Sandi Compston’s take on cottage style has evolved over the years, and so has her store, The Cottage.
Compston started out a decorative artist, painting floral and other motifs on furniture. She opened The Cottage in Atascadero in 2003 with varied interpretations of the homey, casual style. Five years later, the shop moved to a much larger space in downtown Paso Robles and now sports an updated look.
“Styles have changed, my tastes have changed,” noted Compston. “I just gravitated toward cleaner lines and a more simplistic look.” While she no longer embellishes furniture with lilacs and cabbage roses, she still lends her artistic hand to spiffing up flea market finds. This includes the use of paint, stain, wax and glaze to create an array of finishes from elegant and refined to aged and distressed.
Compston has found herself on the cutting edge of color trends. While she still carries plenty of cottage white pieces, she has gravitated toward gray, which trendsetters are calling the new hot neutral.
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“It has a soothing quality,” she said. “I wear so much of it and one day I thought I’d mix up some gray paint. It really looks good on almost anything.”
Compston likes the way gray plays well with other colors, including crisp white, black, lavender and pink. She will also combine gray painted furniture with unpainted wood, such as coating the base of a wood dining table in soft gray and leaving the base in its natural state. Or she will brush on a translucent wash of gray to allow the grain and color of wood to show through.
“I often use a wash of gray over darker woods and it gives the piece a nice patina,” she said.
Not one to work from a paint chip, she custommixes a range of grays to see what works best. Blue grays are cooler and crisper. Brown grays offer a warmer feel. Dark grays are more dramatic and pair well with bold hues like red and black. Light grays offer a softer, Scandinavian feel, especially when mixed with crisp whites.
The Cottage carries new items such as lamps, bedding, jewelry and gift items. But antiques and vintage pieces are still the backbone of the business. Compston searches flea markets and estate sales for pieces, but the hunt is tougher these days. Prices on vintage furniture are higher — something she blames on the economy, as well as television shows like “American Pickers” that have convinced people that their attic stash is worth a mint.
The Cottage keeps prices low because they negotiate deals when buying in volume, and they’re not afraid of taking on some work. Compston’s husband, Marty, frequently fixes up wobbly legs and missing hardware before she adds final cosmetic touches.
Although Compston favors a clean, clutter-free look, she offers select vintage accessories like mercury glass, rewired lamps, chandeliers, mirrors, glassware and garden decor. Her shop is staged to demonstrate how to combine vintage furniture and accents in a cottage style that is up-to-date and often unexpected.
The Cottage is at 1320 B Pine St. in Paso Robles, 237-8533.
Reach Rebecca Juretic at firstname.lastname@example.org