Vintage Cottage Style

The Murphy family traded city slick for coastal comfort when they moved into a lovingly restored 1785 cottage in Rowayton, Connecticut.

Eclectic Cottage Style: About the House

Photographer Jeff McNamara

About the House

Style: Late 18th-century shinglestyle cottage with wide-plank floors, plaster walls, and exposed beams

Space: 3,800 square feet spread over three floors with four bedrooms and four full baths

Setting: The main drag of Rowayton, Connecticut, a quaint harbor town with a population of 4,000 that’s home to many sea-seeking artists and writers

View: From the front porch, Five Mile River, which flows into the Long Island Sound, plus neighbors casually strolling to and from town.

Vintage Cottage Style: Entryway

Photographer Jeff McNamara


Wide-plank oak floors, hand-troweled plaster walls, and exposed original wood beams create a cozy, old-fashioned feel.

Eclectic Cottage Style: Living Room

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Living Room

Metallic pieces in the cozy space add a touch of glam to the farmhouse feel.

Antique gilded chairs: The gold chairs have lived on at least three continents. They were commissioned in France circa 1900 for a posh Egyptian hotel, where they sat in the lobby for nearly 100 years.

Rumford fireplace: The hearth is original to the house, and modeled after an 18th-century style developed by Count Rumford. His design called for a wide, shallow firebox to direct as much heat into a room as possible.

Eclectic Cottage Style: Dining Room

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Dining Room

An ancestor portrait leaning against the wall sets the eclectic, rustic-meets-industrial tone.

Formerly floorboards dining table: This one of- a-kind find is made of vintage flooring from a Romanian farmhouse atop barley twist legs.

Lemon yellow chairs: The painted metal finish adds a pop of sunny color and is super easy to clean—a plus in a house with young children.

Vintage Cottage Style: Master Bath

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Master Bath

Vintage fixtures, plus exposed original architectural details, create a warm, comfortable mood.

Wide-plank floors: Rough-sawn oak planks that have been sanded down and lightly whitewashed are a nod to the house’s age but give it a lighter feel. “They make the house feel cohesive and open,” says homeowner Julie. “I love how unexpected they are in a bath.”

Exposed beams: Designer Barbara Garfield stripped the house down to its bones, uncovering beautiful original hand-hewn beams that she left as-is to pay tribute to the hardworking artisans of the past. Horizontal beams mark the height of the original 7-foot-tall ceiling.

Antique tub: Barbara found this vintage fixture in a friend’s attic and had it re-enameled and painted a pretty seafoam green. The tub overlooks a small creek; views from the larger window extend to Five Mile River, which flows into the greater Long Island Sound.

Vintage Cottage Style: Guest Bedroom

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Guest Bedroom

This light, airy bedroom is filled with visitors, especially during the holidays. “People come here and don’t want to leave!” says Julie.

Antique iron bed: Julie and Tom bought this turn-of-the century bed as a wedding gift for each other. The bedposts are topped with tiny pineapples, a symbol of hospitality.

Vintage Cottage Style: Kids' Bedrooms

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Kids' Bedrooms

Vintage toys, colorful books, and classic prints in cheery shades infuse these spaces with a happy-go-lucky vibe.

Circus tent canopies: Suspended from the ceiling with eye hooks, these sheer drapes lend an enchanted quality to standard twin beds and give Sadie Grey’s room an under-the-big-top feel.

Stripes, dots, and spots! Primary colors and classic geometric motifs that embellish Sadie Grey’s room energize the space.

Vintage Cottage Style: Kids' Bedroom Accents

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Kids' Bedroom Accents

Checked slipper chairs: Tom and Julie found the Candy Land-hued chairs in Ellis’ room at a neighbor’s tag sale. Because they were originally designed to be small fireside seats, they’re perfectly sized for a child’s sanctuary.

Clever storage: With their low ceilings and ample windows, the kids’ rooms have little space for storage furniture or artwork display. Instead, large glass canisters hold toys, and colorful books are propped above the window frames.

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