Living Large In Small Spaces - A California Vine-Covered Cottage

Fifteenth post in the series 
"Living Large in Small Spaces"

Welcome and New Year's greetings to you.  I'm so glad you're here for another edition of Living Large In Small Spaces.

Today we're going to tour a cottage in Santa Ynez, California, which was the residence of Bonnie and David Forkner until they returned to their home state of North Carolina.  Bonnie is a talented artist and fabric designer (Bonnie Christine Fabrics) and David is a professional cycling coach. 

This charming cottage is such a great model for how to live and create in a small space. I know you're going to love it.

The 1000 square foot cottage -- a converted barn -- has 1 bedroom, 1 bath, and a loft for guests.

The Forkners and Toaster, their pretty pup, called the rented cottage home for eighteen months.

Bonnie says, "The story of how we found it is really a miracle. The housing market [in Santa Ynez was] a bit grim (ok, a lot grim), and let’s just say way out of our price range! After a few demoralizing days of house hunting, I went home to husband David and cried on his shoulder. We had a big prayer session and within about 5 minutes this place popped up on my craigslist iPhone app. With unassuming photos and a vague description, we tried to not get our hopes up, but hurried over to look at it. . .we snatched it up immediately."

An open floor plan, cathedral ceiling and lots of windows make the home look much larger than its actual size.

The cottage was decorated in neutrals and pastels.  All the beautiful quilts were made by Bonnie.

The kitchen is open to the rest of the living space.

Bonnie called this part of the kitchen "the cooking nook."  Though at first she thought it "was a bit quirky" she said it proved to be "a really great way to work while in the kitchen" since everything was so handy. 

Bonnie used the open shelves for food storage without sacrificing beauty.

A thrifter, yardsaler and DIY'er, Bonnie furnished the cottage with many of her economical finds.

On one of her "rummage expeditions" she found the dining chairs for 50¢ each!  

"I snatched them up," Bonnie says, ". . .and though they were good and sturdy, they needed a thorough cleaning up. . .after removing the spider webs, hosing them off and peeling back what seemed to be several years of disgusting chair covers (gross), I got down to the gold."  Bonnie sanded the chairs, whitewashed them and recovered them with new batting and some of her favorite fabrics. (Read more about them here.)

The ladder gives access to the loft.

One of the things I'm most impressed with is how Bonnie found space for her creative endeavors.  She ingeniously carved out"creative spaces" throughout the cottage, proving that limited room need not hinder self expression. 

Designing and blogging space next to the entry door.

A Small Reading Nook close by the blogging space.

The painting table was a thrift store find.

A Painting Nook next to the kitchen.

Bonnie made the driftwood chime.

The flowers were from Bonnie's garden.

Bonnie says her sewing corner was "a space in our bedroom that I took for myself!"

Each designated creative space was well organized with all the necessary supplies close at hand.

Who wouldn't want to work in these cheerful spaces?

The headboard was made from shipping crates.

The dresser is one of Bonnie's makeovers, and the patchwork art is her creation.  You can find the tutorial for the Patchwork Art here.

Wisteria covered arbor.

As one might expect, living in Central California offered great outdoor living for the couple.

A marine layer hovers in the distance.

The cottage is nestled in the Santa Ynez foothills, and "sits on a neighboring vineyard."

Bonnie said she made a wish list before she began looking for a home in Santa Ynez, and that the cottage met all her desires.

It's not hard to see why.

A huge "thank you" to Bonnie for allowing me to include this charming cottage in Living Large In Small Spaces. All photos belong to Bonnie and are used with her permission.

You can learn more about Bonnie, her lifestyle, art and fabrics (and see a beautiful photo of David and Bonnie with their adorable baby boy) at her blog Going Home to Roost.  There are lots of DIY tutorials available there, too.

Reminisce by Bonnie Christine Fabrics

Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces

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

From the comments I've received, many
people have been encouraged by the homes and lives shared here.
If you live in a small space I'd 
love to feature your story, too.
Send me an email and let's collaborate.
(See the "Contact Me" page for my email address.)


  1. I'm struck by the light all over the inside. From fhe exterior photo I'd assumed it would be dark. Beautiful!

  2. I love it. It's so beautifully decorated and looks so inviting.

  3. What a gorgeous home. So bright and inviting and so open. It does look and probably feel bigger than it really is with the open concept. That view of the vineyards how gorgeous. Nancy every week I keep saying ok this house is my favorite so far and then you find another cuter one lol! Love this one. Thanks for sharing Bonnie's home with us. Love this series and so happy to see it will be going on in the new year.

  4. Adorable! I love her style of decorating - those chairs are so cute! And the size is much more to my liking too. lol

    Happy Saturday!! xox

  5. Nancy, thank you for sharing the adorable cottage - the white walls and bright windows make the cottage look so much bigger than it is. Bonnie's beautiful fabric and use of colors add even more charm and happiness to the little cottage.
    I love this series and am looking forward to your next post.
    Wishing you a Happy New Year and success with your delightful blog posts. Blessings, Erin

  6. This really is an enchanted cottage. Bonnie did an outstanding job in using her space as well as making it beautiful. I love all the light that was streaming in through the windows and doors. So glad you did this series as I am throughly enjoying it....

  7. An adorable home! Loved how it was converted from a barn, I have cousins who converted their barn in to a home that houses 5! The openness of their home by the faulted ceiling and windows is awesome. It's funny though, when I see this many windows with no coverings I thing how cold it must be, and then realize they live in a warmer climate!

  8. SO cool! I love this one, Nancy, they did a wonderful job with their cottage. It's fun, funky and functional. The colors inside and view that nature provides outside are exciting and inspiring. I am sure it was hard for them to say goodbye to such a totally charming and enchanting space!

  9. This is my kind of home...all that bright, airy white with pops of color. So charming! And as a beginner quilter, I'm super impressed with Bonnie's lovely quilts. :)

    1. I agree that Bonnie's quilts are lovely. I really love her fabric line, too. It would be fun to sew with those pretty patterns.

  10. Beautiful . . . Love all the windows, white . . . makes it appear very large/open . . .
    And the quilts . . . yum!

  11. Nancy thank you for showing Bonnie's darling home, it is so bright and beautiful. The design is amazing. Jo

  12. I really enjoyed this home tour, Nancy. What I like most is the colors...the tones actually. Nothing shouts out or is jarring. I really love that. Organization is a smart thing Bonnie does here, she has spaces for all of her creative endeavors but nothing looks crowded or cluttered. And the view, the wisteria. Heaven on earth!

    Thank you so much for the great post! :)

    Jane x

  13. WOW. Nancy my friend, first of all, GOOD MORNING! Happy Sunday! I am going to enjoy every minute of today,as it is my last one on this glorious vacation. School resumes tomorrow!

    This was such a delight. This area looks just like Southwestern France, a region very close to my heart. But the cottage....OK, let's chat.

    Your features are so rich in imagination and HOPE for people who are either on a budget, have a small home to begin with, or who really want to see what they can do with less. This has to be one of my favorite of your shares, because this house is REALLY SMALL, yet the strategic and artistic operations to doll up this house are impressive. The light in the whole place, it makes this look much bigger than it is, the incredible deals (50 cent vintage chairs? SCORE!) and that VIEW????? That is worth the "compromise" of settling in a smaller home.

    Bonnie's photos are magazine-worthy. Your idea to elevate and feature smaller homes is brilliant. For years I've been dreaming of getting our story of our house into a well-known magazine, and though I've been very fortunate to be published three times already in 2014, my house in its entirety has not been featured. ONE DAY!

    Bravo for another uplifting tale about how a small house can become someone's castle. Now off to visit Bonnie! XOXOXOAnita

  14. This has to be my favorite cottage you featured so far. I love that she scoured garage sales for decorating. And who wouldn't love living next to a vineyard? My favorite spot would be that arbor. I can imagine laying in one of those hammocks and just enjoying God's creation. :)
    Thanks Nancy for finding all these lovely cottages for us to enjoy. I am going now to check out Bonnie's website.


  15. Last night we saw some floor plans for kits that you can purchase to build your own barn-house! And then this morning I read your post showcasing the most delightful barn house you could imagine! Thanks Nancy - such great inspiration that I always get from your blog posts. Bonnie is a very talented seamstress with a knack for making a small space beautiful and efficient. Love, love, loved it all!

    1. I have secretly dreamed of living in a converted barn. Years ago I saw such a home featured in Country Living magazine and I was smitten.

  16. Hello,
    This is a favorite of mine. I love the kitchen.
    I really like how Bonnie explained how she used her space. So many fun ideas with this home.
    I also love the colors.
    The headboard for the bed is very creative.
    Thank you.

  17. My thought through this whole post was how could they ever leave this place??!! Just cozy and gorgeous! Loved every picture.

  18. Oh My goodness! I just want to move in!! This is a rental,,,,they may not want to leave it. What wonderful windows and light, she has done a great job making the space so colorful and her own. Great post, thanks for sharing Nancy!

  19. My pleasure, Dawna. Glad you enjoyed the tour.

  20. Genius 100%. LOVE it.
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

  21. Love all the color and the outdoor arbor, what a!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY...

  22. What a beautiful and welcoming home! Thanks for sharing it. Visiting you from "Share Your Cup Thursday."

  23. Nancy, I love this series and this sweet cottage is another fabulous one! I love her creative spaces that she has organized so well for each of her talents. The white is so cheery and she has so many fun treasures! 50 cents for a chair, who ever heard of that? Great find! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  24. WOW, my first time visiting your blog and I will be a new follower. I live in a 1400 cottage in So CA, so this was all very interesting to me. Loved the cottage and that lady is one talented lady. Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious...!!! I am smiling from ear to ear, at the happy, charming, colourful spaces of this most attractive abode, Nancy! Thank you so much for featuring Bonnie's beautiful California cottage in your always interesting Living Large in Small Spaces series!


  26. What a charming house! I would love to rent that out too! Bonnie also has a great sense of style! Thank yo for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. This series is really neat :)

  27. What an adorable home. I love the happy colors! Santa Ynez is a beautiful place to live; though expensive, they found a way to make it work. xoxo

  28. Delightful!

    I just noticed these comments say 2015. I is 2015... Wow, how did we get here? ;-)

  29. What a happy space! I love all the light and the cheerful colors. Every space is so well thought out.


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