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Interiorssneak peeks

In Olympia, WA, A Cottage Bursting At The Seams With Love

by Rebekah Carey

and David Cogswell have lived in their charming Olympia, WA cottage for three years. In that time they’ve welcomed a baby girl, Nora, and their beloved dog Penny, and Maggie feels like it’s finally the home she had envisioned and worked towards over those three years. It’s hard to imagine when looking at the 1927 cottage that it didn’t instantly fall into place for the family as it is now, but because of the small — and admittedly somewhat awkward — layout, Maggie had to be very intentional with how she planned the home to make for the most efficient use of the space. Despite some tears over the challenging layout, and the fact that they would have to part with nearly all of their previous furniture they brought with them to the new home, Maggie has embraced the task of creating their home with old and new pieces she’s sourced that feel destined for their house now.

Maggie is a Photo and Digital Preservation Archivist by trade, but asserts that her passion has always been in art and design. Before obtaining degrees in history and library science, Maggie studied photography and art history in San Francisco, and finds that she gets to continue to explore her artistic side within her home and in her spare time. David is a fish biologist, an avid fly fisherman and an amateur woodworker. In fact, many of the furniture pieces and decorations in the couple’s home were built by David.

While Maggie is the first to admit that they love house projects, they also want to maximize their time enjoying the beautiful outdoors that are so close at hand. Being a busy family, they’ve strived for a home that is efficient and minimal in distractions (and clutter that requires extended cleaning). They’re also conscious about what they bring into their home and try to take care of the items they already own so that they’ll last while lessening their impact on the planet.

One of the family’s favorite aspects of their little home is the fact that it came with fruit trees, “When we bought this house we inherited four apple trees, one pear tree, one cherry tree, a chestnut tree, grapes, and several large blackberry patches,” Maggie shares. “We feel pretty lucky to be surrounded by so much abundance. In the fall we harvest the apples for cider and applesauce, among other things, and David goes fishing for salmon on the peninsula. At Christmas we smoke the salmon and package up all of our homemade goodies for friends and family.”

The small size that the cottage is now, at about 980 square feet, is actually much bigger than it was when it was first built. A neighbor shared with the couple that their cottage (along with the others on their block) may have originally been built for loggers that worked seasonally on the peninsula. Their bedroom and the kitchen were both part of an addition in the 70s. Originally, it’s thought the cottage consisted of the living room with a wood stove in the middle of the room and was little more than a one-room shack. “The thing I am most thankful for about our home is its small size and proximity to so many beautiful outdoor spaces for exploration,” Maggie shares. “I love the fact that Nora will grow up surrounded by trees and plenty of open space for running around outside.” 

Photography by

Image above: The dining area in the main room, as it’s seen from the music area. “Our dining table was built by a friend and is made of recycled wood from an old ship! I love simple shaker-inspired furniture, but had a hard time finding a table I like in our area (new or used). So I commissioned the table from our friend and couldn’t be happier with the result. The print of George Washington is one of my favorite vintage finds. It used to hang in an old schoolhouse on the peninsula. I put a crown on him at Christmas and haven’t taken it off yet. I feel like it gives the space a whimsical feel,” Maggie shares.

The Cogswell Family In Front Of Their Olympia Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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Maggie, David, Nora and Penny sitting on the steps to the morning porch. “We named it the morning porch for its position on the eastern side of the house. It’s the perfect spot for weekend breakfasts outside,” Maggie shares.

She explains her connection to their cottage, “It reminds me a lot of the small cottages you see in Scandinavia, which I love. We also chose it because of the land. The house sits on a one-acre property northeast of downtown Olympia, so it’s rural without being too far from town. We love the space and the quiet. Even though we are a little bit outside of the city in a rural area, we are very close to the neighborhood of North East Olympia. We love this neighborhood for its age and diversity. There are a lot of older homes throughout the neighborhood, and a wide variety of people from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds; which is something that we really appreciate, especially now that we have Nora. We are also a short distance to several great parks, trails and recreational areas. In a less than five-minute drive we can hike on a beautiful forested trail along a bluff in Priest Point Park and overlook the Puget Sound. It’s a really special place.”

The Main Living Area In This Olympia Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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Maggie says that this room is the main room, TV and library area. “This is our favorite place in the house to gather as a family. We love watching movies together, and the sofa is perfect for curling up with a blanket and a good book. The coffee table is one of the more interesting pieces of furniture in our home. I bought the flat file on Craigslist to house my map collection and David’s fly tying materials. My dad and I welded casters onto the bottom so it can be moved easily, and we added a glass top which is perfect for displaying a favorite map or book.”

A Corner For Music Making In This Olympia Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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This side of the room is the music area in the main room, looking from the dining area. “The furniture piece that the record player sits on is actually a hollowed out stereo from the 60s. I bought it at an antique store downtown and use it to hide our speakers,” Maggie says.

A Vintage Wardrobe Hides Fishing Gear In This Olympia Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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An antique wardrobe in the entryway provides much needed hidden storage. Maggie explains, “This piece is another Craigslist find! I use it to hide all of David’s fishing gear. Which is no easy task, I assure you!”

Used Furniture Mixed With Vintage Is A Common Theme In This Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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A collection of books sits on the dresser in the dining area.

A Corner Of The Cottage Is Dedicated To Making Music On Design*Droits-Humains
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The chair in the couple’s music area is ideal for a banjo perch or a spot to feed their daughter. “I love the shape of this chair, and its deep seat. It’s perfect for nursing Nora and reading with a cup of tea on Sunday mornings,” Maggie explains.

Records On Rotation In The Olympia Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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The stereo and a record display in the music area reflect the couple’s current musical inspirations. “My husband and I are big music lovers,” Maggie shares. We have [a] small (but growing) collection of beloved records and it’s fun to showcase our collection and rotate album covers throughout the year.”

The Kitchen Is Small But Remains A Gathering Place On Design*Droits-Humains
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The petite cottage kitchen. “Our kitchen is small but efficient. I love all of our open shelves. It’s definitely a gathering place in our home.”

Open Shelving In This Washington Cottage Keeps Needed Items Readily Available On Design*Droits-Humains
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A close-up of the open shelves in the kitchen. “When we moved in this wall was empty. I added the shelves a couple years ago and it’s become one of my favorite features in the house. I love how they give the house a Swedish vibe. I’m a big fan of Scandinavian design and I feel like this style comes through in our kitchen.”

Updated Pantry Storage Is Efficient And Stylish On Design*Droits-Humains
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“When we first moved into this house I wanted to tear out the ugly pantry closet! Unfortunately, it is the only food storage space that we have besides the fridge, so I decided to spruce it up by adding new doors and a coat of paint. I like it a lot now. The baskets above the closet hide our cleaning supplies,” Maggie explains.

Water Storage Is Essential As Theirs Has To Be Picked Up In Town Tour On Design*Droits-Humains
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“My favorite thing about this area of the kitchen is the built-in shelving in the wall. I use it to store our bulk foods. Because we live in a rural area, we get our drinking water from an artesian well that is located in downtown Olympia. A couple times a month we haul our jugs down to the well and fill them up for free! Its easily the best water I’ve ever tasted.”

Master Bedroom In Washington On Design*Droits-Humains
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The master bedroom. “My favorite thing about [this] room is our antique spindle bed. I found it on eBay and had it shipped via Greyhound from Pennsylvania. It gives the space so much character,” Maggie shares.

Old Floor Boards Created A Peg Rail In The Master Bedroom On Design*Droits-Humains
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Maggie’s side table in the bedroom. “I love this little corner of my bedroom. David made the peg rail for me from old floor boards he found in the garage. We’re pretty sure they came from the attic in the main room before it was removed to open up the ceiling above the TV area. The side table is from IKEA. I painted it with a creamy white chalk paint.”

The Nursery In The Olympia Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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“One half of Nora’s nursery. I had no idea what to do with this tiny room when we moved in, but now it is the cutest tiny nursery. It’s just the perfect size for her, and it gets the best light in the house. The room also doubles as our home office, which is hidden behind the closet curtains. When you live small, every space serves multiple purposes!”

Antique Dresser In Nursery Looks Like It Was Made For The Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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The antique dresser in the nursery is a lovely addition. “My mom gave me this dresser after years of begging. It’s a beautiful primitive piece that is skinny and fits perfectly in Nora’s small space. The little bookshelves on the right were made by David,” Maggie explains.

An Antique Mirror Adds Charm To This Cottage In Olympia On Design*Droits-Humains
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“We remodeled the bathroom last year after we discovered a water leak behind the shower. It was a pretty dark space before and I was excited to brighten it up with new paint and glass doors. Next year I’m hoping to replace the flooring with tile.”

Shower Details In This Olympia Washington Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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“I was six months pregnant when we discovered the water damage behind the shower, so I was more than a little frustrated with the timing of the discovery, but I was also secretly excited to replace our once-ugly shower stall. The white tile and the glass doors really opened up the small space,” Maggie says.

Laundry Room In Olympia Washington On Design*Droits-Humains
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The laundry room is located just off the door to the kitchen. Maggie explains, “The laundry room was one of our biggest remodels in the house. When we moved in, the floor was covered by an ugly 1970s faux brick linoleum, and the walls were yellow. A year after we moved in, my parents helped us gut the space and renovate. My favorite things about this room [are] the Hygge and West wallpaper by Rifle Paper Co. and custom table over the washer and dryer. This room makes doing laundry a treat!”

What We Love Most About Our Olympia Cottage On Design*Droits-Humains
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"What we love most about our home is how relaxed it makes us feel at the end of a busy day."
The Cogswell Cottage Layout On Design*Droits-Humains
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Maggie created a layout of their house on the chalkboard that’s in their laundry room.

SOURCE LIST

Main Room, TV, And Library Area
Couch- with Bemz slipcover
Work Hard Print-  
Coffee Table- Custom
Rocking Chair- Antique
Rug-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Main Room, Music Area
Rug-
Chair- Vintage with custom slip cover
Ottoman-  
Lamp- Vintage
Side Table Stool- Vintage
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Main room, dining area
Dining Chairs-
Table- Custom
Dresser-
George Washington Print- Antique
Pendant Light-
Curtains-
Curtain rods-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Main room, entryway
Cabinet- Antique
Basket- World Market
Table- Custom
Chair- Antique
Paint- Benjamin Moore,

Kitchen
Flush Mount Light-
Shelf Brackets-  
La Soupe Print- Vintage
Baskets above pantry- Michaels
Table next to fridge- Custom
Curtains-
Curtain rod-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Bedroom
Bed- Antique
Prints- Vintage
Peg Rail- Custom
Curtains-
Curtain rods-
Nightstands-  
Lamps- Vintage
Cotton ticking pillow- Vintage
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Nursery
Mini Crib-
Side table- Custom
Chair-
Lamp-
Print- Vintage
Velvet Curtain-
Rug- Rugs USA
Throw Pillow-  
Changing table- Custom
Cabinet- Antique
Wall shelves- Custom
Basket- Antique
Curtains-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Laundry room
Flooring- Home Depot
Laundry basket- World Market
Curtains-
Bird print- Vintage
Shelf brackets-
Wallpaper-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore,

Bathroom
Mirror- Vintage
Shower Doors- Lowes
Shower fixture-
Curtain-

SOURCE LIST

Main Room, TV, And Library Area
Couch- with Bemz slipcover
Work Hard Print-  
Coffee Table- Custom
Rocking Chair- Antique
Rug-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Main Room, Music Area
Rug-
Chair- Vintage with custom slip cover
Ottoman-  
Lamp- Vintage
Side Table Stool- Vintage
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Main room, dining area
Dining Chairs-
Table- Custom
Dresser-
George Washington Print- Antique
Pendant Light-
Curtains-
Curtain rods-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Main room, entryway
Cabinet- Antique
Basket- World Market
Table- Custom
Chair- Antique
Paint- Benjamin Moore,

Kitchen
Flush Mount Light-
Shelf Brackets-  
La Soupe Print- Vintage
Baskets above pantry- Michaels
Table next to fridge- Custom
Curtains-
Curtain rod-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Bedroom
Bed- Antique
Prints- Vintage
Peg Rail- Custom
Curtains-
Curtain rods-
Nightstands-  
Lamps- Vintage
Cotton ticking pillow- Vintage
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Nursery
Mini Crib-
Side table- Custom
Chair-
Lamp-
Print- Vintage
Velvet Curtain-
Rug- Rugs USA
Throw Pillow-  
Changing table- Custom
Cabinet- Antique
Wall shelves- Custom
Basket- Antique
Curtains-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore, and

Laundry room
Flooring- Home Depot
Laundry basket- World Market
Curtains-
Bird print- Vintage
Shelf brackets-
Wallpaper-  
Paint- Benjamin Moore,

Bathroom
Mirror- Vintage
Shower Doors- Lowes
Shower fixture-
Curtain-

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Comments

  • I am wondering what “peninsula” this article is referring to. Kitsap? Olympic? This is a gorgeous home! I do kind of wish we could stay away from life porn like “reading with a cup of tea on Sunday mornings,” but I do love that its pro-breastfeeding in the same ‘breath’ ! I am impressed and inspired and always love seeing a story from my beloved Washington State.

    • Amy

      Can you clarify what you mean by “life porn”? I’ve honestly never heard that and don’t understand why “reading with a cup of tea on Sunday mornings” is problematic when the home owner was asked to describe how they use parts of their home…

      Grace

    • Hi Amy! We live on a small peninsula between Olympia and Boston Harbor with Budd Inlet on one side and Henderson Inlet on the other. There isn’t really a name for it, so we just call it the peninsula! Never thought of that. And I do actually read in that chair on Sundays! As a new mom, there aren’t many times during the week when I have some time to myself, but I like to wake up early on Sundays before husband and baby to catch up on my favorite articles. I guess it does sound a little generic though.

  • A little house like this is my dream! The antiques are beautiful, and you’ve done a great job of maximizing the space.

  • One of my favourite home tours ever! So beautiful and inspiring and they have a really nice eye for colour and pattern. Maggie begging her mum for the antique dresser and getting it after years of begging has inspired me to keep hounding my dad for the vintage card catalogue in his office ;)

  • This home is so warm and inviting. I want to curl up with a cup of cocoa and a good book in their living room. And I’m so in love with the kitchen shelving. Just perfect and so full of classic charm!

  • Just love the bright and airy feeling that you have captured with your home. The attention to the little details you did really make it exceptional. Is your dog Penny a flat-coated retriever? As a breeder of them, I would love to know where you got her? Always nice to see that a dog is an important part of the family.

    • Thanks! Penny is actually a Labrador Retriever mix. We adopted her when she was a puppy from a family in Yelm whose name escapes me! She looks a little sad in the picture above! But she is usually very playful and happy.

  • A friend and I were just in the charming boston harbor area over labor day. As we drove around the area it was fun to fantasize about the homes and who lived in them. Your lovely light filled home captures what I envisioned. Enjoy!!

  • So sweet! I love knowing that someone values a small charming house with no wasted space… with an acre of land and fruit trees! Normally I don’t love a house with so much white but this house is warm and interesting. The trim colour is just different enough to set it apart from an all-white place. I’m curious about the pillar that looks like a log – was that part of the house already? I really appreciate all the little imperfections that add up to a home that’s unique and special.

    • Thanks! I believe the pillar was put in by the previous owner, but I can’t be sure. It is a solid log of wood that supports the loft above.

  • This is Beautiful! Your home is so lovely. I recently lived on the edge of Olympia and I loved it, the hot dogs downtown, the farmer’s market, the artesian well, Fish Tale Ales, the Urban Onion, the capitol building, Boston Harbor, weird Yelm, St George’s Byzantine Church, the beautiful Nisqually and especially the proximity to Olympic forest. Wah, I am making myself kinda homesick. Now I am in Seattle and trying with great difficulty.. to embrace this place. I think right now I will go sit in a chair and have tea and read…….;)

  • You are a talented designer! Its hard to believe that your home is less than 1000 square feet. I envy you that coffee table, too. I like where you hide your cleaning supplies. Clever!

  • Inspiring house tour. Thanks for the great images and copy. Your creativity and hard work resulted in a charming home. Cheers!

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