Quirky Cottage Makeover

It takes creative vision to see potential, especially when a home requires practically a complete gut job. See how two art-loving homeowners turned this less-than-charming cottage into a cool family retreat with a renovation that reaped big rewards.

Before: Not So Charming

From the street, this home looked modest and old-fashioned. A rundown exterior with boarded-up windows and a crumbling porch didn't exactly welcome views, and neither did its small, barren front yard.


After: Quaint Revival

The front of the house now has a columned porch, a new front door, and a coat of blue-green paint over its tired maroon brick. Lush sidewalk plantings soften the front yard and better connect the house with its surroundings.


Portrait Gallery

Just inside the door, a throng of painted portraits greets guests. The burnished-gold entryway wall color gives the paintings an intensely hued backdrop; many of the paints throughout the house come from a historical collection from Benjamin Moore.

Inviting Mood

With a rich color scheme and quirky collectibles, the cottage brims with charming surprises. Goldenrod yellow walls, splashes of cobalt blues and royal purples, and hints of burnt orange combine with found things to play up this living room's cozy, collected look.

Cool and Collected

Nearly everything in the house has had another life. Collections of thrifted art and accessories march across walls and tabletops. In the living room, vivid paintings of landscapes, flowers, and portraits fill walls with a sense of history and wanderlust. 

Turn a blank space into a gorgeous gallery wall with these art arranging tips.

Hang Art Like a Pro

Turn a blank wall into a gorgeous gallery with these helpful art-arranging tips.

Open Living

Plenty of space between the cooking area and island eases traffic flow in this sun-soaked kitchen. To maintain its open feel, the space naturally flows into the living room. A consistent color palette between rooms creates a smooth transition.

Colorful Contrast

Buttery-yellow cabinets play off the rich blue island for an eclectic look. "Even though they're different colors, the depth of the colors is right," the homeowner says. "Nothing is screaming, but each stands out."

Eclectic Dining

The dining room and library were melded into one alluring space, and chocolate-color walls layer on coziness like a blanket. Stacks of books fill the nonworking firebox. 

Formal and Fun

Youthful and traditional combine in the dining room, where traditional furnishings are pleasantly paired with punchy details. A wall covered in vibrant, large-scale pattern makes a big impression that reinforces the setting's fun yet sophisticated feel.

Petite Pantry

With the home's open floor plan, the owners didn't want clutter to accumulate in the kitchen. This little pantry houses everyday items, including the family's jadeite dishes, within steps of the kitchen's work areas.

Stylish Laundry

Yellow walls and big windows awaken the laundry room. The sink -- a salvage-yard find -- has the vintage look the homeowners wanted; they had it reglazed so it's fit for action, like dying fabrics.

Glam Touch

In the sunny laundry room, a glass mosaic tile backsplash grabs attention with an iridescent look. Muted yellow, gray, and blue tiles meld together while creating shimmering contrast against paneled cabinetry.

Multiuse Space

A corner of the laundry room is dedicated to a crafts table and a gallery wall of art projects. The homeowner coated most of the frames with the same yellow paint as the walls to unify the space.

Dark and Dreamy

In the master bedroom, a melange of citric brights piles on the bed, while deep brown walls reign in their exuberance. A romantic glass chandelier draws attention overhead.

Kid Haven

Nature takes up residence in this colorful girl's room, where vibrant, bloomlike hues can be found on the walls, bedding, and accessories. 

Bath Time Made Fun

Equal parts cool and quirky, this kid's bathroom is packed with personality. Circular mirrors float like bubbles to the ceiling, and orb-shape pendants illuminate the space. Wall-mount cabinets with staggered knobs offer hidden storage that can grow with the daughter's needs.

Before: Dilapidated Porch

The home's existing porch was an eyesore: Crumbling walls, holey screens, and unstable boards made it unusable.

After: Picture-Perfect

The changes to the home's floor plan are evident from the back -- that's where the upper level was added and the main level was slightly bumped into the backyard. The screen porch gives the family a cozy indoor-outdoor spot to lounge.

Sublime Retreat

A rattan sofa -- on its third color incarnation -- and a pair of painted wicker chairs provide comfy seating on the screen porch. The homeowners rounded out the arrangement with a thrift store ottoman, for which she stitched a new slipcover, and a decorative metal scroll from an old screen door. Hung on the house behind the sofa, it's instant art that feels right at home on a porch.

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