As I write this column, the Christmas holiday has just ended and New Year’s Eve is only days away. My office is quiet because most of the country is still enjoying a well-deserved winter break. Although I am at my desk, I still have sweet visions of Christmas dancing in my head: my five-year-old daughter’s delighted face as she discovered the gifts from Santa under the Christmas tree, and John Riester, retrofit home’s publisher, dressed as Buddy the Elf for his family on Christmas Eve.
One of my favorite pastimes during the holidays is, in fact, watching Christmas movies, including classics, like “Santa Claus: The Movie” with Dudley Moore (am I the only person who has seen this movie?!) and “It’s a Wonderful Life”, whose star Donna Reed grew up just a few miles from where I live now. This year, I also watched a longtime favorite, “The Holiday”, starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black. After finding themselves with broken hearts just before Christmas, Winslet—whose character lives in Surrey, England—and Diaz—whose character lives in Los Angeles— swap houses for two weeks, during which they meet each other’s friends and families. Hilarity and love connections ensue, of course, making for a heartwarming Christmas movie.
Just as important to the film as the characters are the two houses Winslet and Diaz swap. Winslet’s Rosehill Cottage is supposed to be about 300 years old and sits in the snowy countryside. It’s charming and cozy, constructed of stone with a wood-shake roof and a wood-burning fireplace. Until now, the enchanting cottage was just a figment of a filmmaker’s imagination. However, Lucy Small, owner of State & Season, a home design and supply company whose goal is to “create spaces for modern country life in America’s best rural places” is designing and constructing a replica of Rosehill Cottage in the mountain town of Blue Ridge, Ga. And guess what? You eventually can book a stay. (I see a girls’ trip in my future!)
“If you stay there, I want you to feel like it’s an old cottage in the English countryside and Jude Law might knock on the door at any minute,” Small says. Although she is trying to replicate the cottage to near exact specifications, some aspects must change. For example, modern-day building codes won’t allow the tiny bathroom under the stairs, and the main-level windows had to be raised farther off the ground. “The roof in the movie actually looks broken and sagging,” Small adds. “I figured we probably want a roof that works.” Learn more if you’re interested in booking a stay when the cottage is complete.
The fact that someone is building “The Holiday” cottage 16 years after the movie opened in theaters is testimony to how a structure can pull at the heartstrings. Throughout the pages of this issue (and every issue of retrofit home), we showcase beloved homes that owners felt strongly about renovating, upgrading and improving to cherish for years to come. Check out “BeachHouse” as an excellent example. Home is without a doubt where the heart is.
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