Cottage in Dayton historic district invites year-round entertaining

Homeowner employs cozy, yet luxurious vibe.

Planning progressive dinners with neighbors or attending the Dayton Porchfest in the St. Anne’s Hill Historic District are just some of the jewels that enticed Terri Miller to purchase a home in the area.

“What drew me to the home first was the neighborhood,” Miller said. “You can count on your neighbors for any support or help you may need. The events and sense of community here give you a small-town feel with all the amenities and excitement of downtown just blocks away.

“When I first saw the house, I was instantly drawn to its charm, but knew it was waiting for my personal touch and needed someone to love it,” said Miller, who is the community manager at The Delco Lofts and The Sutton, for Crawford Hoying.

Miller, 56, purchased the home in May 2022 after selling her townhouse downtown. “I knew I wanted to stay downtown and was thrilled to find a property in this neighborhood,” she added.

The home was built in 1919. “I believe it was a two- or three-bedroom home originally but had been renovated by a neighbor and used as a rental for many years.”

The 1,036-square-foot home feels more spacious due to the open floor plan. Currently, the house has one bedroom and 1½ bathrooms. The architectural style is Victorian cottage, according to Miller, and its gingerbread-house detailing outside and petite prettiness is evident.

“I would say my vibe is modern vintage with a bit of maximalism. I wanted to create a cozy vibe, but with unexpected pops of luxury,” she added.

Above all, Miller desired creating “somewhere to relax and entertain.”


“My first major project was the kitchen and laundry room renovation, which aside from the counters, was done with the help of friends — (who were) generous of their time and patience and skills,” Miller said.

Nothing is simple, Miller pointed out, when working with a house this age.

“I definitely learned that TikTok videos can only take you so far,” Miller said with a laugh. Carpentry skills are required. When it comes to plumbing and electrical projects, Miller hired professionals.

“This year I have been focused on the yard, with plenty more projects to go,” Miller said. “I’m learning that everything takes time, so patience has been my main challenge. I will never be short on projects here.”

With a career that has included working as a florist and hair stylist, Miller’s design skills come naturally.


At the front porch of her home, two upholstered chairs stand side by side and create the illusion of a loveseat. What makes the pairing particularly inviting is the fabric’s large-scale lemon print. Miller confesses, with a smile, that the clearance-priced chairs from HomeGoods are actually intended for indoor use. Nonetheless, she covers them during inclement weather.

Miller’s grandfather had crafted the wooden bric-a-brac years ago, and now the items enhance the lines of Miller’s front porch.

The front door opens to the living room where the bursts of the bright yellow are less of the focal point. Using layers of dramatic color, Miller has tapped into maximalism.

Miller used Sherwin-Williams’ Tricorn Black interior paint on the walls, providing theatrical flair yet also smartly pairing with white for a classic contrast. Since it’s a true black, according to Miller, it easily works with any undertone.

The living room flows into the kitchen where Miller refreshed the cabinets, using Benjamin Moore’s Natural Creme paint. The heavy lifting, which took about two months, in this room also involved rearranging appliances and adding an expansive kitchen island with quartz counter.

More work ahead for Miller will be remodeling the master bathroom that is at the back of her bedroom.


If luck be a lady, then Miller is certainly a grand dame. Her persistent, yet polite, ability to score inexpensive finds for her home is impressive. For the kitchen, she picked up a chandelier at a community garage sale for $20.

A stately display case in the kitchen was a thrift-store find for $100.

Retailers such as IKEA, Big Lots, HomeGoods and Arhaus The Loft also afford Miller the opportunity to purchase high-end furniture, artwork and soft furnishings like pillows and throws at discount prices.

Clearly, Miller enjoys scouting shops for spectacular finds.


With a passion for the arts, Miller infuses her home with mementoes from her visits to museums, ballet and theater shows. In the living room, a reproduction print of Vincent van Gogh’s “Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette” graces a corner. A display of clocks and other timepieces Miller has collected throughout the years adds enduring appeal.


On a breezy summer day, Miller strolled through the backyard and pointed out various features. A whimsical twist emerges in the gnome gardens Miller has carefully created along one side of the fenced backyard.

While the resident gnomes appear to be having a jolly time, Miller also has fashioned three gathering spaces in the backyard for friends and family. A freestanding gazebo was recently installed near the back door and offers shade and ample space for brunch or evening cocktails. Behind this structure is a swinging porch and, farther back, a red cafe bistro set with two chairs and a black-and-white striped umbrella.

Ferns, cold-hardy banana trees and colorful flowers dot the backyard, which is surprisingly larger than one would think.

Miller, who moved to Dayton 14 years ago from Celina, has many ideas for the outdoor space. As a little girl, she says she often dreamed of building the perfect treehouse. Although a treehouse might not be in the works now, one can only wonder how fantastical it would be in Miller’s creative and capable hands.

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