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Embracing the Cottage Style

Antique lover Marin Thomson and her husband Alex embrace cottage style living and enjoy welcoming whimsical winged creatures to their quaint backyard.

By Heather Kane Kohler

Jul 2024

Family with dogs
Photo by Brandon AlmsMarin and Alex Thomson sit on their cozy front porch with dogs Rocky and Marley. Purchase Photo

417 Magazine: What made you choose to embrace cottage style in your Springfield home?
Marin Thomson:
One thing I love about cottage style homes is they always feel cozy to me, and that is a feeling I always want our home to have. I love watching older Nancy Meyers movies, and I always notice the lived-in nature of the homes in those movies. There are many elements to the way she decorates that I love and try to imitate.

417: If you could describe your style in four words, what would they be?
Cottage, French, vintage and cozy.

417: What types of things do you collect and display in your home?
My vintage mirror collection is arguably my favorite—the more distressed the better! I also collect Napco lady head vases; they are one of my favorite things to find when I am antiquing because many people have never seen them before. One very personal collection would be old black and white photos of my and my husband’s family. My latest love is purple transferware. It is a little difficult to come by in the specific purple I like but I am enjoying the challenge of looking for it, which is really half the fun.

417: Where did you get an appreciation for styling and vintage?
My mom is definitely my biggest influence for styling, which she is very talented at. My entire life she has decorated with vintage décor and various collections. I also grew up watching movies like Where the Boys Are, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Gidget Goes Hawaiian. I absolutely loved the clothes, the hair, the décor and all the vintage things. My mom has helped me find my style as it has changed over the years, and decorating is always something that we enjoy doing together.

Dining room
Photos by Brandon AlmsThe dining room is what initially drew Marin to the house. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsA piece in Marin’s collection of Napco lady head vases—one of the many things she collects. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsA tribute to their heritage sits on the table in their dining room. Purchase Photo

417: What are some of your favorite family heirlooms you have in your home?
My grandma purchased a breakaway armoire, which is now in my office, in 1960 or so and she has had it since. I was lucky enough to receive it from her when she downsized a couple years ago. Perhaps my coolest heirloom is a set of jadeite salt and pepper shakers that belonged to my grandma’s great grandmother, Betsy Baker. She ended up living to be 113 years old and was the oldest person in the world at the time of her death, as well as the second-oldest person ever at the time. 

417: You’re in the process of a kitchen remodel. What was your vision for the new space?
I wanted it to feel very neutral, much like the rest of the finishes in our home. The quartzite slabs we chose are a pretty, neutral color with tons of sparkle that I am very excited about. Overall, I am looking forward to the overall look being a bit more dramatic, which will match the style of the rest of our house a little better.

417: I love the little structure you have in your backyard. Can you explain what it is and how you use it?
I think it is technically a greenhouse made of old windows and other scrap material. The upper windows can be removed to access the upper part and the front and back doors are on hinges for easy access. I found it at The Vintage Peddler and had to have it. Like many things at our house, I do not use it for anything other than something pretty and interesting to look at. I have fairy lights on the roof that are solar powered, so it is lit with cute little string lights at night. I like to add old concrete statues and other structural things to the garden, so this was a fun addition to the yard.

417: How do you make your yard a good habitat for birds and butterflies?
 We added a bird house specifically for Eastern bluebirds and each year since they have raised one to three broods. I absolutely love seeing the fledglings come to the feeder outside my office window once they are big enough to fly. I also planted milkweed for the first time in 2020 after learning of the declining monarch population and had my first experience with monarch caterpillars and butterflies. Last year was rough without much success but the year before I counted nearly 20 that enclosed in the backyard. They are very good at hiding when they form their chrysalis so to be able to see so many was really incredible.

417: What’s your favorite space in your home and why?
It is probably the dining room, one of the least used rooms in the house. It just lends itself to being decorated so well and I love changing things up in there. The chandelier is one of the things that drew me to the house when we were looking at homes; it is really the star of the show. I love the texture of the wainscoting on the walls and the huge arched window.