Katie in the Cottage
I’ve lived in this little 1847-era cottage on a 30-acre farm in rural New Jersey for a year now, and I still wake up giddy to exist in such a gorgeously-preserved piece of history.
The structure sits adjacent to a stunning two-story house (my landlord and his wife live there; we share a small porch), and back in the day it was used as the property’s summer kitchen—a separate place for servants to cook meals so as not to heat up the large family home. Ah, to be wealthy in the days before air conditioning!
The first photo I saw on the cottage rental listing was of the kitchen, with its massive original stone fireplace, wide-plank wood floors, and hand-hewn ceiling beams. I just about lost my mind (I’m sure my impassioned apartment application is proof that I did, however temporarily).
When my landlord, a historical restorationist, moved here in the mid-1980s, the cottage living room was just a dirt floor—it’s where carriages full of food and wood pulled up to offload supplies to the kitchen staff. He added a floor and these incredible windows—a thrill to my copious houseplants, and fodder for much amateur birdwatching.
A set of covertly treacherous steep twisting steps dubbed “jersey winders” leads to a lovely attic, in which I often indulge my deepest Jo March fantasies.
Truly, this is an ideal place to be a writer-slash-amateur self-portrait artist!