The Make a Wish Foundation and Mark P. Finlay Interiors Bring a Fairy-Tale Cottage Wish to Life

Rocking chairs from Walpole Woodworkers promote relaxation.Nestled in a quiet glade, this recent Make a Wish Foundation project may leave visitors wondering if they’ve stumbled into a fairy-tale world. Although no Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail can be seen leading to the front door, for Jackie—a 15-year-old girl battling a degenerative condition—there is no place more magical.
As one of 240 wishes granted to children with life-threatening medical conditions in Connecticut this past year, this quaint cottage is what Make a Wish Connecticut’s Community and Media Relations Manager, Michael Dominick, refers to as a project wish. “Seventy percent of our wishes involve travel, but we’re seeing more of these projects: therapeutic day spas, tree houses and such,” says Dominick. “Kids can poke around online now and see what others have done. We try to help the kids think about what is important to them.”

A stained glass window from Windsong Glass Studio brightens up the loft; the corner cupboard is from Hiden Galleries.Jackie’s “Fairy Cottage Idea Board”—a lookbook she created about her wish—gave Mark P. Finlay Interiors a firm jumping-off point. Using the dragonfly—a symbol of persistence and courage—as inspiration, Director of Interior Design Tina Anastasia sought to create an ethereal, relaxing space that felt independent despite being close to the main house. “I think when children are suffering or in pain, and they want to be alone, they want somewhere to call their own,” says Anastasia. “Just like every child’s bedroom is a dreamland—their little fantasy world—I think this girl in particular needed more privacy; an escape.”

For Anastasia and her team, building a loft into the new structure with room for a small window and an easeful space for rest and relaxation was a priority. The Finlay Interiors crew dedicated hours of work to designing the cottage and the surroundings, drafting a floor plan, renderings and an interior design scheme. The plans were sent off to Lancaster Country Barns, who provided the prefabricated materials for the cabin, while Western CT Builders was called in to erect the structure. The result is a welcoming getaway in a pastoral setting, swathed in dragonfly imagery, lush plantings and soft, inviting furnishings.

PPG Architectural Coatings provided the paint for the cottage.A cedar-shake-shingled roof, partially covered in moss, creates a canopy over the rustic front porch, where a pair of rocking chairs awaits guests. Inside, plush layering and billowing ivory curtains from Cowtan & Tout create a cozy nook in the woods that feels homey despite the 100-square-foot footprint. Bella Notte pillows and throws pair with the simple cedar interior, accented by the glow of string lights.

When the work was complete, seeing Jackie’s reaction, remembers Anastasia, was the most rewarding part of it all. “She has this special place now that she can use for years to come,” says the designer. “It’ll always be there.”   

A version of this article appeared in the October 2016 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Fairy-Tale Cottage.