An Old Schoolhouse Becomes a Cozy Cottage in the Catskills

One of the great things about Pinterest is that I keep coming across beautiful houses I’ve seen in magazines over the years but had kind of forgotten about. Today’s rediscovery was this 1840s schoolhouse in the Catskills that I fell in love with when Country Living featured it.

It belongs to Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke, a magazine editor and a decorator, who bought the neglected Federal-style schoolhouse for only $30,000.

At that time it was a rental, and it was a big ol’ mess. They spent a year transforming the 900-square-foot schoolhouse into a colorful little weekend retreat they dubbed Monkey Cottage.

The stairs and railings are painted a playful spring green:

The house has no closets, but at least there are some wonderful built-in cubbies like these:

It does my heart good to see an old building like this restored and given a fresh start. (And it looks really fresh with all the yellows and greens!)

Homeowners Jason and John under the “Monkey Cottage” sign at the side door:

I would love to have a cheerful little cottage like this to retreat to on weekends, wouldn’t you? For more photos and information about the former schoolhouse, check out the article at Country Living (photos by Lucas Allen; story by Sara Bliss).

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P.S. Visit Cottages to see more of my favorites!

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  1. says

    I think I could stare at those photos for hours! Adorable outside and inside.

    By the way, if anyone has interest in English Country Manor Houses, PBS is showing Secrets of the Manor House at 8pm this Sunday night just before Downton Abbey. Set your PVRs and enjoy some big old English homes and their stories.

    Jenny Allworthy at

    • says

      P.S. Just found out that you have to “check local listings” as some PBS stations are carrying this and some are not. I hope all who are interested can see it!

  2. says

    I wish I had a side entrance that looked that good. Love love love the green, it’s the perfect shade.

  3. Barbara says

    I love this little cottage. A little less prints in the living room would be better
    for me, but it’s great.

  4. says

    You know me, Julia… I love, love, love cottages! I’ll have one some day!

    This is such a cute one! Even though I’m not crazy about green, I think it looks fun here.

    Have a Blessed Day!


    Luciane at

  5. nanne says

    i’m so glad you posted this (i’ve already repinned it)!! i, also, had totally forgotten about this house. just looking at those pics make me feel bright & cheery–thanks!

    nanne in columbus, in

  6. says

    What a beautiful cottage. I love to see historical structures lovingly renovated. There are so many historical buildings and houses in the Catskills that are in need of tender loving care, especially in Schoharie County.

  7. Jane says

    How wonderful! Love that cupboard and sideboard. And that railing is just adorable. It looks modern and old fashioned at the same time. Suppose it is the use of colors.

  8. says

    oh wow, i love everything about it!! I’m bookmarking this one, thanks for featuring it because I never saw it in Country living.

  9. says

    Isn’t that like a dream come true…. so cute! I think I need to say these photos in my dream book too!
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Rick says

    I do love this too. I would love a cottage in the back yard for overflow company or to just get away….not too far. I think it would be nice to wake up in my own back yard.

    ps. we are puppy sitting 9 week old Shih tzu for Mother-in-law while she’s in hospitol. Our 2 boys play with her but 2 girls are snobs. How’s Maizie?


    • says

      Aw, the girls won’t have anything to do with the puppy, huh? Maizie is doing really well–as she has gotten healthier and stronger she’s gotten a lot more energetic and playful. It’s wonderful to see! Thanks for asking. :-)

  11. says

    It makes me happy just to look at these pictures!
    It looks like it’s in a beautiful setting too!

  12. Jen M says

    I love this cottage, inside and out! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  13. says

    I KNOW this place!!! We lived in a big ole farmhouse in The Catskills(that, ironically, was also featured in Country Living aftr we had moved out!)…this little schoolhouse was the next town over…I used to love it!!

  14. Kim says

    What a fun school house! I think this would make a fun guest house.

  15. says

    Absolutely love the green beams and those yellow built ins. Cottages seem to be short on storage. Our little cottage was built in 1927 and we assume it was a beach house for a family living not too far inland. There is no entry closet and small walk in closets. Thank heavens for our attic!

  16. CCooper says

    I love this cottage – I tore out the pages from the magazine and still have them in my House Dreams file. That side entrance is charming (well, the whole cottage is!)

  17. Laura B. says

    These designers also have a home in NYC that was recently featured on Apartment Therapy. It’s done in much the same style of the cottage, but a word to the wise—their style is not for those who like minimalism! In fact, it merited a two-part post on AT, which is unprecedented, as far as I know..there’s just too much to see for only tour, I guess. Here’s part one:
    And Part Two:
    I could swear there was a link to an Apartment Therapy post about this cottage as well, but I don’t see it now. Maybe someone else will spot it and provide the link.

    There’s also a link to this cottage with different pictures.

  18. says

    I think the inside, while impressive and charming seems a bit cluttered. (I guess I’m a bit of a minimalist.) But I could just cry over the exterior. BEAUTIFUL!!! Thanks for giving us the fun peak!

  19. ShabbyChick says

    What a great cottage! I’m loving all that green and that super-duper cute kitchen 😉

  20. Nancy Hoffmann says

    So nicely decorated! Love the brightness and freshness of it!

  21. says

    Oh, it’s so pretty and fresh! Love all of the bright colors. Thank you for sharing. Have a grand evening. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  22. E. George says

    Hi Julia I admire people who restore old cottages and do it beautifully and this cottage is exceptional. Thank you for sharing this beauty. Regards Esther from Sydney. Have a great weekend.

  23. says

    I remember seeing this home in Country Living and it’s always been one of my most favorite homes that has ever been featured in the magazine. This home just really spoke to me and I love how they mixed lots of fresh greens and whites…really makes everything feel bright and cheerful.

  24. says

    Oh, I remember this house when it was featured in Country Living! In fact, I think I still have that issue because I can never seem to throw away a Country Living magazine. Thanks for sharing this. I’m adding your blog to my RSS feed. :)

  25. Mandy says

    Adorable! I love all of the bright fresh colors. The house has such great curb appeal too.

  26. says

    I remember this article! Amazing restoration of an american classic! I have a thing for One Room School Houses. I still have this issue somewhere. Going to have to dig it out. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  27. Laura L says

    What a beautiful house! I’m wondering what it cost to renovate it! I’d love to have something like this one day.

  28. says

    ohhhhh that is so cute! I am really getting into the Vintage style lately and this just makes me droool!!

  29. Dina says

    Hey, I know this house! This is my neighborhood. I remember when this was a stark little building (granted with “good bones”) in need of some TLC. Nothing makes the people around here happier than when a couple of guys from Manhattan move in. It tends to result in a lovingly restored or remodeled older home created by people who want to invest in the community, thus making it a better place for everyone. Thanks, guys.

  30. mauree says

    I love this little home . It is very close to my families summer lakehouse . One day while shopping for bunnies :) we turned down the wrong road and there it was. Now I drive down that road on purpose just to look at it . It is even prettier in person ! The gardens have really matured. Great job guy’s thanks for the eye candy !

  31. Beverly Palmer says

    When I saw this cottage, I knew it was a Catskill home and can almost see it located on the main street of the same town my husband attended school – many years ago. What a great cottage with good bones. I wish I could’ve bought it.

  32. says

    I adore the idea of blending a rustic style with a modern one. The best aspect of it would probably be its intensely illuminated interior (The people of sunny Austin, I envy you!) and the absolutely gorgeous yard, both contributing to a relaxed feeling even more.