Designer, Mary Carol Garrity Has A New Cottage Home!

Are you as big a Mary Carol Garrity fan as I am? If so, I have some really big news. You may have already heard but Mary Carol Garrity has moved! Yep, she has moved from her beautiful, Atchison, Kansas home featured so often in her books, the same home she has graciously opened up for tours over the years. Mary Carol and her husband, Dan, have decided it’s the perfect time in their life to downsize to a more casual lifestyle.

Mary Carol Garrity's Atchison Home

Picture from book “Nell Hill’s O Christmas Tree”


I’m sure this wasn’t an easy decision, nor a hasty one. Downsizing can be so hard to do, especially when a home holds so many special memories. I’ve often heard owners of historic homes say that they don’t really consider themselves the owners of an old home, but instead feel more like stewards who are protecting and saving the home for future generations to enjoy as much as they have. Mary Carol certainly has done that for her historic home.

So where did Mary Carol move?

Mary Carol Garrity's Atchison Home

Picture from book “Nell Hill’s O Christmas Tree”


She and her husband, Dan, have moved into an absolutely adorable lake cottage that they just finished renovating. The location of the cottage played a big role in their decision since Mary Carol wanted to shorten her daily commute to her Nell Hill’s store in Briarcliff.

I loved everything about how Mary Carol decorated her Atchison home so I couldn’t wait to see how she designed her lake home. It does not disappoint! From her description, it sounds like they removed an interior wall or two, as well as opened up the ceiling to create this beautiful living room. I love the ceiling with its exposed beams. Notice all the little cubby holes for books above the windows! This house has so much personality! I wonder if she’s leaving the doors natural or if they will be painted, too?



Look at that wonderful rock/stone fireplace! As we tour this beautiful cottage, you’ll notice lots and lots of bookshelves. One of Dan’s requests during the renovation process was plenty of built-in bookshelves to house his beloved books. I can so identify with that. When the day comes that I downsize and move, I won’t be able to part with my books. Or, my dishes. 🙂

Do you recognize the furniture? Mary Carol used her existing furniture for this lake home and had it recovered in a more casual, ticking fabric. It feels right at home in this cozy cottage.



Downsizing is both terrifying and exhilarating. It’s so hard to go through the treasures we’ve accumulated over the years and make the tough decisions what we’ll keep and what we’ll let go, but it can be so exciting to begin a new chapter and create a home that better suits the way you want to live today.

In Mary Carol’s post about her new home, she mentioned she wanted to go with a casual, less formal look for her lake home. Mary Carol said, “My goal for this cozy cocoon was for it to feel relaxed and casual, like an 80-year-old family home that had been cherished by multiple generations, the scene of lots of love and memories.”

Mary Carol went with lighter-stained wood floors and brass picture lights (used as books lights in this case) above the bookshelves. She managed to sneak in a touch of plaid via the footstool. Every room needs just a little bit of plaid. Or, maybe a lot.

Mary Carol has an amazing eye for scale and balance. Looking at the beautiful chest in this room, notice how the wine holder on the left balances so nicely with the height of the lamp on the right. That “vignette” would not look right if those objects were the exact same height or if she had chosen a really low piece for the left side. Mary Carol knows just how to strike the perfect balance that’s so pleasing to the eye.

Mary Carol Garrity Moved To A Cottage on the Lake


We get a better view of the bookcase lighting in this photo. What a great floor lamp! Makes me so happy to see designers embracing brass again, especially in their own homes. Notice how Mary Carol uses both silver and brass in her rooms, so much more interesting than if she had stuck to only one metal/finish.



As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about downsizing myself. I blogged about my dream cottage in this post: My Dream Home. I was so amazed as I was reading Mary Carol’s philosophy and ideas about downsizing because they aligned so closely to the thoughts I’ve been having over the last few years.

As I was emptying the dishwasher the other day, I was thinking about some of the reasons it’s so hard for me to get serious about moving. One thing that’s hard is leaving behind some of the features I love about my current home, like the “library” feel of the living room with it’s warm, judge’s paneling or the dormer windows and window seats in my upstairs living room/bonus roomLiving in a smaller home doesn’t scare me; I welcome that. What does scare me is living in a home lacking personality.

I would love a cottage with hardwood floors, deep moldings, solid wood doors, lots of built-in bookshelves, bedrooms with dormer windows and window seats, slanted ceilings and hopefully original, true divided-light windows. One of the joys and advantages of downsizing is when a home is smaller, you can really make it special and include or add features you love without breaking the bank.

Mary Carol included so many special features in her lake home when she renovated it, like these wonderful built-ins and sweet window seat overlooking the lake.

Mary Carol Garrity's Lake House Dining Room


Notice the built-in storage underneath. Mary Carol made sure to use all available space for extra storage.

Window Seat in Mary Carol Garrity's Lake Home


So many things to love in her new kitchen: lighting, subway tile, glass-front cabinets, white knobs that disappear/blend in with the cabinets, wood countertops, hidden refrigerator and the mix of white cabinetry with stained. I wonder if that’s marble on the stained cabinet/island…I bet it is. You can get every single thing you want in the way of surfaces and features in a smaller kitchen, there’s just less of it. Less to keep up and less to clean!

Mary Carol Garrity's Kitchen in her newly renovated cottage bungalow home


I notice Mary Carol held onto to her silver dome lids. I’m so glad…I love those!



The kitchen even has a little bar area for entertaining. This would also make a great coffee/hot chocolate station, wouldn’t it?



If I ever get up the nerve to downsize (insert cackling chicken sounds here) Mary Carol’s kitchen will definitely be an inspiration for my cottage kitchen. The only thing I would do differently is I think I’d prefer white grout between the subway tiles instead of the darker grout. I like it both ways but think I’d prefer less contrast between the tile and the grout. I reserve the right to change my mind on that. 🙂

Mary Carol Garrity's Cottage Kitchen With Wood Countertops and Subway Tile


If I ever make the move and go for that cottage home, I have a feeling I will need to buy a fixer-upper and make it my own with a similar renovation. Would you follow along on that adventure? I might need a little hand-holding along the way! 😉

See more of Mary Carol’s wonderful cottage lake home and read her 5 tips for downsizing in style at her blog here where these pictures were found: Style At Home

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  1. Very inviting! I could spend days and days leafing through that library…

  2. Believe I mentioned that “one of the highlights” of our summer reunion in Kansas City was GOING TO HER STORE AND MEETING HER!! Honestly, she is as beautiful and nice and helpful and TALENTED as her store and books and homes reveal. We commiserated when I told her we had just SOLD our HOME of 43 years (English Tudor) and moved to a log cabin that my husband built 30 years ago. Her advice…spot on…make it your own and you WILL BE happy. I’m working on it. Her store was absolutely INCREDIBLE!! Maybe…one day…we will commiserate should you downsize!! 🙂 franki

    • Franki, I would love to do that (visit her store) I love what I see online in her blog posts. Did you buy anything the day you visited? That was good advice! It just takes time, doesn’t it…to get a house the way you want it. It must be easier in a smaller home though, than in a larger one.

  3. Utterly in love with this charmer, and I Pinned practically every photo, Susan! As a devotee of subway tiles, I am in agreement with you on the dark caulking; we’ve been seeing a lot of this, but I think it’s going to look dated quickly, and you’re right that a light caulk provides that clean, fresh surface that makes these tiles so enduringly popular.

  4. I’d love to follow your downsizing adventure when it happens. We did just that this past year. Although I started a blog about it, I haven’t written much yet, but plan to now that we have a reliable internet connection.

    • Thanks, Patty! I’m trying to prepare myself mentally and going through donating stuff each week. That’s great that you’re documenting it in your blog. You’ll enjoy reading back through it later, I’m sure.

  5. I would so follow your every move if you decide to refurbish an old cottage. I enjoy reading all your blogs and your many ideas. My taste is so similar to yours. I just have a smaller home than you.

  6. oh you betcha! I would follow that move with great interest. Love you home now, and think your cottage would have to have a wonderful porch.

  7. Three years ago when my daughter lived in Missouri, I managed to sneak in a trip to Mary Carol’s Briarcliff store — at Christmastime! What a fun memory you’ve brought back today. I didn’t know she had moved, but I totally understand the desire to downsize, and we’re continuing down that road here as well. As soon as our beautiful historic home sells, we’ll be turning our thoughts to building a farmhouse on 10 acres just outside of town. I can hardly wait! There are some great ideas in this post. Thanks — and Happy New Year to you, Susan!

    • Oh, I bet it was so much fun, especially at Christmastime! That’s wonderful, Susan! I bet your are pinning ideas like crazy. Do you already have a plan? So exciting!

      • A plan? Ha! I’ve finally (I think) narrowed thousands of plans down to 2 or 3, but they all require a few tweaks. Even with a degree in interior design, I’m realizing that it’s much easier for me to remodel/renovate a home than it is to start from scratch. Building will be a whole new experience and not without a little trepidation. Hopefully when the time comes, I’ll be up for it!

  8. I love this cottage, and would love to see the exterior too. The only qualms I have about downsizing are that I still want some sort of garden opportunity (smaller), I want storage, and I want good location (maybe tear my existing house down? – insert cackling chicken sounds here). We have a big house, but don’t use our attic at all, and some (me) would argue we don’t use much of our huge basement (husband argues otherwise). With my personal push for purge in 2014, I may be creating my own self-fulfilling prophecy, but after just filling a dozen 31 gal totes + with Christmas stuff, it’s probably further away than I think. And all those dishes….maybe we can hold each other’s hands? Thanks for sharing this one. Happy New Year, Susan!

    • I know, that’s why I don’t think I would want to live in a cluster home community…I still want an area to grow a few veggies, something I can’t do her due to all the shade in my backyard. lol Rita, I forgot to mention it in the post but the two things Mary Carol said she wouldn’t downsize on or give up to move was all her art and her dishes. She’s a kindred spirit! 🙂

  9. Linda S. in NE says

    Would I hold your hand if you decided to go on a down-sizing journey? Of course I would. I would even look forward to it as I have considered doing the same myself. Even with my ranch style home, the thought is overwhelming, thus nothing gets done about it, except in my head!! Maybe you could give me that gentle push over the cliff, after you get serious yourself. Thanks for today’s tour. I could see myself padding around that home in my stocking feet,…stopping to read a book in one room, before moving on to the next. Happy New Year.

  10. My most favorite tour–it is so me. So smart to start purging a little each week. A productive step for me is to have a “maybe” pile. Sometimes I just can’t let go, and this provides a nice transition. Usually most of that pile gets donated after all. And I can’t part with your book collection either 😉 Will be with you all the way on your downsizing journey. Holding your hand, pushing you, pulling you–whatever it takes to get you where you want to go.

  11. Susan, what a great post! I totally agree with Franki. Mary Carol is as sweet and charming as can be. In that Kansas City is my home, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at both her Atchison and Briarcliff stores. The latest being the day after Christmas, checking out the after Christmas sales with my daughter.

  12. I good friend moved in the fall, and I helped her to get rid of things, donate and give to her kids. WHAT A JOB! It scared me straight. My goal this year is to clean these attics out, and donate what I am not using or is no longer my style. Although, my style changes on occasion which makes it hard to let go of some things, but I have to get this stuff out of my house.

    I hope to see more of Mary Carol’s new home and really enjoyed your post!

  13. My Joe says, “we flunked downsizing”. Howver, as the square footage of this house is the same or a little more there is alot that is smaller and that is LACK OF CLOSET SPACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh how it makes me CRAZY!!! I love our new house but the closet situation is bad. I would definitely floow you on your journey AND hold your hand!!! XO

  14. LOVED her historic home and LOVE her new cottage too!! Thanks for the tour Susan!

  15. believe me, the darker grout is the way to go. The lighter grout gets dirty and is very hard to clean. Been an interior designer for 25 plus years. Dark is better in this case. I love your blog.

    • Thanks, Connie! I have lighter grout in my current kitchen and since it’s just me cooking in there, it’s still looks good. If I had children here cooking and mixing stuff up, I bet I’d see some stains. I think I read that it can be sealed…do you know if that’s possible? I just love the look of the white grout…not wild about the contrast of the darker grout. Seems like someone would have created a sealant to prevent spots/stains for that.

  16. Susan, We downsized seven months ago and have been working on adding character to our new home. I agree with you about living in a home without personality.

  17. Hi Susan, thank you for sharing this lovely tour! I love both of her homes, old and new! Sigh! Having lost my job this past November and wondering who will hire me at my age, I have spent many sad days feeling sorry for me! But making the very best of it. Had to wish you a Happy New Year! I am catching me because I have not visited lots of blogs lately and plan to until I can find some decent work. Always wonderful to see you here and wish you well. Have a terrific weekend.

    • Anne, I’m sorry to hear that and what a bad time to have it happen just before the holidays. I hope something really awesome comes your way soon! 2015 is going to be a better year!

  18. Oh I so love Mary Carol’s style, her home, her books, everything…and I did hear that she was downsizing and she certainly has done so, so elegantly…I subscribe to her blog and I need to catch up with her posts…I am with you Susan…When we downsize, I want a home with lots of charm and character…trimmed to the max inside with lots of architectural details…and a Charlestonesque courtyard/patio….with a long wish list, it looks like we will have to build it…:) thanks for Mary’s Carol’s cottage tour!…I am hoping she will create a book on her new lake home!

  19. Sandra Speer says

    One advantage to being “mature”, shall we call it, is that you’ve been there and done that, so yes, I’ve downsized…and I’ve up sized…and I’ve downsized…so my suggestion is to stop worrying about getting rid of stuff. Just take what you have that fits the space you plan to occupy. If a piece of furniture is too large for the room, you’ll always mumble in your cocoa…just put it aside for now. Take all your toys and put them where you will be able to reach out and touch them on a daily basis in the new space, and once the room(s) are warm and fuzzy, it’s done…period. Any remaining items, be it furniture or accessories can then be dispersed in any number of ways. Some very creative photography can keep your excess items with you forever, without them being a weighty problem…photograph and make a book…or frame individual prints If you can’t bear to sell them and never see them again, try donating them to a local public place…like a library, where you can always go visit them. There are museums that would love to have quality items on loan… It’s all just “toys”…there is very little that we truly “need”, so just play and have a good time, is my motto!

    • Rebecca Earnhardt says

      Sandra, this is SUCH good advice! Taking what you LOVE is a lot different than getting rid of things. I’ve been agonizing over the thought of downsizing but this really helps. Thank you!
      Mary Carol, I appreciate your sharing your beautiful cottage, despite what other’s tastes are. You give such great insight and the pictures are a delight to the eyes. Thank you! Keep up the good blogs!

  20. I’d sure follow along if you got up enough nerve to downsize! I don’t think we are ready to do that. Although we are retired, we need this home of ours to help keep us busy and active! Yes it’s work…but it’s good to stay active, and there’s always plenty to do! There are always repairs, improvements to make, and yard work! I love Mary Carol’s lakeside cottage…it’s perfect! Think she’ll do a book about this home? Or, did she already? 😉

  21. I was not aware that Mary Carol had moved. I’ve been to her Atchison stores and also the one at Briarcliff. I’ve talked with her several times. I was just dying to know where her little cottage is located. My investigator background came in handy! I spent the last hour trying to track her down. I narrowed the location of her new home to within just a couple of blocks. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll look for it. It’s really convenient to her store. SO nice that she won’t have to spend so much time commuting.

  22. Oh, Susan, not only will I hold your hand, but will walk beside you……carrying bundles of dishes and books on my back!!!! You can do this girl!!!

    On a previous post you showed us lovely homes and cottages near your son’s location….you will find the perfect spot and then make it your own, I know you……you can do this girl!!!

    Happy New Year to you………xoxoxo

  23. bobbi duncan says

    Hi, Susan. Haven’t commented for awhile because of the busy time of year, but I never miss reading your wonderful blog. So enjoyed looking at Mary Carol’s lake home pics, and can so relate. I love her blog, and she seems very sweet from the time I spoke with her when ordering from her shop. I have lived in a home slightly over 7,800 sq. ft. (OMG, so much to care for!!!), now have a home over 2,400 sq. ft., and still feel we could go smaller. I do love that we have a lot of closet space here, including several big walk-ins and a basement that I wouldn’t want to eliminate because I like our things to be stored neatly whereby we’re not breaking our necks to locate items. If we move again it will be to a one level cottage plan that we fell in love with, but with additional closet space incorporated into the plan. I had to donate, give away, and sell many, many things as the years have gone by and, at first, missed some things simply because they were like old friends to me, but you get over it. Keep the things that you love the most, and you can always add a few new pieces which makes giving up the old ones more bearable, and even fun. Even when we moved into this house we had to let go of things that just didn’t hit the mark here the way they did in our previous home. After trying and trying to make those pieces fit we finally had to accept that we were better off buying some new pieces and, guess what, we like them better than the ones we had! I think we get so used to seeing things arranged the same way for so long that we feel nothing else will look as nice. I am glad to see brass and mixed metals making a comeback. I agree with you that it is classic and timeless. I, too, have several Baldwin and Virginia Metalcrafters pieces that I love as much as the day I got them. When I lived in Williamsburg and Yorktown, VA. it was the choice for any elegant home. Personally, I never let fads effect what I like in my own home as I’m the one who has to live with it every day; if it makes us feel good than so be it. I know so many folks who buy only what they feel will sell their homes one day instead of what they really like. Our homes always sold quickly, so I’ve never understood that train of thought.

    • I was thinking that probably after a while, you don’t really miss the things you give away, when you downsize. I do sometimes hear from readers who lament parting with dish sets or other items, but that’s pretty rare, I think. Yesterday as I was donating some things, I thought if I really miss or need something later on that I’ve donated, I can probably find another one and buy it again, if it’s really that important. You are so right about when you move to a new home, sometimes things just don’t work like they did in the old house, anyway. Thanks, Bobbi!

  24. Rattlebridge Farm says

    No, I didn’t know that MCG had moved. I love her lakeside cottage (and I am second-guessing my window choice–four vs eight dividers/muntins(?) ). Love her bookcases, the touches of brass, and her inimitable style with vignettes. So warm, pretty, and welcoming!
    And YES, I’d follow your adventures anywhere. Hope you had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all the best in 2015. xxoo

  25. I’m going through the same thinking of downsizing exercise. It is frightening. Just a thought on the grout color. Unless you really like to clean and scrub forget the white grout in the kitchen. I actually would think of black after watching “Fixer Upper” on HGTV. The contrast is gorgeous. Thanks for the great tour and a new blog to love. I don’t know what I would do without yours.

    • Thanks so much LoisAnn! You are a sweetheart and appreciate that! You’ll love reading Mary Carol’s blog…she always shares such great advice and tips.

  26. Gee whiz! What a wonderful way to downsize! To the average person, this “downsizing” looks like heaven!!! I’m glad she and her husband were able to take the leap. I can only imagine how difficult it had to be. Getting a gorgeous new home with lots of fabulous features has to take a bit of the sting out of it, though! 🙂 I would kill or die for that living room alone!!!

    If you ever decide to downsize, I’ll be with you all the way! It would be fun to live vicariously through your adventures!

    • Thanks, Alycia! I appreciate that! One day, I’m ready…the next day I chicken out. I keep waffling back and forth. I still need to renovate some bathrooms before I even think of selling, though. I really do love how she made the home her own and managed to fit in so many special touches.

  27. I love love the wood counter tops and the upholstery fabric. I really love everything in her new home! Downsizing is in my future plans, however, I have no idea where I want to downsize to! I guess time and events will lead me in the right direction. I know I will want a den or study filled with comfy chairs and book lined walls instead of my very seldom used dining room. And definitely will need a large storage area for all my dishes and glasses. There are just some things you can’t leave behind even when you go smaller.

  28. Love the stone fireplace and that kitchen too. I am very happy to see that when they downsized they kept their books. Also happy to see that brass and nickel can coexist. I always thought the two metals could live happily together but the design world is all about change and encouraging us to toss aside and then re-buy.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  29. I love cottages! Thank you for these lovely posts.

  30. Susan, I recently “met” the sweetest woman on eBay who had just completed a move from Atlanta to Marietta. She said she wanted to downsize and get away from all the traffic. She commented that she couldn’t believe she had never known about this wonderful place before. Are you familiar with Marietta? Is it as nice as she says?

  31. Rebecca Earnhardt says

    What a great post about downsizing. WONDERFUL insights! Thank you so much for your wonderful pictures and blog. Enjoy it immensely!

  32. Hello,
    I read about Mary Carol in an April 18, 2018 supplement to our local paper the Recorder (in Greenfield, Massachusetts).
    In a picture (in article regarding how to decorate above your kitchen stove) she shows an oil painting done by “my great aunt”. I want to tell you that if you care anything about an oil painting you would not subject it to the moisture and heat that is normal above a cook stove.
    Yours truly,
    Nancy Dole
    Shelburne Falls, MA

  33. Mary Lou Atencio says

    Susan, If you’re parting with your white feather tree, please, please let me know. Thank you!

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