This New York Fixer Upper Was Transformed into a Whimsical Woodland Cottage

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living room with brown couch and blue rug

Name: Mackenzie Grate, husband, and two pugs (Toby and Kiwi)
Location: Stone Ridge, New York
Type of home: Cottage
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 4 months, owned

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Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: The theme is “whimsical, woodland cottage vibes.” This quaint little cottage was a fixer upper that stole my heart. I actually was touring it with a client (I’m a realtor outside my day job of being an assistant principal in East New York). She decided to pass on it, but when I saw the upstairs attic space, I asked her if she would be upset if I put in an offer for myself. This client was ecstatic for me and said, “Please do.”

So I wrote up an offer and told my husband we were buying another house. From that point on it was quite the journey to get to closing. There were open violations on it, the lady wanted to lease it back for a bit (a big no-no during the moratorium) but eventually we closed.

That night she left a note for us telling us about the cottage, with a bag of food to feed to her deer named “Lucy.” Sure enough, as dusk fell, Lucy stuck her face up to the window looking for dinner.

From that point on we scrubbed and scrubbed removing 41 years of tar and dusty cobwebs. We discovered letters crumpled in the wall, awesome mirrors hidden away in the attic, and so much more. Slowly, week by week we transformed the place though. The major project was opening up the ceiling and creating a loft space, thus turning a cramped one-bedroom cottage into an airy two(ish) bedroom cottage.

Collecting the perfect pieces of art throughout the space became a passion. Anthropomorphic animals were my jam and I was able to find great art and statues that vibed off that.

Lastly, we brought in a whole new gas fireplace that completed the cottage vibes. All this was a labor of love and created the perfect space for my husband to work from home at, and for our two pugs to snuggle. If only we had this cottage during lockdown!!!!

As I stated before, the art includes original artwork from local artists, and some from my home state of California. It plays off the woodland theme with anthropomorphic animals. It also ties in some antique art sourced throughout the Hudson Valley. The color scheme is both complex and simple with bold navy blues having a moment in the living room and kitchen and more subdued grays to round out the bedroom and bathroom. All of it works together though and screams “unique and cozy.”

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Rustic, eclectic, a splash of modern, cozy, and airy. All rolled into one.

What is your favorite room and why? Looking at the pictures, I’m sure you can guess that it’s the living room. That space underwent a huge transformation when we opened up the ceiling. It made the whole house feel bigger and connected. The addition of the gas fire place, the caramel-colored leather couch, the barn door, and the wooden library ladder make it architecturally interesting. I could sit on that couch all day sipping cocktails by the fireplace.

Bedroom Office: Work Remotely

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Fantastic art from Molly Kars. No seriously, you have to check her work out. It. Is. Stunning.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Do you boo. Stick to what you like. Don’t focus on a specific style (unless you consider yourself to be one of the lucky few that has a very clear style). It will all work together if you love each piece. I promise.

And yes. People thought I was silly when I described the “Whimsical Woodland” theme. My husband gave me side eye when I mentioned the anthropomorphic animals. But that’s okay because I had a clear vision in my mind of what I wanted and it came together even better than I could imagine. He loves it now and so do I.

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