Interiorssneak peeks

Built in the 1830s, a Designer’s Cozy & Curated Cottage

by Garrett Fleming

As a boy, Barry Jordan – the mastermind behind William and Edward Mercantile – loved to draw and paint. Being creative simply came naturally to him. Another passion did as well: farming. The family plot in Northumberland, England where he grew up had his heart, and it was in his blood to be outside working on projects, making the most of the day. There came a time, though, when Barry had to choose between art and farming. It was bittersweet, but as he came of age he left the farm to study and work in fashion design in London and then New York City, two places that couldn’t be more different from where he grew up.

After years of living and working in Manhattan, however, Barry grew restless and began to long for the simpler lifestyle he once had back in England. He needed to get back to farming and the connection with nature that he remembered from his childhood. All in all, he was very homesick. To help with this, he went out and bought himself a fixer-upper cottage in quiet Dutchess County, NY. The 1830s-era cottage had been in the previous owner’s family for 150 years when Barry took it over, and the work it needed was a little intimidating. But Barry wanted a project, and since buying it he’s turned the space into a rustic, warm retreat for himself and his friends.

Barry did the majority of the work solo — yes, solo. It was a labor love and one that he enjoyed every second of. “The overall feeling as I started stripping the house back [was that] it was guiding me, and it cooperated with each turn,” he explains. No matter the undertaking, the house just worked out. The original beams he uncovered after a ceiling renovation were stunning, a second bathroom’s necessary location just happened to align with the original plumbing, and the list goes on.

On a roll, Barry then went about decking the halls and filling the cottage with hearty antiquities and sentimental decorations. White china tossed messily in an open cupboard and a draping Union Jack give the space Victorian charm while also reminding him of home. They are joined not only by flea market finds, but the lucky Craigslist gem, too. Clearly it doesn’t matter to Barry where his home’s decor came from. Barry says the key to achieving his decorating style is instead “… to find pieces that were once loved, need a new home and have a sense of time about them.” Click through to see all he’s collected and all of the fabulous work he’s done bringing a bit of England to NY for himself. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Barry Jordan

Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
Barry says the cottage's ground floor is like the seasons, and the living room undoubtedly embodies winter with its cozy vibe, inviting furniture and exposed beams. The beams were a late-night discovery and one of the first, original details the home revealed to him. "The very night of the closing -- half delirious and terrified after [a] 5am blizzard -- I started to rip out the ceiling in the living room and there it was: all-oak beams and peg construction details. I almost felt the house sigh with relief," Barry says.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
Barry grew up on a farm north of England but has lived in New York for over a decade. While he loves the excitement of Manhattan, he oftentimes longs for a quieter retreat. His current farmhouse in Dutchess County, NY sure does the trick. He's not too proud to admit that in taking on the fixer-upper he was giving himself a taste of back home, hoping to ease a sense of homesickness.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
Late at night -- when Barry gets most of his best work done -- he began stripping his white fireplace with a blow torch hoping to get it back to its original glory. He was ecstatic to find this "black gem" underneath. Now that the fireplace is back in working order, "there's nothing better than sitting in this room with the fire going and relaxing."
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
A Union Jack -- a nod to Barry's heritage -- gives the living room's workspace that British farmhouse charm he loves. This spot isn't only invitingly decorated. It also gets the best light on Sunday evenings, making it the perfect place to unwind.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
Before electricity, many homes were built facing south so they would catch as much light as possible. Barry's home is no exception, and because of this he seasonally describes the dining room as summertime. With seven doors leading off of it, it truly is the heart of the home and has played host to many a gathering. At these feasts, friends and family sit and enjoy time together on mismatched chairs. Barry would love a matching dining set, but when he's out antiquing he simply cannot resist picking up "lonely chairs" without a mate.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
The kitchen island Barry found on Craigslist. Parked in the back of a barn, he had to move cows out of the way to get it out. Barry's collection of china -- some of which dates back to the early 1800s -- sits on shelving in contrast to the rich backsplash tile brought back from Vietnam beneath it.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
Guests often ask Barry what he plans to do with the kitchen's ceiling. His reply: "nothing." He loves the exposed, original lath. More of his china collection sits in a cabinet, haphazardly arranged in a nod to Victorian kitchens and their open shelves full of toppling dishes.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
Barry understands why some have an aversion to antlers and taxidermy, but when he sees them at antique stores or flea markets he feels bad for the lonely creatures and has to give them a home. He displays his collection here in the upstairs hallway, giving it a dramatic touch. Now, no one simply paces through on their way somewhere else. They have something visually striking to take in as they walk by. The banisters are original.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
The "Queen's Room" is aptly named for the eye-catching, antique bed frame Barry was leant by a friend. The wallpaper behind it was installed to specifically make it sing.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
The cottage only had one bathroom when Barry bought it, so he "... ran the plumbing straight up into [one of the bedrooms] and installed the shower, sink and toilet." Brass finishes and a streamlined shower screen give this one the "gentlemen's smoking room" vibe Barry hoped for.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
Barry's bedroom is painted in Behr "Perfect Taupe," which he says lives up to its name. As the day goes on, it wonderfully takes on a more brown tone. The room's choicely decorated with antiques, including a handsome desk that Barry adores. "It has this great secret compartment for a bottle of booze," he says.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
The 1800s-era home definitely had some quirks thanks to various renovations through its history. Barry loves to display that history whenever he can. One example is these double doors. You can just see a peek of the second one behind Barry's vintage dresser. They both lead to the same place so he painted the second to match the walls.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
This area sits in what was -- before Barry stepped in -- a small room near the original bathroom, but now the two rooms have been combined. The new space got a major upgrade thanks to some stellar discounted finds. For starters, a $50 Craigslist sink! With such a unique look, Barry let it set the tone for the entire room. It inspired him to surround it with a pot brought back from Thailand and more lonely animals to which he's given a home.
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
"My home is my sanctuary. It's my indulgence, a place to feel creative & the best space to share with friends." -- Barry Jordan
Built in the 1830s, a Designer's Cozy & Curated Cottage, Design*Sponge
The cottage's original bits were completed the 1830s. A second addition was completed in the 1890s.

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  • What a good eye. Love the windows in the shower and the bed with all the turned wood…so much character here. And I, too, have a certain love for a nice set of antlers. : )

  • This is by far one of the most amazing homes featured on DesignSponge this year! I love how you kept the spirit of the home in each room, and the bathroom shower stall is amazing!

  • Oh wow… this place feels like home. It really does remind me of the farmhouse I grew up in, which my parents still keep. As a teenager I used to be disappointed that the house had no fancy trim, but now I value it for what it is: utilitarian, practical, and beautiful in its own modest way. I love how this man has respected the history of his home, and yet made it his own. It’s gorgeous!

    • Hi Allison the wallpaper is from Anthropologie, a pain to put up and i would go a different route next time, with rebel walls as they will print to size which works out better in the long run! good luck

  • WOW …Truly a unique and stylish home and the fact that he did most of the work alone is awe inspiring.
    I am in need of some design advise for my new upstate hideaway & will be contacting him immediately….hopefully he is open to the idea of design consultation because I need this level of style and attention to detail in my home. Thanks for sharing this with us. Wonderful!!

  • ::Swoon:: So nice seeing such an authentic point of view. I could go through these pics 10 times and find new things to appreciate every time. The sheer amount of hours that it must have taken to get this place to where it is deserves an ovation.

  • I love how there are few “new” things in this lovely home. The palette and textures are gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • A beautiful cottage with heart. Though it looks small, you can still feel the comfort and coziness of the place. The window is superb as well. A perfect place for those who want to be away from stress and problems.

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