A Victorian Cottage Creates A Retreat From Married Life

We’ve talked a little before about the idea of married couples maintaining a happy marriage by living separately — either part-time or full-time — but until I read this article in The New York Times, I hadn’t really seen an example of it done in a way I envy. Sandra Foster and her husband Todd live in the Catskills in upstate New York. Together, they share a 1971 trailer known as the “Groove Tube,” and 14 acres of land. On that land, each has a personal retreat — Todd, a “man cave,” which is “a truck-size shed covered by an enormous tarp, […] furnished with a big-screen TV, lots of videotapes, cooking equipment and two lamp-warmed cages for the chicks and pheasants [he raises],” and Sandra, a former hunting cabin that she painstakingly renovated into a charming shabby chic Victorian cottage (check out ALL the gorgeous pictures here).It was shortly after they married in a Renaissance-themed ceremony in 2000 that the couple realized they weren’t entirely alike. “He is not a tidy man, he likes to collect things and stuff, most of which is very large, like tractors. My idea of houses is Victorian, cute, magazine-perfect, lots of white.” So in 2007, they finally bought the wooded property they live on now with the trailer and the cabin for $46,000. Sandra immediately began turning the little cabin into her dream retreat: most certainly magazine-perfect with lots of white (nothing but, as a matter of fact).

What I really love most about this story is what a labor of love the cottage was for Sandra. “Armed with a crowbar, hammer and electrical saw,” she turned the 9-by-10-foot box into a beautiful retreat, removing the front of the cabin, extending the floor and porch, and framing it with found columns she got for 60 bucks each. In fact, almost everything she used to renovate and design the cabin was salvaged: found at flea markets, junk stores, Craigslist, etc. And she did it all by herself. The only thing her husband helped with was setting the columns and the rafter over the porch.

The cottage, as cute as it is, lacks plumbing, but that doesn’t bother Sandra. “It’s just my little studio. If I add on to it, I have to pay taxes. It might be nice to have a fireplace, but do I want to live with Todd up here? I would probably have to clean up after him. What’s the point? It’s a tale of two cities.” I imagine I’m not the only woman who’s a little jealous of the space she can call her own. [via NY Times]