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Name: Ryan and Maddie Kulig
Location: Galena, Maryland
Size 1,000 square feet (approximately)
Type of Home: Cottage
Years Lived In: Almost a year. We bought it in August 2021
Apartment Therapy toured the home of the founder of Philadelphia-based lingerie brand Madalynne Intimates, Maddie Kulig (then, Maddie Flanigan) way back in 2018. At the time, she was living in an adorable 500-square-foot home by herself. Cut to a few years later, and she’s touring this adorable cottage she shares with her husband, and starts the story of this house in 2019.
“June 8, 2019 was one of the best days of my life,” Maddie writes. “After dating Ryan for a year and a half, he got down on one knee and proposed during a weekend getaway to Chestertown, Maryland at a mutual Philadelphia friend’s vacation home. On the drive back to Philly after that weekend with no intention of buying, I set my zip code on Zillow to that area. We always said to ourselves that it would we would love to buy a second in the Eastern Shore area.”
“A long-time family friend moved to Maryland the winter of 2021 and kept posting pictures of her ‘enchanted cottage.’ She PMed me to congratulate me on our wedding and said she moved nearby in Kennedyville. Being the curious person that I am, I checked to see how close it was to Chestertown on Zillow and if there were any listings nearby. This little, old, beet red cottage popped up. It was unassuming — actually quite hideous. Wood paneling covering every square inch, dark kitchen, lattice — there were really no features we liked about the house except the location which was situated on a hill that overlooks the Sassafrass River. You can ‘fixer up’ a house, but you can’t ‘fixer up’ a location. We heard horror stories of home buying at that moment in time — bidding wars and cash offers well above asking price. We weren’t doing that. We said we would put in an offer and if the seller accepted, it was meant to be,” Maddie explains.
“We made our offer on July 8, the buyer accepted July 11 (four years after our first date), and we closed on #kuligkottage on August 10th.”
Our Style: Quirky mid-century modern
Inspiration: 1950s cottage
Favorite Element: Aside from the opposite of living in Philadelphia, the windows in the sun room. We love waking up and having coffee while overlooking the “Glen” — a narrow valley surrounded by trees leading to the Sassafrass.
Biggest Challenge: Finding a contractor! Before we closed, we were talking with a contractor who we randomly found while getting coffee one morning. Unfortunately, he sent us on a seven-week goose chase trying to get a proposal from him. We thought if we can’t get a proposal from him, how can we expect him to renovate our house! So one Saturday, we scheduled to meet with four contractors. We told them all the same story and waited to get proposals from each. We thought we had our mind made up after meeting the first three, with the final just being a courtesy of seeing our appointments through. That final appointment turned out to be our ideal match. We accepted his proposal on a Thursday. By Sunday, he had a dump truck and started demo.
Proudest DIY: Wallpaper! Making the tiny, spare bedroom usable but stylish was another challenge. We just put the essentials in there — a bed and a dresser — but the wallpaper gives it the perfect pop that it needs. We hung it up together — wallpaper is a two-person job. We’re pretty proud of our pattern matching.
Biggest Indulgence: The dining room table and mirror. The table came from Discount MCM and is an original Broyhill Brasilia. The mirror came from Anthropologie. I had been eyeing that mirror for years, drooling over it in every catalog received. It’s the perfect mix of old and new, and not an ounce of me regrets my purchase. No buyer’s remorse here!
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The George Briard enamel pots, pans, and percolators and paintings. Both were Maddie’s mom’s, who spent her summers at her family’s lake house in Okoboji, Iowa. She begged her dad for years for her George Briards, and this past Christmas, he finally gifted them to us.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Use furniture that has multiple purposes, add color strategically, use mirrors and lighting/windows to open up spaces, and buy small appliances!
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Take it one step at a time. It can be overwhelming when you first start. Keep your end goal in mind, but don’t obsess over it, or how fast/slow it will take you to get there. Focus on what you need to do now and then move on to the next thing.
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.