We even “drove” by it on Google Earth, but nothing prepared me for the instant attraction I had when I walked in the front door. It’s a darling little house, perfectly decorated with eclectic French country elements. The home, built in the 1980s, is a replica of an 1867 cottage and was first named La Petite Maison in 1888. The simple design represents an almost forgotten glimpse of the past.
I love the postage-size kitchen. The copper sink sits under a window and is the center of a horseshoe butcher-block countertop. There are no cabinets or drawers but utensils are stored in pitchers and vases, an eclectic collection of dishes and glassware sit stacked on shelves, and pots hang from hooks. Dried flowers hang from an herb rack in the corner over a microwave. A small front-loading washing machine as well as an even smaller refrigerator rest under the counter. Baskets hold dish towels and cleaning supplies. The gas stove is fueled by a propane tank under the counter. The kind you would usually find with a gas barbeque. There are plenty of shelves to store food, although we can’t all reach the ones at the top. All three of us may be able to fit in this kitchen at the same time, but actually preparing a meal is a one-woman show, or a one-man show when it’s John’s turn to cook.
Lined up along the back wall of the cottage are three French doors that open outdoors to a handkerchief-sized courtyard. It’s more of a private patio oasis. An L-shaped planter box fills up the corner containing long-stem hydrangeas, camellia, magnolia, ivy, and something with a purple flower that we don’t recognize. Various copper-colored, clay containers are scattered around on the hexagonal pavers. They grow herbs, small flowers, roses and fuchsia. We often sit around the small table with our morning coffee. Maryann enjoys sitting out there soaking up the warm afternoon sun while knitting. We all agree, it’s our favorite place to be surrounded by plants that seclude us from the world around us.
Only moments after walking into the lilac cottage did I comment that I felt as if I was walking through the pages of a country living magazine. Annette Hollis, the owner and decorator was quoted in the December 2011 New Zealand Home and Garden article saying she feels most comfortable in a shabby-chic French style. Black and white furniture surround an also black and white cowhide area rug in the living room, and dusty rose silk curtains accent the leaded-glass windows that were crafted by a previous artist-owner of the home. The sofa is an antique daybed and the only bedroom is separated with an ivory gauze curtain. Oversized vases with silk and dried flower arrangements are place throughout the cottage so on our first walk around town, I picked daisies to place in a small vase on the dining table. Every inch of this cottage is darling.
We have spent a full week in La Petite Maison already, and it truly feels as if we live the simple life. It’s a slice of heaven and oh, so very New Zealand.