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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Where We Live: Cozy Yorktown cottage is perfect for empty nesters’ lifestyle

There was something about the small beach cottage that caught Maureen Moss’s eye as she and her family drove through historic Yorktown Village on their way to run errands almost 17 years ago.

They could’ve taken the interstate, but it was a nice day, so they decided to take the scenic route. She and her husband, Herb, weren’t looking to buy another house at the time, but after seeing the “for sale” sign in the slightly overgrown yard, she couldn’t get the house out of her thoughts.

A few days later, after getting a subtle reminder from an infomercial on TV about how it was a “great time to invest in real estate,” they called the realtor and scheduled a showing.

“We arranged to see it that day, and then we scooped it up,” Maureen recalled.

“We bought it without having any idea what we planned to do with it,” she added with a laugh.

The one-bedroom cottage needed some work, but it was inherently charming.  Built in 1940 with salvaged materials from a colonial structure on the Eastern Shore, Maureen fell in love with its simplicity and authenticity, and the interior had so much character and warmth.

With three of their four children at home at the time, the Mosses knew they couldn’t fit their large family  into the small cottage — so moving in wasn’t an option. Besides, they had a lovely 3,400 square-foot home in the Queens Lake section of York County that fit all of their needs. Renting also wasn’t an option, so they applied to the county and were approved to run the cottage as a guest house.

“The county was amazing to work with — we operated it as the Moss Guest Cottage for 10 years,” said Maureen.

Because of the size of the home, it could only accommodate two adults. The first morning the guests would be greeted with a continental breakfast and information about the surrounding area.

“We would have a lot of people use it as a romantic getaway, we would have European visitors, wedding couples and even locals who just wanted a quiet weekend,” said Maureen.

Then, in 2011, Maureen and Herb became empty nesters and realized they didn’t need such a big house.

So, 11 years after purchasing the beach cottage, it finally became time for them to make it their home.

They loved the home’s character and original footprint so much that they really didn’t want to make any major changes, but they knew the home needed renovations and a slight expansion if it was to work as their retirement home.

So they added a master bedroom and bath off one side and went up into the attic space to create a living area and separate guest bedroom.

A whimsical spiral staircase takes you to the second floor, and there isn’t an ounce of space devoid of character. Of course there were some structural enhancements made to support the second floor, and windows were replaced, as well as updates made to the kitchen and laundry. A beautiful patio rounded off the project.

Now at 1,400 square feet, the cottage is still small compared to their Queens Lake home and other homes in their neighborhood. But it is perfect for the Mosses, who enjoyed simplifying their lives and ridding themselves of excess material belongings.

“It’s small, but it has everything we need,” said Moss.

What makes it even better is that the community is a perfect fit. The Mosses adore the village, their neighbors and the many, many events that are now offered at the Riverwalk.

Maureen and Herb moved in Christmas Eve 2012.

“There’s no place we’d rather live,” said Maureen. “It’s always extra special coming home.”

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