emmott, on hand to show you top-of-the-line rag rugs in beach pastels and romantic needlepoint rugs dyed to coordinate with your décor. Rugs as Art, 6650 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-1900.
Simple Pleasures A haven of cottage style, Main Street Traders recalls childhood memories with farm antiques, pinafore-ruffled bed linens, seersucker placemats and nostalgic Dash & Albert scatter rugs (from $28). Main Street Traders, 1468 Main St., Sarasota (941) 373-0478.
Walk the Plank Wide-plank floors, that is. They’re hot regardless of decorating style, but for coastal cottages this white-washed walnut from Laura Ashley Home (under $17.50 a foot installed) is essential. Exclusive to G. Fried Flooring, 4608 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-7704.
Home to Roost There’s a chicken in every cottage kitchen, but none as chic as Les Poules from France. Choose from a total of nine witty ceramic roosters ($170) and hens ($160) with names from Amelie to Jules, or the trio of baby chicks ($60 each). Madison Park, 80 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 953-9176.
To Pine For Marianne Eriksson is the cottage lover’s go-to source for hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind shell chandeliers and accessories. But this stunning mirror (price on request) is framed with pine cones, her newest muse. Marianne E., 60 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 373-1260.
Let’s Dish Serve up cottage-fresh fare in appropriately ruffled white ware. It’s dishwasher safe and comes in dinner plates ($22), a set of four salads ($40), serving bowls and ribbed mugs ($50 for four). Cat’s Meow, 213 W. Venice Ave., Venice (941) 486-1650
Found Treasure Every cottage needs a bit of architectural salvage inside the house to complete the look. European Traditions custom crafts exquisite country furniture but scours flea markets for finds like this hand-painted window ($425). European Traditions, 5201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-5616.
BACK PORCH ESSENTIALS
Recycled Icon Known as the Muskoka chair in Canada, the 104-year-old Adirondack chair’s newest iteration ($330) is weather-proof, Florida-hued and made in Ontario of recycled plastic bottles. Naples Patio, 5435 University Parkway (941) 360-1850 or Naples Patio at Kanes, 5252 S. Tamiami Trail (941) 926-4300.
Birder’s Habitat? Off the beaten (Tamiami) Trail you’ll spy a shop overflowing with furniture and the best-looking porcelain-topped bird feeders anywhere (from $110). The old-fashioned, oversized metal bird cage is a steal at $125. Unique Designs and Friends, 2525 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota (941) 927-7285.
Carriage Trade Trade in your patio potting shed for this vintage wire cart ($89), perfect for tending plants or for serving cool drinks at a backyard party. Discovered amid the delightful previously owned finds at Treasures, 1466 Fruitville Road, Sarasota (941) 366-7704.
Swing Time Be still, my heart: a swing just like great-grandma’s original by wicker king Marshal B. Lloyd. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Lloyd Flanders made just 2,500 individually numbered Centennial Limited Edition Rockers ($1,495). Order through Robb & Stucky Patio Outdoor Living, 7501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 922-8900.
Cottage Critters Flora & Fauna faucets ($35) with handles of 100 percent recycled solid brass are designed to last a lifetime. Choose your favorite bird or animal with verdigris patina and contrasting mirrored brass details. Treasure Cove II, 8927 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 966-2004.
Global Warming The gazing globe has come full circle, in and out of favor since it was invented by Venetian glass blowers in the 13th century. Though Mad King Ludwig had hundreds hanging in trees, floating in ponds and adorning castle grounds, all you need is one. Prices range from $29 for the six-inch globe to $49 for a 12-inch one. The Statue Place, 4429 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 924-8198.
WHO'S IN STORE?
Susie Holt’s store, Cat’s Meow, embodies her unique cottage style and has drawn a cult following across the country. How did a little shop in Venice, Fla., receive national acclaim? “Vacationing editors discovered us,” Holt explains. “And we’ve been featured in magazines from Romantic Homes to Coastal Living ever since.”
As calls and e-mails poured in, Internet sales were added for fans unable to make the pilgrimage to Venice. Susie’s husband, Mark, quit his career as a goldsmith to focus full time on the burgeoning business, which just began marketing Susie Holt Designs (upholstery, lamps and more) to retailers as well as Cat’s Meow customers.
A brand-new, double-the-size location on Venice Avenue truly is the cat’s meow. Susie’s secret: “I mix modern with cottage. It’s a clean, modern take on shabby chic: livable, comfortable, light and airy,” she says.
Can’t Live Without “Slipcovers. We have four cats, so with slipcovers I get the elegant all-white cottage look with practical denim and cotton that can be tossed in the washing machine.”
All-time Best Seller “Our overstuffed, slip-covered recliner (from $1,395). We invented it because La-Z-Boy doesn’t work in romantic cottages. Now we’re selling them to retailers across the country.”
What I Love Most “Chandeliers. They give that glistening, soft, romantic look. I love old chandeliers but now prefer our new ones with sea glass.” ($1,500)
The Cat’s Meow, 213 W. Venice Ave., Venice (941) 486-1650
Nautical accessories from vessel-worthy to campy kitsch as conversation pieces are great in a coastal cottage. Rick Arnold Behrndt has a treasure chest that includes antique brass lanterns and a must-see, museum-quality (but not for sale) 18th-century sextant set to the specs of astronomical navigator John Campbell, vice admiral of the Royal Navy. Nautical Emporium of Venice Island, 217 W. Miami Ave., Venice (941) 485-3918.
Check out the extravagantly healthy exotic orchids and unique flower pots at this new shop that owners Eve & Alan Howes opened to meet the demands of their loyal Saturday following at the downtown Sarasota Farmers Market. Awesome Orchids, 1501 Laurel St., Sarasota (941) 365-3500.
Pebble Beach Cottage
The cottage lifestyle doesn’t preclude luxury; even at $55 apiece, these pebble-etched, pastel- colored Moser Czech crystal highball and old-fashioned glasses are ultra-hot sellers at Ashley Avery, 1425 First St., Sarasota (941) 955-9593.