This Canadian Cottage Is Vintage Styled and Incredibly Cozy

This Canadian Cottage Is Vintage Styled and Incredibly Cozy

Name: Jen Moffat and family
Location: Ontario, Canada
Type of home: Cottage
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, own

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Our little family consists of myself, my husband, and our teenage daughter, as well as a rather grumpy black tuxedo cat and an over-the-top German Shepherd. We are from Perth, Western Australia, and have spent many years living overseas, including in Brazil, before we put down roots and bought our home in Toronto, Canada. Toronto just fits us. We love to go and see live music, film, and art festivals and prefer the bustle of a bigger city than the quieter life of Perth. Last year we purchased a vacation home in Ontario. Extending ourselves and buying another home in Canada has really anchored us to this country and gives us a secure feeling of home.

We’ve lived in Canada for ten years and really miss the relaxed vacation style of Australia. During the pandemic, my work as a drama educator went on hold and we decided to pivot and purchase a rental property as a way of creating an alternative source of income. We wanted to recreate the experience of an Aussie bush property here in the incredible Muskoka forest. We got lucky and found the place immediately during a property boom in cottage country here, our place was overlooked because it wasn’t directly on the water, which didn’t bother us at all. It felt so much like the place I vacationed at during my childhood, we knew it was the perfect fit. Our focus was not only on showcasing my unique design style, but on creating a beautiful property that welcomed guests AND their dogs. We have a German Shepherd and finding a property that suits her needs yet also has all the comforts our family requires was just impossible.

Once we purchased our retreat, I spent a fast two months furnishing the entire place with new and vintage finds from all over our province and beyond. An experienced relocator, setting the retreat up was still an enormous challenge. We had daily furniture and package deliveries and our usable living space in Toronto shrank with each new arrival. It was a huge relief to fill the truck and get it up to the retreat once we got the keys. Alongside all the regular furniture, appliance, and kitchenware shopping, was the consuming task of decorating. We needed to get it on the rental market as soon as possible to help pay the mortgage so I had to act quickly and think on my feet. It’s surprising how many gorgeous, Australian pieces I came across. I now have a variety of vintage sellers who always send me their Aussie finds, much to my credit card’s horror! Possibly the defining style element at the retreat is the bedlinen. I have long yearned for colorful and eclectic linen whilst living in Canada. Seeing the amazing brands in Australia that combine odd color schemes and retro patterns left me drooling.

The challenge of furnishing a rental property is that every piece of linen needs to be affordable and hold up to multiple washes. I spent hours and hours scouring online sites in Canada to find each pillowcase, duvet cover, and blanket at the retreat. I bought matching sets and broke them up, combining them with other sets to create the atmosphere I was after. I have an enormous collection of linen up there now, and to keep things easy for my turnover staff I pre-select the bedlinen sets for them. This extra effort ensures that my design aesthetic is maintained in my absence.

Waratah Retreat was opened in July 2021. The Waratah is a bright, bold flower from Down Under and speaks to the color and drama I love to include in my interiors, as well as representing my unique Australian style. The property is comfortable and vibrant, with guests exclaiming that it feels more like using a friend’s cottage than just renting an AirBnB. They appreciate the collections of Australian books and art, though I’m not sure how many of them have actually tried the Vegemite in the pantry. I wanted to show Canadians that a rental property needn’t be bereft of personal touches and that the white Scandi box-style of design so popular here is overdone and outdated. Making bold interior choices doesn’t exclude your property from guests, it gives it a more unique and sought-after style, which has certainly paid off for us. The positive response has given me the confidence to release my own interior decorating business, Waratah Avenue. Whilst still young, I have huge plans for this little business of mine.

Encouraging people to take risks in their interiors in an effort to have a more authentic home is my goal. You don’t have to follow rules or trends to create a space that feels like you belong there. It finally feels like I’ve found a way to express my authenticity and what makes me special as a designer. I’m super excited to get on with it!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Australian, Eclectic, Vintage, Colorful, Relaxed.

What is your favorite room and why? The living room at the retreat is my favorite. Even thought the property was built in the ’90s, it feels rooted in the ’70s. Pitched ceilings and enormous picture windows welcome in the light and the glorious forest setting of the property. To me, it feels particularly Australian with its views and open-plan layout.

I kept the space bright and light to maximize all that wonderful sunshine the windows can collect. The walls house our collection of thrifted and new artwork and the room is full of just some of my crocheted blanket collection. I wanted the Retreat to feel as though it has been passed down in my family for years, with some updated furniture but also a lot of the original pieces left behind. The view is the true hero, though, and I wanted the design to really enhance that. This is a room that is always full of life and activity, yet feels incredibly relaxing.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Oh boy, I’m passionate about thrifting so there’s always another purchase! I recently started a huge landscaping project (I also love gardening) and have bought a zillion plants and soil. Of course, I also found some wonderful thrifted furniture and birdhouses and feeders to encourage those winged visitors to the yard.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Scour magazines and Pinterest and figure out which spaces give you that warm feeling inside. We spend so much more time in our homes these days, your space should fit your own needs and not necessarily reflect on trends and interior influences. Pulling a home together takes time. I’m very much a slow decorator by nature (despite pulling the retreat together in record time), and enjoy letting a space evolve over the years. The more you live in your home, the more you will understand the light, your needs and what it is that you want.

If you love a specific piece, let it be the hero and take your design cues from it. I’ve realized that I am actually quite passionate about the color pink, but had no idea until I purchased my pink eyeglasses. I had always rejected the color, but it is now a strong element in many of my schemes. Designing can surprise you and help you discover your true nature. It’s a delight. Of course, if you struggle with decision making or are time poor, a designer or decorator (like me!) can help you get over the hill and on your way to the home you really need. Asking for help is always a great idea.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

Look at This Darling Gingerbread Home for Sale in Martha’s Vineyard

Look at This Darling Gingerbread Home for Sale in Martha’s Vineyard

Picture this: It’s a midsummer day and you’re sitting on one of the cutest front porches in America. You’re sitting, specifically, on a pastel-painted rocking chair, swaying in harmony with the balmy breeze. A beach read in one hand and a dewy glass of lemonade in the other, you look out at the water just across the street and realize it simply does not get more idyllic than this. 

Scoring real estate on Martha’s Vineyard — let alone in one of its storied gingerbread houses — might seem like a castle in the air, but this darling cottage is fresh to the market and accepting offers. 

Built in 1870, the home is brimming with antique appeal in the form of whitewashed wooden walls and ceilings, plenty of built-in features, and cute nooks and crannies. I’m even charmed by the idea of washing dishes, if it means I get to do so surrounded by heart-shaped stencils, vineyard-patterned tiles, and while looking out of a beach-view window. It is situated just across from Sunset Lake and about 200 feet from the edge of Oak Bluffs Harbor, after all. 

Are you on the house hunt, or just the type of person who loves browsing real estate listings, even when you’re not in the market for a new home? Property Crush is a column where we feature actual real estate listings that get the Apartment Therapy seal of approval in regards to style (we haven’t done home inspections or anything, so don’t sue us). Know of a great house on the market? Email the listing to repitches@apartmenttherapy.com.

This New York Fixer Upper Was Transformed into a Whimsical Woodland Cottage

This New York Fixer Upper Was Transformed into a Whimsical Woodland Cottage

Name: Mackenzie Grate, husband, and two pugs (Toby and Kiwi)
Location: Stone Ridge, New York
Type of home: Cottage
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 4 months, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: The theme is “whimsical, woodland cottage vibes.” This quaint little cottage was a fixer upper that stole my heart. I actually was touring it with a client (I’m a realtor outside my day job of being an assistant principal in East New York). She decided to pass on it, but when I saw the upstairs attic space, I asked her if she would be upset if I put in an offer for myself. This client was ecstatic for me and said, “Please do.”

So I wrote up an offer and told my husband we were buying another house. From that point on it was quite the journey to get to closing. There were open violations on it, the lady wanted to lease it back for a bit (a big no-no during the moratorium) but eventually we closed.

That night she left a note for us telling us about the cottage, with a bag of food to feed to her deer named “Lucy.” Sure enough, as dusk fell, Lucy stuck her face up to the window looking for dinner.

From that point on we scrubbed and scrubbed removing 41 years of tar and dusty cobwebs. We discovered letters crumpled in the wall, awesome mirrors hidden away in the attic, and so much more. Slowly, week by week we transformed the place though. The major project was opening up the ceiling and creating a loft space, thus turning a cramped one-bedroom cottage into an airy two(ish) bedroom cottage.

Collecting the perfect pieces of art throughout the space became a passion. Anthropomorphic animals were my jam and I was able to find great art and statues that vibed off that.

Lastly, we brought in a whole new gas fireplace that completed the cottage vibes. All this was a labor of love and created the perfect space for my husband to work from home at, and for our two pugs to snuggle. If only we had this cottage during lockdown!!!!

As I stated before, the art includes original artwork from local artists, and some from my home state of California. It plays off the woodland theme with anthropomorphic animals. It also ties in some antique art sourced throughout the Hudson Valley. The color scheme is both complex and simple with bold navy blues having a moment in the living room and kitchen and more subdued grays to round out the bedroom and bathroom. All of it works together though and screams “unique and cozy.”

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Rustic, eclectic, a splash of modern, cozy, and airy. All rolled into one.

What is your favorite room and why? Looking at the pictures, I’m sure you can guess that it’s the living room. That space underwent a huge transformation when we opened up the ceiling. It made the whole house feel bigger and connected. The addition of the gas fire place, the caramel-colored leather couch, the barn door, and the wooden library ladder make it architecturally interesting. I could sit on that couch all day sipping cocktails by the fireplace.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Fantastic art from Molly Kars. No seriously, you have to check her work out. It. Is. Stunning.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Do you boo. Stick to what you like. Don’t focus on a specific style (unless you consider yourself to be one of the lucky few that has a very clear style). It will all work together if you love each piece. I promise.

And yes. People thought I was silly when I described the “Whimsical Woodland” theme. My husband gave me side eye when I mentioned the anthropomorphic animals. But that’s okay because I had a clear vision in my mind of what I wanted and it came together even better than I could imagine. He loves it now and so do I.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

This Small Maryland Cottage Is Incredibly Cute and Utterly Enchanting

This Small Maryland Cottage Is Incredibly Cute and Utterly Enchanting

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Name: Ryan and Maddie Kulig
Location: Galena, Maryland
Size 1,000 square feet (approximately)
Type of Home: Cottage
Years Lived In: Almost a year. We bought it in August 2021

Apartment Therapy toured the home of the founder of Philadelphia-based lingerie brand Madalynne Intimates, Maddie Kulig (then, Maddie Flanigan) way back in 2018. At the time, she was living in an adorable 500-square-foot home by herself. Cut to a few years later, and she’s touring this adorable cottage she shares with her husband, and starts the story of this house in 2019.

“June 8, 2019 was one of the best days of my life,” Maddie writes. “After dating Ryan for a year and a half, he got down on one knee and proposed during a weekend getaway to Chestertown, Maryland at a mutual Philadelphia friend’s vacation home. On the drive back to Philly after that weekend with no intention of buying, I set my zip code on Zillow to that area. We always said to ourselves that it would we would love to buy a second in the Eastern Shore area.” 

“A long-time family friend moved to Maryland the winter of 2021 and kept posting pictures of her ‘enchanted cottage.’ She PMed me to congratulate me on our wedding and said she moved nearby in Kennedyville. Being the curious person that I am, I checked to see how close it was to Chestertown on Zillow and if there were any listings nearby. This little, old, beet red cottage popped up. It was unassuming — actually quite hideous. Wood paneling covering every square inch, dark kitchen, lattice — there were really no features we liked about the house except the location which was situated on a hill that overlooks the Sassafrass River. You can ‘fixer up’ a house, but you can’t ‘fixer up’ a location. We heard horror stories of home buying at that moment in time — bidding wars and cash offers well above asking price. We weren’t doing that. We said we would put in an offer and if the seller accepted, it was meant to be,” Maddie explains.

“We made our offer on July 8, the buyer accepted July 11 (four years after our first date), and we closed on #kuligkottage on August 10th.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Quirky mid-century modern

Inspiration: 1950s cottage

Favorite Element: Aside from the opposite of living in Philadelphia, the windows in the sun room. We love waking up and having coffee while overlooking the “Glen” — a narrow valley surrounded by trees leading to the Sassafrass.

Biggest Challenge: Finding a contractor! Before we closed, we were talking with a contractor who we randomly found while getting coffee one morning. Unfortunately, he sent us on a seven-week goose chase trying to get a proposal from him. We thought if we can’t get a proposal from him, how can we expect him to renovate our house! So one Saturday, we scheduled to meet with four contractors. We told them all the same story and waited to get proposals from each. We thought we had our mind made up after meeting the first three, with the final just being a courtesy of seeing our appointments through. That final appointment turned out to be our ideal match. We accepted his proposal on a Thursday. By Sunday, he had a dump truck and started demo. 

Proudest DIY: Wallpaper! Making the tiny, spare bedroom usable but stylish was another challenge. We just put the essentials in there — a bed and a dresser — but the wallpaper gives it the perfect pop that it needs. We hung it up together — wallpaper is a two-person job. We’re pretty proud of our pattern matching.

Biggest Indulgence: The dining room table and mirror. The table came from Discount MCM and is an original Broyhill Brasilia. The mirror came from Anthropologie. I had been eyeing that mirror for years, drooling over it in every catalog received. It’s the perfect mix of old and new, and not an ounce of me regrets my purchase. No buyer’s remorse here!

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The George Briard enamel pots, pans, and percolators and paintings. Both were Maddie’s mom’s, who spent her summers at her family’s lake house in Okoboji, Iowa. She begged her dad for years for her George Briards, and this past Christmas, he finally gifted them to us.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Use furniture that has multiple purposes, add color strategically, use mirrors and lighting/windows to open up spaces, and buy small appliances!

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Take it one step at a time. It can be overwhelming when you first start. Keep your end goal in mind, but don’t obsess over it, or how fast/slow it will take you to get there. Focus on what you need to do now and then move on to the next thing. 

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Carina Romano

Photographer

Carina is a freelance editorial and portrait photographer in Philadelphia. She co-owns Love Me Do Photography in Fishtown with fellow Tyler School of Art Alumni, Amanda Jaffe. Carina’s work has been published nationally and internationally.

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An 1800s “Maximalist Disco Cottage” Is Furnished with Upcycled Secondhand Finds

An 1800s “Maximalist Disco Cottage” Is Furnished with Upcycled Secondhand Finds

Name: Faith McGlothin and partner, Liz
Location: Kingston, New York
Type of home: Cottage
Size: 916 square feet
Years lived in: Two years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I am a PhD candidate, and my partner, Liz, is a scenic painter for film. The house is a small cottage from the late 1800s in the town of Kingston, New York, just two hours north of the city. I furnished the house on a BUDGET. All furniture was found on Craigslist or at auctions. The most expensive item in the house is about $100.

I embrace decadence, maximalism and think anyone can be a design diva… on a budget! My grandmother sold antiques for years. I learned how to go trash picking with her. When she couldn’t afford marble kitchen counter tops, she painted hers with a faux finish and about 10 layers of shellac paint.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Maximalist Disco Cottage

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the upstairs bedroom. It has beautiful sloped ceilings, original windows, exposed beams, and a brick wall. It is lovely to see the history of the house from these vintage features. There is a section in the brick wall where you can see the hand imprint of the laborer who originally formed the bricks.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I found two cane back arm chairs for free on Craigslist. The upholstery was in rough shape, so I ripped up a Target comforter and reupholstered them with green velour fabric. Now they look so luxe and expensive. Not so bad for free?

Any advice for creating a home you love? My advice is that there is so reason to ever buy any new furniture or to spend a lot of money. Some of my favorite items of furniture I found in the trash! Anything can be made beautiful with a bit of creativity and some paint…

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.