Tour a Charming 1,600-Square-Foot Cottage in Rocky River, Ohio

This Rocky River, Ohio, cottage featured in HGTV Magazine is the perfect size for two — and a good party.

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February 19, 2020

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

The Family

One of Laureen and Ron Nowakowski’s goals for retirement was to entertain more. “We love having friends and family over for dinner,” says Laureen. The couple had been living in New Jersey and decided to move back to Ohio, where they’re from. But the cute little cottage they had their eyes on in Rocky River was, well, a little cottage. Laureen remembers telling her book club that there wouldn’t be room to fit many guests in their new dining room. “They assured me I could do buffets,” she says. Here, Laureen and Ron sit in the cottage's sunroom.

The Home

Ultimately, the house’s architectural charms won her and Ron over. They worked with designer Ashleigh Clark to maximize space, reno the kitchen, and refresh rooms with paint, wallpaper and new furniture in punchy blues and yellows. Laureen was quick to tally up the hosting possibilities: “There are 27 places to sit!” she says. And she’s happiest when they’re all filled up.

Living Room

Two distinct hangout areas make the room seem more expansive and welcoming. Ashleigh had the built-in painted blue (Oceanside by Sherwin-Williams) to help define the dining area, which has a table and chairs from Zuo. She grounded the other side of the room with a sunny Surya rug. A sofa with a chaise means extra seating; it’s from Joybird. “And there’s plenty of room for me and Ron to stretch out,” says Laureen. The petite coffee table with a big personality is by Bungalow 5.

Dining Room

Wallpaper on a ceiling is just the right amount to jazz up a small room. (This one’s by Schumacher.) The Nowakowskis’ traditional table and buffet look fresh teamed with modern chairs from Homesense, a vibrant Surya rug, and a cool pendant by Stray Dog Designs. Adding a pass-through to the kitchen brought light to both rooms.


“At first I worried I wouldn’t have enough cupboard or counter space,” says Laureen. But every inch got put to use with features like corner shelves for cookbooks and a trash bin that pulls out from the island. Counter stools by Woodbridge painted yellow pop against the blue, and the graphic vinyl floor tiles are by Mirth Studio.

Master Bedroom

A soft blue on the walls (Copen Blue by Sherwin-Williams) maxes out airiness. Another hero of small bedrooms everywhere: narrow-ish nightstands, like the 18-inch kind from West Elm here. “We thought about building a larger closet, then decided we like being more minimalist,” says Laureen. The cheerful quilt is from Walmart.


The couple can often be found reading in the his-and-her chairs, feet up on the ottoman (all from CR Laine). Yet the room is also a handy escape: “I love Ron, but we don’t always want to be on top of each other!” says Laureen. That pretty natural-wood ceiling was already there.

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