La Chaumière: The Cottage The entrance of the residence greets visitors with an antique French sign that translates to The Cottage. A fresh springtime wreath, created by Village Flower Shop in Mendham, is an unusual mix of hydrangea, bells of Ireland, Kermit chrysanthemums and spider-plant cuttings. It’s a pretty but perishable look, appropriate for a one-day special event.
Classic Collection: A mélange of framed architectural prints and engravings resides upon a salvaged painted shelf with decorative carving, found at a Lambertville antiques shop. The aged patina of the shelf inspired the monochromatic palette of the office.
In the popular 1955 standard, “Give Me the Simple Life,” Tony Bennett sings, “A cottage small is all I’m after, not one that’s spacious and wide.”
That notion rang true for a Morris County writer and stylist who dramatically scaled down from a large family residence in an executive neighborhood to a decades-old Cape Cod-style cottage.
After a flurry of tag sales and donations to local charities, the homeowner parted with all the furniture, lamps and rugs she didn’t love—as well as a closetful of unopened hostess gifts—and kept only her favorite pieces.
Despite the cottage’s humble provenance as a no-frills mail-order house, it’s now a fun and chic retreat, validating that size isn’t everything.
Although both the interior and exterior required renovation, the project was undertaken one room at a time with every window, door, wall and floor eventually being replaced as the structure evolved into a cozy and comfortable new space.
The posh living room, dressed up in a monochromatic palette and accessorized with reflective metallic furnishings, is bright and sunny.
The cottage lacks a bonafide dining room, so the homeowner created a versatile area within the eat-in kitchen that functions as an intimate breakfast room, but instantly can be readied for a dinner party when two leaves are added to the table. New French doors (two of which swing wide onto the deck) open up the space and enhance the flow for elbow-to-elbow parties.
When entertaining, mix-and-match plates are favored over formal place settings. French-inspired furnishings and fanciful touches like the crystal chandelier with beaded shades and pinch-pleat draperies elevate the room’s style.
Thanks to mirrored closet doors, the first-floor bedroom, only 9-by-11 feet, appears larger. Because each room is so small, ”splurges“ on discounted remnants of top-of-the-line, wall-to-wall wool carpet—such as the bold animal-print floor covering that graces this bedroom—are affordable.
According to the lady of the house, ”A lot of people are scaling down nowadays. My home is proof positive that, although you may give up square footage, you don’t have to compromise style and comfort in the process. I love my sweet cottage.”
Making More of a Small Space
Just because you’re residing in tiny quarters doesn’t mean you can’t live large. Check out these fool-the-eye tips:
- Mirrors and mirrored furnishings create an illusion of space wherever they are placed, especially at the end of a hallway.
- Benches, daybeds and demi-lune tables require little floor space and can be used all around the house.
- Wall shelves are a clever way to display interesting collections and provide needed storage.
- Statement elements such as sparkling chandeliers and French-inspired pieces make small spaces look special.
- Gorgeous fabric and carpet deliver luxe comfort and are worth the price.
All carpeting throughout the home is by J&S Designer Flooring (973-605-5225; jsdesignerflooring.com) in Morristown.
Window treatments are by Karin Hoffsten of Calico Corners (973-887-3905; calicocorners.com) in East Hanover, and sewn by Deborah Fico (908-236-6907) of Clinton.
Floral Design is by Village Flower Shop in Mendham (973-543-7795; villageflowershops.com).