Homes Away From Home

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The Pinterest-perfect Milk & Honey Cottage boasts a wood-burning stove and sliding barn door. (Photos by Jeremy Sykes)

Milk & Honey Cottage

Set foot in Erica and Jimmy Barker’s Milk & Honey Cottage in Auburn and you instantly feel as if you’ve walked onto the set of a dreamy Nancy Meyers rom-com. Go ahead, spin a Frank Sinatra platter on that working Victrola, fire up the pellet stove, and curl up with a handmade guidebook highlighting the best local hikes and places in the historic town to find a steak or a pint of cider. Does your conversation suddenly seem wittier in such impeccably staged surroundings? Maybe so.

Above: The private patio with a lighted umbrella. Below: The coffee bar with beans from nearby Clementine Coffee Roasters and a burr grinder. (Patio photo by Erica Barker)

Before Airbnb came along, the Barkers (Jimmy runs a local web design business and Erica homeschools their two daughters) used to satisfy their hospitality itch by throwing absurdly over-the-top dinner parties for their friends. Now the design-crazy couple pour their energy into constantly perfecting their one-bedroom cottage, which started out three years ago as a bare concrete-floored workshop down the hill from their home. The farmhouse-chic décor flourishes create a kaleidoscope of Instagrammable tableaux, while telling a story that’s a love letter to Auburn, from locally sourced handicrafts to locally roasted coffee to locally grown bouquets of flowers.

From left: Put a Frank Sinatra record on the vintage-style Victrola turntable; a rustic welcome tray with chocolate-almond herbal tea and flowers from Auburn-based mobile florist Pistil Annie

But the perfecting doesn’t stop there. Erica is on a mission to track down every amenity her guests—who range from honeymooners to avid hikers—might ever dream of, from plush terry robes to a professional-grade coffee bar that includes a burr grinder to a basket of toiletries filled with a toothbrush, deodorant, razor and even a packet of bandages for those hikers’ blisters. In the kitchen you’ll find full breakfast makings, including a dozen eggs cradled in a porcelain egg crate, a lush basket of strawberries, juice, yogurt and oatmeal. And just when you think your stay couldn’t be more picture perfect, Bambi wanders into the frame, nibbling on the lawn. You won’t mind the minimum two-night stay at Milk & Honey—in fact, the only thing that will interrupt your reverie here is seeing the credits roll at the end of an enchanting weekend. $95-$105 per night plus fees. milkandhoneyauburn.com —Hillary Louise Johnson