Style: A tale of two bedrooms

Mary Carol Garrity
Tribune News Service

My mom loved a party. So I’m pretty sure that when our big, noisy clan gathers together in the little cottage next door, where she lived at the end of her life, she smiles down on us from heaven. This little nugget of a house, perched on the edge of the lake, has become our favorite place to celebrate holidays and welcome visiting family members.

For my whole life, I’ve been pretty crazy about my big sister, Judy. Since she moved to Detroit years ago to build her successful career as a newspaper reporter and editor, I’ve been trying to find ways to entice her to come visit more often. So when it came time to decorate the cottage’s bedrooms, I had Judy in mind. I pictured the two of us here, in our jammies, catching up on life, laughing until we had tears in our eyes.

In the summer, I’ll put her in a bright and breezy bedroom that looks out over the lake. The second floor room has a little door that leads out onto a porch. We installed a screened door so we can let the summer breeze in, but not the mosquitoes.

I love India Hicks’ island style, and her unique approach to relaxed elegance was my inspiration for the little bedroom. One of her books has a photo of a hat rack mounted on the wall, filled with straw hats. I decided to do the same above the bed, which is covered in a crisp summer plaid. The pillows have Judy’s monogram.

The rest of the room is filled with family keepsakes, and a few new finds.

In the winter, I’m moving Judy over to this snug bedroom, dressed in regal plaids. We had this towering tartan headboard at Nell Hill’s, and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. Before it could sell, I snatched it up and took it to the guest cottage. I didn’t know how it would work, to squeeze this dramatic, 7-foot-tall headboard into this tiny bedroom in a very modest house. I’m glad I trusted my gut, because I’m crazy about the drama this magnificent bed creates.

I picked rich fabrics for the bedding ensemble, carrying on the menswear look of the headboard. To add a touch of the feminine, the windows are dressed in navy floral panels.

Since the bed took up most of the space in this little room, I kept all the other furnishings to a minimum, opting for smaller-scale pieces. This bamboo campaign style tray serves as a bedside table.

We have so many big plans for this little house. I’m picturing us here for many years to come. In the summer, I see us playing bocce on the back lawn by the lake. In the winter, cramming into the tiny kitchen to make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. I think that’s just the way Mom would want it.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at