There is nothing more delightful for visiting guests than to stay in a beautiful and separate space. This is why many families, funds permitting, opt to turn their garden cottages into guest suites for visiting friends and families. Decorating and furnishing these spaces can be intimidating, however, as the design needs to be universal and suitable to the tastes of others, not oneself. In this brief article, find out how to best optimize your garden cottage when you buy furniture online.




Getting the basics when you buy furniture online


Every cottage requires the basic pieces of furniture to ensure a satisfactory stay for your guests. One does not necessarily need to pull out all stops when they buy furniture online and blow their budget. Often homeowners can simply start with the basics like beds, a couch, side tables, tables and chairs.


These items are generally affordable if you buy furniture online, which is a cheaper alternative to stepping foot in over-zealous furniture stores with branded products. When you have purchased the basics and set them up in the space, you have a good starting point for your decoration and accent furniture journey to really spruce up the space (budget-providing of course.) The following is a list of some pieces you could consider purchasing when you buy furniture online after you have already sorted out the basics:


  • Floating shelves
  • Bookshelves
  • Coffee tables
  • Extra couches
  • TV and TV cabinet
  • Tall tables for plants and display
  • Extra storage cabinets
  • Bar stools for the kitchen counter


The list can go on and on, but as you progress in making your cottage as welcoming and décor-savvy as possible, you will get a sense of what pieces of furniture would complement and add to the space for the benefit of your guests.


Choosing a couch when you buy furniture online


As one of the guest cottage basics, a couch and its design serve to set the scene in the space. It is arguably the place where your guests will first look to, and the spot where they will spend most of their free time. For this reason, it is essential to make the correct decision when choosing a couch.




Some questions you need to ask yourself are as follows:


  • What colour and design should the couch comprise?


While the shape of the couch is more flexible, the colour is an important décor and stylistic element. There are few things more cringe-worthy than a couch with an outrageously colourful design in a room with busy curtains and wallpaper (that is unless you are an experienced designer or have conducted thorough research)


To be safe, consider the theme of your cottage and the nature of the walls. With a pretty and interesting wall scheme, it is advisable to choose a couch with a neutral or solid colour. These often include creams, greys or blues. Green is fast becoming a more popular colour and goes well to complement any and all spaces, provided it does not clash with anything.


If the notion of having a plain couch saddens you, do not fear, as there are ways to liven up the piece. Take care to look out for patterned pillows and throws when you buy furniture online, as these will serve as accent pieces to make your couch stand out.


  • Does the space need a dining table?


Oftentimes, homeowners can get away with excluding a dining table from their garden cottage. This is usually due to two reasons. One, guests are more than likely to have meals with their hosts in the main house. Two, tables take up a lot of space, and most cottages do not have an excess of it.


If your cottage does have an empty space, however, look out for tables when you buy furniture online. This is a budget-friendly option and online stores usually have a wide variety of table selections for your convenience. Before you click “buy” though, make sure that you pay special attention to the width, length and height of the table, so as to avoid overestimating the available space and purchasing an awkwardly massive, or tiny, table that looks bizarre in the cottage.


  • What about a headboard?


While not completely necessary, headboards serve well to pull together a room and give it an air of luxury. In some cases, a material headboard can prevent genuine head injury for those of us clumsy enough to whack our skulls on the wall behind and above the bed. Headboards can also serve as a focal point if the room is lacking direction.


Choosing the right coffee table


Every cottage needs a coffee table, and there are a few things more bizarre than a coffee table that’s too short or too tall. Ensuring that you purchase a coffee table that suits the space is of the utmost importance. Decorators recommend that a coffee table should be the same height as the cushions on the couch, or a few centimeters lower so as to avoid the space feeling awkward.




Similarly, a coffee table needs to be the correct length in relation to your seating. Industry leaders advise buyers to look for a coffee table that is around two-thirds the length of your couch. Following this step is the most exciting part – choosing the shape of your table. Whether round, square, rectangular or something even more unique, the shape needs to complement the space and furniture around it.


It boils down to which shape ensures a decent space between the seating so guests can rest comfortably and access the couch (and even put their feet up when you’re not around.) Another interesting rule to follow when you go through the process of choosing a coffee table is considering what is referred to as its “weightiness.” This means the way in which it relates to the furniture and objects around it.


For example, designers insist that if a couch has high or thin legs, customers ought to consider purchasing a coffee table that has thicker or chunkier legs (or a solid base that reaches all the way to the ground.) This, according to experts, makes the room feel more grounded, proportional and balanced.





One more important aspect to consider is the way in which your guest cottage will be used. Cottage owners must think critically about who may potentially be visiting, in other words, their “crowd.” If one has family or friends with small children, it is better to go for more child-friendly pieces with rounded edges and no glass – so as to prevent an overexcited child from hurtling into a sharp corner and a huge bout of tears as a result.


Some questions to ask before making that final purchase of your coffee table when you buy furniture online:


Do you need storage space for board games, remotes, wires and TV related accessories? If so, consider a coffee table that is equipped with drawers.


Do you, or will you, have a lot of free space for ease of movement around the seating?


Will guests be using the table to eat at?


Do you have the capacity to decorate the table?


How to decorate a coffee table


If the surface area of your chosen coffee table is large enough, there is ample decorative opportunity for the creative soul. Many use the space to display leafy plants, while others place magazines for visitors to enjoy (especially if there is no TV to keep them occupied in the late hours.) Another option is to include jars of treats such as sweets, candies and chocolates to help out your guests in the case of a midnight craving. It also looks aesthetically pleasing – as most food does.


If your coffee table has a glass top, consider placing prints or pictures underneath. If done correctly, a gorgeous array of images could certainly liven up the room and provide an interesting experience for visiting friends and families. Some people prefer to neatly organise the images or photographs with equal spacing, while others prefer a collage.


Coasters with unique designs are another great source of interest and aesthetic success for your coffee table. They are also handy if the table is made of the type of wood that absorbs moisture from cups and glasses.


Outdoor furniture


It would be a shame to waste a potentially scenic view of a garden by not providing outdoor furniture on which guests can relax and enjoy your outdoor space. For this reason, look out for outdoor-friendly chairs and tables when you buy furniture online. Swings and nest-chairs are becoming increasingly popular and make a great spot for reading – however they usually need to be under sufficient coverage so as to avoid wear and tear from the sun and rain.


In the same light, if you decide on wooden or wicker furniture, it is best that you place them under some sort of covering. Although there are varnished one can buy to prevent water damage, it inevitably wears off after some time. If you do not have coverage, rather make use of plastic or stainless-steel pieces that will thrive come rain or sunshine all year round. In addition, you can never go wrong with a hammock if you find a good place to put it.






Tips for making your guests’ stay enjoyable


Creating a welcoming and comfortable environment is one of the most important and exciting aspects of being a host. You want your guests to feel completely at home and not the slightest bit awkward – which can sometimes be a challenge. Here is a guide on how to do so effectively:


Cleaning up


Easily the most important part of making your guests feel comfortable is ensuring that the space is as clean as it can be before their arrival. This ranges from making sure that the bathroom is shining, the floor is dustless and even dusting the blinds and counters and fluffing up the pillows. These seemingly “small” details make a big difference to visiting friends and family.





Places and objects often overlooked include:


  • Entry stairs or pathway (give them a good sweep)
  • Dusty glasses (no one enjoys a dust-tasting glass of water)
  • Door, window and cupboard handles
  • Ornaments that gather dust
  • High shelves and surfaces
  • Dusty books and plants




The light in your guest cottage also plays a role in your guests feeling comfortable. No one wants to step into a dark, dingy space. If your guests arrive during the day, ensure that all of the curtains are open so as to invite in natural light (arguably the most pleasant light.


If your guests arrive at night, make sure that the lights in the cottage are already switched on before their arrival. This detail will let them know that you are prepared for their visit and happy to have them around. Fix dark corners with overhead lamps or floor lamps. Sometimes, we do not even realise the menacing role a dark corner can play in spoiling a room’s happy atmosphere.




Amazing aromas


People often underestimate the role of scents in making a person feel welcome and at ease when they walk into a space. As humans we rely heavily on our sense of smell when we enter an unfamiliar place. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure that your cottage smells beautiful:


Crack open windows a few days before your guests’ arrival to let in some fresh air and encourage circulation

Vacuum (vigorously) so as to collect all dust, especially in carpeted areas. Dust and dirt can have an intensely unsavoury smell

Light some scented candles

Purchase one or several diffusers

Place a fabric softener in each cupboard to let off a subtle, sweet smell


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