Artist Lark Upson’s Arts & Crafts-Style Cottage in Vermont

by hookedonhouses on April 8, 2014

Vermont Cottage in Better Homes and GardensShortly after I got married, my mother-in-law gave me a gift subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, and she’s been renewing it for me every year since (thanks, Norma!). That means that when the September 1998 issue came out, I probably saw (and loved) the feature about the artist and furniture maker Lark Upson’s “Storybook Cottage” in Vermont…

Lark Upson's Vermont Cottage in Better Homes and Gardens 1998

When Realtor Lisa Grady told me Lark is selling the cottage that she designed herself in Marshfield, I was excited to take a look at both the original article about it in BH&G and the house today.

Cottage for Sale in Vermont featured BHG (3)

Lark told Yankee Magazine“The cottage was my ‘poor man’s tribute’ to both Edwin Lutyens [Britain's premier Arts and Crafts architect] and his frequent collaborator, Gertrude Jekyll [the famous 19th- and early-20th-century garden designer].”

garden path Vermont house for sale

She and her husband Jack were married here at the house shortly after building it.

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (13)

The listing says, “Tucked into 42+ acres with mountain views, buyers seeking a year-round retreat will delight to snowshoe or cross country ski on adjoining trails, walk along the scenic country road, or seek solace and creative inspiration in the surrounding beauty. Easily tended gardens of peonies, crabapples, perennials and flowering shrubs.”

Marshfield Vermont cottage front door

“Inspired by English Arts & Crafts design and featured in national decorating and lifestyle magazines, this home is a delightful combination of soaring spaces, cozy nooks, grace and architectural impact.”

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (9)

Here’s a scan from the Better Homes and Gardens feature, with the headline “Handmade in Vermont.”

Lark Upson's Handmade Cottage in BHG spread

The living room looks warm and cozy with the brick fireplace and natural wood.

Lark Upson's Storybook Cottage in BHG (8)

Lark learned about art and design from her mother, who was a painter and sculptor, and her father, who was a custom home builder.

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (5)

According to BH&G, “A couple of boring desk jobs helped her focus on a career in cabinetmaking and construction. One result has been this home, where her design and building skills culminate under one roof.”

Lark Upson's Storybook Cottage in BHG (9)

Going down several steps, you come to the dining room, featuring a mix of old and new, from a birch chest that dates to the 1700s to the contemporary light fixtures:

Marshfield Vermont cottage dining room in BHG (1)

Lark crafted the cherry bed in the guest room shown in the BH&G article herself and handpainted the border around the room, which was inspired by a Minton china pattern. The Japanese tea chest at the foot of the bed is an antique:

Lark Upson's cottage bedroom in BHG 98

The house has 2 bedrooms and a little less than 2,000 square feet.

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (4)

The BH&G photos were taken by Jessie Walker, who died a few years ago at the age of 88. She was known for taking beautiful photos for many of the major shelter mags, including Architectural Digest and Country Living.

Here’s the bedroom Walker photographed that made the cover of BH&G in the late ’90s:

Lark Upson's Storybook Cottage in BHG (5)

Here’s the same room photographed from the other side of the room for the listing. You can see the bathroom through the open door with a vintage claw-footed soaking tub:

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (16)

Love the windows.

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (17)

Lark calls the open space upstairs “The Situation Room” because “it’s where stuff gets done.” During construction, she liked the cathedral-like lines of the framing timbers so much that she couldn’t bring herself to cover them up with a normal, flat ceiling.

Lark Upson's Storybook Cottage in BHG (4)

On the other side of the “situation room” are windows that let in more light and views, including the top half of the two-story oriel window that defines the kitchen below.

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (10)

If you look down over that railing, you can see the sunny kitchen:

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (6)

The clay and tile backsplashes (with antique tiles depicting nursery rhymes that she had saved for 15 years, waiting for the right place to use them) and handbuilt cabinets give the two-story kitchen with dramatic oriel window English-cottage character.

Lark Upson's Storybook Cottage in BHG (2)

When the photos were taken for the magazine article, the kitchen cabinets were painted a rusty red color. In the listing photo above, they’re a soft shade of green.

Vermont cottage in BHG 98 two-story kitchen

Outside, a gazebo-like screened porch is connected to the living room by a screened walkway:

Lark Upson's Vermont Cottage in BHG screened porch

The BH&G article said, “The slate-shouldered chimney was based on designs by Edwin Lutyens, a British Arts and Crafts architect.”

slate-shouldered chimney in bhg

She built the house in 1989, but she isn’t just talented when it comes to design, construction, and furniture making. The Seven Days website reviewed an exhibition of her oil paintings:

About six years ago, she gave up her business, Lark Upson Design, for two reasons: the tanking economy and the arthritis in her hands. She turned to painting. These days Upson says she’s hooked on portraits: “I do it all day, every day.”

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (11)

Many thanks to Lisa and Lark for sharing the story of this unique property with us!

Storybook Cottage For Sale Vermont (19)

For more photos and information, check the listing with Lisa Grady of Pall Spera Company Realtors and Yankee Magazine. The 1998 article was written by Candace Ord Manroe for Better Homes and Gardens (wish they’d put some of those older articles online!).

Cottage for Sale in Vermont featured BHG (4)

 P.S. See more Cottages with Timeless Appeal, including…

Bee Cottage 325The House Where Frances Lives

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn April 8, 2014 at 7:51 am

Love, love, love. You had me at ‘poor man’s tribute to Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll,’ Anglophile that I am. That it sits on 42 acres is like icing on the cake. I’m surprised that old issue of BH&G got past me at the time. Though not a subscriber, I’ve always been a shelter magazine-holic, and this would have been one I would have bought and saved. I’ve always admired personal houses, where the owners have had a major hand in either the design, building, or decoration, and here you have all three. I love the windows, especially the oriel, the timbers, the overall massing (very Lutyens-esque), the exterior blue-green trim color, the screened porch, that great open high-ceilinged room upstairs – I could go on and on. And those gardens! This is definitely my kind of place. I’m sure it would be hard to leave this home, but maybe with the stairs and all that property it would have become too much. She’s so talented. I wonder what kind of home and studio she will have next?


hookedonhouses April 8, 2014 at 8:23 am

I’m with you, Carolyn — I’d love to see what this talented woman does next!


Laura April 8, 2014 at 8:17 am

Absolutely beautiful. I love the hand-made feel of this house, and the garden is amazing. There are so many thoughtful details. Love it.


Becky April 8, 2014 at 8:34 am

What a beautiful home! I don’t think I’ve pinned an article so many times – four pins all for different, beautiful reasons! Thanks for bringing this sweet place to us.


hookedonhouses April 8, 2014 at 8:40 am

You know you love a house when you can’t stop pinning it! I’m the same way. Ha. Thanks, Becky!


Sue April 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Love it all and so cool you have the old article to scan and include for us to see. I also spied and loved seeing the blue-green wicker dressing table in the bedroom.


jep April 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm

That is not just a house, it is a home! I would live there in a heartbeat!


hookedonhouses April 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I think you put your finger on what I like most about it!


Fiamma April 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I have never wished to have $525,000.00 just hanging around until right now! Well, you all know what I mean, I think. :)
What a stunning home. All those windows, the light, that kitchen and garden…ahhh wouldn’t it be dreamy??


hookedonhouses April 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Dreamy is a good word for it!


Vicki April 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Wow, this one is great, Julia! I loved seeing how timeless many elements of the house remain. That bedroom & bathroom, and the nursery rhyme tiles– be still my heart.
I’m with you- that would be awesome if BH&G and others put more of their archives online. Save our scanners some work- ha ha. Funny that Bee Cottage popped up with this story- I’ve got a post coming up inspired by it. Love how cottages just focus on pretty and cozy, and don’t need to worry at all about trends.
Don’t know if you’ve already seen this, but you might like this article about Wendy houses, I coincidentally just read today.


hookedonhouses April 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm

I love Bee Cottage! Couldn’t resist linking back to it today. :)

I hadn’t seen that article about Wendy houses. How sweet are those?? Thanks, Vicki!


Catherine April 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Oh, so lovely! I would curl up on a sofa there so fast.


Kim April 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm

What a lovely cottage. The tall ceilings and big windows make it look bigger. Also what nice property. I would love to live on 40 acres.


hookedonhouses April 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Me, too, Kim. Especially if they had gardens that looked this beautiful! :-)


Becky April 8, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Interesting, I remember Lark and her house from that very BH&G article; someone gave me a copy of it and I pored over the article and those pictures and tore some out to put in my “someday” house file. It’s actually rare that a house strikes me like this one did … memorable.


hookedonhouses April 8, 2014 at 7:09 pm

How fun that you remember it, Becky! It looked very familiar to me, almost like deja vu when I saw the photos, so I’m sure I must have read (and loved) it back then. I wish I still had my copies of those old issues so I could look it up!


Beth April 8, 2014 at 11:18 pm

I think is my favorite house that has ever been posted. It reminds me of something from the Bloomsbury Group. Only better.


Alie B April 9, 2014 at 7:41 am

Lovely! This is a great mix of beauty, nature, practicality and whimsy! What a wonderful setting to relax and work in.


Sarah from England April 9, 2014 at 8:25 am

I love it, and I hope some hipster never gets hold of it and rips the heart and soul out, it’s perfect.


hookedonhouses April 9, 2014 at 8:27 am

“No hipsters allowed.” Ha.


Wendy April 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm

That is so stinkin’ pretty!


Judy April 11, 2014 at 5:41 pm



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