Category Archives: cottages

Home Business

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten excited over a cute little cottage with a for-sale sign in the front yard, only to realize it’s zoned for commercial.

Sometimes it seems like half the historic homes in my town have been converted into businesses.

And while I think a mom and pop coffee shop can make a charming resident for a little old bungalow, it seems like an old house’s character and quirks sort of go to waste when it becomes, say, a law or insurance office.

And does it get any quirkier than this one’s brick wall?

I guess I like to be able to picture myself living in an old place – and a parking lot out front and fast-food joint next door disrupt my daydreams.

Of course, I’m probably missing the point. Most converted houses are situated on busy thoroughfares– good for business, not so good for raising your family. Then there’s the historic preservation aspect. I’m thankful that I live in a city where businesses and planning departments had the fortitude to preserve many (though certainly not all) of our old buildings. Better that the houses be used than left vacant and, ultimately, torn down.

Still, I sometimes imagine myself buying one of these businesses and turning it back into a home. But you know what would be even cooler?  Converting a historic school, church or – believe it or not – a post office into a home. Wish I had the guts to take on a project like this one.

Michael Luppino/This Old House

 U.S. Post Office becomes first-class home


Filed under bungalow, cottages, historic houses, old houses, real estate, Victorian

Yard Work

Working from home is both a blessing and a curse.

 On the one hand, I can get work done on my own hours with as many coffee breaks as I want and, yes, sometimes in my pajamas.

 On the other hand, the Internet, radio, refrigerator and, at times, the other person who shares my home office, can be highly distracting – especially for an infamous procrastinator. And I don’t even have kids yet.

 My dream solution? The backyard office.


When old houses are short on space, sometimes you have to get creative. If I had a bigger backyard, I would refinish a little shed, workshop, mother-in-law quarters, poolhouse – any small outbuilding – into my own cute, private cubicle.


 Okay, this one’s actually a greenhouse – but I would totally make it into an office.


Fresh Dirt Blog - Sunset

Aside from magazines, I haven’t noticed many backyard offices in the U.S. But shed offices are so common in the U.K., there’s a blog devoted to them. Tiny House Blog also features its share of garden offices. With so many people telecommuting today, I think these guys are onto something.

Tiny House Living

Urban Eden

 And check out this hunting cabin-turned-Victorian cottage in the New York Times. To be fair, this one isn’t an office either – but it’s inspirational all the same.

The New York Times

I can just see myself now: packing a briefcase, kissing my boyfriend goodbye and whistling as I commute to work – across the lawn.


Filed under cottages, garden, interiors, old houses, restoration

Old Stone Crazy

If people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, can people in stone houses throw whatever they want?  


I don’t think I’ll be finding out anytime soon. An old stone or brick cottage is like my holy grail of houses. While I’d love to settle down in a little mini-castle of my own, it’s pretty hard to find the real thing – at least here in the United States.  

 But if the definition of a dream home is absolute unavailability, then mine is not the beauty I discussed last week, but this one.  


Not because it’s out of my price range or location, but because it isn’t really a home – at least not anymore. It’s the property of Empire Mine State Historic Park – the country castle-type manor of the owners of California’s oldest and richest gold mine.  

I adore this house, from its leaded glass windows to its rose gardens and water features to its herringbone-patterned brick patios.

Image via


Try to imagine this walkway as it appears every spring, tangled in climbing roses – or accented by the red blaze of Virginia Creeper in fall. I guess I’ll have to visit again so I can take more pictures to post (especially pics of the mining area – the view down the old mine shaft is scary-cool).



 As if Empire Mine isn’t romantic enough on its own, this lovely park happens to be where I had my first real date with the boyfriend eight years ago in June….ah, memories.  

 But enough with the reminiscing. I saw a glimmer of hope for my stone house future when I cracked open the latest issue of Cottages and Bungalows and flipped right to an ad for Storybook Homes, a company that designs little to large fairy tale-friendly cottages and castles.  

Image via Storybook Homes

Image via Cotswold Village

 It’s a cute concept – but alas, I’m still not sure if I could ever do the new old house thing, even if said house was meticulously designed to look and feel aged, even if it was designed to look like my dream house.  

After all, what is it that makes an old house special? Is it in the details – the nooks and crannies, the built-ins, the quirks – all of which can be recreated? Or is it in time itself – the creaky floors and crumbling bricks, the multiple renovations and the echoes of past lives that once called it home?

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Filed under cottages, famous houses, old houses