Sarah Isonhart moved to the states when she was 16-years old to live with her Aunt Heidi and Uncle Bob Kretsinger in Missouri (her “adopted parents stateside”). After she married, she and husband Josh lived in a town called Morton, Illinois where they started their beautiful family, and lived for 10 years. “Having traveled the world and seen all of its beauty—beaches, trees, mountains and more, I just knew I couldn’t stay in Illinois forever. We started looking at where we could enjoy ourselves ALL year long… No rough winters, no gloomy weather, water to swim in, and things to do.” As fate would have it, Josh found a job in Savannah and took it instantly.
“Before moving to Richmond Hill I had so many questions,” says Sarah. “I was introduced to Erin Madden with The Wellspring Group by a friend in Illinois who had known her somehow. Erin told me about the schools and the community. We knew we had to find something similar to Morton, Illinois when we moved and it sounded similar.” Erin greeted Sarah and Josh and showed them around town. The canopied roads and gas-lit lanterns of Waterways led to all kinds of homes—cottages, craftsman, hardy and brick. Tucked away on one of the estate lots with the symbolic nature of a place far away was the house the Isonhart’s would soon call home. We didn’t tour their main house, just the incredible little guest cottage with the most thoughtful courtyard built behind Sarah and Josh’s beautiful home there.
“My Mom’s kitchen isn’t much bigger than this!” says Sarah, the visionary and design mastermind of Blom Vila. The guest cottage provides a place for family to enjoy during their long stateside visits, but also brings a sense of home to Sarah who grew up near Karlshamn Sweden. “Over there, it is all about outdoor living. It’s far more simple [than here]. Small homes, with just enough space for everyone to lay down at night. Otherwise, life happens outdoors. People work all winter and bank their weeks for their summer vacation!”
The cottage offers everything necessary to make Sarah’s family feel at home when they visit, and the vaulted ceilings make the 885-square feet feel much larger. All of the traditional amenities to create a fully functional guest house were part of the design Sarah envisioned. The one-bedroom, one (large) bathroom guest house with a laundry room and built-in bunk room has its own kitchen with a seated island, dishwasher, fridge and induction stove top. Comfortably sleeping seven, “It’s a tiny house with plenty of room inside.”
“In my mind I have always wanted enough yard space to build a guest house here,” Sarah says. “I wanted my aunt and uncle and my parents/family in Sweden to come stay with us. I wanted them to have their own unique space and not feel like they are intruding when they are visiting. It’s very common in Sweden to have guest houses or small houses in the countryside for guests to come and stay. I have four kids so I knew if I wanted family or friends to come visit, I would have to make this happen at some point. I had talked about it for years. The beauty of the Lowcountry, with its beautiful scenic views, should not be missed, “so we created a vacation home in our own backyard. Because truthfully, Richmond Hill is a hidden gem.”
Sarah visits Sweden in June most summers because that is when summer is in full bloom. “People in Sweden work all year to enjoy the summer time. The winters can be brutal, but the summer is absolutely stunning. There are lakes to swim everywhere, and the weather is beautiful. Everyone is outside. There are parks for children to play on almost every corner, outdoor seating at every restaurant, people sitting on park benches reading books or basking in the sun, literally enjoying life,” she looks around as if she is soaking in her own Swedish paradise.
“It’s not so much about how big your house is, or what parties you throw, or how amazing you can make your vacation look. It’s simple, small spaces that are functional and being outside with your children, playing or grabbing a coffee and a Swedish cinnamon roll and sitting outside in the beautiful weather. The average person earns about five weeks of vacation time and everyone takes that time in the summer. They either travel to their summer homes in the country to live simply, or they stay and find the simplicity around them. I wanted to create a simple and beautiful cottage backyard escape that reminded me of just that,” Sarah explains as we nod in awe at her accomplishment.
“I came up with the name while I was in Sweden. I knew I wanted the space to be all about flowers, since when I think of Sweden that’s pretty much how it is there! Blooma means flower, and Vila means rest, and I thought that was fitting for my little guest house.,” says Sarah. “I thank God and my wonderful Aunt and Uncle for helping me make this happen.”