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Fun Factor

Enjoyment is a quick trip away for this New Canaan family.

The owners of this cottage don’t have to go very far to get away—the two-bedroom house is just a short walk from the main house on their New Canaan property. The structure, which may have been a stable at one point, is now used primarily for entertaining guests from near and far. “From the outside it looks like a little make-believe cottage,” says interior designer Alicia Orrick, of Orrick & Company in Greenwich, who worked with the family to design the space. “It has roses growing all over it, and it’s got this tiny little wooden front porch.” Visitors get a view of it as they drive up to the property, and its enchanting appearance is too much to resist. “It makes you want to go over right away and see what’s in there,” she says.

They aren’t disappointed when they open the door. “The whole feeling behind this cottage was one of fun,” says Orrick. While the main house is a bit more formal and neutral, it seems the homeowners had their two daughters Haley, eleven, and Caroline, thirteen, in mind when they chose the direction for the decoration of the cottage. “The girls were very excited about the space being hip and young and bright.”

On the first floor, the table in the dining area was an old pine piece the couple was ready to give away before Orrick suggested repainting it in a bright green. On a wall in the same space, the photograph of eleven horses charging the camera is one of the designer’s favorite pieces in the house. It was taken by Kirsten Griffin, another client of Orrick’s, in the Camargue region of France. (She was nearly trampled in the process, but the horses parted just in time.) The stools at the kitchen island that swivel up and down, the glass ball light fixture in the living room, and pops of orange and green around the cottage are informal and very much in the spirit of fun. 

The first-floor master bedroom has a little more sophistication, with walls painted in a Farrow & Ball pink and animal print-upholstered headboard and footboard, but with the addition of oversized lamps on the bedside tables and punches of magenta, the room continues the playful vibe of the rest of the house. “Nothing is exactly proper,” says Orrick. The new master bathroom, the only big renovation on the project, was created by combining an existing bathroom and a second room that was too small to be useable. The new, luxurious space now features double sinks, a vanity designed by Orrick and her team, a frameless shower and a private toilet room. One wall of reclaimed wood suggests “cottage,” though the rest of the space is very clean and modern.

Upstairs it’s clear that the rooms were designed specifically with slumber parties and after-school hangouts in mind. In the loft space, Orrick pulled colors from the green and purple area rug (“Dragonfly Harem” from The Rug Company) for the rest of the furnishings. The Lucite coffee table was custom-made for the space, and the girls love to sit in the hanging chair. Down the hall in the “sleepover room,” several beds, plus a super-soft carpet with tons of extra floor space for sleeping bags, make it an ideal spot for Haley and Caroline to gather with all of their friends. Pops of acidy greens and strong turquoise add to the fun.

But when the cottage is not being used for what are no doubt the slumber parties with the most coveted invitations in town, the space is also enjoyed by the adults in the family. When grandparents visit for a week or two at a time, they make the cottage home, and the girls can go over and bake cookies and cupcakes, do projects, and spend time with them without their parents on-site. The cottage also serves as a gathering place for parents and friends when the children are playing tennis on the courts nearby.

Though the cottage is just as enchanting in the wintertime, when the girls take friends over for hot chocolate, in the spring and summer, the family can make full use of the windows and doors that open up the whole house to the outside. The patio and fire pit, which the family enjoys through the summer and into autumn, can be accessed through doors off the living room. There, friends and family can sit and watch whoever is on the courts playing tennis, and see the outdoor movies the family shows nearby, as well as take in the gardens on the property. “Inside and out is built for fun,” says Orrick.

Whether they are bringing friends over, enjoying the company of visiting relatives, or staying over on the weekends just for a change of scenery, the feeling associated with this cottage is always one of fun for the family of four. And just as the structure beckons first-time visitors to come in and enjoy, there is no doubt that it will draw the girls back for visits time and again, even when they are all grown up.       

Alicia Orrick, Orrick & Company, Greenwich, 203-532-1188,