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  • Jenny Dunaway

Mosquito Creek Cottage

Updated: Jan 9


I bought my little house on the water 21 years ago. It had been closed up for seven years and the musty smell caused our eyes to burn. My family helped me clean it up well enough for the boys and me to inhabit. It certainly wasn't my dream home--it was a rancher with no character. Over the years I added a garage and a stone fireplace, remodeled bathrooms, replaced the flooring and heat pump, added a new dock, and a new tin roof. I have all stainless appliances in the kitchen and really cool pewter pine cone hardware on the cabinets. It is a work in progress.


However, I have had a lot of trouble getting pass the "rancher" look of it. Paint did little to give it character. The Victorian gingerbread I added just looked silly. It's a cottage in the woods on the water and that's what my three sons and I wanted. As long as we had a canoe or a boat, the boys never lacked a source of entertainment. It was our home and I loved it.


Fast forward to this October. Michael and I went to the mountains to pick up our Milam apple trees we had ordered last year. These Virginia native apple trees grew near Big Meadows on the Skyline Drive and were raised by a member of the same Milam family. We thought that was pretty cool. I made reservations to stay at Getaway Shenandoah, a unique vacation destination only a few miles away from where we picked up the trees. It was a basically a tiny home on 85 acres. There were 40-some other cabins but they were not nearby.

The cabin was painted black--not dark gray, but black. It had a copper name plate beside the door and light pine interior wood. The most stunning feature was the 8x8 window beside the bed.

It felt like we were outside. Everything you needed and nothing you didn't need was there. The stainless steel shower back was inspiring-- in fact the entire cabin was the springboard for all my decisions for the rennovation of my house in White Stone. I don't know how the inside smelled like doTERRRA's hygge oil. Pronounced hoo-gah it is the practice of finding joy in everyday moments in Nordic countries. Citrus and warm, earthy woods, with a hint of vanilla surrounds your senses like a hug and we felt ourselves relax, really relax. In fact, Michael had his highest sleep score EVER on his Fitbit the night we spent at Getaway Shenandoah. "That's it!" I actually said out loud the next morning. I knew what I would do to my rancher on Mosquito Creek.


Rustic Modern. It's absolutely perfect for my cottage! I decided to paint the outside black and do cedar siding on the front porch. Each of the four posts out front would be clad in cedar and I would put stunning cedar corbels beside each post. I bought four antique wooden shutters

which I stripped down to the wood and a 200 pound wooden door from Willamsburg that I will also take down to the wood grain. The garage door will be painted black but I bought 16 boatwood mosaics

to place on the panels of the garage. I will add 8 horizontal cedar slats which will make the garage a feature of the house--not a distractor. The new tin roof is green and will compliment the black. I have copper barn lights for the front and more cedar slats for the side of the front porch. That's just the outside!


The hall bathroom is my first priority but that requires a lot more skill than I have. The back of the corner shower is going to be stainless steel with sleek stainless/ enclosure. The new toilet and new floor will change the entire feeling of the room. Frankly, I am very fluent with rustic design but the modern part doesn't come naturally to me. My daughter-in-law, Lindsay, will help me with those decisions. There is something very satisfying about finally making a design plan. Thanks for the inspiration Getaway Shenandoah!

This is my garage door with the boat mosaics on it. Love, love, love it!


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