Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hunting cabin turned into a cottage...on a budget

THE most magical things in life are the ones that spring up where you least expect them — the rosebush in the abandoned lot, for example, or in the case of Sandra Foster, the tiny Victorian cottage in the Catskills that shares space with a 1971 mobile home, two aged trucks, a pen full of chickens and a hand-lettered sign advertising “Farm Fresh Eggs, $2 a Dozen.”

The chickens and their eggs are the remnants of a restaurant that Ms. Foster’s husband, Todd, a great bear of man, tried to run in this sleepy college town last summer; like the landscape business he started a few years earlier, it failed. Mr. Foster, who is working at a local poultry farm, is still recovering from back troubles, making Ms. Foster, a fiscal administrator at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, the primary wage earner.

No matter. Ms. Foster has her own shabby-chic retreat. It may not have a bathroom or a kitchen, but it is a dream of Victoriana: stacks of Limoges china with tiny rosebud patterns; chandeliers dripping crystal; billows of tissue-paper garlands.

This is all the more impressive because she renovated the 9-by-14-foot cottage, an old hunting cabin, herself. The cost of renovating and furnishing it: $3,000.

It’s really true, you don’t need a lot of money to create your own home. This woman did it! And it looks fantastic!

Sandra Foster turned a Catskills hunting cabin into the romantic Victorian cottage she had always wanted, using vintage columns, flooring and wavy glass windows, and doing the carpentry herself.

The cottage fulfills a dream for Ms. Foster, whose middle-class family lost their home when she was a teenager on Long Island.

The shabby-chic retreat doesn't have a bathroom or a kitchen, but it is a dream of Victoriana: stacks of Limoges china with tiny rosebud patterns; chandeliers dripping crystal; billows of tissue-paper garlands. Many of the furnishings, like the $15 chandelier hanging over the sitting area, were flea market finds.

The china closet is a study of woodworking improvisation: Ms. Foster built the shelves, then added arched French doors that she found at a yard sale for $15 each. She has been collecting Limoges china for years.

The mirror was "a strange Band-Aid color — sort of pinky orange," Ms. Foster said, when she found it at a yard sale. She bought it for $22 and painted it with Ralph Lauren's Cove Point in flat white, the same color she used on the cottage walls. For the floors, she used Benjamin Moore's China White paint.

A stream runs between Ms. Foster's cottage and the trailer that she and her husband, Todd, live in. Furnishings must be lightweight enough to carry across.

More photos and stories here (via New York Times)


  1. I loved this article when I read it on the NY Times. I had to save it because I would love to have a small place like that where I can get away from the boys. :-)

    Dissolved Girl from Swap-Bot

  2. ICK! Bandaid color?! Blech!

    I love the cottage, tho. That would be a nice little retreat. So when they have a tiff, do you think she volunteers for the "dog house." LOL

  3. my heart skipped a beat! these are soooo beautiful! they aren't my fave style, but what you did with them is incredible. you are seriously talented, and never undervalue yourself just to make sales- know your worth in this world! the right customers always do come along, given time. and don't you want your pieces to go to the right people who will LOVE them and appreciate them like you do? of course ya do.

  4. Wow...love the collection of photos. The interiors are so inspiring...with the right amount Indian and Western decor to be appreciated by all.Thanks for sharing the photos :

    Susan Graham

  5. The cabin is very beautiful and its whimsical appeal looks great because it blends well with the environment. You designed it pretty well with the furniture and color, the whole cabin transformed became really inspiring. This is an amazing project and you surely have a great imagination and taste in design.


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