Style: The cottage next door
Everyone needs a few Happy Places. Spots where they can go to escape from it all and refill their hearts. One of my friend Nancy’s happy places is her cozy cottage, with its snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug rooms that look out over a placid little lake. Lucky me: Nancy’s cottage just happens to be three doors down from mine. Which makes me mighty happy, too.
When Dan and I first got to work renovating our lake cottage, Nancy was intrigued. She and her husband, Don, live in a small town in rural Missouri. But they were longing for a small house in Kansas City, where they could come for the weekend, enjoy the arts and entertainment venues they love, welcome their children and grandchildren, and fish. Don had visions of long sunny days fishing off the deck of their pontoon, without a care in the world. When the fixer-upper down the street came on the market, I gave Nancy a jingle to see if she was interested.
The 1952 home needed lots of work, and even more imagination, to turn it into the English country cottage Nancy envisioned. I’m so thrilled Nancy asked me to be a part of the fun. Dan and I learned a lot when we redid our cottage, so I had more than a few cautionary tales to share. Today, we’re revealing the finished living room of Nancy’s cottage, with more rooms to come in the future.
Nancy wanted this room to feel peaceful and welcoming, like the cottages she fell in love with on her vacations to the Cotswolds in England. The soft vintage-inspired floral fabric conveyed the mood perfectly, so she decided to wash all her furniture in it. Echoing the same fabric on each piece of furniture made the small seating area feel more spacious. The room reminds me of the movie sets from some of my favorite Nancy Meyers films, like “The Holiday.”
Lucky Nancy had lots and lots of lovely family pieces just sitting in her basement, ready to use in the cottage. This antique desk belonged to Don’s grandfather, who was a stonemason. The trout hanging over the desk was the first fish Don caught. When he was just 9, Don made the model boat, which sits on top of the desk. His mother sewed the sails for him. It’s still seaworthy: Don and the grandkids have taken it for a spin on the lake.
When they first purchased the cottage, Nancy was down on the dock with her granddaughter, Cora. A gaggle of geese waddled about nearby, and Nancy knew it was a fortuitous moment. So she named the cottage Little Goose. The paint is barely dry in the newly renovated cottage, but this family has already begun to fill it with memories. I’m so glad some of them include me, too!
This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.