November 25, 2012

Cottage on the Hill

cottage on a hill

by Zinta Aistars

I’ve long enjoyed Tiny House Blog, admiring the philosophy and the tiny houses. In March 2012, I moved to a 100+ year old farmhouse in southwest Michigan on 10 acres, my dream come true, sweeter still because it had a tiny cottage on a wooded hill.

This fall, I weatherized the cottage, added a small deck, an outhouse, painted it inside, furnished it, creating a writer’s retreat. With its quirky angles and mismatched windows, it’s been likened to a place from a Tim Burton movie, or from Dr. Seuss. No two windows match, each are at a different height. It’s approximately 120 sq. feet on the main floor, 80 on the upper floor.

Cottage on the Hill, or COTH as I have come to call it, reminds me a little of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, that tiny cabin in which the writer lived for several years. Actually, it is more expansive than Thoreau’s, as it has approximately 120 square feet on the main floor, and a stepladder up to a second floor of about 80 square feet. And, in cooler weather, a space heater adds warmth.

Being a writer, I found it irresistible, conducive to meditations in solitude, connecting to one’s Muse while being completely “unplugged” from the busy world seemingly so far, far away … although, admittedly, the Cottage does have electricity!

The Cottage needed a few furnishings, but I wanted to keep it rustic and spare. A full-size bed went into the main floor corner, a small wooden table and chair, a cabinet with shelves. Upstairs, a desk and chair. I brought favorite books to put on the shelves, and hung up artwork by my father, artist Viestarts Aistars, and various other knick knacks to make the Cottage feel like home. A carpet remnant on the main floor adds just a touch of luxury.

Read more about it at my website

main floor

kitchen and bed

writing desk




cottage on the hill

entry door to cottage

cottage at night

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gmh - November 25, 2012 Reply

How cute and cozy! It’s like straight from a fairy tale!

JFord - November 25, 2012 Reply

It’s adorable, thanks for sharing the pictures. Hoping you make many pleasant memories there.

alice h - November 25, 2012 Reply

Those windows are truly fantastic, in the proper sense of the word, as is the entire place. Love it. You could almost imagine each window opening onto a different little world. That is a true gem you have there.

Seth - November 25, 2012 Reply

Awesome. I love the design, looks like a cozy place for a cup of coffee on a chilly fall evening.

tinyhousetom - November 25, 2012 Reply

Reminds me of the Weasely’s house from Harry Potter.

cheryl - November 25, 2012 Reply

Just yesterday I made a comment on another blog that asymmetrical window placement can look great, if done right. This cottage is on the extreme side of asymmetry – but it is done so so so well! Beautiful!

It must have been a labor of love for the original builder – this cottage is just so adventurous in design! And how cool that it got a new owner who appreciated it enough to weatherize it and add a deck. And that deck? Perfect addition – once the wood weathers and darkens, it will look like it was part of the original design.

Angie - November 25, 2012 Reply

Beautiful, cosy and extremely fairy tale like.

I love it.
thank you for sharing it.

william carlisle - November 25, 2012 Reply

I like it!!!!!!!!!!!!

V - November 26, 2012 Reply

nice touch with the diff windows.. like the skiriting at the corners… like the angled inside walboards.. nice little turret (and the engineerng to support is) nice head room on the second floor….. all around nice.

Em - November 26, 2012 Reply

I love the whole thing. I will definitely come and stay with you for a week at some point in the Spring or Summer. Definitely! I would love to write here!

Deek - November 27, 2012 Reply

Great second level interior! Nice photos overall too! -Deek

daily - November 27, 2012 Reply

beautiful. the only thing it needs to complete the cozy is a small wood burning stove.

Erin N. - November 27, 2012 Reply

Oh my goodness, it looks like a slice of heaven.

Jerilyn Bell - November 27, 2012 Reply

I have seen this place and love it. The natural setting is ideal and perfect for an artist or writer wanting some solitude.

Bob H - November 27, 2012 Reply

One of the best shown in awhile, WOW !

Kryssis Bjork - November 29, 2012 Reply

Please let me know what weekends are available for booking in 2013 and send it to me by email. Thank you in advance

    Zinta Aistars - December 1, 2012 Reply

    Kryssis, I don’t have access to your email here, so you’ll have to contact me. My website is included in the article above, so you can easily find mine there and contact me for availability of the cottage in 2013.


Leah - December 1, 2012 Reply

Wow! I love it! It is so magical and yet also so sweetly simple. Very nicely done!

Marcia Weber - December 1, 2012 Reply

Very cute! Nice pictures, too. Looks so serene.

Paul Jenkins - December 1, 2012 Reply


Kodey - December 1, 2012 Reply

Awesome for sure…picturesque,spiritual, homey feeling,a home in it’s own….love it…you are very lucky to have something like this…..enjoy to the fullest….

Lisa Ingram - December 1, 2012 Reply

I absolutely love it. The different windows and the position of them make the cabin that much more appealing. Absolutely beautiful. I have to say, this is now my favorite. Thank you so much for sharing.

Michael Isabell - December 1, 2012 Reply

A truly enchanting place! I am originally from SW MI (born in Benton Harbor, lived/taught in Niles for 32 years) and am so pleased to see a tiny house representing that area. 🙂
My partner and I will be moving to the Traverse City area sometime next year after he retires the end of June and I hope we are lucky enough to find a place that has something as wonderful as you have for my fiber studio.
Again, a truly enchanting place! May you have many, many years of enjoyment!

Sonje Bianca - December 1, 2012 Reply

Talk about a writer’s haven, or should I say heaven. It’s adorable. All you need now are some pretty plants around it. Then it might look more fairy-tale and less Tim Burton. The furnishings are perfect. I love that window in front of your desk. I’ve always been able to write better with a window next to me.

MsDawn - December 1, 2012 Reply

This is perfect!

House Crazy Sarah - December 1, 2012 Reply

what a fun little writer’s studio! I’m curious to know the history of the place – how old is it, and what was its original use?

chase - December 1, 2012 Reply

See, now that I like… gosh i wish i was there right now…

There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, There’s no place like home.

Shoot, I’m still here! Must be these K-mart Sneakers.

Terri - December 1, 2012 Reply

Love this, what great inspiration!

cincymary - December 1, 2012 Reply

This is my total dream package! I’ve been dreaming of acreage in Michigan with a little cabin like this (or to build myself) for years! Love it! I hope you have many years of joy and creativity there. You’re very lucky! : )

Mike Kephart - December 1, 2012 Reply

The Cottage on the Hill is for all of us to admire and to be inspired by. Who wouldn’t be proud of the accomplishment that was apparently shared with others from the past.

I’ve been building almost tiny houses, houses that are first accessible for those of us who avoid steps much less lofts. Tiny houses are drop dead charming but we’ll stay the course and continue building almost tiny 500 sq.


Anna - December 1, 2012 Reply

Ohh! I cannot help coveting. Just lovely.

Rob - December 1, 2012 Reply

Thanks so much for showing us this gorgeous little cottage
It’s so good to see some free style and natural building

Dori - December 1, 2012 Reply

Charming as can be!

Frank - December 1, 2012 Reply

How beautiful. Where I live in Northern Wisconsin, I would need a few inches of insulation and a small, airtight wood stove and then “good to go”. Thanks for sharing.

gretchen - December 1, 2012 Reply

Wow, this is amazing! Are the windows homemade? I want to learn how to make windows for my cabin.

Heather - December 1, 2012 Reply

Oh My God!!!! I LOVE it!!! My one dream that someday I will live in a tiny home far away from the hustle of daily life and in peace and quite!!

Zinta Aistars - December 1, 2012 Reply

Thank you to all for your comments, I’ve enjoyed reading them. I don’t know much about the background of the cottage. I moved to this property in March 2012, and the titles and deeds go back to 1832, so I can only guess when COTH was built. The farmhouse, where I live, has a 1930s stove in it, so that gives me some indication of this building, and there are other outbuildings on the property (a tool shed, a barn) that are obviously built by the same person around the same time. The techniques and whimsical windows are all the same in these. The property is large enough that COTH is completely on its own, secluded in summer when the leaves are on the trees, but now in winter months, just a distant outline up on the hill. Since I work as a writer and editor, I enjoy making a trek up the hill regularly to work among the trees, in that cozy space. It really is special. As for what its purpose might have been, it’s anyone’s guess. Perhaps a children’s play house? Perhaps an artist’s retreat, right from the start. I imagine the builder as someone with whimsy, for creating it with such interesting angles and misaligned windows. I wish I could have met him, but the buildings speak of him even now.

Jeff - December 1, 2012 Reply

Thanks for posting. This stuff gets people back to proper mental orientation. Just looking at this brings me great peace.

kobey - December 1, 2012 Reply

Very comforting and aesthetic, an architectural womb that blends nature with inner peace.

jaya - December 2, 2012 Reply

Thanks for sharing . Cool.

Diane - December 2, 2012 Reply

So peaceful and beautiful. I just love everything about it!

Lisa Enlow - December 2, 2012 Reply

Oh how sweet – loving it! The setting is as lovely as your home. Congratulations.

Skye Shepard - December 2, 2012 Reply

I love it! Perfect. Thoreau would be proud, I think.

shark Mayeux - December 2, 2012 Reply


Deb Bassett - December 2, 2012 Reply

What a wonderful little cabin, makes me smile! Glad you found such a nice bonus with your dream home. Best wishes to you and the COTH!

Tonita - December 2, 2012 Reply

This beautiful cottage is one of my very favorite tiny homes. Oh.. I adore it.

Many Blessings..

Michael - December 3, 2012 Reply

Just when I am ready to put saw to wood and begin my own creation, I see something like this and realize I am not yet ready. I am now on my 3rd revision of plans and am thinking about adding an asymmetrical aspect. Perhaps I am planning too much… Love COTH!

    Joe - December 6, 2012 Reply

    Not suggesting this is your affliction, only mine. I am reminded of the phrase, not original, but passed to me by a colleague the first time I heard it, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Most likely if you have worked it over many times but always find small flaws you have come up with a wonderful plan when implemented and seen by others would be admired by us and inspire us to think how we might modify it to our needs. That is the point. Any design fit to our needs is unique just as each of us is. It is a form of art for others to critique but mostly for us to enjoy. But you cannot really judge its utility until it has been created and lived in. I cannot recall an author or artist who ever created something not to find another project, to strive for more. Build it. Experience it. If need be, revise and refine it. Life is too short to wonder what if. Do it and find out.

      Darva - December 17, 2012 Reply

      COTH is so lovely, we small cabin lovers enjoy your ability to have and spend time there. Perfect IS the enemy of good – loved that entire reply. So true, just do it, no matter the perfect time.

Annie - December 3, 2012 Reply

My absolute new favorite! Wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing.

Jane - December 4, 2012 Reply

Thank You for sharing! It is a beautiful in its quirkiness.

Anne Lacey - December 5, 2012 Reply

Zinta, CLOTH is wonderful treasure and your photos show it well. So sweet, charming with delightfully quirky windows. I would be so curious to know who, who built it, could a man have built it? Who was their muse? Really generous of you to offer to share it!

Cindy Walker Love - December 6, 2012 Reply

Ahh…I’m so happy for you, a complete stranger. Strange right?..not really. See I too write and have a dream of a place such avs this, only different, and in being glad for youit brings my place closer.

bob adams - December 8, 2012 Reply

Kudos are in order here…..very well done!

Adline - January 28, 2013 Reply

Wow! I lust love everything about this home! It’s incredible 🙂 Is there a kitchen and lavatory in it too?

Becky, - February 3, 2013 Reply

Beautiful little place. Adline, it says there is an outhouse and there is no kitchen in the pics, I’m assuming that if he wanted to cook he could use an electric pot or something. This is an awesome little place.

jean - April 22, 2013 Reply

Maybe a bit bigger so a kitchen bath and closet could fit Home Sweet Home

Dixie Hamilton - July 10, 2013 Reply

Very creative. Lots of texture. Nothing boring about this cottage.

W Tom Steele - July 10, 2013 Reply

love, Love, LOVE this place. Wish there were more pictures. And wish the night picture included lights in the second floor. It looks like it is just a summer place with so many windows even as small as it is it would be really hard to keep heated in the colder months. I too would like to have a place to go when the need arose, and have a place to cook a can of beans or whatever. But in that it seems to be that summer place, one could cook that on a camp fire outside. And if it came to it a man could do his job outside as well. But an out-house with sides would be nice for that too.

Mary J - July 15, 2013 Reply

Nothing too ordinary here – can imagine it being a favorite haunt for halloween 🙂

Msgt Ric Martin - October 11, 2013 Reply

i LOVE this place! the ONLY thing i would do is make the upstairs a bedroom and make a tiny kitchen/bathroom/living room downstairs:)

Haus auf dem Hügel | - November 5, 2013 Reply

[…] es einen Schreibtisch, ein Bücherregal, einen Heizer. Von Toilette und Küche steht in dem Bericht auf dem Tiny House Blog, wo ich diesen Juwel auch gefunden habe, nichts. Auf der Seite des Besitzers jedoch. Natürlich ist es ein Toilettenhäuschen nicht weit […]

Bob Ratcliff - March 2, 2014 Reply

Simply to DIE for! The perfect escape for an artist, I’m green with envy. That doesn’t happen every day;)

Patrick - March 9, 2014 Reply

Now this is a place which has no equal: a cobbled-together little cabin with its own, distinct personality! It really couldn’t be duplicated, being the product of many hands, and graced with Nature’s patina. (I am inspired, though, to craft a somewhat similar cabin for my own writer’s retreat.) Here’s proof that, somewhere in the woods, true enchantment does exist!

Dan - September 14, 2014 Reply

This is fantastic! Gives me hope and inspiration.

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