Living Large In Small Spaces - A Petite Cottage

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

Welcome Cottage Friends.  

I'm so glad you're here for another edition of Living Large In Small Spaces.

Several weeks ago I discovered a blog with two of my favorite words in its title: Petite and Cottage. After visiting her blog, I contacted Ana author of A Petite Cottage with an invitation to share her sweet San Diego home and the story behind it with us.  I'm so happy to welcome Ana today as my guest.  I love her design style and contagious joy. I'm sure you will too.


Hi everyone, my name is Ana and I am from A Petite Cottage. Before I begin I want to take this opportunity to thank Nancy for giving me the opportunity to share our home with you. It is an honor to be a part of her "Living Large In Small Spaces" series.

TRANSFORMATIONS: the story of A Petite Cottage

It was late in the evening and my husband and I were both very tired. We had been looking for a house for what seemed like ages. I was 7 months pregnant and time was running out, but our budget was simply not allowing us to find the kind of house we had always dreamed of. We wanted a small cottage style home, but what our real estate agent had been showing us for the past few months were what I call "cookie cutter" homes, structures with all the required rooms, but lacking any sort of personality. 

We were at our real estate agent's office one evening. As we were getting ready to leave, he stopped us and said, "This just came through the fax. I'm not supposed to show it to you because the listing doesn't become official until tomorrow, but why don't you drive by on your way home and let me know what you think." 

As we pulled up to the house, the first thing we noticed was the red barn in front of it. The second was that it had a beautiful view. Its curb appeal left a lot to be desired but we had seen much worse those past few months. The house had potential, so we hurried home to call our agent. An appointment was made for us to walk the house the next day.

As we walked up to the 1950's ranch style house, the neighbor next door greeted us... friendly neighbors, I thought, definitely a plus. The red barn we had noticed the night before turned out to be the garage. As we stepped into the house, my heart began to beat faster. The house was not in the best shape. The people currently living there had five boys, and you could certainly tell that by the disarray we found inside. One of the four bedrooms had been converted into a gym, and it smelled like it, the one next to it had carpet remnants on the floor that were flea infested. And the remaining two were so small, I was surprised they could even call them bedrooms. But none of that mattered, because after our walk, my husband turned to me and said, " I love it, this is it." I was relieved to find out that my husband had just seen the same thing I had.

Buried in all the mess and clutter, I noticed a house with vaulted ceiling and exposed wooden beams. I saw old wooden floors and a brick fireplace. And the view we had noticed the night before was even more breathtaking in daylight. The next few weeks were filled with anxiety. Our first bid was declined, but after everything was said and done, our agent was able to secure a price only a few thousand dollars over our budget. 

We've had our little cottage now for over twenty years and it has gone through many transformations.  Welcome to our petite cottage...

As you walk up to the front of the house a small garden welcomes our guest.

As much as we liked the original barn red color of the home, we decided we liked this Promenade green even more. The porch was originally very plain. We added the tile and a wooden vintage style screen door to liven it up and make it more welcoming.

As you walk in you are greeted by our living room. We removed the large and clunky aluminum blinds that the original owners used to block the sun out. We felt the view the home provides deserved to be enjoyed at all times and not having the blinds provided an unrestricted view of Downtown San Diego, as well as a brightly lit living area.

We also replaced the single glass pane windows with more energy efficient dual pane argon filled windows which lowered the temperature of the home and provided the same function as the original blinds.

This was one of the things that originally made us fall in love with the house... the floor to ceiling brick fireplace. Adding the mantel made it the perfect fireplace for us and it gives me an ideal area that I can use to decorate and redecorate throughout the year.

The kitchen was the one room that saw the most dramatic transformation. We completely gutted it and removed all the dark wood cabinets and lime green 60's laminate floor. We hired a floor specialist to refinish the wooden floors throughout the house and also extend it into the kitchen. He did such a great job that you can't even tell where the old floor ends and the new one begins.

This is one of the transformed bedrooms found adjacent to the kitchen. 

The original dining area was located in the very small kitchen and we felt the proximity of this room to the kitchen made it an ideal place for a dining room…

So we simply removed the door located in the hallway, and added an opening on the opposite wall for easy access to the kitchen.

The second bedroom is our daughter's. Not much has been done to this room other than the addition of our daughter's decorative touch.

Our master bedroom is what the previous owners used to call the gym. When we moved in, this room was composed of a bare cement floor and four white walls. This made it the ideal blank canvas. 

Because we felt the room was a bit dungeony we added a french sliding door that allowed us easy access to the back yard and brought in plenty of light. The room was transformed from a dungeon to the perfect cottage bedroom with additions like a vintage chandelier and french style furniture. 

A french door deserves a romantic patio space, so the area immediately outside our bedroom was transformed with the addition of brick flooring, white washed wooden patio furniture and a canvas drop clothe canopy that provides plenty of shade. This was one of the projects that my husband and I took on personally and I am thrilled with the end results.

This is one of the areas that we have worked on recently. It is a small walk way that leads from the front of the house to the back yard. Although still a work in progress, we livened this area up with vintage metal patio chairs and some plants. We also had a good friend build us a cottage style wooden gate to separate the side patio from the back yard and provide a more intimate space. Eventually we would like to incorporate the tile flooring found in the front porch into this area.

I think subconsciously I find joy in knowing that there will always be something to do. Our home is currently in need of some backyard landscaping, and our roof will need to be replaced soon. But those are not necessarily bad things. They are all opportunities to bring our home one step closer to my original cottage style vision. I have to admit it would be a sad day for me if I were to ever consider this home finally finished. I have enjoyed the many transformations it has gone through over the past twenty years.  And as I sit here reliving those memories, I hope you have enjoyed them as well. 

Hugs and Kisses,


Thank you, Ana, for the tour of your charming petite cottage and for sharing your twenty year story of large living in a small space.

You can see more of Ana's cottage and her many DIY projects at her blog: A Petite Cottage.

Ana also as an Etsy shop here.

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. Darling cottage! I love the sweet story behind finding it.

  2. Very pretty home! I love that patio with the dropcloth cover.

    Yay for summer!!!!!


  3. Thank you Nancy for the sweet honor. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and May!

    Hugs and Kisses,

  4. I have always loved Ana's house and I couldn't agree more with her dislike of "cookie cutter" houses that lack charm. She and her husband had vision, which is a requirement for taking a small "ugly" duckling and turning it into a swan.

  5. Great choice Nancy. I know Ana and her wonderful blog. I love stories like Ana's that she could see the potential and knew she could re love this worn home into a great little cottage. What a beautiful job she has done with this cute cottage. So charming and welcoming.

  6. Oh isn't that something? WOW - how I would love to have seen before pics, but her wonderful way of describing certainly made the vision possible. Good for them taking yuck to AWESOME! Thanks for featuring Ana, she is a delight to be sure.

  7. What a lovely way to start my day! Beautiful touches of love and creativity throughout the home! I loved the ceiling to floor fireplace, and the white mantle - so fun to have! Her little garden area outside was the perfect little spot to enjoy the outdoors. Really enjoyed this share Nancy - as always such a pleasure and delight! I will be heading over to her blog to visit her! Have a blessed day!

  8. Nancy what an adorable cottage in your feature today. I actually reading Ana's words visualized being 7 months pregnant and walking through the cottage that 5 boys lived in and I actually smelled the bedroom turned gym!!!! Oh and the fleas in the carpet, OMGosh. But your vision and cottage inspiration turned your home into a charming inviting cottage filled with joy.

  9. What a pretty cottage. There's lots of inspiration here!

  10. What a sweet feature, Nancy! I'll head over to see Ana now!

    Have a great day~
    Nancy too!

  11. Ana has such a beautiful home, Nancy! I love her cottage and her style. That small glimpse of the view from her side yard picture is beautiful and I'm sure the full view she enjoys must be stunning. Love that very pretty patio space off her master bedroom.

  12. Ana, it just couldn't be any better. So cute and so inspiring.

  13. Ana's home is adorable, and how wonderful for it to be in San Diego, which has the most perfect weather in the world. That's where I met my spouse. I love the painted green furniture. xoxo Su

  14. Thanks so much for featuring Ana. She is new to me so I am off to sign up to follow her blog! Happy Saturday- xo Diana

  15. Hi Nancy,

    Lovely to discover your blog, via Ana's and to see a little more of her gorgeous home.
    I look forward to visiting you again and now following your blog.

  16. This may be my favorite one yet, Nancy! A red wall, beams on the ceiling and a white matelasse couch? Oh wow, dreamy!! I visited Ana before, I read you both on my phone, waiting for children, and I am smitten. Thanks for another lovely introduction and a peek inside a pretty home!

  17. What a cute cottage. Love the entrance and the patio.

  18. Charming indeed.
    More than anything this petite cottage exuded comfort.
    Love the little bricked area outdoors off the French doors.
    Very nice Nancy . . .

  19. How sweet is that there's always a cottage pet too..i like that this one has white accents..not's so cozy and is the back porch an patio...Thanks for sharing.!
    .....have you seen Magali's blog.. ...oh my goodness..what she has transformed cottage into is just amazing..that's his name..cottage..check it out you haven't seen her's yet..i think you will love that one too..

  20. What a great story and cottage! I've not seen Ana's blog before, I'll be heading over now! So fun to meet new friends! Blessings, Cindy

  21. I love her little cottage. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Good morning Nancy my friend! I just went over to Ana's blog and fell in love with her cottage. Thank you for featuring her! Isn't that cute little patio off her French door room just beautiful?

    Her sunny San Diego cottage is a warm little gem by the sea. I so love to see what people do with a simple house to transform it. OH THE FUN!

    I hope you are well and enjoying good weather. We are! Love, Anita

  23. You've done it again, Nancy ;) Ana and her husband have certainly brought beauty and love to this little cottage. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Such a wonderful space and I love the story of it being found last minute ( before baby! ) but oh-so-perfect for them and their budget as well as having features that they enjoyed :)

  25. Great story and great job transforming this cute cottage. Debbie

  26. I like the light and bright feel of the cottage, the story behind it and the vintage touches. Very pretty.

  27. Hi Nancy, I love taking these home tours with you. My favorite room was the kitchen, especially the farm sink with the big widow over it. Ana certainly has some lovely and creative way to decorate. I appreciate a home that has no cookie cutter influence, inside or out :)
    Have a lovely week.
    Connie :)

  28. Hi Nancy,
    Thank you for continuing to take us on tours. I know how busy you are. :-) I always enjoy this.
    I love the patio space. The romantic feel of it.
    I also like the kitchen.

  29. Just beautiful! I hope to find a small cottage like that when we are ready to downsize! Actually I have but it is my girlfriends home!

  30. Nancy this is such a charming cottage, and to live in San Diego with that view how lovely. Thanks for sharing and I will go and visit Ana's blog ASAP. Have a beautiful day. Hugs, Jo

  31. Oh my! It really reflects Ana's beautiful style. I enjoyed reading about how they found it and some of the changes they made. It's encouraging to all of us that live in smaller homes. Thanks Nancy! Hugs, Diane

  32. This is a beautiful cottage! How funny that a bedroom was turned into the dining-room like I did!

  33. I know Ana, she's a special person. Her home is just gorgeous, very lovely and pretty in every single detail.

  34. Hi dear Nancy !! Que bonita casa !! Me encantó un mueble tan shabby en el living !! Gracias por compartirla

  35. This is just beautiful! I want to move in. :-). That dining room kitchen transformation is amazing!!

  36. So beautiful! I love Ana's cottage.

  37. What a charming home. I love it. I really like the French doors off the bedroom. The patios are darling. I want beams in my home. What an ordeal that would be but so worth it. Thank you for sharing!

  38. What a lovely cottage and I love how she decorated it!!! Just my style :) Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week! We are glad to have you again. Hope your own cottage plans are coming along well!

  39. Ana, your home is so beautiful! I love every single room!

  40. Love Ana's cottage! The inside is darling and I love her romantic outdoor space. So glad that both her and her husband could see it's potential! Thanks for sharing with SYC.


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