The Pulse: Georgia Woman Creates Dream Cottage Out Of A $32K Mancelona Home

“It’s perfect, really. It’s 30 miles to Petoskey, 30 miles to Traverse, 30 miles to Elk Rapids.”

Debbie Boland is a southern belle in Northern Michigan, and she has created her dream getaway, lovingly named Rose Gate Cottage, out of a home she purchased in Mancelona, Michigan for $32,000.

Debbie bought her Mancelona home in 2007 after looking at a neighboring house that needed a lot of work. The house she initially looked at was gutted completely on the inside and she wasn’t crazy about taking on a project that large, especially since the house she planned on purchasing in Michigan was only going to be a summer home. She saw that the house next door to the gutted home had a faded blue and white realty sign leaned against the side of the house. She called the phone number on the sign to see if the house was still available, and it was.

“I almost bought a home in Elk Rapids instead but the property taxes there were going to be too high for me. I wanted an affordable, summer getaway.”

Debbie is a retired school teacher from Georgia and makes the drive from Georgia to Northern Michigan every summer. The people of Mancelona always know when Debbie has returned to Rose Gate because she brings out all of her dreamy, cottage-chic porch furniture.

Not only is the outside of Rose Gate something out of a magazine, so is the inside. Debbie and I had dinner together Saturday and I was thrilled. My parents also own a second home in Mancelona and I have been driving past Rose Gate Cottage for years, staring in wonder and delight every time. I’m not the only one who is fascinated with the storybook cottage.

“I had a gal a few weeks ago ask if she could take pictures of the cottage.”

Who could blame anyone for being entranced by the cottage’s beauty? The inside of Rose Gate is everything I expected and more. The floors, walls and ceiling are all painted white and every piece of furniture has some kind of shabby-chic, feminine, classic look to it. Every room looks as if it has been staged for a glossy magazine editorial, which is what Debbie intended.

“Do you remember Victoria Magazine? If you look at Victoria Magazine and look around here, you’ll see that’s where a lot of the inspiration comes from. Before everything turned in to Martha Stewart Living.”

The beautiful home looks as if it has a high, interior designer price tag that comes with it, but Debbie worked on the home herself and most of the furnishings and décor are from resale stores in the area. It took Debbie about three summers to have the house fully decorated, and though there are more projects she would like to work on for the cottage, she knows some of them are unrealistic.

“I wanted all new windows for this porch,” Debbie said as she showed me her enclosed porch. “I wanted new floors for the porch, too. A few things, but it was going to cost $12,000. I said, ‘no, that’s not going to happen.’”

Debbie has also surrounded the cottage with flowers through her meticulous gardening, and has made an entire summer wardrobe that she keeps at the cottage out of table cloths. She has a closet full of white eyelet and floral outfits. Some of the outfits are a pants and tank top set, some are dresses and some are long, kimono-style robes.

“I hate to sew, so I don’t sell them.”

She must have been reading my mind as I admired the lovely outfits. For someone who doesn’t like to sew, she sure is good at it.

Not only is Debbie a stylish homemaker, she is also a great cook. Debbie, a couple of her friends and I had a dinner that tasted great and was great to look at. Blueberry spinach salad with pomegranate dressing and crab stuffed salmon on gorgeous china made me feel like I really was sitting inside of a magazine.

Debbie lives right in town and we could hear the live Saturday night band playing through the screen door. She loves her summer cottage in Mancelona and said that a summer home is something that’s more attainable than people think, it’s just a matter of choosing the right place and Mancelona is a great, affordable option for it. There is a lot of wide open spaces, but it’s also the home to great restaurants like BoJack’s Bake Shop and Cafe, and The Iron Skillet. Mancelona is located in a central spot that makes daytrips like going to Traverse City or Petoskey very doable, both are less than an hour to drive to. If you’re looking to get out on the water Torch Lake is only 40 minutes away.

Rose Gate Cottage is a beautiful example of being able to create your dream Northern Michigan getaway on a budget, all you need is a little creativity.

Categories: GTPulse