This cozy cottage in Delaware was once an 1800s-era schoolhouse.
Blink and you'll driveright past the small, stone house at 4919 Chapman Road in Delaware. Despite its size, when cartoonist Jeff Smith and his wife, Vijaya Iyer, discovered the former one-room schoolhouse nine years ago, they knew they'd found the perfect retreat.
Smith is a comic artist and Columbus native best known for his award-winning graphic novel series Bone. Together with his wife, Smith also runs his own publishing company, Cartoon Books, and they both travel frequently to comic conventions and other events. That busy travel schedule motivated them to find a place to unwind and nourish creativity, and when they stumbled on this historic property, they decided to transform it into the ideal writer's hideaway.
The building dates back to the mid-1800s, when it served as a schoolhouse for the local community. Today, it sits on a quiet, wooded 1-acre lot next to the Olentangy River. Outside, the original stone walls and bright red door harken back to an earlier time. (Smith and Iyer also worked with builder Klaus Glauer to restore the original pitch of the roof, which had been altered by a previous remodel.)
Inside, the exposed stone walls blend with modern elements, including sleek bamboo floors, a custom bar and a kitchen with bright red lacquered cabinets. Reclaimed barn wood behind the bar and around the windows only adds to the rustic-chic design. The cottage is less than 1,000 square feet, but the high vaulted ceiling and many windows make it feel spacious and bright.
It took about a year to renovate the cottage, but once it was finished, the couple had an easily accessible getaway that still feels worlds away from German Village, where they've lived for many years. The cottagebacks up to 106 acres of protected woodland, and wildlife sightings are a daily occurrence. Smith says one year they found roughly 3 pounds of wild morel mushrooms on the property, although they've never found as many since.
Across the street, the ruins of a 3-story gristmill from the 1840s loom over the river. Smith says he often spent weekends at the cottage working on his writing projects-he wrote much of his recent graphic novel "RASL" here-and on some mornings he would get up early and walk down to the mill to watch the sun rise.
The cottage wasn't just for solitude, though. Smith also recounts tales of epic cookouts and family reunions held on the expansive lawn and down near the river. Now, this schoolhouse-turned-writer's retreat is just waiting for its next owner to continue its creative legacy.