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Carpenter and MacNeille: A Design Firm to Love

Selkirk Lodge exterior Carpenter MacNeillesource   photo by Gordon Beall

You have probably seen the beautiful home above.  That gorgeous exterior has been all over Pinterest, and it was featured several years ago in Architectural Digest. But do you know the story behind it?

This was the before

selkirk lodge before renovation Carpenter MacNeillesource 

The 19th century Massachusetts home with its wonderful setting between a river and the Atlantic Ocean was almost at the point of needing to be torn down, but luckily, a Russian couple discovered it in their hunt for a home near their American boarding school children.  And even better than that, they hired the award winning firm of Carpenter and MacNeille to restore and enlarge it.  The firm took it down to the studs and added almost 2,200 square feet and this amazing terrace to the old house.

Selkirk lodge terrace Carpenter and   photo by Gordon Beall

Quite a transformation, right?

But it wasn’t that house that drew me to the design firm.  It was actually this kitchen:

Bakers kitchen cabinets Carpenter photo by Eric Roth

Don’t you just love it with it’s panelled cabinets,(painted Benjamin Moore’s Linen White) dark hardware, black granite countertops, and beadboard backsplash?  Let me tell you the story behind it.  This kitchen belongs to a family with 4 children – the wife was a lawyer, and the husband is an educator.  When the children were young, the wife would bake cookies for their classes and for relatives and for parties.

Bakers kitchen Carpenter  photo by Eric Roth

She did a lot of baking, and she loved it.  And her cookies were good.:) After years of doing this, she decided she wanted to turn it into a business, but here’s the catch.  She wanted to continue to bake the cookies at home. They were just about to start a kitchen renovation.

bakers kitchen island Carpenter   photo by Eric Roth

But being the smart lawyer she was, she knew there were laws regarding businesses operated from home – specifically food businesses operated from home kitchens.  So after researching all the health regulations, she and her husband contacted the firm of Carpenter and MacNeille to design and build a kitchen that would meet all those regulations. You would never know by looking at this kitchen that it was anything more than a beautiful home kitchen would you?

baking area Carpenter  photo by Eric Roth

The baking counter was put in 4 inches lower than the other counters so that it was more comfortable to work there, and a cover was installed on drawers with baking supplies.

Bakers kitchen drawer Stephen

And now the kitchen is home to Boston Globe’s 2009 Cookie of the Year. :)

Batter Up Bakery

Would you like to see another Carpenter and MacNeille house?


How about this one?

Chubbs Hill exterior Carpenter  photo by Sam Gray

And of course there is a story behind this one as well.

Would you believe this home was originally built as a spec house in 1993??  It’s true. The Carpenter and MacNeille firm was doing a renovation right across the street from it, and the owners of this home approached them about doing a simple entryway redesign.

Chubbs Hill photo by Sam Gray

Well one thing led to another, and that entryway redesign led to a room redesign, which led to all the interiors being redone, which then led to the exterior being totally redone and clad in shingles.  Talk about a domino effect!

Chubbs Hill living photo by Sam Gray

(In case you can’t tell, the wife of this family likes blue.:))

I love the kitchen.  Just look at that ceiling!

Chubbs Hill kitchen Carpenter  photo by Sam Gray

The breakfast nook above is nestled in the ground level of the 3 story “tower.”  (Look back at the exterior photo to see what I am referring to.)  The built-in bench in that area was designed to resemble a bench from an English garden.  So pretty!

And now one more house you might like…:)

Marblehead Neck exterior  Carpenter  photo by Richard Mandelkorn

When the Carpenter and MacNeille firm was hired for this project, the house was a hodge-podge of different styles from various eras…an 1890′s part, a 1920′s part, and a 1960′s part complete with garage and a flat roofed room surrounded by walls of windows. The initial plan was a kitchen renovation, but like so many other jobs, one change led to another.

Marblehead Neck kitchen Carpenter 

In the end they wanted to bring consistency to the home’s design, scale the rooms to an appropriate size for the home, and take advantage of the gorgeous views.  With that in mind, they removed portions (the 1960′s era parts) and added others. I think it turned out beautifully – with the perfect mix of old and new.  The room below is the ocean room.  Wouldn’t you just love to be seated in one of those chairs by the windows?

Marblehead Neck ocean room Carpenter

And now that I have shown you some of their amazing work, let me tell you just a little about the firm of Carpenter and MacNeille.  Located in Essex, Massachusetts, it began in 1996 when builder Terry Carpenter and architect Rob MacNeille decided to start a company that meshed both aspects in home design.  They expanded it to include interior design in 2002, and added custom millwork with Stephen Terhune Woodworking in 2004. Then in 2008, they established a home services devision that handles home maintenance.   This is a firm that can do it all – from exterior and interior design, to custom woodworking, to helping with the upkeep of a residence. Sadly, partner Terry Carpenter passed away in 2007 before he could see the final division added to their firm.

Marblehead Neck porch  Carpenter

I love their attention to detail – especially in all the woodwork.  I think that is what sets their projects apart from others.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that they are incorporating New England style in so much of what they do!:)(And I am not sure why this Southern girl is so smitten with New England??)

I have a couple more pretty New England design posts planned for you later this week, and then I will bombard you with posts about our vacation on an island.  I hope that doesn’t scare you away!

Until next time…

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Louvina - July 15, 2014 - 7:38 pm

I think New England must whisper to some of us “home style”! I have the same feeling about anything from that area. Once I even worked my way through a small NE recipe book making each recipe! I have a problem ceiling connecting my kitchen and family room– and thinking about some type of wooden one. Enjoying all these posts — :)
So I am not alone in my New England love then. Yay! I can’t say I have taken it as far as cooking a book of recipes from there though. :) I love wooden ceilings, so I say go for it! That is what we put in the room over the garage.

Garden, Home and Party - July 15, 2014 - 7:43 pm

At the risk of sounding like a broken record…unbelievable! This firm does amazing work. The kitchen of the cookie lady is my favorite. I’ve been favoring white cabinets with black counters lately. But the patio views and attention to detail inside each of these homes strikes a chord. I was sad to read that one of the main partners died in 2007.
I’ve been to Massachusetts only once, but we visited nearly all of the cities within the state. I loved it. Thanks for always finding such fun places for us to drool over! :-)
You are welcome! Thank you for reading the posts about all these houses, Karen. :) I loved loved that kitchen. I think I will always be drawn to white kitchens. Your Massachusetts trip to visit all the cities in the state sounds like it would have been fun! (And I bet you could really enjoy some great meals as well!)

Martha - July 15, 2014 - 8:17 pm

What perfection!!!! When I hit the lottery I will have that first kitchen…the white cabinets & black granite (or maybe soapstone) is just what I envision as my dream kitchen. I have a thing for New England too….something about the purity of design…..anyway, thanks so much for all your wonderful posts. I look forward to more New England design….and I love all your info and back stories. You do a lot of research and that is what makes your blog so special!
Thank you Martha! I hope you do win the lottery and can get that kitchen of your dreams. :) I have more for you to drool over coming soon. Thanks for reading and commenting!

cindy hattersley - July 15, 2014 - 8:17 pm

I love a beautiful shingle style home and these are spectacular. Always so interesting to hear the story behind the pictures! Great Post!!
I am glad you enjoyed it Cindy! I am quite partial to shingle style homes myself. (And we are going to be replacing some of our board and batten here with cedar shake shingles in the coming months. Yay!)

Megan - July 15, 2014 - 8:22 pm

Hi Kelly,
Oh how I love the New England style! I am a New York girl at heart, but currently live in MA. I love these homes – and wish that I had the budget to hire this firm for a remodel! They did an amazing job :) One thing that I noticed (I am always on the lookout) are the black chairs and the black stool that are in the Chubbs’ Hill house (I clicked on the link…hehe). Do you know what style they would be called? I would love to find something similar.
Yay another New England style lover! I am glad you clicked on the links. There are so many good things to see on their site. :) I am afraid I do not know what style chair those are. At first I thought perhaps they were an Amish interpretation of Windsor or Empire style..definitely remind me of Windsor chair legs. Then I thought perhaps they were an Ethan Allen chair I had seen long ago, but I could not find anything currently offered on their site that looks like them. I will keep a lookout for you.

Katherine Leighty - July 15, 2014 - 9:31 pm

Oh how I wish more Design firms would fall under such detail to period design incorporated with modern convenience! These homes are done with period elegance and truly will be the grand ladies to see 50 years from now! They are gorgeous and really have a feel of timelessness! Good design is good design anywhere…I am on the west coast and adore these homes! Really great article I enjoyed very much…thank you Kelly!
You have described them perfectly Katherine – grand ladies in 50 years. :) I’m so glad you enjoyed the post there on the west coast. Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment!

Debra - July 15, 2014 - 11:27 pm

These homes you have featured are quite spectacular. Look at that deck, the gorgeous wicker furniture and oh that waterfront view. I can’t imagine having that everyday to enjoy. The kitchen with that breakfast nook with the built in bench is my favorite. Love the big pedestal table, with black birdcage chairs and that light fixture. How cozy in a grand way. Love the sink area too with the big window adorned with topiaries. I could wash dishes and more dishes until I got dishpan hands. Wonderful feature Kelly, you do know how to take us away. Now let me slip into my dated kitchen for a refill on my glass of water and come back to reality. Ugh!


Arlene@Nanaland - July 16, 2014 - 8:10 am

I love a black and white kitchen. I like my granite countertops but I am wishing that I had gone with my first choice of color which was black. I let someone tell me it was too dark and I followed their advice. Sometimes you just need to go with your gut!!

Terri - July 16, 2014 - 8:47 am

WOW!!!!! That transformation in the first house is incredible!!!!! I am sooooooooo in love with the black and white kitchen(s) ….. these homes are certainly “Grand Beauties” for sure!!! Someone would have to pry me off those porches / terraces with that ocean view!!!!!:) … Thanks Kelly… looking forward to the next post!!

Barbara (WA) - July 16, 2014 - 8:52 am

Rather than “just” showing us gorgeous homes you share the background stories/details which makes for such interesting reading, thank you! Love the baker’s kitchen (Pinning like a mad woman presently, heheh!)

Cheri - July 16, 2014 - 8:56 am

Again, Kelly, you showed some gorgeous homes and I would be hard pressed to pick one that I loved. Just when I think…this is the one…the next one is just as lovely. Any house that had wonderful windows to look out at the water (not necessarily a beach) would impress me. I just need a large sum of moola to appear to make my dream house happen, but then, that would be a problem…which builder and architect???? LOL

Cathy Norrie - July 16, 2014 - 9:31 am

Hi Kelly,

Thanks so much for this lovely post. Yes, New England style absolutely speaks to me. When I lived in Nova Svotia for 2 years eons ago I drooled over the gorgeous homes in Chester Basin and Lunenberg etc. Did you know that New England originally included our Canadian provinces? That north/south bond goes way back and it shows in many ways not the least of which is the gorgeous architecture.

We are busy sailing our new little Pixie (see our blog for details), gardening (enjoying our VERY short growing season), and painting bits and pieces on our lil old house in Calgary. Summer fun!
Thanks again for another lovely post :)


theresa - July 16, 2014 - 10:38 am

just thought it was funny that the name of the firm is kind of a play on an old singing duo ” The Captain and Tenille” on purpose or coincidence?

Lynne Smith - July 16, 2014 - 10:55 am

I had the good fortune to live in Acton, MA in the early ’60′s when I was in high school. Our 1 acre lot was bordered by the original rock walls that were built as the revolutionary war era farmers first cleared the land. Several houses down the street a british soldier was buried in the basement; the owners did not want it know that they sympathized with the crown. I am now almost 70, and that area remains my very favorite of multiple places I have lived during my lifetime–even though I was terribly teased for having a southern accent when I arrived.

Dawn - July 16, 2014 - 12:24 pm


I too am always drawn to any home built near the water. In the summer I love to boat around and just look at all the homes built on the lake at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Some are quant cottages and some of them are dream homes. It is so neat to see all of the different styles. I love the attention to detail that Carpenter and MacNeille put into all of the homes they do. Thanks for sharing them with us. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us. Yesterday we spent 8 hours just boating around ever so slowly looking at homes.

Sarah K - July 16, 2014 - 4:19 pm

Thhis Georgia girl (exiled to California!) is fond of New England disgin too. My new desire for our house – a picket fence. I was totally charmed by them on a recent East Coast road trip and must have one now! Plus it will help keep our dogs contained.

Sarah K - July 16, 2014 - 4:21 pm

Oops, I can spell I just didn’t have my reading glasses on!

Susan - July 16, 2014 - 6:17 pm

Add me to the lovers of New England style!

Paula B. - July 17, 2014 - 10:26 am

Gorgeous renovations. I feel like that first home is one I have driven by a few times, I wonder where it’s located? As much as I drooled over the transformations, there’s something in me that loves the hodge-podge architecture of the originals. All that history of the home and the family that could be seen in each addition. Then, I see the new home and I am truly amazed. (By the way, now that I’m retired I think I should start a cookie business out of my kitchen, yum!)

Jayne - July 19, 2014 - 7:28 pm

The thing that caught my attention right away was the size of the houses. I would love to have a large house! Of course a house like those is way above our pay grade! So, I’ll stick with my little house. Besides, it’s all I can do to keep up with this house! haha. I love the New England feel as well. I think it’s really more of a airy, beach feel that comes with New England homes. And being form Amelia, you know how much I love the beach!

Part 2: The Cottages at River Dunes

River Dunes cottagessource

Happy Weekend to you! We are headed home from a week on an island (which I will of course share with you later.):)But today I wanted you to enjoy a few more wonderful cottages from this little enclave at River Dunes. If you missed part 1, please be sure you go back and take a look there for more eye candy.  Today we are going inside the larger cottages at River Dunes.  These are perfect for a family or two couples travelling together. All were designed by Historical Concepts.

First let’s take a peek at the beautiful two bedroom Sabre Cottage – accessorized with photographs of Sabre Yachts. I love the metal roof and the single side shutters.

Sabre Cottage

The cottage has a little under 800 square feet of interior space, but it lives larger with its porches.  The extensive use of wood here and the built in banquette are very reminiscent of the interior of a boat – where every inch of space counts.

Sabre Cottage photo by Richard Leo Johnson

But I don’t think you would find a bathroom like this second floor one on any yacht.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Sabre Cottage photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Here is the upstairs guest room.

Sabre Cottage guest

You can see that there is a screened porch right off the master bedroom below. Aren’t the windows and window treatments just perfect for this space?

Sabre Cottage master photo by Richard Leo Johnson

An even larger cottage, the Grand Banks, has three bedrooms (of which two are master suites) and three full baths. It is almost double the size of the Sabre Cottage and has a more rustic interior, but still keeping with the nautical feel of the decor.

Grand Banks cottage River DunesOur Town Plans via

Is it just me, or do you think this one has the feel of the house in the movie, Message in a Bottle?

Grand Banks Cottage living and dining photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Grand Banks Cottage photo by Richard Leo Johnson

I really hate to stop here, but we have got to hit the road to get home.  So I am going to leave you with a few more links to check out.

There are two more 3 bedroom rental cottages that I have not shown you here.

And although this next home at River Dunes is not a rental, I know you will want to see photos of its interior.:)

Click here.

Ballast Point home River

Same goes for this one.  Click here.

(I am showing you the rear view because all the trimwork is just superb!)

lattice trim on home in River

And if you are in the market for a new home in the area of Oriental, North Carolina, this one at River Dunes might be just what you are looking for.

home for sale in River

It is a replica of the 2001 Coastal Living Idea House that was located in Habersham (near Beaufort, South Carolina.) I think I like the kitchen better in this one than in the Idea House.

Here is the new one:

kitchen in River Dunes

And here is the original Idea House kitchen in Habersham just for comparison.  See what you think. (It’s probably that wonderful apron front sink above that is making me love that kitchen more.:))

Habersham Idea House

I know the big draw for River Dunes is the water, but for those of us who are smitten with  architectural details, you cannot beat the quality found there.  There are just soooo many beautiful homes!  I hope you have enjoyed our tour of the cottages and some of the homes.

River Dunes

Until next time…

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Jayne - July 12, 2014 - 9:50 pm

All of these cottages are so adorable! I can’t pick a favorite. The are loaded with inspiration and ideas! You know how I love inspiration and ideas! Thanks for sharing Hope you are having a great time!
Aren’t they cute! I know I said I had a favorite, but I would be more than happy to stay in any of them. Yes, you are an inspiration loving girl, Jayne! :)

Louvina - July 12, 2014 - 10:15 pm

It amazes me the use of wood in these cottages and how it gives them an uncluttered and much bigger appearance. I truly like the wood on the ceilings which gives them a nautical and casual feeling. I think I could live this way full time not just for vacation. And I think that I could live on a houseboat and be very happy! Hope you have been having a great time wherever you have been–looking forward to seeing vacation pictures soon!
I LOVE planked walls, and would take wood everywhere I could in this house – but it would have to be painted to not feel too dark and depressing. Living on a houseboat! Oh wow! That would be something!

Dawn - July 12, 2014 - 10:19 pm

74 Ballast Point has me smitten! The brick fireplace on the outside to start with and when you click on the link the use of green in that house has me written all over it! Thanks for sharing these with us Kelly. I can’t wait to see where you have been!
It does have you written all over it with its green! Be sure to ask for that one when you reserve your cottage there, Dawn. :) I know you will love it. Vacation photos coming next week (I hope!)

Jill - July 12, 2014 - 10:26 pm

Sign me up! I’m ready to go now! :D
Wow, such beautiful homes. Talk about gracious Southern living!!
Hope you enjoyed your getaway!
Make your reservation and pack your bags Jill! You will love it! It would be wonderful place to visit.

Moj Beli - July 13, 2014 - 11:23 am

Kelly, I have so enjoyed your Cottages at River Dunes post.
I follow Historical Concepts and Our Town Plans on Houzz.
Always looking for updates.
I Love this area of the States. I have family in the area.
It’s hard to leave when you visit. Thank you
Isn’t Historical Concepts just wonderful? I love everything they do. It would be hard to leave that gorgeous area of North Carolina.

Garden, Home and Party - July 13, 2014 - 6:35 pm

Hi Kelly,
This is better than thumbing through a magazine. So many pretty rooms I could move right in. Thanks for sharing this little break in the day for me!
I’ll be eager to hear where you were this weekend. I can always count on seeing some fun stuff!
Glad you enjoyed the cottages Karen! I will have our vacation posts next week. Lots of houses to show you from that!

Vicki - July 13, 2014 - 10:47 pm

These cottages are so neat, and it’s fun to be spoiled with your links to even more goodness. You’re right, an apron front sink gives a kitchen a lot of appeal– I kept scrolling to compare the two. What a cool built-in bed by the window at 74 Ballast Point- I’d love to have something like that in my daughter’s room. Definitely could use those drawers!

Hope you had a wonderful time on the island!
I’m so glad you checked out the links Vicki! You are right…lots more goodies to see. :) And I soooo love an apron front sink. Wish we could have found a way to make it work in our upstairs room. Loved that built in bed too…great storage with the bookcases at the ends!

Design Chic - July 13, 2014 - 11:30 pm

I love this area. I’ve never seen inside the cottages, but we went to the Idea House when it was open and loved it – quintessential coastal style at its best. Fun tour!
Oh how lucky you were to get to tour the inside of the Idea House! Yes, it was the quintessential coastal style. So glad I could help you have a virtual tour of the cottages. :)

Debra - July 14, 2014 - 12:51 am

I can’t believe you’ve been gone for a week and your posting? Oh, the devoted blogger and we love you for it. No vacation here yet… thank you for this “coastal” post and a get away, at least in my mind. I love the kitchens and seeing those black Adirondack chairs has me thinking. I picked up an additional pair for our fire pit area. I am trying to decide if I should paint them black, red or white. I have a picnic set and pair already that are painted white…Oh decisions. Black??Well, I stopped in at Home Goods for a quick look around today. Yahoo, low and behold I found a pack of red stripe ice cream paper cups with wooden spoons. Score! Happy dance. Confessions too, (raised hand) I have purchased a few glass jars at Target too. I have been Kelly-a-fied?? Ha! Can’t wait for your getaway share yet to come.

Thanks for appreciating my efforts Debra! The schedule around here has been whacko the last couple of weeks so my blogging schedule (whatever that is!) has also been off. I vote for red on your chairs.:) You DID score on the ice cream cups!! Way to go!!! Kelly-a-fied…too funny. That is what my college roommate’s husband told her she was when she decorated her mantel. :) It sounds like a cooking term to me. LOL

Trisha - July 14, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Hi Kelly! I’ve never been to River Dunes, but this post certainly makes me want to take a trip there! And, I love the designs by Historical Concepts and Our Town Plans, too. My husband had the pleasure of working with them a few years ago on a house for the TerraBella Village in Covington, LA (definitely one of my favorite projects). I really enjoyed your tour of the cottages! – Trisha
How fun to get to work with Historical Concepts! My favorite!! Glad you enjoyed the tour of the charming cottages. I hope you get to visit them in person one day. It would make for a great vacation!

Suzanne Stern - July 18, 2014 - 12:33 pm

We love the houses and cottages at River Dunes!
For those who might be interested, plans for all the houses (large and small) that are pictured here are available for purchase through Our Town Plans.

The Cottages at River Dunes

Captains House at River Dunessource

Let’s travel today. There are some cute cottages in a certain community I want you to see.

2007 marked the 10th anniversary of Coastal Living’s Idea House, and the gorgeous 5000 sq. ft. home above was built to commemorate the occasion.  It had beautiful rooms like…

this kitchen

River Dunes Idea House 

and this dining room

Dining room River Dunes Idea

and this porch.

River Dunes Idea House

You probably remember it from the cover of the magazine.  Sadly, late one night in 2010, it was struck by lightning and a fire began inside the home.  From what I understand, the community is located a good distance from the nearest fire station, and although firemen from seven different firehouses responded to the call, the beautiful stucture could not be saved.  This is all that remained of the Idea House.

River Dunes Idea House

But I am not going to stop here and leave you on such a sad note.  There is more to know about the place.

Miraculously, no one was injured and the firemen were able to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings that were very close to the Idea House including the village chapel.

Harbor Chapel at River

They have since built a new fire station close to the development, and perhaps changes have been made in their fire code and building plans (although I do not know that for sure.) The location of that Coastal Living Idea House was River Dunes, a planned community near Oriental, North Carolina (with supposedly more sailboats than residents!)  It has every kind of boating activity one could want thanks to its huge marina and its proximity to the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. The community and harbor have won numerous awards for the quality of the development and its boating amenities.

River Dunes Harbor

There is a clubhouse (with a gorgeous red roof) and a pool for additional water sports

River Dunes community

and even dining by the water. (Love those wicker chairs!:))

dining on the water River

But what I really want you to see are the charming cottages available for rent at River Dunes.

River Dune

cottages at River photo by Ron Hart

Aren’t they just perfect looking?  I know you want to look inside them, right?

I do too!

Let’s start with the little one bedroom Hinckley Cottage with its rocker, table, and lamp on the porch. (The cottages are named after yachts and feature photos and memorabilia from them.)

Hinckley Cottage River Dunes  photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Hinckley Cottage photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Hinckley Cottage  photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Don’t you just love that skirt treatment for the sink areas and all those panelled walls?

Here’s another of the one bedroom cottages – the Grady-White.

Grady White cottage bedroom River Dunes photo by Richard Leo photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Grady White bedroom River  photo by Richard Leo Johnson

with its handcrafted light fixtures and another skirted sink.

Grady White cottage bathroom skirted   photo by Richard Leo Johnson

As pretty as these are, my favorite is the Hatteras Captain’s Cottage.  See what you think.:)

Hatteras Cottages River Dunes photo by Richard Leo Johnson

It is actually two 1 bedroom cottages connected by a shared screened porch.  Here is the other cottage on the other end.

River Dunes Hatteras photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Hatteras Cottage bedroom River

The ceiling is made from reclaimed wood.

Hatteras Cottage kitchen River  photo by Richard Leo Johnson

And here is a shot of the porch that is shared between the two cottages.

Hatteras Cottages shared photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Don’t you think it is wonderful?  I would love to stay there.:)

As much as I would like to show you more, today is my daughter’s day off from work, and she is telling me it is time to go shopping.  So I am going to leave you with one additional view of the cottages, but I will be back next time with a few more pretty houses for you to enjoy.

dusk at River Dunes

Until next time…

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Leslie - July 9, 2014 - 11:32 am

Those cottages are so sweet! There aren’t many things better than a day off to have your daughter all to yourself! Enjoy!
Thanks Leslie! I thought the cottages were super cute, and I knew all of you would love them. :) My daughter and I did have a fun day.

Amy O'Quinn - July 9, 2014 - 12:16 pm

Wow…what charming cottages! They are so pretty, and I would love to stay in one of them! I admit I had to Google where Oriental, NC was! :) I read that it was named after a Federal ship called the Sailing Steamer Oriental that was used/wrecked during the Civil War. The history nerd in me is forever peeking out! But since it’s only about 2 hours from Wilmington where my girls will be, I may have to put it on the ‘extended’ day trip bucket list! Thanks for sharing.
I love the history nerd in you! Just the kind of info I love to learn. :) Thank you for sharing it! You should definitely plan a visit if it is only 2 hours from Wilmington. Sounds like a nice little road trip to me!

Debra - July 9, 2014 - 12:24 pm

We are having a beautiful day in the mid seventies and humidity has lifted for the moment. Birds are chirping away as I type. Now, if I was at this resort right now, I would be taking a long walk along the pier and drooling over those boats. I have always wanted to go out on a sail boat. Bucket list! What a charming place. Those little bungalows are making me drool. I especially like the one with the adjoining SCREENED porch. You knew I would! Kelly, you do know how to torture me!

Sorry to torture you Debra. I would love to be doing exactly what you said…especially since the humidity here is enough to make you feel like you are walking in a sauna. Why even bother rolling my hair??
I thought the Hatteras Cottage with its shared screened porch was just perfect.
Enjoy your day!

DeeDee - July 9, 2014 - 12:30 pm

The cottages are ah-dorable! Thx for sharing the information & location, as River Dunes sounds like a “must see” destination!
They most certainly are, and I have put them on my must see list too! Perhaps for spring break next year. :)
Thank you for reading and leaving your comment DeeDee.

Garden, Home and Party - July 9, 2014 - 12:42 pm

You had me at cottage. The idea house was so charming and well laid out. So sad that it burnt down. It would be fun stay in one of the cottages you’ve shared. I love property on waterways, not the ocean per se, but a lake or river would be so comforting.
Have fun today with your daughter.
Karen, I am so glad you liked the cottages. I think if given the choice between a cottage with a pool and a mansion with a pool, I would choose the cottage…there is just something charming about them (plus I don’t think I could keep up a mansion!) My daughter and I did have fun, and we ate waaaaay too much yesterday. :)

Louvina - July 9, 2014 - 12:56 pm

Loved these little cottages!! So quaint and charming! I especially liked the reclaimed wooden ceiling. And would love a fire pit like that! Enjoy your shopping trip with baby girl!! I took my granddaughter out to lunch ( tomato basil soup and salad, plus warm spinach/artichoke dip, yum) and she informed me that she was thinking of “red” high lights in her natural blonde hair!! Oh, my– remember last year both girls got brown put in their hair?) Oh, to be young again!! So cute and trying to find their own style, I guess! :)
Wasn’t that ceiling beautiful, Louvina?! Your lunch sounds divine! We had a great one as well, and our daughter’s chicken romano was THE most delicious chicken dish I think I have ever tasted. OMG it was good!! Our daughter went for red highlights last week, but it turned out too subtle for her tastes. She is now thinking about having it dyed red next time….definitely not my favorite of her looks, but at least it is not permanent. :) Yes, you are right. They are trying to find their own style.

Kathy - July 9, 2014 - 12:57 pm

How beautiful! As I was looking, I thought….this. is. my. dream. house.!!! And, to find it burned! So, sad! However, the cottages are sweet! Thanks for the mini-trip. Now, back to wedding plans!
Yes, that was very sad. I cannot imagine how everyone there must have felt..all the talented people who had poured time and energy into it. But I am glad you enjoyed the trip to the cottages. They are just so pretty!
I hope all your wedding planning is going well. The big day will be here before you know it! (not to put any time pressure on you or anything. :) )

Katherine Leighty - July 9, 2014 - 1:09 pm

First time I’ve gotten an e-mail from you and I was awestruck! Love the selection you made and research to provide the photos of it all! For awhile now I have had a fantasy trip planned to travel up the eastern seaboard and end up in Maine in the Fall! This would definitely be a stop for me! So thank you for the great fantasy travel guide! The little cabins are so reminiscent of cabins I stayed in as a girl here in Oregon!
How wonderful that you have stayed in cabins similar to the cottages there at River Dunes, Katherine! Lucky you! Pack me in your bag for that fantasy trip up the East Coast. It sounds exactly like what I would love to do. We did a partial trip like that up the New England coast one summer, but Maine in the fall would be GORGEOUS. Love the idea!

nan, odessa, DE - July 9, 2014 - 1:34 pm

YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kelly’s back after a few days off.

So enjoyed this blog, as usual.
I am glad you enjoyed the post on the cottages, Nan!
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. :)

Judy - July 9, 2014 - 5:37 pm

say i won the lottery…i’d buy that whole town…well, at least the houses you featured and let you stay for FREE in your cottage of choice!

gosh, kelly, every time you show these great places, i have to add them to my must-see places!

we’re heading to my in-laws this afternoon to pick up some squash and peas from their garden….they gave us tomatoes on sunday…i’ll be eating “high on the hog” this week!
Well, then I hope you win the lottery, Judy! You should make a trip to check out River Dunes sometime. I know you are enjoying all those delicious fresh vegetables. There is nothing better than fresh from the garden summer tomatoes!

Lindy James - July 9, 2014 - 5:53 pm

Kelly ,
Those charming cottages in River Dunes remind me of the ones you wrote about in May of last year in Carpinteria, Ca. We were lucky enough to get to spend three nights in them last summer and are hoping to go again this year in Sept. By the way they they are adding two more with two bedrooms per cottage, not sure when they will be finished. I must add this area to my bucket list of places to visit when we decide to explore the South, hopefully in the near future. Have a great day shopping with your daughter, take care, Lindy
Yes, they do! I am certainly drawn to cottages as so many of you are. I am still jealous that you got to stay in those in Carpenteria..and now you are getting to go back! LOL. Our son is interviewing for a job on the west coast. If he gets it, perhaps we will be able to stay there like you – maybe in one of the new two bedroom ones. :)
My daughter and I did have a good day shopping…but we only bought a few things. (I guess that is good for the budget, right?)

Arlene@Nanaland - July 10, 2014 - 9:53 am

How sad that such a beautiful house went up in flames…so glad that they built a fire station closer to the community! Seeing those little cottages reminded me that I wanted to tell you that Marvin and I are considering building a “Katrina” cottage on our land in Georgia. I just heard of these cute little cottages that were supposed to take the place of FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, I saw them in Cottage Journal, the summer edition. We are still in the “thinking” stage but they seem to be perfect for our needs.
Hi Arlene! I think the Katrina cottages are soooo cute and nicely designed, and I think they would be perfect on your property in north Georgia. :) Good luck with the project if you decide to go ahead with it!

Dawn - July 10, 2014 - 9:53 am


This community is so nice looking. I love the details that all of the cottages seem to have. Any one of those screened in porches looks perfect to sit and read on. Thanks for sharing them with us. I can’t wait to see what else you have to show us.
I am happy you noticed all those wonderful details of the cottages! That lattice wrapping the side of the corner cottages was great; wasn’t it Dawn?
More to come soon. :)

Jayne - July 11, 2014 - 12:52 pm

I adore those cottages! So much better than hotel/motel rooms! More privacy, I would think! Love the porches. I can feel the pain of the house that burned down. We are also so far out in the county we don’t even have any fire hydrants in our neighborhood. Our house would burn slap to the ground if it ever caught on fire. Let’s pray that never happens, but if it does, I know the changes I would make for the next house.
I’m always so smitten with the interiors of these little places that I forget about the privacy they afford. Good point Jayne! Yes, that fire was so sad, and that is scary that you are also far out from fire service. I have thought ahead too in light of such an event here. At least we know how to look on the bright side! :)

Nancy - July 12, 2014 - 6:41 pm

This is totally unrelated to today’s entry. I just discovered your wonderful blog, so I have gone back to your beginning blog and read every entry up to today. So inspiring and just enjoyable to read! I noticed all of your baskets and wondered if you would be willing to do a post telling us where you found them and how you have used them. I know you said you bought some of them at Target, but I’m not really referring to the ones on shelves for storage–more of the ones you use for flowers, on tables, and with food. I never see the quality of baskets that you have, especially the ones that almost look like trays. Boise, ID (where I live, but I’m from MS) has a PB, but I don’t see any baskets like yours there. I would really appreciate your considering this as a topic for one or more of your blog entries.
I love your warm, inviting home, and I think the baskets contribute to its charm.
Thank you! Nancy
Hi Nancy! So glad you are enjoying the posts. I don’t think there is a whole lot more to tell other than what was in the basket post. The ones you are referring to (the tray type) came from little shops here and there many years ago, and most are not even in business still. My favorite one, the one in the family room on top of the piece behind the wicker chair, came from a shop in Macon, GA that I know has long gone out of business. I think this one at Tag though may be just like it. (I spray painted ours.) . I did just order this set from someone and am waiting on it to arrive: .
Hope this helps!

Suzanne Stern - July 18, 2014 - 12:10 pm

Thanks so much for sharing the 2007 Coastal Living Idea House and the wonderful cottages at River Dunes! We were all terribly sad to hear about the fire at the Idea House – how fortunate there are so many fabulous pictures to help us remember it. For those who might want to build their own Captain’s Watch or crew cottage, the plans are available to purchase through Our Town Plans and I’d be happy to talk to anyone who is interested.

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