February 08: Family getaway

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When your home is also your business, a room of your own is a difficult proposition. Sure, Cynthia Bruce, who runs the High Meadows Vineyard Inn in Scottsville with her mother, Nancy, does have private quarters for herself and her two children, ages 5 and 8, but she doesn’t fancy those rooms too much. That’s where she dumped all the furniture that she didn’t like when she and Nancy took over the 21-year-old B&B last year and rearranged and refurbished its seven guest rooms and common areas.

No, her favorite room in the 7,000-square-foot inn is the most public of its spaces—the first floor “breezeway” kitchen in the middle of the house. It’s where most of her guests have breakfast and afternoon tea, read their papers and relax in the evening. You know how it goes: The kitchen is often the most popular room in the home.
 
This one, with its yellow- and green-striped, painted wood floor and shabby-chic furnishings, calls to High Meadows’ guests over the inn’s fancier dining and parlor rooms for all the same reasons Bruce covets the space—it’s bathed in natural light from a skylight and gets the best summer breeze in the home thanks to two patio doors flanking the narrow throughway. That Bruce and her brood can fully enjoy the space to themselves only when guests aren’t around (which isn’t that often, as the inn accepts guests seven days a week) makes it all the more special during those stolen moments.

“This was the first room I could see finished when we took over the inn. The previous owners used it as office space, but with the bright light from the skylight, even in winter, we saw it as a public gathering space.

“We painted it in greens and yellows to emphasize the light and the feeling of the outdoors. In the spring, summer and fall, we can open both patio doors and get great air flow. This winter, we put our Christmas tree in here. This is the food and drink room, and guests like to read and relax in here, because it’s in the middle of the house. They use the room a lot at night.

“I have a dining table in my private room, and that’s where my family eats when we have guests. But everything in there is what I didn’t like from the other rooms. All of my favorite pieces are in the guest rooms, including a settee that I fell in love with on Craigslist. This is the room where my family likes to eat and relax when guests aren’t around. When the weather is nice, we’ll cook our dinner in here and eat it on the adjoining patio.

“My kids have different rules when guests are around. They can mill about, but they have to walk and not run, use quiet, indoor voices, speak politely, put their toys away, put the cats away. It’s easy to whisk toys and things away from this room when guests come back from outings.

“I always wanted to run a bed and breakfast, and we have everything here but space to ourselves! The most appealing room to guests is the most appealing room to our family too.”

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