Tour a Garden-Inspired Home That Doubled in Size

This small home expanded its living quarters with clever ways to stretch the space, indoors and out.

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Sixties. Shag. Carpet. For Daniel Keeley, a garden designer in Fayetteville, Arkansas, those three words were both a blessing and a curse. The bungalow he purchased in 2012 had only one prior owner—a couple who lived in the home for 50-plus years—and the only change they had made to the home came in the form of the now-dingy carpet covering every inch of the original hardwood floors. (Luckily, those were salvageable.)

"The place was a total redo," Daniel says, yet it was exactly what he was looking for. "I was hoping for an architecturally symmetrical home, a relatively flat lot, the potential for an extensive garden, plus mature trees." The home had all those things. Plus, it was small—and that was key to Daniel's plans. "I really wanted a home that I could elevate design-wise within a budget I could afford," he says.

He expanded window openings and added French doors, upgraded the kitchen and bath, transformed a freestanding carport into an outdoor cabana, and converted a dark toolshed into a three-season room. "Now everything is light and airy," he says.

Passersby are often the only people who get to enjoy a front yard, but Daniel reclaimed the space as his own by planting boxwood hedges and other tall plants at the edge of his property line. The gate acts as a front door, and it is here that Daniel greets dinner guests with a glass of wine. "The second my friends step inside that gate they feel welcome," he says.

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A wall adorned with 100-year-old barnwood planks and sculptural sconces that resemble branches adorn Daniel Keeley's den. The space was originally a second bedroom until Daniel took down a wall and added pocket doors, allowing light to flow more freely throughout the house. The doors close easily when the space needs to function as a guest room.

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Too many pieces of furniture quickly read as crowded, so Daniel scatters his set of six teak dining chairs throughout the home for extra seating, keeping just two in his dining room day to day. The round outdoor table, which mimics the look of terrazzo marble, keeps traffic flowing easily through the dining area into adjoining spaces.

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Daniel chose a small-scale love seat (originally designed for outdoor use, as is almost every piece inside the house), and floated it in the middle of the living room to make the space feel bigger. When working with a small sofa or love seat, make sure to scale the rest of the furniture in the room. The rolling cart in place of a coffee table is appropriate for the small space. Adding oversize crown molding craws the eye up and visually lifts low ceilings.

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Similar window treatments continue throughout the home, making each room individual but cohesive. In this seating area, a large houseplant stands tall in the corner, mimicking the stunning outdoor views. Two framed historical art pieces dress up the neutral space and leggy upholstered chairs keep the room lofty and open.

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To maximize the kitchen footprint, Daniel opted for overhead cabinets. Two dishwasher drawers eliminate tripping over the more typical drop-down door and let Daniel wash in small batches. Natural granite, selected for its indoor-outdoor feel, stretches from the counter to the backsplash to give the illusion of a seamless line. Electrical outlets hide under the upper cabinets for an unobstructed look. Metal cabinet hardware mimics the texture of tree bark, subtly reinforcing an indoor-out theme.

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The washing machine and hot water heater used to live in the kitchen, but switching to a stacked washer-dryer unit and a tankless heater left Daniel with room for a mini bar. A wine rack built above the doorway captures every inch of possible storage space.

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Windows on two walls left Daniel without a good place to position a bed in the primary bedroom, so he opted to cloak an entire wall with outdoor curtain fabric. The custom armoire works as a closet, TV stand, and catchall for accessories. Cubbies, rods, and drawers keep clothes and shoes organized within the armoire.

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To visually expand the size of the bath, Daniel removed the tub and defined a walk-in shower with a glass wall. Real river rock, cut smooth and meshed into slab flooring, extends between both wet and dry zones to further smooth out the space. The style of the shower wall tile suggests movement of rippling water, reinforcing Daniel's preference for outdoor influences. Extending a mirror beyond the vanity maximizes light and redoubles views.

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Daniel closed off a door between the carport and a toolshed and installed French doors to create a three-season getaway. He spruced up the interior by replacing rotten floorboards, installing 1x12-inch planks on the walls, and adding a fresh coat of paint to everything. An electric heater mounted to the ceiling helps extend the life of the space into winter, and a fan placed in the corner runs in summer. "I'll take my laptop out there and work, or have coffee," Daniel says. "I use it all year long."

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The converted toolshed is an extra space for Daniel to use as he wishes. "I like to create rooms outside with distinct areas for dining, lounging, and gardening. These 'rooms' establish an intimate, private setting where people want to spend time," Daniel said. He wisely choose a built-in daybed with storage underneath to accommodate storage for all kinds of occasions and hobbies. Three drawers provide a platform for the daybed and hold entertaining gear.

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Daniel covered the concrete slab of his carport-turned-cabana with a faux rug made from artificial turf. Generous swags of outdoor curtains further soften the space. The carport, which now serves as an outdoor cabana that doubles the home's covered living area, quickly became the home's most-loved spot and a go-to place for entertaining. A countertop remnant tops the fire pit to turn it into a table when not in use.

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A potager garden sits behind the cabana. "Vegetable gardens won't be pretty year-round," Daniel says. ‟So I like to screen plant beds behind a structure or hedge so they're hidden when dormant." Raised box bases and obelisks add structure to the area all year round.

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Daniel extends his accessorizing style outside by hanging a mirror on a fence above a console table. The yard is carpeted with pea gravel, an inexpensive and forgiving material that works with the varying grades of the land. A quick, periodic raking levels out the stones, and a leaf blower easily removes foliage and debris.

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Extend your home by making outdoor areas comfortable enough for everyday living. Garden designer Daniel Keeley shared some tips. Develop the space directly outside your home. Start at the back door and work your way out. "When an area is convenient to get to, you'll be more likely to use it and enjoy it," Daniel says. Next, pick a function. Do you want the area to serve as a dining room, living room, or fire pit area? Then consider furniture, traffic patterns, and how many people you want to seat.

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To make a cozier outdoor entertaining area, mix and match materials. "The diversity of outdoor furniture available today allows you to think beyond the standard wrought-iron table and chairs," Daniel says. Carry your indoor decor style outside for a cohesive flow.

You also can do more to boost the glow. Place lanterns in trees or hang bistro lighting over tables. Put everything on a dimmer to create an intimate mood as the evening progresses.

Finally, add a water feature. Place it within earshot of dining and lounging areas for a soothing serenade. You'll be amazed how even a small feature can blanket a space in serenity while masking traffic and other noises.

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