My Little Cottage in the City – Loving the Island Life

If you have been a faithful follower of my blog, you no doubt have seen the many transformations made to our Little Cottage in the City, more especially, the kitchen transformation of this little abode.  And while Mr. Mobile Cottage and I liked our newly renovated kitchen, it just wasn’t fully meeting our needs.  The space felt cramped and closed off and although we loved how the kitchen looked and the small island placed in this space, it simply was awkward to utilize and impeded movement within the kitchen area.  So what did we do?

View of original kitchen

Another view of original kitchen area – YIKES!

Kitchen before -first renovation in progress – no charm

Kitchen- first renovation almost completed

Kitchen after first renovation with beloved island – so cute but hard to navigate around.

First, we identified our specific needs and uses for this area.  We knew we wanted to integrate a new stove/oven into this space but also have a large island which would incorporate space for bar stools, room for food prep and eating,  a work space for paying bills and other tasks along with additional cabinets for storage.  We also wanted a more open floor plan to allow for better traffic flow to adjoining rooms in our small cottage.

So to garner the open floor plan we desired,  we opted to take down a secondary section of wall separating the living room and kitchen areas.  However, it was a bearing wall and knowing that there was no way Mr. Mobile Cottage and I could install an 18 foot support header ourselves, we simply left one section of the original stud construction in place, this ensuring the newly opened area was fully supported.  Next, we started framing the island.

The island framing begins

Another view of framing

 

The cabinets and drawers go in along with a wall for the stove

Another view of the cabinets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In stock cabinets from our local home improvement store were put in place and we next looked to add charming details found in the rest of the cottage.  Scouring our home to see what we may have available that would add a unique feature to the island, I looked no further than the old window currently hanging in our laundry room.  I knew this old piece would add the character the new island was lacking,  but it soon became apparent this window would come in handy in two ways.  First, it would soften the appearance of the island and create a “china cabinet” effect and also allow us to disguise the back of the new stove.

The new “china cabinet” goes in with the addition of our signature trim

The stove is put in place behind the china cabinet

We next turned our attention to the barstool dilemma.  We decided to make a “barstool garage” behind the bank of  cabinets building a wall with just enough space to stow our bar stools out of sight when not in use.  This little space has truly worked exceptionally well and people are often surprised by the barstools as they are completely hidden from view from other rooms.

Side view of island!

Once we had all the basics of the island in place, it was time to turn our attention on incorporating more cottage charm.  We first painted the entire island several coats of crisp, white paint and added bead board to the sides and backside of the piece, and also added a “shiplap” wall using scrap wood to the little window/china cabinet area.  In addition, we  added butcher block countertops to match the rest of the kitchen, incorporated our signature, gingerbread trim around the perimeter of the island along with adding off-the-shelf, cottage style, support legs also found at our local home improvement store.  Floor moldings, decorative trim pieces, and more white paint on everything rounded out the charming piece.

We also tackled the ugly support beam and encased it with wood, gave it a hearty dose of trim top and bottom,  and added a cute little task light too.   The kitchen ceiling light fixture was swapped out for an “outdoor” lantern found on clearance and painted white and the appliances also received an upgrade.  The plate rack above the refrigerator was tweaked to accommodate the new refrigerator and pewter grain scoop handles and knobs were added to the cabinets and the remainder of the flooring was finally installed as well.

Paint on the island and the butcher block counter tops

The aptly named “China Cabinet” with its shiplap wall. The window can be opened for seasonal decorating changes. So cute!

 

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View of island into living area. Cabinets and hardware match other kitchen cabinets. Makes the Little Cottage feel spacious.

 

View into kitchen area. New kitchen island matches cabinets. Notice new plate rack, light fixture and appliances.

 

View into living room. Light, airy and open! (p.s. notice the cute fireplace just completed)

Our kitchen island is now the true hub of our cottage and provides us with the open, airy floorplan we desired while not overwhelming adjoining spaces.  The traffic flow is no longer closed off and although we did need to leave a support beam in the middle, it actually worked out well providing a spot for task lighting and an electrical outlet – perfect to plug in for today’s needs.

We truly are loving the evolution of our Little Cottage in the City.  This once forgotten house has now become a gem in our neighborhood and has sparked several home updates by our neighbors.  And what can be better than that?

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Stay tuned….you won’t believe the latest renovation we’re tackling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Little Cottage Fireplace – Back to the Stone Age

If you follow my blog, you know that my Little Cottage in the City built in 1956 came with no discerning character, lacked any charm and was at the time, your basic tract ranch style home meant for simple living. At a whopping 876 square feet, this little place proudly boasted 2 bedrooms, 1 tiny bathroom, a utilitarian kitchen, eating spot, living room and carport. Back then, open floor plans didn’t exist, and people mostly mingled in the living room area. Modest kitchens were meant for food preparation and basic eating.

But as I have shared in previous posts, our vision of renovating our Little Cottage was to dismiss these compartmental areas, thereby enjoying the open plan lifestyle most of us share today. (Look for a future post about our recently completed open floor plan kitchen renovation).

Once we opened up the Little Cottage living room area to the kitchen which opens to the dining room which opens to the porch (yes, you can see straight through the Cottage) we realized our cute fireplace, once the focal point of the Cottage, was underwhelming.  It was being swallowed up by the open floor plan and although cute in charm and details, it just wasn’t what we really wanted.  So what did we do?

The walled-in living room and fireplace wall when we first purchased the Cottage (and our favorite pet).

The fireplace – first renovation after adding mirror and trim – cute and charming, but small. Notice television in bottom

First, we decided that we wanted our television to hide out of sight when not in use, but in its current place inside the bottom of the fireplace, we couldn’t add doors nor any other “cover”,  so we knew it had to be moved.  Second, both Mr. Mobile Cottage and I have always adored the charm of an old stone fireplace. There is just something so endearing about stone coupled with crisp white wood in a cottage.  So there it was….we had a basic plan.

Starting with the beloved fireplace mantel that has traveled with us from place to place, we knew we wanted to incorporate it into the new design. We also knew we wanted the new fireplace to hold its own, thus it had to be bigger and have a space for the television too.  So we stated to build a basic design from floor to ceiling. First we ensured there was a cubby for the television and components and doors to close when not in use.

The building begins!

Another view!

Second, (here’s the part that took some time) we wanted stone somewhere. At first, the design was to encase the entire fireplace in stone. But after looking its placement in the rest of the cottage, all stone was going to overpower the small space. So after scouring magazines and online photos, we decided to simply do the fireplace “box” area in stone. Not wanting it to look too “boxy” we decided to do a simple arch in the fireplace box (thus giving it a nod to an original cottage fireplace) and once done, also decided to do another arch below where for now I have stowed an old basket just to provide more cottage charm.

The firebox is established and arched

The stone is added – cute basket underneath too!

The television now housed behind doors.

With the addition of our signature trim and crown molding at the top of the fireplace, arched bead board doors encapsulating the television, and adding other trim pieces, our fireplace now fits perfectly in our Little Cottage and provides a unique focal point as well as performing the utilitarian job of housing today’s electronics we all enjoy.   With the addition of real wood in the hearth and a couple other decorative items (not captured in photos) the fireplace now emboldens the cottage charm we desired.

In addition, the cost for renovation of the fireplace was minimal as we used plywood already on hand and recycled wood for the trim pieces.  The “hearth” is simply wood with trim painted  gray and distressed with black paint.  We also dry-brushed black paint around the firebox and on the stones to give it a more “used” fireplace look.  The stones were found on clearance at our local home improvement store and were actually made for backsplash usage, but for us became the perfect accompaniment for the fireplace.

 

The finished fireplace now is the focal point of the cottage and instills the cottage charm and details we love

As I have mentioned several times, our Little Cottage keeps evolving as we live in the space and as we renovate adjoining spaces. What might have worked when we first moved in, simply may need to be updated or “re-renovated” to fit in now. Such was the case of our fireplace which we now love and reflects our love of all things cottage and what could be better than that?

Stay tuned….our kitchen renovation of the renovation (I’ve actually lost count) is coming soon!

My Little Cottage – It’s Porch Time

My Little Cottage in the City continues to undergo a major facelift ever evolving into the sweet, charming place I love to call home. One of the spaces (or non-space) that we thought would be the last to tackle is the porch. However, with its proximity to the quiet, secluded back yard and a gurgling waterfall pond, it is now one of my favorite spots in the cottage. Most days you will find me glancing at magazines or books, or enjoying an afternoon nap in this little spot.  Even in inclement weather with the pattering of rain on the roof, I love to be curled up on the sofa enjoying a cup of coffee in this cozy room.

When we first purchased our little cottage, there was nothing remaining of the porch except a cement slab and remnants of some sort of former structure. But we were not deterred.

View of back porch

Another view of porch

Our first attempt at this little room was to build a screened porch, using the slab as the floor and adding walls and roof and giving all surfaces a fresh coat of white paint.  The roof (ceiling) of the structure was a simple build, using materials we had on hand and thus proved to give the porch ceiling the cottage feel we so love.  We also built a simple wall structure and added window screening along with a leftover screen door from other projects.  And even though this was a great space, we found we couldn’t use it in the heat of the southern summers and the screens just didn’t prove to be as useful as we thought to keep out inclement weather.  So what did we do?

The porch roof and walls

The outside view – windows are in!

Scouring Craigslist, we were able to secure a load of windows locally for  almost nothing, four of which we couldn’t use and were able to resell, thus making our out-of-pocket costs for these beauties minimal.  After putting in the windows, we next used an old French door taken out in another part of the cottage as our porch entrance door.  With the addition of a carpet remnant found at our local home improvement store, two vintage wicker chairs found at a local consignment store coupled with our Ikea sofa from our living room, my little porch was taking shape.  But it still needed more.

Carpet is down

Vintage wicker chairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old oar with barnacles – adds so more charm!

So once again, sourcing local thrift and consignment stores, I was able to find three old oars (one with actual barnacles still on it) and also used an “X” end table taken from another part of the cottage.  I also decided to use my beloved driftwood boat (which I gave a little makeover) and also took the bench I had at the end of my guest bed to use as a coffee table and added a cushion to it made from leftover white curtain fabric.

Next,  I found a cute, clearance-priced striped rug online (which I thought would add a hint of nautical flair) and added striped throw pillows scarfed up at my local home store.  I found the large “Nest” sign at a local flea market and although I had other ideas of where it would go originally, it added just the perfect touch behind the sofa and exemplifies the feel of the cottage.  I also added used white lined curtains, solar shades and mini-blinds for privacy and added a white table lamp;  all which add texture to the space and give this tiny space a light airy feel.  A new air conditioner (a must in the southern state we live in)  rounds out the items in this porch

Renovating our little cottage in the city has truly tested both Mr. Mobile Cottage and I.  Our initial ideas of what we thought our cottage could be have been executed, scrapped, revamped and reinvented, and are always being tweaked, such as our little porch.  But in doing so, this cozy, charming, cocooning spot is now one of the favorite spots to enjoy in the cottage and what can be better than that?

Our cute porch now!

Another view

More reveals are coming!

 

 

 

 

A Bed Makeover – A Refreshed Twist For An Old Bed

I just wanted to share a quick post on how I took an old bed frame which has survived a 15+ year history of moving with Mr. Mobile Cottage and I from house to house, endured several color makeovers to accommodate my ever evolving tastes and was transformed from its original form of a canopy bed subsequently cut down to accommodate a sloping ceiling, loft bedroom.  And yet, this hardworking, durable, bed frame has been transformed once again.

Bed frame before. Cute, but nothing special.

Although a blank slate for the plethora of linens I like to keep on my bed which I feel evoke cottage charm, the bed itself just didn’t speak cottage charm to me.  Then one day, when taking the mattress off the bed to launder the bed skirt (thanks to nightly collection of fur and oils from my beloved pet), I truly took a long look at the naked bed frame.  Yes, it was white, therefore fitting in with my neutral color scheme, but was nothing special. Glancing into my new master bathroom (more details about this coming up in a new post soon), it hit me.  Why not add the same charm found throughout the rest of my cottage to the bed?  After all, it is wood which could be cut and therefore, customizable.

So, putting Mr. Mobile Cottage to task on reinventing the bed frame one more time, he exceeded both my vision and expectation and now our bed has all the charm and cute character I had been seeking and hints to the trim found throughout the rest of my cottage and the best part of all?  It didn’t cost me a dime and what can be better than that?

Headboard with newly added cottage charm!

Full view of bed with newest makeover full of cute cottage details and white, fluffy linens

Sometimes I find that you just need to take a second glance at what you already have around your home and see if you can somehow refresh or reinvent it for your own evolving taste.   From paint to adding trims, moldings or other simple solutions, you too may just fall in love again with that once forlorn piece of furniture.  Why not give it a try; after all you may end up just loving your newest transformation as much as I do mine.

Stay tuned….more coming soon!

Inside Awnings? Yes, Please!

As my little cottage in the city has evolved, so has my desire to switch up and/or add more cottage charm to my small home. Such as the case with adding awnings INSIDE my home to the long forgotten, blank windows that flank my kitchen area.

One of the windows after initially moving in; bare and plain.

While I initially tried to give these windows a little charm by adding cute light sconces and roman blinds, every time I looked at them, I felt something was still lacking. Then, when viewing some outside awnings featured in one of my favorite magazines, it hit me, why not  add some awnings inside my cottage? They would give some presence to the lackluster windows and at the same time hopefully finally dress the windows with all the cottage character I was hoping for.

Other kitchen window upon cottage move-in. Yikes!

So with my idea in mind, I approached Mr. Mobile Cottage who at first shall we say, was less than enthusiastic, about the project. But, after showing him a sample photo of what I had in mind, he went about creating the first awning. Using a simple design and of course adding a dose of my signature trim to boot, my first awning was taking shape. With the addition of two coats of white paint, this little piece was just about perfect. But there was something still missing on the window. So before we put up the awning, we decided to also trim out the entire window frame using leftover wood and also giving it a dose of white paint as well. The result…..see below.

Window after awning and trim..oozing cottage charm.

Closer view…signature trim added.

Front view

As mentioned previously, we also decided to add an awning to the other kitchen window therefore giving a more cohesive look to the entire kitchen area.  But instead of making more of the same signature trim used on the window above, we decided to simply use some leftover trim pieces which fit perfectly into this other window area.  So although each window awning is different, they work seamlessly together and provide all the cottage charm I was seeking.

Kitchen window with awning added….so CUTE!

Kitchen sink window awning…closer view

Kitchen window awning…front view!

While we continue to work on our little cottage in the city, I am always scouting out new and creative ways to bring charm into our little abode.  And sometimes, this means thinking out of the box a bit, incorporating what might seem to some folks, “unique or strange” ideas reserved for outside endeavors only.   I fully believe your home and spaces need to reflect what makes you comfortable, what makes your home your sanctuary you love to come home to.  And what is better than that?

Stay tuned….we have been very, very BUSY!  I will be posting a lot more reveals in the near future….you won’t believe how our little cottage looks now!

 

 

 

 

 

A Rug for all Seasons (And a Dog)

As I have featured in many of my photos and shared with you in past posts, I have an aging golden retriever dog who has been a part of our family since he was 6 weeks old. He has been a loyal and faithful companion and we love him dearly. But as he has aged the past couple years, he has seen an increase in small “dribbling accidents” and his body odor has also changed. And since he spends most of his days lazyily napping in our living room area, I have often had to throw out and replace my beloved sea grass rugs as they retained these odors no matter what cleaning method I tried.

My seagrass rug - just didn't stand up to my beloved dog.

My seagrass rug – just didn’t stand up to my beloved dog.

Then one day I stumbled upon a rug at one of my coveted small home décor stores. It was centrally placed as you come in the door of the store but yet looked brand new. Although it was not a rug I would normally scout out, the color and pattern were different than anything I had ever purchased, I was intrigued.  Surely if this rug could stand up to all the dirty foot traffic coming and going from this shop, it could withstand my aging dog. So I immediately asked the shop owner if it were for sale.  Sheepishly she replied no as she too had been scouting for a rug that could withstand the foot traffic of the shop and found this one on sale at a discount chain store located directly across the street.  She added she had purchased the rug approximately 4 months ago and had only swept it off occasionally and that it was technically an outdoor rug, but with it’s design, it could be used anywhere.

As you can imagine, my next immediate stop was the discount chain store.  I scoured every inch, but could not find any more of these rugs, but I wasn’t going to be deterred and was now on a mission to score one of these beauties.  Once home, I quickly sourced the internet to see if I could possibly find one of these rugs.  I first looked on the discount store website…..nothing.  Then I expanded my search…and there it was…..and better yet, on deep discount!  So not only did I purchase one, I purchased three for the price of one.  But I was still apprehensive….what if it didn’t look good in my little cottage, what if it was too “outdoor-ish” looking and I simply just didn’t like the color or style after all?

Well, the rugs arrived in perfect condition and once I put one down in my living room, I knew I had made the perfect choice!  Coupled with my all white palette of furniture and furnishings, this gem took my room to a whole new level, elegant yet casual all at the same time.

My new indoor rug

My new indoor rug

Cute, cute, cute!

Cute, cute, cute!

 

My dog loves it too!

My dog loves it too!

This rug is truly a workhorse.  I clean it daily and it still looks brand new and doesn’t retain any odors and any “accidents” simply clean up with soap and water.  I have since put the same rug under my dining room table and it gives this area a more elegant feel as well.  The third rug?   Well, right now….it is standing guard in my decorating closet, but I am sure I will find a place for it soon.   In the meantime, both my beloved dog and I can relax and enjoy our time in our little cottage without worry…..and isn’t that what life is all about?  Stay tuned….more coming soon.

 

 

My Beloved Farm Table – Take Three?

If you read my blog, you know by now how much I love my farm table, but unfortunately, it was just too big to use in the dining room in my sweet little cottage. Not wanting to get rid of it because of its great bones and durable style, I first reinvented it to use in our Tiny Lakeside home as an island and a dining space. However, it simply took up too much room in that tiny abode as well.

So what did I do?  I started looking around my little cottage in the city to see if  space allowed for this little gem to again reside in my cottage.  First, I thought to place it in my laundry room; there was room for it and I could use it for folding laundry and other duties. But squirreling this cutie away in a room where it really was under utilized just didn’t feel right… I really wanted to be able to see and use this beloved piece every day.  So I started rearranging…..and then rearranged again and again until I came up with the perfect idea and place for this gem to call home.  So what did I do?

First, I started with coaxing Mr. Mobile Cottage into another renovation of this beloved piece.  He first cut the table legs down and reattached them to the appropriate height.  Next, he added pieces of our signature gingerbread trim around the entire body of the table since this was now going to be seen on all sides and once adhered, a fresh coat of white paint was added to the entire piece.  So what are we using this piece for now and what does it look like?  See for yourself below.

Newly reinvented "farm table" to coffee table!

Newly reinvented “farm table” to coffee table!

 

Front view - too cute!

Front view – too cute!

Another view - Love the stubby legs and of course, cute trim

Another view – Love the stubby legs and of course, cute trim

When you love a piece of furniture whether it be a family heirloom, a scavenged treasure or in my case a cherished piece that was given to me by friends, and it just doesn’t work in the space intended or you are just not sure what to do with it, sometimes it just takes reinventing (or in my case 2 reinventions) to make it the perfect piece for your home.  What I have learned over the years is that sometimes you just need to look beyond what a piece was intended for and  instead reinvent it for what you really want to use it for; such is the case for my  NOW beloved “coffee table”.  And what could be better than that?