Saturday, May 21, 2016

Living Large in Small Spaces - Santa Cruz Cottage

Santa Cruz, California is the location of today's featured small space and home to interior designer Scarlett Fiona Reed.

Front Exterior

Welcome to the eighty-third post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

Situated on Schwan Lagoon, the interior of Reed's 500 sq ft cottage is filled with antiques and vintage finds. Originally a food safe, the large antique cupboard behind the sofa now serves as a craft cabinet.

The serene color palette is perfect for the nature-inspired decor.

Living Room

Everywhere the eye travels it meets with delightful vignettes.

Living Room Detail

I've said it before and I'll say it again, natural light is critical in a small space. The large windows in this home really open up the rooms and enlarge them visually.

Living Room

A corner of the living room serves as a home office. Collected dolls add a whimsical touch. I doubt I'd get much work done if I had this view. (Notice the binoculars on the desk?)

Living Room

Painted floors add so much character. The color is Duxbury Grey by Benjamin Moore.

Living Room

Corner windows create a lovely spot for dining in the kitchen.


I love these botanicals held by old clipboards found at a flea market. Such a great idea.

Kitchen Detail

A "funky 60's" upper cabinet was replaced by an old galvanized shelf.


Feeling that the new granite backsplash in the kitchen didn't fit her vintage style, Reed covered it with linen. The house is a rental, so the glued-on linen is easily removed, if necessary.  (She lives alone and feels the white linen is "not too scary", she can always add a new patch if one gets stained.) 

She also added a vintage mirror to another portion of the kitchen.

Kitchen Detail

The charming mudroom holds extra dishes, as well as outerwear.


A small hallway is home to an antique mirror and sweet vintage attire.

Hall way

The pedestal sink was a salvage yard find.


The bedroom is a mere 88 sq ft. Reed designed a queen-size bed with extra height to accommodate storage baskets. An old gate was repurposed into a headboard.


A conch shell doorstop fits the beachy atmosphere.

Exterior Detail

Outdoor seating invites relaxation and conversation while watching the lagoon and its wildlife.

Backyard View

See more of Scarlett Fiona Reed's cozy home here.

I'm glad you could join me in touring this charming cottage. I must confess that the more I scrolled through the photos the more I loved the home and its location. This will remain one of my very favorite small spaces that truly lives large.

On another note, I've decided that this post will be my last at A Joyful Cottage. At least for the summer, most likely indefinitely. I've been thinking and praying about this decision for awhile, so when I was offered out of the blue a part-time job at a local retail nursery (my dream job) I knew the Lord had answered my prayer. It's time to close down the blog and move on to other things. (I've still got a long bucket list in my pocket.)

I've accomplished everything I set out to do at A Joyful Cottage and I feel I'm ending on a very positive note. So, for now I'm. . . 

I'm going to leave A Joyful Cottage blog up; not taking it down. Who knows? Things could change and I might be back. I plan to utilize my Instagram account more now and will enjoy posting photos of our continuing progress with landscaping, repurposing projects, and other cottage happenings. I hope you'll visit me there.

Thanks so much for all the encouragement and warm fuzzies you've showered on me these past few years. I've made some incredible friendships through blogging and don't regret one minute I've spent at the keyboard.

So, from here on out I'll be a "follower" only. Somehow I don't mind one bit. 


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Living Large In Small Spaces - The Coach House

Today's featured small space is located just outside of Hay-on-Wye in Wales.

Welcome to the eighty-second post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

From the outside this converted brick Victorian Coach House appears quite traditional. 

But step inside and you're in for a surprise.

The contemporary interior is open, bright and filled with quirky character.

The streamlined kitchen features textured kitchen cupboards made of recycled wood paired with unusual white units. Countertops are stainless steel.

The staircase is a work of art -- more like a sculpture than a functional part of the home.

Exposed ceiling joists painted white add interest and visually make the ceilings seem higher.

Layers of textiles and color warms the living room.

I do love the stable doors.

The bathroom is unique. Apparently the brightly colored tile strip spells out  a message in morse code, though I have no idea what it says. 

I've noticed exposed plumbing, such as seen here, is trending.

I don't know why, but I thought of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when I saw this photo of the shower.

A definite industrial vibe.

The second floor is minimalist with a rustic twist.

Vaulted ceilings make the small bedrooms seem larger.

Natural light flows into the second bedroom through the addition of skylights.

The petite, charming terrace is accessed through a stable door.

A footbridge leads to a walking path to Hay.

Seems so soothing, doesn't it?

What do you think of historical homes with contemporary interiors?

All photos are the property of  Blaentrothy Holiday Cottages and were used with their permission.

Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

Living Large in Small Spaces

See more home tours and small living ideas in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cottage Kitchen - Big Chill Color of the Month

When you were a kid did you color outside the lines?

I did. 

Much to my elementary school teacher's chagrin I also colored puppies and kittens in pastel shades. By far my favorite crayon color, though, was turquoise. You could see this by looking inside my crayon box, as turquoise was the shortest crayon in the line up. 

When the Community Coordinator at Big Chill asked me to create a style board for their Color of the Month project and that May's color is turquoise, my inner child did cartwheels. 

After seeing the luscious Big Chill Retro Stove and Hood in turquoise, I had a vision for a colorful cottage kitchen with a vintage vibe.

My inspiration for the turquoise and red color combination came from the delightful Lenox china pattern. So cottagey. (I love that turquoise band on the square dinner plate.) From there everything fell into place. The flour shaker and coffee pot keep the cheery turquoise color flowing. A gorgeous nubby rag rug adds texture and picks up the color scheme. 

Playing off the black in the rug I chose a black and white checked tablecloth and napkins and a ticking stripe upholstery fabric for seating. This touch of black grounds the color palette and the patterns avoid that matchy-matchy look that makes me break out in hives.

Red is repeated in the cute farm tea towels and the scrumptious geranium still life (well, you know I love red geraniums, right?). At the window is more red with a plaid valance.

This is a fun, vibrant cottage kitchen that reflects my personal break-the-rules (at least one or two of them) style.

So, do you follow the rules, or are you a color-outside-the lines kind of person?


I received no compensation for writing this post. The opinions expressed and style board are 100% my own. Thanks Big Chill for inviting me to join in the fun!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Living Large In Small Spaces - Rolling Cottage by the Bay

Welcome to the eighty-first post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

For almost two years I've been featuring small homes in various styles and locations in this series. My absolute favorite features are those that are written by the homeowner's themselves. Something special happens when we hear firsthand from the people that actually live in small homes. And not just live in small spaces. . .but thrive in them. Our eyes and hearts are opened up to new possibilities of what it means to "live the dream."

When I discovered Jeremy and Mira Thompson's darling 330 sq ft cottage created from a retired school bus I thought the chances of getting them to come and share their story as my guests was pretty remote. After all, their home has been featured on Tiny House Nation, Canada's The Marilyn Dennis Show, and published in major periodicals like the San Francisco Globe. Surely they wouldn't be interested in writing a guest post for my tiny blog. Still, my mother always taught me it never hurts to ask, so ask I did, and I couldn't have been more wrong about how my invitation would be received. Mira and Jeremy showed immediate interest and after our initial phone call (very fun, I might add), Mira got to work gathering photos and writing this piece. She's an amazing communicator, with a great eye for design, and Jeremy is a true craftsman. Together they've created a storybook cottage for themselves and their adorable daughter, Carys. 

Here's their tale. Enjoy!


One thing that Jeremy and I have come to realize, is that our lives together have had one  consistent aspect . . .Change.

For the  first eight years together we lived a garden variety, fast-paced western lifestyle. I was a full-time massage therapist and injury rehab specialist, while Jeremy was a master auto body technician. It was pretty good, we had no real complaints.  We owned a simple home built in 1915 which we completely rescued. . .restored and remodeled.

We had two cats, we camped and hiked. . . took great week long vacations to tropical locations.  We even dabbled in everything from body building to swing dancing and martial arts to half marathons.  Then we started to realize. . .wow, this is exhausting.  Is this really sustainable?
So, after eight years together, we did what people were starting to wonder if we would ever do. . .we got married.

Then what no one was expecting, we rented out our house and hit the road in a tiny school bus we bought on auction and converted ourselves. 

The idea of living simply and intentionally sounded so exciting, and we figured that if we didn't try it now, we may never do it.  

So we went from spending an average of a couple hours together in the evenings, sharing a 1200 square foot house, to spending 24 hours together in an 86 square foot school bus. . .and we loved it!

We had wanted more time to set aside for each other, family and to live in the moment.  Things that we had no time for when we were juggling our overcrowded lives became possible.  It was so refreshing.

So we spent the next couple of years traveling the west and east coasts of the US and Canada with a few months in Southeast Asia and some time spent working on organic farms. At that time we didn't know what our long term goals were, but we had fallen in love with our new found freedom and we knew we just couldn't go back. 
The most valuable thing about that time of our lives, is that it made me realize that we had been going through the motions of what we had learned we were supposed to do.  The cultural norms we all learn through witnessing the way "things are done", but this new awareness of the option of Living Intentionally was starting to break through. 

By "living intentionally" I don't  mean living in a commune off the grid and growing all our own food.  We were not quite that ambitious I suppose.  For me, it  meant consciously and intentionally choosing my values, beliefs and passions while working towards creating a life that embraced the things most important to me.  

--- Knowing that we were moving forward and not going back to the way things had been.

We knew a few things.  We wanted a home base in the Northwest that was close to our families.  But allowed us the financial freedom to pursue our  work with more creativity.

Well, we had time on our hands, a shed full of tools. . .and a little money.  So the next phase of our journey began. 

Even though we wanted a stable home base, we didn't want to commit to building another place that we would likely leave as we found our dream property.  So we decided to build something we could move when the time came.  

We acquired this beauty at the same government surplus auction that we got our first one. 

Although we were building our new home from a retired school bus, I wanted it to be far from the cliche' 60's travel bus.  I was ready to live in a home again, not a bus. . . so we split the difference.  While the vessel is still a fully functioning vehicle, the space we have created is every bit a home.  This became even more important, because halfway through the building process we discovered that we were about to be a family of three.  

The cedar siding with a staggered pattern helped break up the long straight lines of the bus, and a simulated sagging roof helps distract from the fact that the home is a long rectangle.  I can't wait until all the siding has gone silver.  I love the look of a sun bleached cedar cottage. 

Jeremy custom built this round window casing and ordered the glass.  The first thing you feel when entering our home is a surprising sense of open space.  Our bookshelf space is ever-evolving.  It started out holding my treasures and books and has become a toy shelf for our kiddo's most beloved toys. 

Our kitchen has a pretty big footprint in our small space, but it was important we had the comforts of a traditional kitchen.  A full sink, decent counter space, and an apartment gas range.  My favorite piece is our 1951 Frigidaire refrigerator.  Jeremy rebuilt the components and I restored the finish from a heavily rusted white finish into a morning sunshine yellow. 

We acquired some kitchen cabinet doors and Jeremy built our custom set of cabinets around them.  A combination of open cabinets and shelving allows me to see my favorite treasures while hiding away my more functional gear.  I have more space than I need in the kitchen, so our daughter even gets her own drawer for her kitchen things  and chalkboard in our pots and pans cupboard. 

The only thing I miss in this place is a bathtub,  but I will happily settle with a sizable shower, endless hot water and a standard toilet.  Carys found the bathtub loophole pretty early on.  

We rescued this beautiful antique Vermont Castings fireplace from a garden.  It was long forgotten with weeds growing out of it.  We decided to build the hearth over the existing wheel well, allowing us to use this awkward space within the bus very functionally.  We were surprised to discover our first winter that we were able to damper it down far enough that we could keep the place a very comfortable temperature. 

When I was a little girl, I loved secret cozy spaces, and would often make a space of my own in a closet or quiet corner of the house.  This love inspired our bedroom nook space.  Jeremy never ceases to amaze me with his building skills. Especially his ability to take my inspiration and make it like I never could.  

This loft space above the bedroom nook has had a couple of incarnations. . .it started out as more of a reading room and music space, with a rug, instruments and all my favorite books.

Now we have made use of it as a loft bedroom to allow our little one a space of her own down below.  

I like to stick to a pretty neutral palette for my walls and bedding.  This allows me to bring all the colorful additions I love so much.  While I admire the beauty and simplicity of white on white, I could never pull it off.  I find myself wanting to be surrounded by fully saturated colors.  

The blanket at the foot of my bed is the epitome of color saturation.  My mother makes these gorgeous blankets from rescued cashmere sweaters.  

For a few years I couldn't pass up a wooden crate when I saw one, and I finally put them to some good use.  

I hated the idea of hiding all of my beautiful pottery behind a cabinet door, so Jeremy designed a gorgeous open cabinet for me. 

A large portion of the materials we used to build our home are recycled or reclaimed. 

I found our front door at a reclaim store.  It needed a bit of work, so we sanded heavily and re stained the interior, and decided to go for a patina copper blue on the exterior to set off the cedar shakes.

The skeleton key lock set was a treasure we just couldn't pass up. 

Jeremy built my window boxes from cedar fence boards and some scrap copper he had on hand.  I almost hate to obscure them with flowers!. . .almost. 

A beautiful April afternoon from our doorway. 

Now that the days of this painstaking build are but pleasant memories. . .it gives us the time to concentrate on what we are most passionate about.  Living joyfully and creatively.  Our next project is currently underway. Jeremy is building a fantastically quirky woodshop from a shipping container to continue on with his passion of having a cottage-industry creative woodworking business from home. 

See what's new on our Facebook page:

or to see video tours of our place or projects, take a peek at:


Thanks so much, Mira and Jeremy (and Carys, too!) for sharing your fabulous cottage and the joyful story behind it.

The Thompsons are caretaking a family vacation property in that gorgeous waterfront location. I urge all of you to take a few minutes to hop over to their video tour link. You'll enjoy seeing the excellent tours of the cottage in more detail (such as the bathroom and all the unique storage they've created). And you can see Jeremy's current project, as well as their RV school bus. So neat! 

Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces

See more home tours and small living ideas in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.