The Magic of Summer Cottages

We explore summer cottages, and how even the most modest, humble cabin, shack, or retreat can work its magic.

Tereasa Surratt’s cottage in Elkhorn, Wisconsin (Credit: Sterling Publishing)

It’s high summertime, blazing hot in much of the country, and hearts and minds turn to getting the heck out of town. 

Dreams go to a summer cabin, a getaway, a cottage. Whether we own one, rent one, or just dream, it’s a powerful image of retreat. Another world. And for many, it really doesn’t matter how humble it may be. 

Tereasa Surratt took a tiny old family cottage – twelve by twelve and falling to pieces – and turned it into her personal lakeside dream. 

This Hour, On Point: we hear her story, and look at the endless appeal of the summer cabin, the cottage, the summer shack.


Tereasa Surratt, author of “A Very Modest Cottage” and creative director at the advertising agency Ogilvy.

Duo Dickinson, architect and author of “House on a Budget.”


See the full photo gallery of cottages at our blog.

Here’s the cover photo from “A Very Modest Cottage”:


"A Very Modest Cottage" (2010, Sterling Publishing)

Here’s what Tereasa’s cabin looked like before she completely refurbished her cottage, inside and out:

Tereasa Surratt's cabin before renovations (Sterling Publishing)

Tereasa Surratt's cabin before renovations (Sterling Publishing)

And here’s another shot of Tereasa’s finished cottage by the lake:

Tereasa Surratt’s finished cottage in Elkhorn, Wisconsin

Tereasa Surratt’s finished cottage in Elkhorn, Wisconsin (Sterling Publishing).

Thereasa says the green and white were chosen to blend in with the surrounding environs. “Without fail, I have found that when you take inspiration form the world around you, especially in an outdoor setting, your interior will find harmony with the exterior,” she writes in “A Very Modest Cottage.”

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