2002 Brick Cottage in Milan, NY
Modern marvel: A 2002 brick cottage in Dutchess County has all the rustic charm of a 19th-century carriage house
Exterior: Both inside and out, the circa 2002 Dutch-influenced house looks like one from a bygone time
Photographs by Ellen McDermott
Like many couples searching for a weekend place in the Hudson Valley, Kathryn Scott and her husband, the Chinese artist Wenda Gu, set out to find one of the region’s charismatic vintage dwellings. “We saw some from the 1700s, one from about 1699 — some really old places,” says Scott, who lives with her family in a restored Brooklyn townhouse. “We love the way historic buildings feel, and that’s what we were looking to buy.” But when they viewed an almost brand-new brick house in Milan, they changed their minds. “We knew immediately it was the right place,” says Scott. “It had all the features and charm of an old house but clearly without the level of repair.”
The house, which resembles one of the region’s 19th-century carriage houses, is unusually well constructed of handmade brick and other materials that are hallmarks of a historic home: a stone foundation, cedar roofing shingles, dark-stained wood floors, ball-and-claw foot tubs, and plank doors. “With all those authentic materials, it has no sense of being new,” Scott remarks.
The previous owner, who built the house, spent only one summer living in it, so the interior was in pristine condition. That may sound like a bonus, but for Scott — an interior designer accustomed to putting her own stamp on a home — it was something of a dilemma. “I debated painting all the dark paneling and floors white and going for a Scandinavian look,” she says. “But it would have looked more decorated. It feels like a carriage house, and I wanted it to feel natural in its location.” Instead, she decided to treat the house the way she treats her clients. “Clients come in with colors and furniture they want, and you work around that,” she says. “I enjoyed being directed by existing conditions that caused me to go in different directions.”
Scott changed some of the hardware, light fixtures, and a few other details, but made the house distinctly her own with an unusual mix of art and furnishings — some of which she hadn’t anticipated owning. “One challenge, and something that was unique for me, is that around the time we bought the house, Wenda went to China and bought a lot of furniture, but didn’t remember what it was,” she recalls with a laugh. When that surprising treasure trove arrived in Milan, Scott found ways to incorporate it all.
Click on the images below for more photos of the house.