A Small Cabin Abandoned for 20 Years Is Like a Modern-Day Version of Snow White’s Cottage After a Total Reno
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Name: Danielle Elderkin, with husband, two teenage boys, and a Maltipoo
Location: Shohola, Pennsylvania
Type of home: Cottage
Size: 780 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months
Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: We were living in another cabin we had renovated two streets up and walked by this cottage hundreds of times. It was run-down and abandoned for 20 years. When it went up for sale, I contacted the Realtor immediately. We went to see it and put in an offer within a few minutes. It was in such bad shape, we didn’t even get to see the inside because we couldn’t walk on the floors! But we fell in love with the stone chimney and fireplace and saw amazing potential. I always envisioned it as a modern-day version of Snow White’s cottage.
When we did a final walk through the property, the owner was there. His father was the original owner from back in the ’60s. We learned the cottage was moved from a spot on the Delaware River in New Jersey to where it is now. And that the original owner and his son acquired the stones for the chimney and fireplace by trading a case of beer for them, then hand-laid the stones themselves!
We moved to the Poconos four years ago from Southern California. My husband’s background is in construction and fine woodworking. I studied interior design and have a marketing business. We always dreamed of renovating houses, but couldn’t afford to do that in California. My sister lives in this area and one day after browsing real estate listings around where she lived, I got the idea to sell our California house and renovate tiny abandoned cabins in the Poconos. This cottage is the third renovation for us since we moved here four years ago. We are living our dream and we love it!
This cottage truly reflects our style, personality, and our lifestyle here in the Poconos. We live in the woods and just steps from the lake. Small accents of that are reflected throughout the design. The tile in the downstairs bathroom reminded me of the sun reflecting on the lake. We used a lot of natural elements or natural-feeling elements like the live-edge open shelving in the kitchen and acorn-shaped hooks in the bathroom. It was also important to us to find vintage furniture and accessories. We searched Facebook Marketplace for almost all of our furniture. You just can’t find solid quality furniture or those sweet charming details like the carved flowers in the dining set. Not to mention, a full dining set for only $100! We also upcycled all of our lighting. We kept most of the lighting original to the cottage and just painted and rewired it. We also bought some additional vintage hobnail milk glass lighting to coordinate with the existing lights.
The art is a mix of curated pieces by artists from Etsy; pieces we’ve collected over time; paintings by my sister, Michelle Vinson; and pieces found at thrift or antique stores.
The color palette all stemmed from the kitchen backsplash that I found browsing online one night when we first bought the cottage. The entire design of the house started there. And the Smeg fridge came after that. We matched the exterior doors to the fridge because I love that fridge so much. And we love the house so much that we made a mini version of it; my studio office looks exactly like our house and is right next to it.
What is your favorite room and why? It’s hard to choose a favorite room because we designed it with all our favorite things. We made it just for us and we love every part of it. If I really had to choose, I would say the kitchen. I love how it’s open to the whole house, so even if you’re cooking or doing dishes you are a part of the conversation. For being in a small house, you have a substantial kitchen and it doesn’t feel small. There’s tons of counter space and storage for all our stuff. Multiple people can be cooking at once comfortably. It’s a great space for family and friends and it feels warm and inviting. It’s really unique and pretty and it feels like home.
What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? One of my favorite finds is a vintage European dollhouse we turned into a cupboard in the bathroom. I got it from the Anthropologie outlet in Pittsburgh. The entire front wall of it opens up on a hinge. We added a shelf to it and a magnet so it will stay closed. My favorite part of it is that there is old faded wallpaper on the inside. A fun surprise!
Any advice for creating a home you love? Go with your gut and buy or start gathering the things that you love. They will somehow fit together. If something makes you smile and makes you feel good, that’s what you need in your house. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by their favorite things? Don’t get too caught up in being overly trendy or making sure everything exactly coordinates.
Before our renovation was finished, we were buying all kinds of things online or as we were out at vintage stores. Our wallpaper was rolled up in a closet, rugs bound up in storage, art in boxes. As the renovations wound up and we began decorating, it was like being surrounded in a big hug! For us, our little storybook cottage is the best place we can be!
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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