Saturday, October 11, 2014

Living Large In Small Spaces - Our Colorado Cottage

Fourth post in the series

"Living Large in Small Spaces"



Our Colorado Joyful Cottage

Dennis and I are no strangers to small house living.  In April 2011 we purchased and remodeled a 640 sq ft cottage in the Colorado Rockies. This was our full-time home until July 2013 when we sold it and relocated to Oregon.

It took three months to remodel the 1926 cottage. We hired a friend to help us and with the exception of the hardwood floor refinishing, kitchen cabinetry and countertop installation, plumbing, electrical and new roof, we did all the work ourselves.


Before the remodel 

Dennis called it a "Cowboy Cabin"

This and all the before photos that follow were taken the day we closed on our cottage purchase.

Mudroom

Entering through the back door
A piece of plywood covered what originally had been the bathroom window. Previous owners had removed the glass, put wallboard directly over the window opening on the bathroom side, and the plywood on the mudroom side.



A door on the left opened to a stairwell.  At the bottom was a tiny, dark basement where the water heater was located.





Dark vinyl paneling covered the other walls.



Kitchen




The minimal kitchen was probably last updated in the 1950's.  Mice had left their calling cards in the shallow cupboards and drawers.  The newer gas range, however, was in very good condition.




We sold the vintage refrigerator. While interesting, it was an energy hog.  Whatever changes we intended for the kitchen, I wanted to maintain the look of those wonderful windows.



 Living Room


More dark paneling along with drab carpet and maroon curtains gave the living room a cave-like feeling.  On a positive note, there was a charming red gas heating stove in the corner, a gorgeous hardwood ceiling, and adequate natural light.




The front door was located at the opposite end of the living room.  (A dilapidated deck barely stood outside; one side was propped up by a lilac bush.) The area where the white walls begin was probably a porch converted into additional living space. 





Bedroom


The little rug on the door was covering up a fist-sized hole.




There wasn't anything special about the bedroom except the hardwood floor.  When I saw it I suspected there were hardwood floors throughout the cottage.  I couldn't wait to pull up the carpet and find out.



Bathroom


Accessed from the bedroom, the bathroom was one of the smallest I've ever seen in a stick-built house; a 4' tub/shower combo, a tiny vanity, and a commode were crammed into the space.   


Will we have hardwood floors?



The day after closing I pulled up all the carpet.


My suspicion was confirmed -- hardwood floors.


Even in the kitchen under two layers of linoleum.



Let the demolition begin


Everything and the kitchen sink



The first room we gutted was the kitchen.


The walls were lath and plaster, typical for the home's age.


Bathroom demolition revealed dry rot and mold from shower and bathtub leaks, so most of the walls and flooring had to be removed and rebuilt. The tall crawl space proved very beneficial to our remodel, especially for the electricians and plumbers. We planned to enlarge the bathroom by taking space from a walk-in closet, its frame seen at the top of the photo. 


The only other room we gutted was the mudroom.


We eliminated  the basement stairwell to make room for a pantry and laundry area.  (Don't worry, we created another access to the water heater.)


Now comes the fun part


It took several days for the flooring contractor to refinish our hardwood floors, and we couldn't have been happier with his work. He was thrilled to discover the heart pine wood -- a hardwood that he said isn't common to the area -- and believed it was probably shipped in at the time the cottage was built.


Because the floor refinishing came first to accommodate the contractor's schedule and we still had the rest of the remodeling work to do in the cottage, we covered the finished floors with Ramboard, a product that protects the floor while allowing it to cure.  It took us four hours to roll out the Ramboard in three rooms and tape it down; well worth the effort when one considers how expensive it is to have floors refinished.

After the remodel

Mudroom


Removing the stairwell gave us room for a built-in pantry and stacked full-size washer and dryer. Dennis raised the ceiling at the entrance to accommodate a standard height entry door.


By moving the kitchen door over we made space for a closet opposite the washer/dryer. We created a new access to the basement -- where the water heater is located -- from inside the closet.  A door on the floor lifts up to reveal a ladder to the cellar.



We enlarged the windows and added a shelf for plants.  




A door to the bathroom from the mudroom was added.


Kitchen

View from the mudroom.
The knotty maple cabinets came from a friend's custom kitchen showroom.  He had dismantled a display and gave us a super deal. I handed him my kitchen design and he customized the cabinets to fit, including adapting the sink base to accommodate the stainless steel farm sink.


He cut down a wall cabinet and added shelves for cookbooks, and wavy glass to the cabinet door for the vintage look I wanted.


To fill the gap between the OTR microwave and window, he built a pull-out spice rack.




We installed beadboard on the ceiling.  Dennis cut down one of the original interior doors to fit the attic access, and I painted it to match the beadboard.  The repurposed door was a fun way to remember the original cottage

View from the living room
The French door leads to the mudroom. We reused the range; all other appliances were purchased new as a package from one supplier. 




A friend made the wall cabinet for us.  Decorative baskets on the shelves double as storage.  The open shelved counter-height unit is a repurposed $40 cabinet we found at a local thrift shop.


Our cabinet guy added the countertop, which matched the rest of the Wilsonart laminate.  I replaced the drawer pulls shown here with cup pulls to match the other kitchen hardware, and Dennis made additional shelves for storage (not shown in this photo).



I found a pot rack on Craigslist for $15 and spray painted it black to cover the less than desirable gun metal gray.  

Living Room



This photo is from our real estate listing.  The console under the double windows is part of my staging.  



We actually used that area for dining.

I painted over the dark paneling with Valspar Wicker. Serendipitously, a friend had salvaged five gallons of the paint, leftover from a hotel renovation, and asked me if I wanted it for our remodel.  The color was perfect for the cottage, and I was able to cover all the walls and new ceilings in the living room, bath and mudroom at no cost for the paint.  



This portion of the living room received a dramatic transformation. Dennis moved the door and installed windows to match those in the rest of the cottage.


Before and After 


Bedroom



We left the paneling on three walls and I painted it.



The nightstand is repurposed from a 1940's vanity I found at a thrift store for $20. It was in rough shape and missing a mirror.


Not the actual vanity, but close.

Dennis cut off the drawer units and I painted them to match colors in our comforter. We set the little finished tables side by side in the space between the bed and the wall to create a nightstand the ideal size.



The wardrobe in the corner is a repurposed pantry unit from the kitchen display mentioned earlier. Dennis installed a hanging rod in the lower section.  The top section held drawer units that he could easily reach.  I used the armoire for my things.


Bathroom


We retained access to the bathroom from the bedroom, but moved the door over a bit to make room for the shower and a cadet heater.


The spacious shower replaced the old closet.




We were able to reuse the existing commode, as it was in great shape, and ordered a pedestal sink from the same Kohler collection.

Dennis, who worked his way through college as a stonemason/bricklayer, enjoyed doing the tile work and all the heavy texture on  the new walls and ceilings in the cottage.


Shower Tile Close Up



Exterior


View of the cottage from the west
I took this photo the day we completed the exterior remodel.  


Do you think we made a difference?


View of the cottage from the south
And this one just before we sold the cottage two years later. Isn't the native grass beautiful?  Dennis worked so hard to get it established.

Next Saturday I'll share more about our Colorado homestead. We'll take a look at the 1880 log barn we converted to an art studio for Dennis, and I'll share tips for living large in a small space.  I hope you'll join me for the next post in this special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces




See more home tours in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.


Would you like to share your small space story 
or have your home 
featured  in this special series?
Send me an email and let's collaborate.
(See the "Contact Me" page for email address.)

55 comments:

  1. Dear Nancy ... love, love, love your homey little Colorado Cottage. I am sure you both found it difficult to leave your cosy little cottage and move away after all of the hard work that you put into it to make it just as you wanted. I am sure whomever lives there now is very happy and content. Thank you for sharing. Weekend Blessings ♥ Teri

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    1. Thank you, Teri. I think it's more difficult now than it was when we first left. I'm sure that's because we don't yet have a home of our own and I feel somewhat displaced. This, too, shall pass. Enjoy your weekend. xxx

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  2. What an amazing renovation. I do not know how you were able to sell and leave this cowboy cabin that you made a home. It's beautiful.

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    1. You're so kind. Thank you. One thing that made it easier to leave was the excitement of the couple that bought our home. xxx

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  3. Wow! All the work you did is amazing and the home looks so beautiful. I would be so attached after all that hard work that I would not be able to sell it, just gorgeous!

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    1. Gigi, it's not always easy to make a change like this. However, looking at our dwindling bank account definitely helped us make the move. :) xxx

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  4. Nancy, this is so great! I am so amazed. I never would have seen the potential. I really love the kitchen and painting the paneling was a super idea, my daughter is going to do that in her basement. Thanks for the tour!

    Jane xx

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    1. You're welcome, Jane. Painting the paneling was an inexpensive fix and I loved the result. If your daughter is painting a laminate or vinyl paneling then I highly recommend she use a primer coat of a product specifically made for painting that type of surface. I used Glidden Gripper, but there are others on the market, too. Thanks for your very nice words. xxx

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  5. What a gorgeous makeover.. I would love a little cottage like this.. Everything is beautifully done! Happy weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Eileen. You're very nice. Happy weekend to you, too. xxx

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  6. You were very brave to take on a project like this and look what you accomplished! What a wonderful change you made! I love all of the natural light and beautiful wood in this home. I love seeing the before and after photos! Hugs!

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    1. Thanks so much, Diane, for your very sweet comment. xxx

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  7. So adorable! It's so much fun to renovate. xoxo

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    1. It is fun, Sue. I've done it with more homes that I can recall at this moment, and I never tire of it. Thanks for stopping by. xxx

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  8. Amazing what clever people such as you and Dennis can come up with! This is so adorable and, even though you moved on, I just know whomever lives there now must be thrilled to have such a perfect small house. You certainly put not only hard work and great ideas into this reno, but also a lot of love I'm sure. The interior is so spiffy and the exterior excellent - Dennis must have work really hard on the grass - Bob's been busy reseeding ours for several weeks and I can vouch for all the many hours of watering and care he's put into it. A woman driving by stopped yesterday and complimented us on the garden - actually said we were definitely winners of the 'yard of the month' - and we don't even have that little neighborhood competition any longer, haha!

    Nancy - our cottage is a very small house - just about 1200 SF - perfect for us though and in no way am I envious of the huge homes which seem to appear all around our town. The latest one noted nearby has to be at last 10,000 SF and covers the entire lot! It honestly resembles a castle complete with a turret and huge stone and wrought iron walls. I does look so out of place and I think the neighbors must be incensed over it. I can't believe that a building permit was issued - all the adjacent houses are quite a bit smaller, perhaps 1500 - 2000 SF. I guess money and standing in the community had a lot of pull with this one!

    Thanks for sharing this great story with pics - it was truly interesting.
    Happy weekend - Mary

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    1. Thank you so much for your very kind comment, Mary. It is interesting that building a smaller home is often harder to gain approval for from a city than building something huge. Blessings. xxx

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  9. Hi Nancy,

    Wow! What an impressive transformation! Such smart, practical and pretty changes in every room, extending all the way to the front door and beyond. I love the layout, the painted furniture, the stainless steel apron sink, the charming bedroom decor, and all that lovely natural light! I don't think I would have been able to leave this cozy and colourful cottage in Colorado! Kudos to you both!

    Happy weekend!

    xx
    Poppy

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    1. Thank you, Poppy. I've seen your beautiful home, so your compliments mean a lot. xxx

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  10. Fascinating. I will look forward to part II

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying this, Joan. Thank you. xxx

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  11. Wow, you guys really had a vision with that cottage! I know that I have seen pictures before, but certainly not in that much detail. You did such a wonderful job, it really is so charming. I bet it was a hard place to leave. I give you credit for going through it again! Although, in some ways, I think a new build is easier than a renovation....making old and new fit can be very challenging! Thanks for another lovely Saturday read! Have a great week! Oh...almost forgot...my husband worked his way through college working on construction sites, too. Masonry was one of his favorite jobs! Two three backsplashes and three bathrooms later, it has come in very handy! ;)

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    1. You're right, Kim. Planning a new build is easier in some ways. Definitely from the standpoint of layout. We looked at a lot of existing homes in Colorado before we found this one in our price range. The problem with older homes is that so many have been poorly kept or they've been remodeled in a way that makes no sense. Rooms added in weird places, poor quality materials used, etc. Now, the problem with building a new home today is that materials are so expensive. It's good to have husbands with construction experience who aren't afraid to take on major projects. If we were twenty years younger we'd probably be building the entire house ourselves. And we'd enjoy it. As it is, we're looking to have the shell built and we'll finish the interior. xxx

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  12. Nancy,
    You made an incredible difference....love the cottage. Your decorating is so pretty...what a charming, cozy cottage.
    Warmest regards,
    Diane@babiesbridesandlavender

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  13. The difference is like night and day. Wish I had your vision. So lovely to look at the 'after' photos.

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    1. Thank you, Ann. Looking at the before photos again I was struck by how much work we really did. It never seemed like work at the time, we enjoyed the process so much. Enjoy your day. xxx

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  14. So charming!!! I love the living room - it looks so inviting. Great job on that place. It sure was rough when you bought it!!!

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    1. Thanks, Anne. It's funny how often "before" photos fail to capture how bad a place really is. Someone with your remodeling experience can probably really see and understand the condition of that house when we started. Hugs.

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  15. Beautiful little home. Can't wait till next weekend . I am really loving this series. I am remodeling my little home on a very small budget. I want to decorate in retro beach cottage. Love seeing the before and asters. Debbie

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    1. Beach cottage is a lovely style, Debbie. Retro beach would be a lot of fun. Each home has a personality and it's up to us to discover it and make it shine. Best wishes as you work on your own cottage. Thanks for your very nice comment. xxx

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  16. What a lovely job you both accomplished with your cottage. We also left a place that we redid and dearly loved. It was on a lake which became too over crowded, taxes and neighbors galore. So we moved on and found our dream of a house that we also love.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, LJ. I'm hopeful that I'll feel that way about our next home. xxx

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  17. Wow-what a phenomenal transformation! You guys did an amazing job!
    Susan

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    1. Thanks, Susan, for your kind words. xxx

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  18. I can barely believe it's the same cottage after all of the TLC you put into it, Nancy! There are so many touches that I just love, but my favorites are the green front door, and the entire bathroom redo. Also, I am a sucker for painted paneling (I also love painted brick!)

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    1. The green color was Dennis' idea, Julie, and I have to say he picked a great shade. I'm glad you like the bathroom. It was a really fun project. I happen to like painted paneling, too. My late husband was a painting contractor and he would NEVER let me paint over laminate paneling. Any house we bought that had paneling. . .the paneling had to come off. Dennis could care less, and so now I can paint all the paneling I want. :)

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  19. Wow Nancy, you really did a fabulous makeover on your cottage! I loved seeing the before and after photos. So wonderful that it did have the original hardwood. Really turned out beautiful!
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. Thanks a bunch, Jann. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the whole project. xxx

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  20. I live in a 2700 sq.ft. Victorian home but I could easily give it all up to live in your cozy little cottage! That is actually my next dream home....as long as it fits all my stuff! What an incredible transformation!!

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    1. AnnMarie, you may have to have two little cottages. One to live in and the other to hold all your collections. :) xxx

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  21. You are a brave brave BRAVE lady! And wow did it pay off. The place looks amazing! Found you on the Dwellings The Heart of Your Home link up =)

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    1. Wow, I've never thought of myself as brave, Kyla. I like the thought of that, and believe I'm going to need some bravery for our next adventure. ;) I'm so glad you found me at Cindy's blog. Your comment made my day. Thank you. xxx

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  22. Wow what a transformation. So glad you took photo's. Thanks for sharing this. I am following so I can stay up to date! I enjoyed the tour!

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    1. Thank you. I once had more photos, but lost them in a computer mishap. Fortunately, I still had these. I appreciate your visit, and delighted that you enjoyed the tour. xxx

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  23. What an amazing transformation. It looks great.

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    1. You're very sweet to say so. Thank you, Trish.

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  24. Wow...such an adorable transformation! You saw the potential and made it happen. Love the color of the front door, too.

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    1. Thank you so much, Cindy. Have a great day.

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  25. Another charming redo :) Thanks for sharing this neat series on the Art of Home-Making Mondays Nancy! I am enjoying it very much.

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    1. I'm glad, Jes. Thanks for your visit and kind words.

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  26. Love all the transformations - especially the wooden floor! I am delighted that you shared at Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy

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  27. You did an amazing job on that Cottage. Your kitchen was darling, I love how you transformed the living-room - an other proof that windows are very, very important. And your bedroom was charming. I know you can do it again in an other Cottage.

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  28. Hi Nancy!
    What a tremendous transformation and labour of pure love! It spells H-O-M-E. I hope you love your new home as much.
    Hugs,
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

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