"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

July 23, 2011

What Makes It 'Cottage' ~ Guest Room

For the last several months I've been slowly getting our farm cottage together after three years of living in a doublewide. It was the homeplace of Ida Dye where she lived until her passing in January 2010 (see "Keeping Vigil" from my In the Pantry blog). For logistical reasons––more bathrooms and closets, for one––we will continue to live in the doublewide across from the farm buildings, for now. We will use the cottage for special occasions, guests, and family meals when we're working at the farm across the street––even holidays. We celebrated Easter there this year and it was wonderful.

A watercolor of Ida's cottage before modernization.
Chickabiddy Cottage, or "Ida's house," has also transformed into my personal oasis, and three guest rooms, a larger working kitchen with new pantry space, and future office (my next project: unpacking it). We have only really invested the cost of paint in most areas of the house, leaving two rooms wallpapered. Paint is always the cheapest way to redecorate.

Vintage monogrammed guest towels on an old bathroom towel rack. I purchased the large c. 1930s
hooked area rug at a yard sale twenty years ago––for $5! It just needed a really good cleaning.

The second floor is unheated and no central air, at present, and it would be a big expense to update it (we did repaint it and put in new flooring). So the upstairs bedrooms are perfect for spring, fall and winter (when hopefully the heat will rise as it does in the summer!). Thankfully the downstairs keeps cool from the central air, its partially-shaded location and also wonderful air flow down the knob. 

This Block Island cottage was painted by my father-in-law in the 1970s.
I'm still not sure where I want it, so it is propped on the dresser for now.
The glass flowers were a gift from our daughter and sit in a cut glass vase,
a wedding present from a dear friend, Dot Grim, who lived in a sweet little cottage
across from us on Hancock's Main Street (whom I often wrote about on my In The Pantry blog).

The bedrooms and some other areas still don't have framed art or prints on the wall yet. That is the last thing I usually place in a room: art work. It takes me some thought and it's a great thing that my husband is expert at hanging stuff because I am not. He is precise and doesn't mind the extra time to be so.

The guest room is painted in Benjamin Moore, "Opal Essence." A light blue green, almost a sea foam,
it is evocative of the interior paint my grandparents had in their 1923 era house in Akron, Ohio––
where this furniture set comes from (and they never updated the interior color, to my knowledge).

Aside from fresh paint in most rooms––I like a pastel palette and rich creams––and the new pantry that I designed, with open shelves and spaces (more on the pantry and other paint colors and rooms over time), it is the same house that Ida had. There are good vibes here. One day I dream of a wrap-around porch, new siding and larger 2/2 farmhouse windows, but in time. The guest room, and my adjacent office, face north so the light is constant.

The knob view from the guest room window to the north.

A Victorian "what not" shelf with my
English porcelain flower collection.
The Pond men have their shop, hay shed, equipment shed and cattle sorting building, so I don't feel too guilty about having my own little play and putter house. I highly recommend the idea for marital harmony. But it also has a real purpose: one day it will be our "Doty" house, if one of the children should take over the farm. It is perfect for one or two people––and family camp outs, occasions and meals. It may be that it will be the home where we live when the boys are grown, if we never build our "dream" farmhouse (in my head and on paper). I envision it as always being here for those who need it––but in the meantime, it is totally mine. But I can share, too.

Hand painted furniture is from the turn of the 19th century
and was likely my grandparents' original bedroom set. 

[They were married in 1923 when their house was also built.] 
The aqua color inspired the paint selection for the bedroom
and is one of my favorite, most soothing, shades.
An old linen bureau scarf is pressed
beneath a bureau top glass, cut to fit.

Our daughter's favorite childhood dolls and her old bedspreads accent the room.

This framed image was taken of our daughter in 1989 
in my first article for the original Victoria Magazine 
(on the Gibson House Museum in Boston). 
© Gross + Daley, original photograph

Fresh flowers in an old pitcher or vase add much charm, color, even fragrance.
Our daughter, the first to christen the guest room, arrived in mid-April in time for lilac season and the woodland wildflowers––one of my favorite times in Kentucky––our glorious, long Appalachian spring!

Make sure you have a chair or two for sitting––bedrooms of the past were often living areas, too.

A nightstand is essential, complete with books and magazines. The Wallace Nutting print
from the 1910s depicts our former home: titled 'A New Hampshire Brick-Ender'

A guest room kept ready for company or visiting family is such a warm and welcome luxury. It's even a great place for a quiet afternoon nap, conveniently located across from my soon-to-be office. But, most of all, I admit, it is a little shrine to the past––to family members framed within, to the house we left behind, to rooms that I remember. Above all, it is our daughter's room for whenever she can be here.

You come back when you're ready!

Better yet, come visit!



  1. I love the green....we have a lot of it in our house.

  2. I am so impressed -- you have a signed Wallace Nutting hand-colored photograph of your old house. That's wonderful! I guess I never told you I have a collection of Nutting, Sawyer, Davidson, Thompson, Higgins, LeBusch, and Burrowes hand-colored photographs. I have so many that a lot of them have never been hung. LOVE them.

  3. This is just the lovliest of posts. Destiny

  4. I love love love the twin beds. How beautiful!

  5. I so love this space. Everything about it is perfect. I'm going to look into that 'opal essence' - beautiful color. And the Wallace Nutting! That's great that you have it. What is a 'knob' view?

  6. Our "Wallace Nutting" house was truly special. I still dream of it, but less and less now. If we'd been able to beam it to Kentucky we would have done so in a Star Trek second! But I am grateful for many photographs and objects that were once there and in other family homes.

    Nan, the photos don't nearly do the color justice. If you Google on the color you might find some better examples ['Opal Essence' - Benjamin Moore]. It is so tranquil and soothing and a great backdrop to just about anything.

    Oh and "knobs" are what they call big hills around here: too small to be mountains and too big or distinguished to be hills! Our own knob has a 360 view and makes great, healthy hay. It's also the highest point on our ridge, which is about 10 miles long. We are in the very southern end of Kentucky's south-central "Knobs Region" -- lovely rolling hills and much open land and woodlands and creek bottoms.

  7. Nan, this shows the color in a bit better light. However you have to see it to believe it. I think it reflects light so it is hard to photograph its true color? But soft and it goes with everything, esp. vintage items and colors. Would be great in a bathroom, too.



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