white stucco walls, brick parquet patio behind front gate of little sea side cottage with pink flowers
Credit: Mia Finsness

A 150-Year-Old Cottage’s Design Is “Industrial Farmhouse by the Sea”

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Bedrooms
Square feet
800
Sq ft
800

Mia Finsness has owned this home for three years, and used a mix of older furniture pieces with new buys to furnish the space. Her brother, Chris, is currently living there and renting it from Mia: The home is a 150-year-old cottage that was originally built as the farmhouse on a large farm in Bermuda. The rest of the land has now been developed into a condominium development, with my little farmhouse the only remaining original building on the property. Despite the small square footage, the cottage feels spacious in large part due to the large ceilings with exposed beams and the expansive ocean views outside the windows. It is isolated from the other units on the property, with its own winter patio, lush gardens, and front porch overlooking the ocean, giving it a serene and idyllic setting. It really is a little Eden in paradise.

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Credit: Mia Finsness

I renovated the interiors to maximize space, using the same flooring throughout and outfitting the tiny kitchen in small fixtures and SMEG appliances suitable for a tiny cottage. I ordered a custom-made oak kitchen table from England to fit the small eating area in the kitchen and made sure the iron legs were thin enough to enable four chairs to fit comfortably at the table.

Credit: Mia Finsness

In the bedroom, I took the ceiling off to expose the wood beams to make the tiny room feel more spacious. I further maximized space in the tiny room by using a platform bed with storage underneath. Instead of bedside tables, I purchased some small floating shelves from Etsy to serve as nightstands and also installed some bedside lights on the walls. I also ripped out a closet that was situated opposite to the windows and installed a large mirror to reflect the ocean and put in a chest of drawers from Pottery Barn to add some clothing storage. The bedroom is serene; you can hear the water lapping up against the rocks and can see boats floating by.

Credit: Mia Finsness
"I tried to re-use some older pieces of furniture. My Pottery Barn bed is almost 20 years old, having bought it when I got my first job and needed a bed with storage underneath to make up for the lack of storage in my small apartment."

I also tried to save some things that were already in the home. For example, there was a tiny sink in the powder room that was perfect for the small space. I replaced everything else but kept that sink, knowing I wouldn’t be able to find one so small if I tried! Similarly, the old double Dutch barn door on the front of the house had a lot of character, and original hardware to boot. After refinishing, it looked beautiful and yet still rustic and authentic.

Credit: Mia Finsness

I had to move from Bermuda shortly after completing my treasured home, and only got to live there for a month. Now, my brother rents it from me and is happy as a clam! He is a musician and has converted the office/dining area off of the living room into a little music studio. He says he is inspired by the beauty and tranquility of his surroundings at Freshford Cottage when writing new music.

Credit: Mia Finsness

I come from a family of artists and love to be inspired by artwork of all kinds. For this home, I really wanted to draw upon the natural beauty of the ocean and gardens outside the windows of the cottage and have the interiors complement and enhance that beauty, not overwhelm or compete with it. In New York, I am more drawn to bold and darker colors — black, reds, greens, and beiges — but I knew for this special cottage that whites, blues, and greens were the way to go to achieve what I wanted. The large painting in the living room is a watercolor by my mother, which makes it even more special.

Mixed in to all the coastal colors, I use a little bit of bronze and chrome accents to give it a rustic-yet-modern feel — something I enjoy in all my living spaces.

Credit: Mia Finsness

What is your favorite room and why? The bedroom. It’s hard to describe the joy of waking up in the morning to the ocean outside the window and boats peacefully floating.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The old wooden chest that sits in the living room perfectly in a space by the fireplace and under an arch window to the kitchen. I knew I wanted some kind of storage here that could also serve as additional seating. My mother had been keeping this chest in her basement for years, and thought it might fit. And it did — it was perfect! I had a custom cushion made to sit on top of it and it looks beautiful.

Credit: Mia Finsness
"The antique chest was my parents; they bought it in Florence on their honeymoon. The couch was also used — an 8-year-old West Elm couch that’s held up well."

Any advice for creating a home you love? Draw inspiration on your interior design from the bones of the home itself, rather than trying to force a certain aesthetic on a home that really isn’t suited to it.

Thanks, Mia!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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