Since my dream trip last summer to Domus Civita — Patrizio Fradiani’s ancient cave house — he’s had professional photographs taken. For those who followed along with the gutsy renovation process, finally a worthy payoff. Chicago photographer Bob Coscarelli captures the magic of the place — the quiet interior, the soft light, the soulful connection between inside and outside, and the depths and history of those miraculous caves. Accessed only by pedestrian footbridge, the town Civita de Bagnoregio is straight out of time. A picturesque mess of cobblestone streets, climbing ivy and a pace that makes the rest of Italy look downright harried, the town and the surrounding landscape (views of the Tibor river valley and clay rooftops out every flung-open window) both play an inextricable part of the experience. The garden… that gazebo, I start feeling euphoric just thinking about sitting out there. But I won’t carry on — I’ve already done enough of that here and here — but I do want to share these photographs, because they do such a beautiful job of finalizing the story.
Homes to Stay
I love winter. Just not winter in the city. I want blankets of dense white snow instead of dirty brown slush, and space to romp around in it. Sledding, ice-skating, cross-country skiing, the works. Even if I had a fireplace, it wouldn’t get me through: I crave the icy solitude of a rustic, bare-bones cabin in the country, stocked with wool blankets, snow shoes and plenty of firewood. Somewhere to stave off the stir crazies. This is why the amazing, covet-enducing Cabin Porn is a very dangerous haunt (if you’ve never heard of of it, I don’t recommend checking it out if you don’t have an hour or more to spare). The site’s only drawback, besides making me feel extremely envious, is that there’s not much information about each cabin, and most aren’t for rent. You may end up doing some random googling for “rustic hunting cabins in the woods for rent,” which produces a substantial list of places well-suited for a low-budget horror film, but not exactly Cabin Porn material.
Here are a few rustic spots from the designtripper arsenal that might come in handy:
Next week, I’ll cover some favorites from the warm and sunny end of the spectrum. Because as much as I love snow (and was grateful for actually having some this year), we’ll be happily on our way back here.
I came across this fantastical, fairytale-channeling property about a year ago in World of Interiors, and more recently mentioned on travelandleisure.com, where the editors referenced its location, Vendee, in the countryside of France, as one Europe’s secret hot spots. It’s not surprising, considering that the owners–the three guys behind London’s much-ballyhooed Les Trois Garcons and Maison Trois Garcons–are the intrepid interior masterminds.
The 1872 chateau, with its floating turrets, spins a whimsical, over-the-top tale on the inside, matching the splendor of the exterior with wit and frivolity. Two-story chandeliers, spiral staircases, anatomical models, stuffed birds, Balinese elephant chairs and century-spanning antiques — everything is an extravagant gesture. Especially those symmetrically mounted horse heads with narwal horns. And a detail that escaped notice the first time I poured over the photos, the holiday chateau can be rented. Well, for a price (ahem, almost $12,000 for a long weekend). After all, the place sleeps 54 across seven ensuite bathrooms (plus 17 more in the ancillary buildings). Beyond the impressively long list of reading rooms, studies and formal dining rooms, there’s an 18-meter pool, 18 acres, and a small forest to frolic in.
Welcome Beyond is one of my favorite vacation home booking sites. Based in Berlin, co-founders and brothers Chris and Oliver Laugsch find the most fantastic, tucked-away retreats for their superbly curated site. In really thoughtful owner interviews, they manage to suss out meaningful details that go well beyond the standard list of amenities. They understand that these places have stories. And that the owners have a desire to share those stories–from family legacies to passionate renovations–so the guest can more fully appreciate the experience of staying there. I relate to their approach so much that I listed Honor & Folly on their site, and for awhile, it was the only US-based listing. However, I was clicking around the other day, and discovered this beautiful addition: an old stone mill in the Hudson Valley.
Owned by Ariana Salvato, a designer and stylist based in New York City, the mill belonged to her father and mother–an architect and designer, respectively–who bought the historic, crumbling property when Ariana was a baby and spent a lifetime renovating it. “When I was growing up,” says Ariana, “there was always a table saw going and the sounds of hammer and nails. It was always a work in progress. Aside from my father being an architect, he was also an artist. It’s almost as though the house is the embodiment of his biggest art piece. There’s a sentimental and emotional connection. Everywhere I look, I see his work.”
Since inheriting the house, she hasn’t changed much, besides adding her collection of Catherine Holm Scandinavian enamelware from the ’60s and ’70s. Simple midcentury furnishings and her father’s artwork still hold aesthetic court. Ivy and moss creep down the sides of the rustic stone walls, helping it blend further into the green of the surrounding forest. It’s the kind of place you go to reconnect, cook a heady meal with friends and take long nature walks everyday. For those who need more entertainment, the mill is located near vineyards, farmer’s markets and antique shops, and less than an hour’s drive to a bunch of little towns along the Hudson River–Saugerties, Rhinebeck, Hudson.
Four bedrooms; sleeps up to nine people. Prices start around $3,000 for a week and go up depending on season (also available for weekend rentals). Not only a vacation rental, it also serves as an event and wedding space, and location for photo shoots (as seen in Elle). Rent it at welcomebeyond.com.
After staying in a masseria this summer in Puglia, I’ve been thinking about how fun it would be to stay in a castle in Scotland or Ireland. The ultimate living fantasy, for anyone, like me, with two boys in serious long-running knight phases. Here’s the thing though: you can’t stay in a castle alone. That’s creepy, right? In all their turreted glory with proper keeps, lookout towers and torture chambers, they were built to protect royal types and their entire staff/community, as well as show off their wealth and power. Some of the smaller ones, relatively speaking, are at least–at least!–10 bedrooms gigantic and sleep 25-plus people. If you don’t want to travel with 20 of your closest friends, there’s the quainter version of a full-blown castle, a tower house– a single tower built for smaller land-owning lordships with five or six floors and similar architectural details and defense systems.
A 15th-century Gaelic tower house that has been exquisitely renovated, Ballyportry Castle seems like the optimal size for two families or an extended family. It spans six floors and six bedrooms, with beds dressed in Irish linens and wool blankets, pottery made on the way into town, and furniture that reflects the time of late medieval Ireland–”a time of hospitality, song and poetry.” Located in watchtower-viewing distance from the Burren, the five-acre property offers plenty of its own natural beauty. Thick with moss and lichen, the trees provide plenty of hiding spots for retreating knights, who might want to steal a few minutes from battle to admire the red barked cricket willow or try to spy a pine marten, swan or donkey known to pass by.
Here, a few more castles also on my radar:
>>This stone Scottish castle is as tasteful as they come. The exact right parts medieval, rustic, plaid and Scottish eccentricity.
>>Exquisite. And there’s an ivy-covered manor house next door.
>>Frillier than most, the super-grand Castle of Lisheen. This sucker sleeps 16 and has the most beautiful Trompe L’oeil-style vaulted ceiling in the drawing room.
The sponsor of this post, HomeAway, offers the world’s largest selection of vacation home rentals, which provide you more room to relax and added privacy (often for less than traditional hotel accommodations!). Make memories where you stay, not just where you go. HomeAway.com — stay together.
Inside this magical town, a magical house. It was the reason for our trip–to see this storied beauty in person. I’ve been following Patrizio Fradiani’s rehab of his Civita cave house for the last six months, but no amount of architectural explanation or in-progress photos could prepare me for what it would feel like to be here–to look out the windows, flung open to views of clay rooftops, climbing ivy and a beautiful, crooked mess of cobblestones in one direction, and the vast, golden Tibor river valley in the other.
First, there’s the obvious: Every inch of this five-story stone palazetto built into the cliffside reads like an aesthetic dream–a contemporary rendering of good taste and architectural mastery steeped in deep, deep history. Modernist-leaning furniture is well-picked and well-placed (a white tulip-style table surrounded by mix-and-match white Magis and Panton chairs), but the space really sings when it comes to the highly personal, slightly eccentric layer of detail. Objects like twisted horn candleholders, antique trunks and a marionette ensemble are sparely, cleverly placed alongside artwork and installations Patrizio designed himself. In a series of small, arch-shaped cubbies in the circular stairway, he displays four sculptures he pieced together with dismembered porcelain doll parts and found objects. There’s the installation of 47 tiny bowls painted gold on the inside, and my favorite, a bright-green triptych made from dried mosses–as green as any I’ve ever seen alive–rocks and dirt, all arranged inside three wooden display boxes. I will very likely steal this idea someday.
Head downstairs, under stone archways, through cavernous Etruscan labyrinths that tunnel through tufa rock, and emerge in the most breathtaking terrace in Italy. We ate breakfast out here occasionally, under the wrought-iron pergola, but more often opting for early afternoon proseco, while our kiddos swam in the cave pool. The only pool in the entire town is secretly tucked into one of the Etruscan caves. It’s spectacular. There’s also a little lounge area, wine cellar and a secret art installation squirreled away in the depths of the caves.
The charming, ancient town is a magical, inextricable part of the experience. In many ways, the town–population 22 (200-something in the summertime), accessed only by a slender footbridge–is the experience. You don’t come to Domus Civita without wanting to come to Civita itself. One church, one square, a handful of restaurants (although we went to the same one almost every night) and countless stone alleyways, arches and ivy-covered walls. By the end of your stay, neighbors will recognize you at the cafe in the morning and you won’t get charged the tourist price for a cappuccino. You will pass your favorite restaurant owner on the bridge riding her scooter into town in the morning with her pink helmet, and she will wave. The night before she may have tousled your toddler’s hair or fetched a soccer ball for your kids, so they could play in the square while you finished your wine at the table. You will sit on the steps of the church with men who have been sitting on the same steps for the last 70 years. After a week, you will feel more comfortable than a tourist. Settled in. But just as enchanted as the day you arrived.
The three-bedroom house sleeps six, and there’s plenty of room to spread out and find privacy across four floors. Prices range from $2,950 (low season) to $4,950 (high season) for a week. Patrizio is the consummate host, providing amazing the best recommendations (better than most travel guides) and will help you line up in-home dinners and cooking lessons. Rent it at domuscivita.com.
Aside from crumbling masseria, the other distinctive, vernacular structure you’ll notice dotting the Puglian landscape is the trulli– adorable little conical houses, stacked stone on stone without any cement or mortar. An architectural feat! They look like tiny gnome houses, and if there’s any truth to legend, their origin, which dates back to mid-1600s, is related to the very clever fact that owners could disassemble their homes in order to evade the taxman and quickly put them back together afterwards. In nearby Alberobello, where you can buy cheap keychains and miniature replicas but can’t get inside a real one, the trulli experience has been reduced to something of a tourist attraction. But people still live in trullo, and more and more folks from the north are buying and fixing them up as country homes.
The kindhearted Michela, who helps manage Villa Pizzorusso (in addition to teaching Italian at a school in Messagne), suggests we make dinner reservations with her uncle Tonino, a talented chef who recently took some time off from his job as a seasonal chef in Greece to put the finishing touches on three conical trullo about a half mile down the winding dirt country road from his own beautiful trulli. He and his charming, funny wife, Mariagrazia, have already hosted a few guests at the b&b, and Tonino has been taking dinner reservations from visitors who’d like to experience traditional Puglian cuisine. And for those not familiar with what that might entail, you’re in for a treat. I cannot imagine better ambassadors to the food or the culture.
Tonino usually hosts dinners or classes in the shared kitchen at the b&b, but on this night, they had already invited friends and family over for dinner at their home. After getting hopelessly lost, we arrive at dusk, and Mariagrazia suggests we take a walk–with a glass of Puglian rosso in hand–to check out their recently-finished b&b space while Tonino cooks. There’s still a hint of light left to guide our way through the grove, beside the ancient stone walls that snake along with the winding dirt paths. The entire scene feels nothing shy of a living fairytale: potted plants on steps, horses, lights strung in fruit trees, a sweet white pendant announcing the entrance, almonds drying on a blanket out back. My biggest regret is that I didn’t have the time or light to capture the experience better with my camera. I snapped a few ill-lit photos of the exterior and grounds, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. By the time we got back to their place, it’s the kind of dark that happens only in the country. Even though we come nearly face to face, I can hear but not see the donkey, who hangs out in the back by a dirt lane flanked by two parallel rows of regal old trees.
Our unlikely group sits outside around a big wooden table on the stone patio, and for people who have never met each other and don’t all speak the same language, it’s a boisterous and familiar affair. There are a couple cousins, and some neighbors from Rome–a photographer for National Geographic and a restoration architect who was recently assigned the ruins at Pompei–who help with translations from time to time. And the food! Tonino, the humble chef sits at the head of the table watching the faces of his contented guests, while Mariagrazia tells stories and panfries perfect, just-picked squash blossoms on the outdoor stove top. More than six courses stretches over two and a half hours: almonds they cracked with a rock and roasted this morning; fava bean puree topped with shrimp; super-fresh eggplant and zucchini roasted and then drizzled with their own hand-pressed olive oil and mint; red peppers topped with toasty bread crumbs; bluefish that resembles anchovies or sardines but tastes like neither; silken pasta with fresh herbs, cheese and calamari; a famous slow food biscuit; and a hazelnut cheese loaf made with milk from their neighbors cows and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, which remains one of my favorite parts of the evening. They bring out a circular tray full of glass jars and vials filled with aged balsamic vinegar, a few up to 40 years old. It feels like the kind of special taste reserved for when a firstborn daughter announces she’s getting married, not for some stranger from Detroit. Hugs, scribbled emails and profuse thanks all around, I’m touched by how opening your home and sharing food can create an intimacy never found in a restaurant.
[Call +39 338 336 3610 to make reservations]
In Puglia, the flat, silty landscape is dotted with crumbling, abandoned masserias–fortified farmhouse estates (that look more like castles than farmhouses, but there’s not a perfect translation in English), built by landowners more than 500 years ago to protect their farms from pillaging Greeks and Normans and countless other warring factions. Off country roads and highways, you can see the massive, regal-looking structures lording over the olive groves, fruit trees and grapevines. Once they were guarded, fortified with looming towers and giant stone walls, now lopsided and crumbling into disrepair. I imagine they were pretty expensive to keep up, after enemy warfare and looting bandits were no longer a concern.
A few of them have been saved by the lucky, brave soul who takes on a daunting renovation, converting the old stone structures into agriturismo b&bs or vacation rentals. Villa Pizzorusso is one such example–a jaw-dropping, absolutely flawless example–that a San Francisco-based couple (one part Puglian native) bought six years ago and spent three years rehabbing. Parts of which date back to the 1500s, the main level, all stone arches, ancient rough-hewn stone floors and star-vaulted ceilings, retains a rustic simplicity despite being filled with pristine, modern furnishings like ivory horse-hair chairs and an extra-long dining room table made with a beautiful slab of buried teak wood from Bali. Ancient ceramics abound, stone-carved stairs have been worn away in the center from use, and most charmingly, an old olive press that was found in the living room when they bought it hangs above the fireplace. Upstairs, an owner’s wing was added in the early 1800s (the noble quarters), and the Moorish and neoclassical architectural details are far more extravagant: smooth colorful tiled floors, the faded remains of pastel frescos across ceilings, ornate wood-carved chandeliers, and beautiful antiques in every room to match. There’s a turret at each corner; once watchtowers, they’ve been turned into closets (and in one case, a shower), and views from every single window are unfathomably beautiful. Red soil, pink light and silvery green leaves, the agricultural landscape unfolds with vineyards, fields of grain and secolari, those magnificent, gnarled hundreds-of-years-old olive trees, planted in perfect pin-straight lines as far as the eye can see.
The place is over-the-top stunning inside and out, but we were happiest outside, and spent 90 percent of our waking hours in the courtyard, cooking in the 500-year-old outdoor oven, eating figs we picked right off the trees, swimming in the extra-long pool running along the fortress wall that flanks the citrus grove. There’s a dining table under a pergola, a hammock under the fig tree, lounge chairs around the pool, an outdoor living room with cushy furniture, and smaller tables with chairs scattered about. For anyone with kids, there cannot be a more perfect spot in all of Italy (the photos don’t begin to do the scale or beauty of the place justice). They never tired of exploring, catching geckos or swimming in that long, rectangular pool (yes, even under the stars). One evening we took them out into the olive groves at dusk, and it felt like some kind of enchanted fairytale, where they could climb trees, scale old walls, create makeshift forts, and duck in and out of old, empty outbuildings once used for storing fruit and olives, a blacksmith shop and additional sleeping quarters for farm workers. Although we fell pretty hard for Puglia, which is garnering a well-deserved reputation as a beautiful, more real/authentic (we didn’t see a single other American traveler) and reasonably priced alternative to Tuscany, it was difficult to leave Villa Pizzorusso to explore. I guess that’s the magic though–you really don’t need to.
Sleeps up to 14 across six bedrooms. Prices start at $5,135 during low season and $10,250/week during the high. Also included: two bikes, cleaning service and a wonderful welcome basket full of local specialties–wine, cheese, and taralli. Rent it at villapizzorusso.com or by emailing info@villapizzorusso.
A couple weekends ago (breaking up the drive back from Maine) we stayed in Brooklyn artists Frantiska and Tim Gilman’s Catskills log cabin, and the place is an absolute dream — especially for people with kids. It rained much of the weekend, but it didn’t matter — our boys were as happy catching frogs in the pouring rain as they were playing board games at the big farmhouse table on the covered front porch. Our last night there, the weather cleared up and we made a fire in the fire pit, surrounded by tree-stump seats, while the boys waded through the stream until we lost the last bit of dappled sunlight streaming through the trees. There were roasted marshmallows and a sky full of stars.
I could go on ad nauseum about the grounds–a stream, three ponds, little trails through tall wildflowers brimming with butterflies, the best climbing tree in the whole-wide-world (direct quote from my six-year-old)–but the actual cabin was just as special. Frantiska refinished many of the well-worn antique furnishings herself, and the walls are covered in pieces that speak to their artistic leanings as well as tell stories about their history. They bought botany and biology posters from a man with a whole cellar full of them in a village in Czech Republic near the Polish border where Frantiska’s father grew up. And the stunning, oversized map in the living room was pieced together by her father who reproduced it from an old 18th-century map he found in the Prague library where he worked as the curator of contemporary art exhibitions. In the living room, an antique glass cabinet is “our ‘wunderkammern,’ filled with birds nests we collect on the property, an ostrich egg, and the bits and pieces of porcelain and crystal services we get from local antique shops.”
They bought the place five years ago and over the years, they’ve replaced the roof, refinished the floors, reconstructed rotting porches, and installed a bathroom upstairs. But they were already working with some beautiful stock: The cabin was originally built using all local materials (red pine felled right on the property and hand-hewn), as well as reclaimed barn wood, which the original owner/builder got from disassembling barns. Other details–like the slabs of local bluestone for the fireplace, a bathroom floor made from reclaimed bricks from a kiln chimney, and a kitchen island countertop made from a barn door–add layer after layer of rustic character.
There are three bedrooms (sleeps up to eight), and it’s extremely kid-friendly. Prices start at $450 for a weekend. The town of Andes is adorable, with lots of little shops and cafes along the main drag, and the area is known for its amazing hiking trails. Rent it at vrbo.com.
The Landmark Trust is a pretty amazing organization. It’s a preservation charity in the UK that rescues historic buildings at risk–including “follies,” castles, towers, cottages, and old mills–and turns them into holiday stays to help them survive. Sure, they’re already working with some pretty spectacular stock, but what I appreciate most is the creative approach they take with so many of the properties, blending the old with the new (and often bringing in artists and designers) in order to make it all work. Helen from Design Hunter sent over this newly renovated fortified manor called the Astley Castle (she attended the grand opening). Apparently, the history runs deep: the ancient moated site was entangled with the succession to the throne of England through Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV), Elizabeth of York (wife of Henry VII) and Lady Jane Grey during the 14th and 15th centuries–and it’s said to be the inspiration for Knebley in George Eliot’s Scenes of Clerical Life. During the second world war it was requisitioned for convalescing servicemen and it was later turned into a hotel before suffering fire damage in 1978 and falling into ruin.
After more than 30 years of abandonment and debate, The Landmark Trust worked with Witherford Watson Matts architecture firm to create a beautiful space that masterfully combines clean lines with crumbling brick. The detail that perhaps best exemplifies the aesthetic: looking out the huge windows of the super-slick modern kitchen, a crumbling interior courtyard formed by ruined spaces.
The four-bedroom manor sleeps eight. Price starts at $1,870 for a three-day weekend. No TV; gardens abound. Rent it at The Landmark Trust.
[Photos: by Design Hunter (all but second and fifth images) and courtesy of The Landmark Trust. Thanks, Helen!]
We’re in Maine. Anyone who has read designtripper for any amount of time knows this is my favorite place in the entire world. Because of that, people are constantly asking for recommendations for houses to rent. We stay in the same farmhouse or beach house on Morse Mountain Conservation every year, but there’s a pretty long list of fellow admirers who come year after year, and it fills up quickly. Because I love lobster and oysters and sand dollars and craggy rock beaches and the salt air, I have been slowly building a collection of like-minded, rustic vacation houses for all of you who have asked–so politely, so regularly. It’s the absolute best place to gather friends and family for a week–or more, if you’re lucky–in the summer. Stay on the coast. And not in a tourist town, please, unless that’s your thing. It’s quiet and heart-stoppingly beautiful, and more often than not, the evergreen trees come right up to the beach. The water is freezing, so you have to be tough. Go in past your ankles, brave soldier. You’ll feel like a million bucks. At night, build a fire. God bless the Maine weather, it’s that chilly in the middle of summer. Spend hours on screened-in porches, sitting in wicker furniture with your feet slung over the armrests, talking and reading. It’s probably the kind of house that carries its history in its bookshelves; mine them for possibility. Listen to the waves crash against rocks, and sleep. Mark my words: you will be back every year, too.
>>This 1900s bunk house is in Deer Isle with views of Penobscot Bay and all the islands, plus more than 40 acres of woods.
>>A little lighthouse keeper’s cottage on the Isle Au Haut. Super cute with a rugged-rock perch and views to knock you out.
>>I love Vinalhaven, and I love the floral wallpaper in this historic island farmhouse on 38 acres.
>>Another beyond-charming Vinalhaven spread, this one particularly amazing for kids (old barn has table tennis and tons of space for games). And, sigh, I am a sucker for working old-fashioned stoves.
The sponsor of this post, HomeAway, offers the world’s largest selection of vacation home rentals, which provide you with more room to relax and more privacy than a hotel (and most times, for less money).
I spent the past weekend with a couple girlfriends in this dream of a farmhouse, situated in the agricultural center of the Leelanau Peninsula. The owner Sean rehabbed the old farmhouse, which was built in the early 1900s and owned by the Kovalik family (the same family of farmers the road is named after). Sean grew up in Leland (he went to Leland High School and his mom taught there), and when he moved away–first to Colorado, later New York–he wanted a place of his own back home, so he didn’t have to depend on the sofas of friends and family while visiting. He’d had his eye on this place for awhile, in all its glass bubble window and faded carpet glory. No one was living there, and during the recession, after it went into foreclosure, he was able to buy it, transforming it into this impecable beauty a few years later. The interior is well-done country vintage modern–not a farm lamp or sisal carpet out of place–but if you’re anything like me, being outside in this setting with this set-up is the first matter of business. Hammock? Check. Fire pit? Check. Hulking old oak for shade? Check.
Usually, I’m partial to staying on the lake in Leelanau County, but there is something about being out in the wide open country–flanked by cherry orchards, barns and rolling farmland in every direction–that feels so peaceful and remote. The immediate property is surrounded by wildflowers, dried milkweed poufs as big as grapefruits and wild asparagus, curling above the sightline like giant tumbleweeds. Chickens roam the property and head back to the henhouse at nightfall (we boiled freshly laid eggs for breakfast). We picked loads of fresh herbs and vegetables from the giant garden nestled in front of a small rustic barn, which Sean hopes to turn into a little speakeasy some day. We made big dinners and ate around the extra-long wooden table under strung lights and a sky full of stars. There were big plans for cooking and baking (the area is known for its orchards and farms), but in the end, more time was spent in the hammock and the lake than in the kitchen. Next time we want to cook up a storm, the work space will have to be far less appealing.
Three bedrooms, three bathrooms (one with a sauna, another with a clawfoot tub with a view of the countryside). Sleeps six comfortably. Prices start at $239 a night. Rent it at airbnb.com.
I never intended to write about this place. I booked it a couple weeks ago as a last-minute family getaway to kick off the beginning of summer the right way: roasting marshmallows over a fire, swimming in Lake Michigan, catching frogs in the marsh, building sandcastles and spending long, extended daylight evenings on the screened-in porch reading and playing board games. As far as I was concerned, the lodgings were irrelevant. But it ended up being so special and charming, how could I not share it? Especially since I get so many requests for great places to stay in Northern Michigan.
Nestled into a wooded, grassy coastline in Leelanau Peninsula’s Northport, this summer cottage has been in the same family since 1963–and from what I understand, not a thing has changed (except that tall grasses have sprouted up on the beach, making it no less beautiful to look at from any of the three porches). The owner, Theda, used to be a home ec teacher before retiring, and her devotion to handcraft is evident throughout the cottage–in the form of framed needlepoint works, crocheted blankets, embroidered pillows and lots of other sweet handmade details. Aside from the beautiful floor-length drapes made from colorful, super-awesome medieval fabric that matches a pair of armchairs, everything is mismatched and rustic, just like a lake house should be. Theda left freshly picked flowers around the house for us and a basket of farm-fresh strawberries upon our arrival, and she even brought the kids doughnuts one morning from the local bakery. My sister-in-law and I spent a lot of time pouring over the massive old book collection and admiring all the antiquities (a collection of oil lamps and old kitchen tools hanging from the wall). But even more importantly are the things that the house doesn’t have: a TV or wireless internet (and patchy cell service). We couldn’t have been happier.
Two bedrooms and a breezy, second-story sleeping porch. There’s also a screened-in back porch with beautiful views of Lake Michigan and plenty of worn-in wicker furniture. Prices start at $1200 for a week (and there are still a few weeks left this summer). Rent it at homeaway.com.
A decade or so ago, Matthew Hranek (The William Brown Project) and Yolanda Edwards (Travels with Clara, Momfilter) bought a bunch of land two and a half hours from Manhattan. There was a mobile home and a barn. While temporarily living in the mobile home (which is now gone in lieu of a modernist-leaning prefab), Matthew designed this tiny one-bedroom cabin, which was built by a local carpenter using local hemlock and vernacular architecture. If you read The William Brown Project, you might recognize the landscape– homebase for many of his hunting, fishing, butchering, cooking, and general outdoorsy pursuits.
Decorated with the same no-nonsense masculine-rustic-vintage sensibility of The William Brown Project (you know, Hudson Bay wool blankets, stacks of firewood and an animal head or two), the space is exquisitely modest. Exactly how it should be. And here’s the kicker: The cabin, which is perfectly situated on 130 beautiful acres of trails, ponds (both fishing and swimming) and good old fashioned grass, is now available for rent. There’s a covetable list of amenities (including a Japanese soaking tub and outdoor shower), but even more compelling is what they cabin doesn’t have (wi-fi, TV, phone, ipod dock, mini bar). To book, email Matthew at matthewhranek@gmail.
[All photos by Matthew Hranek]