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The words coastal and cottage bring all forms of design to mind, from the super rich expansive seaside cottage to the shack that no one has updated since grandma brought her old orange dining chairs down when she got those new ones in her Atlanta house. Our cottages are somewhere in between and their style has evolved over the last 12 years with a lot of love and some smart shopping. In the beginning, I started with the Piper Cottage and almost no budget.

Everything at that time had a British Colonial feel to it. When you saw beach magazines, they were full of the big heavy Hemingway looking furniture from the East India trading company and monkeys and giant green palms were on everything from fabric to mirrors and chandeliers. Lots of browns and greens with a pop of orange or red. Everything seemed big and heavy, but it worked and people loved it. Pottery Barn and Southern Living were the looks to emulate and Coastal Living, if you could afford to try. I shopped near and far, from porches to bazaars and flea markets and occasional a friend’s garage. From Florida to Maine and everywhere my travels took me I was always looking for something new for the cottages. Repaint and recover were my favorite words. I had lots of fun trying and there was always a story to be told about the purchase when I looked back on the places I went and the people I met. Because for me, life is all about the relationships.

And then came the Seagull Cottage. And the Heron Cottage after that. It was almost the death of Scott as I decorated and redecorated the cottages, shuffling furniture from one to the other as I found new and fun pieces to play with, whether in a shop or on the side of the road and slated for Mr. Paul to reupholster in the shed in his backyard. And now, many coats of paint and several colors schemes later, we have arrived at what I think is a good stopping place for a while. I feel good about the cottages. All along, what I really wanted was for the cottages to feel simple and comfortable for my guests and not too fancy to feel good in when you want to put your feet up. But I also wanted some style! And I do love the crisp, clean feel of white linens and a bottle of wine waiting for me in a nice hotel, that feeling of being spoiled. I think the cottages are a nice marriage of those things now and I have loved every minute of the journey along the way. And, for the record, I don’t think there are any monkeys left anywhere, aside from a small bathroom mirror in my own house that I just couldn’t bear to part with that was purchased from a dear soul with fantastic taste years ago. You see, every piece of design in your home away from home has some kind of memory for me. And those same pieces now hold memories for so many of you.