The Ideal Getaway Cottage | Midwest Living

The Ideal Getaway Cottage

Our senior home editor builds her version of the ideal getaway cottage, filling a small space with handy amenities and relaxing natural connections.
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The Ideal Getaway Cottage


Even if a vacation cottage has to remain in your dreams, you can design a retreat feel in your everyday home. Our senior home editor's vision for a 600-square-foot cottage full of nature-inspired materials and outdoor connections will inspire you to create a getaway, wherever you live.

WHEN I ENVISION A WEEKEND ESCAPE, bigger isn't always better. Personally, I long for a simple, relaxing place to unwind: a small, three-season home that is rejuvenating, functional, close to nature-and affordable! I recently brought my reverie to life when I designed a getaway cottage for the 2007 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show Design Idea Center. The result? A revived barn, natural materials, common-sense function and a connection to the outdoors meld into a high-style space that feels like a near-perfect escape.

I chose to create my three-season weekend getaway in a small, reclaimed barn, a symbol of our Heartland heritage. I was ready to take a surprisingly pleasant trip back to the basics-a plan that might have appeal for countless homeowners as we all cope with the stresses of daily life. In a retreat like this, I could easily see myself shopping for fresh produce at the local farmers market, watching the fireflies at sunset from my screen porch and taking an au naturel shower outdoors.

The core of this small cottage would naturally be the kitchen. But in a second home, I can keep it simple. No need for double appliances, a pantry or fancy cooking utensils. This adaptable kitchen has a drainboard reminiscent of old farm sinks and movable cabinets to help with food prep, serving and dining. The 2 1/2x7-foot island acts as a snug dining table and work surface (a natural-wood chopping block brings the heart of the island up to work height). A corrugated metal backsplash is an inexpensive, farm-style choice that looks chic when paired with other silver elements, such as metal-look baseboards. A compact, 30-inch KitchenAid gas range offers four burners, a wok grate for quick vegetable prep and a warming drawer for bakery treats.

I designed the bath for pampering. A Kohler tub with a Zen-like design offers indulgent, leisurely soaks that are ideal after a busy day at work or during weekend downtime. The organic outdoor shower beckons on warm days, the ultimate let-go space.

To add to the getaway's rural charm, I chose elements of barn architecture for each of the rooms, including barn board, exposed framing and stacked stone. The floors look aged, but they're actually distressed new maple and hickory wood from Armstrong. The limestone-look counters? They're really a new solid-surface counter material from DuPont Corian.

I added contemporary flair with a mix of horizontal-grain cherrywood and metal-look cabinetry from Venicia by KraftMaid, along with sleek fixtures and stainless steel appliances. Earthy finishes and accessories entwine the rustic and modern themes.

Putting a priority on being in touch with nature, I designed the barn to open (weather permitting) to the rejuvenating outdoors. Tall windows swing open from top hinges. Most of the exterior and interior walls have screened transoms, and the 8-foot-wide sliding barn door entrance welcomes sun, birdsong and soft summer breezes inside. A fireplace takes the chill off cool nights, the porch's daybed invites afternoon naps, and a ladder leads to a hayloft sleeping space.

The idea is to scale back, pare down, turn off the TV and cell phone and bask in a place that nourishes the soul. Whether I'm savoring the season's first succulent berries or bird-watching from the screen porch, I can't help but decompress in my own version of the simple life.

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