Cottage of the Year 2002: Cozy Retreat

Welcome to our Coastal Living Cottage of the Year, nestled among live oaks in South Carolina. This home offers ideas in seaside architecture, interior design, and salt-marsh landscaping.

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The boy's room is dressed in sailor-uniform blues. "We started with the striped fabric," Linda says of the window treatments and pillows. "It has a nautical feel, so we built around that." She continued the blue stripe with a natural fiber rug and a bed skirt she fashioned from two star-patterned, twin-size quilts. Completing the maritime theme are tin boat-rental signs and extra pillows bearing a sailing motif.

In the corner, a rocking chair provides an ideal spot for bedtime stories. A tray-topped table inspires daytime art projects. Toys and treasures wait for playtime in woven baskets that line a bookcase. Adding the visual motion of waves, scalloped details run throughout the room's furniture.

Large windows open to the park below, and a web of live-oak branches acts as a virtual headboard for the twin-size bed?turned sideways to open up floorspace. "The placement of the bed makes it almost like a window seat," Linda says. Roman shades with individual safety tassels echo the natural woven texture of the rug and easily lower to shield sleepyheads from morning light.

Connected to the main house by a screened porch, the cottage's guesthouse can stand alone as a studio apartment. With a small kitchenette, bath, and living area, the structure could function any number of ways. "You could even build the guesthouse first, and let the [main house] come as money and necessity allow," Eric says.

The interior plays off a backdrop of natural plank walls. Here, the planks are painted a handsome half-strength gray. Linda contrasted the pale wash with a red leather love seat and bold artwork. Martha Worthy lets nature inspire her paintings, conveying botanical elements in rich, intense colors. "The guesthouse is more earthy than the rest of the house, not as sweet," Linda says. Stairs lead to a sleeping loft, just big enough for two. The open loft makes the small house feel more spacious.

A wide porch stretches across the cottage's face, welcoming passersby. "Part of a cottage community is sitting on the porch and chatting," Linda says. The master suite and guest cottage each have a porch, too, in addition to the screened dining porch. To tie all four together, Linda furnished them with classic wicker from one collection, topped with water-resistant canvas cushions.

Behind the house, a bricked patio connects the living units. "You look out and it draws you there," says builder Ken Troupe. "The front porch is public; the courtyard is a place to relax and not be on display."

Ken's landscape staff created outdoor spaces with a lush, tropical feel. Plantings in front of the house are low-maintenance natives, such as palmettos, with verbena and daylilies for color. Containers simplify gardening in the courtyard.

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