Remember the Nest? A cottage renovation project that took way longer than anticipated but ended up being the house of our dreams? After months of planning, decision-making and building, my little family and I were thrilled to bits when our favorite hometown decor magazine, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, said they wanted to come by to check out the redo.
So, I begged Huff Harrington Home’s two in-house designers, Sam and Martha Douglas, to help me get the Nest camera-ready – and they didn’t let me down. AH & L followed quickly on their heels and we spent an entire day shooting the house with Erica George Dines behind the camera and editor-in-chief, Elizabeth Ralls, directing us all. Even the cats co-operated.
We’ve been a little quiet about the Nest because we were waiting for the images to be published – and I’m now jumping up and down with joy that they are in the newly-released May issue. You can read the whole story right here. Thank you, thank you, thank you Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles!
Who doesn’t love cottage renovation befores and afters?
Here’s a little walk down the cottage renovation memory lane with some good befores – and the fun afters:
The Nest began life in the late 1920s as a little cottage full of nooks and crannies and when we first saw it, our minds immediately began racing with the possibilities.
As soon as we closed on the house, we made two calls: one to architect Linda MacArthur and the second to builder, Michael Ladisic. And with the Dream Team (including the fun, creative and energetic Joe Trehan) in place, the fun began.
Bye-bye formal living room!
In a nutshell, we decided to gut the interior, carve out three bedrooms upstairs and a master downstairs. Because we realized we only really live in three spaces – and we were soon to be empty-nesters – we gave top priority to the master bedroom and bath, the family room/kitchen and a nice big porch. Gone was the formal living room. And bye-bye dining table for ten. Hello, small and stylish kitchen and nice, roomy porch!
So…take a look at the before’s and the afters:
To play off the cottage vibe, we installed shiplap everywhere on the first floor. It keeps the small spaces unified and cohesive – plus I love how rustic-chic it is.
The original kitchen was long and narrow. The minute we saw it, we thought it would make a perfect butler’s pantry.
The original master bedroom didn’t have any space built over it, so it had a vaulted ceiling. We actually had grand plans for the master suite but, as the ups and downs of a renovation go, we had to rethink the master bedroom when we ran into a little technical hurdle. Once we all put our heads together, we ended up with a small but charming space that we now adore.
Here’s the original master:
And, our new master bath. We kept it simple:
We’re crazy about porches and love using them as dedicated living spaces.
Here’s the new porch, aka, the outdoor living room. We honestly spend so much time out here. We love the iron windows that open from the kitchen and we checked off everything that was on our wish list: fireplace, a wall-mounted (but cleverly concealed) television and plenty of room for lounging and dining.
We carved out three bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and I love how cottage-y it feels up there.
This was one of the bedrooms, before:
Back downstairs, we have a tiny little foyer where the stairs head up. It’s turned out to be a great spot for a little collection of treasures: a crusty gilt mirror and a sweet little portrait I found at an antiques fair in France.
Lessons learned from a cottage renovation
We knew we wanted to keep things simple, small and charming in the Nest so here are some things we opted for:
- One color: we painted the entire house, inside and out, Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster. It’s a lovely, creamy white.
- Use every inch: the house is small, but efficient. We cut all the extra spaces, like a home office, a formal dining room and a giant mudroom. (I work at the kitchen island; we don’t throw enormous parties; and, we’re about to be empty-nesters!)
- Go for texture: since we went with one color throughout, we went for texture: shiplap on the walls, the most fluffy and luxurious shag carpet in the master, beach-glass colored glass tiles in one of the college girl’s bathrooms.
- Go with the flow: renovating an older house can be full of surprises…so be flexible and have plenty of choices in the pipeline.
In the end, the Nest went from not-too-terribly ugly duckling to a nice little swan – and we couldn’t be happier.
Coming soon: we’ll chat exteriors and landscaping the Nest. I’m thinking cottage gardens, climbing roses and boxwoods!