House Tour: An Open-Space Cottage Makeover

Gravel Patios
See how these homeowners transformed a dilapidated 1930s cottage into an open and inviting home for friends and family.

All the Right Moves

From the start, these homeowners knew they would have to make their small cottage-style house live large to accommodate their two home-based businesses and family life. Enter a remodel starring open living spaces, reworked hallways, and plenty of outdoor gathering space. A bold blue front door and an energy-saving metal roof add to the cottage's charming, unassuming exterior.

Repurposed Chic

Knocking down the wall separating the kitchen and family room gave this once-dark living space a sunny facelift. Boldly patterned throw pillows steal the show when paired with neutral walls and furniture. Lightweight, hand-blocked cotton bedspreads were purchased from a hotel and creatively converted into window treatments.

Slivers of Space

One of the biggest hurdles in this open-space makeover was carving out space to support two home-based businesses. To do that, the owners designed the hallway to be wide enough to accommodate a small home office. To define the work zone in the open space, they placed an L-shape desk -- made of freestanding drawer units and kitchen countertops -- against one wall. Filing cabinets were placed along another wall to add much-needed storage space. Behind the house, the couple built a larger office/record studio (not shown).

Contemporary Cool

Removing walls that once separated the kitchen from the living room allows family and friends to congregate in one open space. Shaker-style cabinets painted a soft gray lend a neutral backdrop that's an unexpected alternative to standard white. Stainless steel on the range hood and appliances adds industrial appeal and a touch of light-reflecting sheen.

Kitchen Character

Cool gray cabinetry contrasts nicely with the warm backsplash of mesquite-wood subway tiles. Simple solid-surfacing countertops lend timeless appeal and low-maintenance care, both of which suit this bustling cottage home. Open cabinetry echoes the character of the entire home and provides display space for a collection of brightly colored dishes.

Casual Dining

Once a closed-off den, this space is now a dining room. The new arrangement creates an open line of sight that extends from the kitchen through the dining room and outside. To offset the pricey Saarinen table, the homeowners purchased inexpensive chairs that they painted and re-covered. Music posters used as art add character and reflect the family's passion for music.


Plain wooden chairs were given a coat of bold green paint, and the seats were covered with vibrant tea towels. The combination of color and pattern creates a fresh look that provides contrast to the modern white dining table and neutral walls.

Punchy Patterns

White walls and neutral floors throughout help keep the home looking open and spacious. Large widows in the master bedroom emphasize the vaulted ceiling and offer a constant stream of natural light. To prevent the room from feeling stark, the homeowners selected a playful mix of patterned bedding, throw pillows, and accessories. A fireplace and faux animal-skin rug also help to warm up the mostly white space.

Let There Be Light

Like the master bedroom, the master bathroom features crisp white walls and neutral flooring. A modern-style white vanity boasts plenty of drawer space for bathroom necessities. Overhead, a skylight adds to the open feeling the homeowners strived to create throughout the home by allowing sunlight to stream in from the outdoors.

Blurring Boundaries

To connect the home's interior to the backyard, the homeowners outfitted the screen porch with rattan furniture, pretty potted plants, and pops of sunny color. Located just off the dining room, the sunporch provides a smooth transition to the outdoors with double doors that open wide to the patio.

Outdoor Living

After years of living in the city, these homeowners were eager to extend their home's gathering space outdoors. The sunny screen porch and an easy-care gravel patio set the stage for outdoor entertaining. The patio was lined with stacked limestone to provide additional seating. The homeowners also extended the home's speaker system outside, furthering the seamless feel from interior to exterior.

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