Hid­den Gem

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Make the most of down­siz­ing with in­spi­ra­tion from a Michi­gan home­owner who re­vamped a ne­glected cot­tage and packed it with pat­tern.

Dis­cover how to make the most of down­siz­ing from a Michi­gan home­owner who re­habbed a long-ne­glected cot­tage, pack­ing the rooms with pat­tern and tex­ture while max­i­miz­ing space for stor­age and dis­play.

The best things of­ten hap­pen when we’re least ex­pect­ing them, as Patty Moore dis­cov­ered dur­ing a ca­sual stroll around her Kala­ma­zoo, Michi­gan, neigh­bor­hood a few years ago, when she spot­ted a “for sale” sign in front of a Cape Cod. In­trigued by the quaint ex­te­rior, she toured the in­side on a whim, even though she was not in the mar­ket for a new home. Her first im­pres­sion of the 1,100-square-foot 1940s dwelling was less than glow­ing. How­ever, Patty says, “I could see its charm un­der­neath the dated decor.” She im­me­di­ately de­cided to buy the home, even though it meant down­siz­ing. “It just felt right,” she ex­plains.

A short time later, Patty was re­hab­bing her new digs. “The house was in ter­ri­ble shape—it wasn’t even ev­i­dent where the front door was!” she re­calls. To rem­edy this, Patty added new doors and com­pletely over­hauled the land­scap­ing to cre­ate an en­trance. In the kitchen, Patty in­stalled a new sink and slate floor­ing. She resur­faced cab­i­nets with fresh paint and hard­ware, re­placed coun­ter­tops and mounted rus­tic wooden beams on the ceil­ing. Through­out the other rooms, Patty re­moved tat­tered wall­pa­per, up­dated light­ing fix­tures, tore out old car­pet­ing and re­fur­bished the hard­wood floors. “The en­tire project re­quired a lot of scrub­bing and paint­ing,” she re­calls of the el­bow grease in­volved in the re­hab.

When it came to se­lect­ing a pal­ette, Patty com­bined com­ple­men­tary shades of green and cream with sunny yel­low flo­ral-pat­terned wall­pa­per, all of which en­hance what she refers to as her “English cot­tage” style—although she prefers not to limit her­self to any one dec­o­rat­ing theme. In­deed, she rel­ishes the free­dom that comes with dis­play­ing her fa­vorite col­lectibles and tex­tures in unique ways. Through­out her home, col­lec­tions of Blue Wil­low, Torquay motto ware and pewter blend seam­lessly with prim­i­tive ac­cents, bas­kets, boxes, porce­lain fig­urines, vin­tage books and one-off dec­o­ra­tive plates. “If I see a $2 piece of cracked pot­tery, I buy it!” Patty jokes.

Ul­ti­mately, for Patty, dec­o­rat­ing is less about ad­her­ing to a pre­scribed de­sign style and more about em­brac­ing the fun that not only re­flects her per­sonal taste, but also fos­ters con­tent­ment in her lit­tle cot­tage, which has been ut­terly trans­formed thanks to her cre­ative vi­sion and hard work. “I love the small, cozy feel­ing in this house,” she con­cludes. “I feel snug and happy here.”

There was no land­scap­ing to speak of when Patty Moore bought her Cape Cod-style home, but thanks to her love of gar­den­ing, the lit­tle cot­tage now boasts loads of curb ap­peal.

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