Transforming a Small Cottage

I am a designer who has long retired. However, I had a customer with whom I had done two houses for. One her main residence , which I did from the ground up and two, a home for her son and his wife when they married. She now purchased a small cottage near her daughter which is 8 hours from her home, so she can spend half her time there to be with her grandson and her daughter and her husband. It was a pretty plain little house, but mostly the space was very poorly used. I was 800 miles from the cottage but by asking her to measure rooms for me and us facetiming for hours showing me the rooms, I was able to draw the home to scale and make some small changes that made the home so much more livable. We added closets, outlets, including cables and rehung doors to swing the opposite way to give us more space. Men should never design houses. I do not have a design certificate , neither an I an architect, but I have a natural talent of drawing home plans including the electrical layouts and such to scale. I am very particular about the usage of space in a home. When I build a home from the ground up, I always graph the furniture to the plan so the electrical outlets will be hidden as much as possible and I put outlets in the back of bathroom drawers so your hair dryer and curling irons can be used by simply opening the drawer and using them and then turning off and laying back in the drawer to be closed, so the counter top is never cluttered. I also am very particular about the way doors swing and also the placement of windows. This little cottage was only 1200 sft, but we got so much more out of it than the previous owners. I am not including all of the home because I can only load so many photos. There is another bedroom and also a room we used as an office which came out beautiful. I hope you enjoy . I flew there when we had all the structural things done and the furniture I ordered was in and I then accessorized the whole house and made all the arrangements. The plantation shutters were not in yet when I was there and the patio out back with a fireplace was not finished.Space would also prevent me from showing you those.
The front of the cottage before
This is the living room before looking from the Master bedroom doorway. The sofa was backed to the kitchen, where there was a small overhang I guess to be used as a Bar but it was useless, as the Living room had only two solid walls, the one backing to the front room which we used as an office and then the wall on the right as you entered the room. This space was needed so we cut the overhang off, which you will see below. The Television took up the best wall in the room.
The sofa backed up to the kitchen and the rocker was in the walkway into the kitchen, making it very cut off.
The master bedroom had only one solid wall and it was on the left as you entered the room. The door swung into the room against that wall making it useless as a bedwall. The previous owners had a Queen bed between the windows on the opposite side. The door on the back wall led to a walk in closet .
As they had it furnished, the bed was on the outside wall between the two windows and the bath door and the door to the entrance was on the wall to the right of the bed.
The kitchen had ample space for an island to be built and this gave us so much more room for storage and also added 3 places to sit and eat. The Kitchen was upgraded with new countertops , a farm house sink and a new gas range and nice refrigerator. These however, added no greater use of space but were esthetically more pleasing.
This is looking from the kitchen towards the living room and as you see the chair is blocking the way to the front door, front bedroom, Office and Guest bath. Not to mention the fact that the refrigerator was on the end of the cabinets, so as you entered the front door you were looking at the side of the refrigerator which was not a pretty site. The wall to the left of the rocker we used for the television , and that added 5 more feet to the Living room. The foyer was 5 feet wide and that space continued into the living room and to not use it was a real waste.
We began by picking the paint out to make it cheerful and cozy at the same time. We painted all the walls in the house but the two bedrooms with a soft blue green. We also put down tile/plank look floors through the house. Plantation shutters went up after I left. We placed a sofa between the windows in the Living area and and then by moving the Television to the Foyer end of the wall, we gave ourselves 5 more feet in length in the room. We were able to have the sofa, a Club chair and ottoman, a coffee table, two end tables, a wing back with side table, and a bookcase, where as the previous owners only had room for a sofa and a chair in a most awkward position that completely broke the flow of the home. I wish I could post more photos, as the little whimsical table we found that we used at one end of the sofa was so cute. I would like for you to be able to see it up close. Almost all the art and accessories were bought at Marshall's Home Goods and they cost very little. They are a great place to buy small tables , art and accessories. Goodwill is the best place to buy books. You can get some great ones for 2.00 each. If I had more room for photos I would show you a close up of the small porcelain Mustache cup on the table beside the clubchair and ottoman. IT was a gift she had given her mother in law many years ago and her mother in law had recently passed and she got the cup back so I made a dainty arrangement to go in it. The Club chair is a swivel glider which will allow guest to turn to watch TV or turn to engage conversation with others on the sofa.
This wicker table is part of her patio furniture, but we later purchased an ottoman for use as a coffee table and it could also be pulled in front of the Wing back as a foot stool.
I wish the plantation shutters had come in before i had to leave. I would have loved to see them in person.
The island made the kitchen so much more usable. Much more cabinet space, counter top surface to work on and also room to seat 3 people on bar stools. Plantation shutters also would cover the sliding glass doors at the back of the kitchen which when finished will have a large covered patio with fireplace.
By tearing out the section of cabinets and moving them to the right and bringing the refrigerator down to the pantry wall, it cleared up the eyesore of seeing the refrigerator side when you walked in the front door. there is a direct line of sight from the front door to the back of the eating area of the kitchen.
The Master bedroom was able to use the solid wall to the left as you entered the room , for a King size bed with two night tables, simply by making the door swing outwards, where it fit perfectly into a small set back nook off the Living area. We were able to put a chest of drawers and two chairs also in the master bedroom. This room also got plantation shutters which framed out the windows, after I was there. Why are the makers of shutters always late????
You can see here from the master bedroom into the living room. The door previously swung right were the table beside the bed was and we would have lost 30 inches of space, making it impossible to have a king size bed. Just the rehanging of a door can change so much
The front exterior got shutters and the door painted a deeper blue to make it pop a little more.

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3 of 4 questions
  • Nancy Turney Nancy Turney on Oct 20, 2018

    I would like to know where you found a floral sofa, also. All I can find is solids.

  • Sue Sue on Feb 17, 2019

    Love your decorating style! I to have looked for nice flowered furniture, I agree it just gives a much warmer look to most things. I really like that cabinet with the glass doors. Would like to see more of what you do and use some of your ideas how can I contact you?

  • MLH MLH on Mar 07, 2021

    Do you by any chance remember the name of the blue green paint color? It’s very soothing.


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2 of 148 comments
  • Diane Taylor Noel Diane Taylor Noel on Jun 10, 2017
    Beautiful transformation..

  • Barb Barb on May 22, 2020

    I love the curb appeal by adding the shutters and painted door it’s so inviting. First impressions are everything and you did that. The kitchen turn out great adding the island gave it character, the up lighting over the cabinet and moving the refrigerator made the look. The full fabric kitchen set with matching china cabinet is stunning. You made you cottage magazine shoot ready. 👁❤️IT! 👏🏼👊🏼💪💡