“Buy your second home first” is a popular piece of advice. For Jenny Shaw and Matt Bowman, who live in Quincy, purchasing their first home in Eastham made a lot of sense. They could fix up the 622-square-foot cottage and rent it to help pay the mortgage. Built in 1930, the Shaws’ cottage came with original details like painted wood floors and hinged windows and doors. They’ve been exploring the history of the house, which was probably moved from the Coast Guard Station.
Matt, a plumber, took on some DIY projects: he added butcher-block countertops and a farmhouse sink in the kitchen and renovated the outdoor shower. Meanwhile, Jenny jumped into decorating the cottage with a vintage New England nautical theme. Her eye for styling and photography led her naturally to Instagram, which she uses to market their #littleeasthamcottage with posts that tell a story.
Guests from far and near have discovered the cottage via social media and enjoy following the progress of Matt’s and Jenny’s projects. She stays connected with guests after they leave, and her dreamy photos keep them nostalgic for Cape Cod getaways. With an uncertain rental season ahead, Jenny’s idyllic posts are a balm for travelers who can now, at least virtually, experience summer on Olde Cape Cod. —Molly Newman
When styling her photos, Jenny tries to create a mood that captures the feel of a vacation. “Don’t try to be too literal or achieve perfection, and keep your eye on the details,” she says. “Add a floral arrangement, or dried flowers in the winter. Look for books and curiosities that keep the space fresh and interesting, and always watch the light. Those golden moments in the morning and late afternoon create a transporting atmosphere that’s a moment in time.” (Photos Jenny Shaw)
Jenny recommends the J.M. Byron House in Harwich for sourcing vintage nautical finds, along with “the good old Eastham swap shop!” She keeps the look fresh with crisp linens, which she provides for guests. “Being an Airbnb traveler myself, I’ve learned that people don’t want to lug bed sheets for their vacation.”
In a small space, Shaw begins with simple furniture with clean lines, then adds visual appeal with textural elements. A mix of simple modern pieces and antiques works well that way.