The Perfect Fairhope Cottage

October 20, 2014


Fairhope coastal cottage - Leslie Anne TarabellaAhhhh. I would always take a deep breath and relax just a little when I would drive past this perfect Fairhope cottage. Its inviting porch, green shuttered windows and big live oak in the front yard just called out, “Come sit a while” to me.


The perfect Fairhope coastal cottage on Mobile BayAnd then, as it always seems to happen in Fairhope, I got around to meeting the wonderful person who lives here. I actually knew her for a few years before realizing this was her charming cottage. She’s done a great job of keeping the historic aspect of the house intact while making it accommodate her family’s needs.


Mobile Bay cottage in Fairhope AlabamaHow would you like to drink your morning cup of coffee while enjoying this gorgeous view of Mobile Bay from your front porch?


Front porch charm in Fairhope Alabama The family who originally built the house in 1917 would travel across Mobile Bay by boat, to join other Mobilians and vacation on the Eastern Shore, where the breeze was cooler and the days more relaxed.


Mr. Forrester was the builder, and also built many other homes in our area. Even before modern tools were available, Mr. Forrester used such precise measurements, that his homes were perfectly squared and have withstood decades of humid summers and brutal hurricanes. You can find out more about this popular builder at the Fairhope Museum of History.


Porch swing and porch beds - Fairhope cottageThe front porch was built to accommodate several swinging beds where the family slept every night. The current owner, who grew up in Fairhope, has one hanging bed, and uses the extra space for picnic tables and rocking chairs. No matter what your favorite way to relax may be, she’s got it covered.


Leslie Anne Tarabella - charming coastal front porchThe porch railing was added by the current owner who had two young boys when she first moved in 27 years ago, and realized that all the jumping off the four- foot high porch wasn’t going to end well. I sent these photos to my porch-connoisseur friend Rachel, who along with her husband Douglas, specialize in historic home renovations, and she said this porch is beautiful and very well built with the boards correctly running perpendicular to the house and interlocked in a tongue and groove pattern.


Historical fairhope cottage

This is the first room you enter from the front door. It is a former bedroom and was opened up to create a front parlor. The original fireplace was on the opposite wall in the foyer, but because of not being maintained, it was a fire hazard. The new owner created this new, safer fireplace, because even though we are in the Coastal South, we can have some mighty chilly winter nights.


Other recent changes made were the removal of acoustical tiles from the beautiful pine ceilings and scraping off glued-on, foam-backed carpet from the amazing wood floors. And finally, after a lifetime of South Alabama summers, central air-conditioning was added. (Praise God from whom all blessings flow – we love our central air-conditioning around here!).


cottage dining room in fairhope alabamaStraight ahead, from the front door, is the heart of the home, the large octagonal shaped dining room. The other rooms radiate off this point, and provide the angled walls that allow for closets and also a feature found in many coastal homes, angled exterior walls that allow breezes to enter the home, no matter which direction they may be blowing. If you go back and look at the front porch photos, next to the front door, you will see one of those exterior slanted walls.

fairhope cottageThe entire house is built of native Alabama Longleaf Pine – our state tree. It has lasted 97 years and only looks more beautiful now with some patina on it. The 12 feet tall ceilings allowed the hot air to rise to the top of the room, and large windows, which most in the house are original, would allow the cool bay breezes to enter.


Mobile_St_House-9The owner’s two boys are grown now with families of their own. School photos from years gone by are lined up year by year to record their growth, and now the grandchildren’s photos are starting to line up.  Such a fun tradition! You can see another angled window-wall above.



The kitchen was originally separated from the house by the back porch to control a potential fire hazard and also reduce the heat in the house. Recent owners modernized by enclosing the back porch, thereby connecting the spaces. Two of the windows had to be replaced because the originals were too low to the floor to allow for cabinets.

Mobile_St_House-21This is an original hutch that was built into the dining room. Even though the cottage is probably somewhere around 2,000 square feet, the openness and the high ceilings along with the great floor plan make it seem huge and along with the large porch, is a comfortable place for the extended family to gather.


perfect cottage CollageThe comforts of home include crocheting scarves for family Christmas gifts while sipping tea on the front porch. The Baldwin County historic marker is displayed on the corner of the house, and a beautiful set of rattan furniture is in the front parlor. The owner explained her affinity for the tropical-coastal style by saying, “When I was a teenager, I babysat for tourists at the Grand Hotel, and at that time, the lobby and cottages were filled with rattan pieces that I always thought were wonderful.” I agree, and think they are the perfect fit for this coastal cottage.


fairhope alabama cottage on mobile bayLooking back at the front door from the centrally located dining room, you can see a glimpse of the water and boats sailing by. Such a wonderful piece of local history, carefully maintained and loved by a charming Southern lady who loves the history and heritage of our dear Fairhope.


Leave a Reply

  1. So many wonderful details of this lovely cottage. Spectacular view of the bay and spacious rooms! I am swooning over the huge porch!! Oh yes, I would love to have my coffee there in the morning, lunch and dinner too!!

    Love the school year pictures and how they are hung in the childhood bedroom of one of their children.

    I enjoyed touring this home. It has so much charm and personality depicting the owners lifestyle in a lovely and functional way.

  2. Leslie Anne.. just stopped by to check on you today. Your page on my blogroll has not updated in about a month! Thought you took some time off. Is anyone else having problems??

    1. Yes, I’m meeting with a tech guy today to see if he can figure out what is going on. I’ve tried everything and it just isn’t updating on other blogs. It works fine on bloglovin’ and google+ You are sweet to remember me! Thanks.

  3. I have always wanted to see the interior of this fantastic house. I drool over it every time we come down there. I looked into that one next door, as it was for rent a while back. It is wonderful that they have preserved and maintained all the original wood and the ceilings, etc. That stretch of the road by the bay is so desirable with the views and the walking trail just across the street.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. This is indeed the perfect cottage. I love the large windows that let the sunshine and beautiful views pour in. It’s bright even with the natural bead board. But the front porch steals the show!!

    1. Your so right about it being bright and sunny inside, even with the dark wood. We discussed the current trend of painting everything white, but the homeowner said she really loves the traditional wood color. I would hate to see her paint it all white, then in a few years when the trends change again, have to strip everything. Can you imagine?

  5. Oh my, how perfectly charming. And that view? To-die-for!

    Thank you for sharing this pretty cottage and a little bit about your area’s history. I should very much like to visit there one day!

    I grew up on Lake Erie – it was our backyard – and I miss the water so much sometimes it hurts. I don’t get home nearly enough, I am busy with my life here in mid-state land locked. A person doesn’t shred off love of water very easily.

    1. That is so true! I grew up in the Florida panhandle, and when I moved to Atlanta, I felt very landlocked. There’s just something about the water . . .

  6. I love every room in that house, especially that front porch. I would be sitting out there from morning to night..watching everybody that walked or drove by, I’d wave to them. Coffee or hot tea in the morning, listen to the birds and the sounds of the early morn coming up. You said you could see boats from the porch area..that would be fun too watching them out there. I can imagine a lot of parties were held at this house. You have a beauty on your hands!

  7. That front porch is heavenly. I love a big porch and especially being across from the water makes it that much more alluring. Thanks for sharing this pretty home.

    1. Yes, I think we all long for the perfect porch in the perfect location, don’t we? I warned the owner she would look outside one day and find me on her swing!

  8. I’ll just live on that beautiful front porch, if that’s alright. 🙂 I’ve pinned it. We’re going to be putting mission post railing and beadboard ceiling on our new front porch and this photo is perfect!

    1. Wow, I didn’t even think to ask the owner about the paint colors, but they are gorgeous, aren’t they? If I ever find out, I’ll be sure to send you a note.

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