The Perfect Cottage
A charming cottage Jane Austen would be
delighted to pen her next heroine within.
Written by : JL Vampa
From the sway of the lilacs along the picket fence, to the moss climbing the stone front, you’re instantly translated to Victorian England upon walking up to the mint door of the Darling Cottage. Despite being located in the foothills of Georgia, the picturesque home was designed with the English countryside as its muse.
In 2008, florist Laura Darling, and her carpenter husband, Luke, purchased the abandoned “Millcreek Shanty,” as it had been dubbed. The property was near to ruin and four furry bandits had taken up residence within its cracked stone walls, but nothing was going to stop the young couple from transforming the disheveled castoff of a building into their very own lavish Darling Cottage. “We’d had a few places before,” Luke said, “but never a home. We knew this place would be ‘it’ the moment we saw it.” And that is exactly what they resurrected from the proverbial grave of a long forgotten cottage.
A Place to Call Home
The Darlings’ vision and love are evident in every nook and cranny of the home. The front door opens into a small entryway with restored original hardwood floors (all traces of the raccoon squatters a distant memory) and a brass chandelier dangling from the ceiling. To the right lies a sitting room made up of Jane Austen’s dreams. “The mint walls really give this room a modern feel, but I wanted to envision Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte writing here at the Victorian desk, looking out over the garden,” Laura gushed. The Darlings enlisted the help of a local interior designer, Marlene Griggs, for the overall ambiance of the home, but the real vision was completely the Darlings’. “We stayed in a little cottage in Oxfordshire for our honeymoon,” Laura explained as Luke nodded on. “It was such a magical place, I think we just wanted to bring some of that here, close to our family.” “Our own little English cottage down the road from Mama’s home cooking,” Luke added. The decor is not the only perfect mix of modern, country chic, and vintage throughout the home. Luke did most of the woodwork and remodeling himself, giving the walls and ceiling more life by adding things like crown molding and wainscoting. “It felt good to use my profession to make my own home … ours.”
These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things
“The bedroom used to be a bit of a disaster,” Luke said. “This is where the raccoons lived, but the old brass bed was here and we loved it, so I cleaned it up.” Marlene and Laura designed the rest of the room around the shabby chic bed. At the top of the stairs, in the small cupboard-like space with a slanted ceiling, Laura made herself a craft room. “Someday this might be a playroom, but for now I’ve made it my hideaway,” she explained. The Darlings also remodeled the entire kitchen save for the marbled stone floor and the stove. “My favorite thing about the kitchen has to be the old AGA stove. It reminds me of Downtown Abbey and we just had to leave it,” Laura said. Redone it might be, but the glass front cabinets and vintage hutch give a distinctly Victorian feel to the heart of the home. “I love to bake, but of course the garden is where I spend most of my time.” Laura’s green thumb took over the sprawling acres behind the cottage and, just as Laura envisioned in her sitting room, she created a magical garden any author would dream of looking out over as they pen the next great masterpiece.
Photo Captions :
1: Larger than life Terra-Cotta pots stand sentry on either side of the front portico, overflowing with white and pink hydrangeas. The gunmetal gargoyle knocker peers out from the center of the mint door—a trinket from the Darlings’ honeymoon trip to Europe.
2: The butcher block island in the middle of the kitchen may look like something you’d see in a bustling royal summer cottage circa 1890, but Luke Darling crafted it himself, modeling it after one Laura saw in an old film.
3: In the back of the cottage, Luke and Laura added on a library with floor to ceiling shelving wrapping the room. “Laura loves literature, and I love dark cherry wood. Win, win,” Luke explains. In the center of the room, a classic aubusson rug is framed by two luxurious wingback chairs and two supple leather club chairs. The perfect place to get lost in a good book.
4: The Darlings’ bathroom was not attached to their bedroom when they purchased the cottage. “It was a tough job getting the bathroom done. A large broom closet was in between the bedroom and the bathroom, so I took down the walls and extended the bathroom all the way to our room.” All of which Luke did himself.
5: One room sits empty, save for a nearly completed rocking chair and soft yellow walls the color of buttery morning sunshine. “We’re expecting our first baby in the fall,” Laura says, cradling her stomach. “We left this room empty in hopes this day would come.”
6: Lining the hallway, the Darlings have old photographs in antique frames. “Most of these are of our ancestors. We’ve traced back our family tree all the way to the 1500’s,” Laura explains, “but many of these are the previous owners of this cottage.”
7: Out beyond the back patio lies Laura’s greatest masterpiece. Her garden. Framed by a charming picket fence and rolling hills, wisteria climbs three red cedar Canterbury arbors, one at each flower bed. One of roses, peonies, and tulips. One of hydrangea, ranunculus, and dahlia. And one of buttercups, lilies, and poppies. At night, the garden is alight with color changing orbs and possibly some fairy magic, too.