A Dream Retreat: Cabin-Turned-Victorian Cottage

Have you ever dreamed of a retreat, a respite far in the woods where you can {in perfect luxury} get away from it all? On many occasions I’ve imagined my little cottage in the middle of the forest where I could write, read, drink hot tea on the porch and look over the hills completely undisturbed. Ahhhh, heaven.

But it exists! Sandra Foster turned a Catskills hunting cabin into the romantic Victorian cottage she had always dreamed of. Every detail of the studio is as intricate and beautiful as the next – Sandra used thrift store, vintage and even Target finds to remodel the 9-by-10-foot room on a strict budget. Photos and story by NY Times.

The shabby-chic cottage doesn’t have a bathroom or a kitchen, but it is a dream of Victoriana: stacks of Limoges china with tiny rosebud patterns; refashioned cabinets piled high with hard-cover books; chandeliers covered in crystal; billows of tissue-paper garlands. Many of the furnishings, like the $15 chandelier hanging over the sitting area, were flea market finds.

What began as a brown and green backwoods cabin slowly turned into a luxuriously soft and feminine cottage. Sandra gutted, repainted and replaced most every feature – including doors, shelves, windows and even the willow tree trunk supports at the front of the house for which she completed all of the carpentry work herself.

Sandra lives with her husband, Todd on 14 acres of property in the New York Catskills Mountains. She calls a 1971 trailer home and has built more than one retreat site on their extensive land. One includes a modified shed that houses a big screen TV, boxes full of videotapes and cooking equipment.

A river bed separates the Victorian cabin from the rest of the property and any furniture or tools had to be lightweight enough to traverse the land and stream.

Above, Sandra makes flower-like garland for the cottage out of tissue paper.

The chandelier over the bed is from Target, as is the bedding from Rachel Ashwell’s Simply Shabby Chic line. Cabinets were built from reclaimed French doors and now house Sandra’s beautiful collection of Limoges china, a set she’s been adding to for years. Yard sale mirrors and furniture received fresh coats of paint to match the all-white cottage.

Sandra calls the cottage her ‘refuge’ and spends much time in knee-high pink rainboots adding white petunias to her window boxes or relaxing on her refurbished porch (which she framed out herself). She grew up in Long Island and after losing her home as a child had always dreamed of building this perfect cottage – I’m deeply impressed with the couple’s story AND their fabulous new getaway!

PS I just received this link from Sandy’s husband – check out her cute blog!

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  1. samantha says

    Awesome;) If you get the time would you mind telling me how you got the white paint on the outside rustic/ barnsideing looking? Thank you soo much:) Hope you have a Blessed day:) thanks for your time:)

    • says

      Hi Samantha! I featured this beautiful cabin but was not the one to create it. Perhaps you could share the same question with the renovators of it?

  2. says

    omg, you’ve created an image right out of my head. I could have dreamed that dreamy cottage as a little girl. Would love to see it in person one day. That would be a bucket list wish for sure. Love the photos. Im oozing with envy.

  3. says

    Love it! Love it! Love it! Thanks for sharing.

    That little cottage is adorable. I’m hopping over to check out her blog now.

  4. says

    Hi Pepper,

    I am so pleased with your wrighting of our story great job, Sensitive and dreamy. I must tell you Sandy deserves all the kudos one could receive due to her gumption. She has worked very hard to accomplish this dream. We have been featured in the NY Times, Yahoo homepage, and tinyhouse as well. We have been contacted by several entities for our story, So many that we may need an agent!!!
    we love more organic type site/blog and heavily support them. This may be noted by Sandy’s links to other product providers, she is a not for profit Gal. Her wish is to keep it simple and shabby for as little as one can spend…I offered tp drag some of our new stuff around the yard with the pickup…to age and tatter it a bit …you know, aged and shabby. Just hose it off and there ya go!!

    Oh well so mars and venus, whatever shall we do? How about creating a Ladies lair for all of you and of course an actual man cave for the him?!!

    Thanks for noticing our lives
    Peace and health to all

    Todd Foster
    AKA. CaveDweller@Actualmancave.com


    • Morgan says

      Hi Todd, Thank you for your kind comment – your wife’s work is beautiful! I’m so happy you left me her blog site to peruse as well, she’s a very talented lady. Congrats on all of your accomplishments and achievements with this project and the media – BEST of luck to you guys!

      ~Morgan of Peppper

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