After reading a home design book while on vacation, Amy Gardner was “convinced I had to buy a house and redo it.” She bought a tiny, affordable fixer-upper and embarked on a full-scale renovation. Amy used her eye for design to infuse modern touches into the cottage’s traditional structure.
Before: When Amy bought the fixer-upper, it was a boxlike structure with a choppy layout.
Amy made a big improvement to the facade of her house -- originally a foursquare structure -- with the addition of an enclosed porch and adjoining guest room. The outside is covered with unpainted horizontal wood siding, a fresh take on traditional clapboard.
After: Now she enjoys an open floor plan with larger rooms and added space for a guest room, porch, and master suite.
Amy and Jim knocked down a few walls to eliminate the choppy floor plan. The original wainscoting and tongue-and-groove ceiling, both reflective of the cottage’s 1920 roots, merge well with Amy’s clean-lined furniture and accessories.
A pair of folding doors open onto the front screened porch. Some of the wall space in the bedroom is covered in reclaimed oak from a cider mill in England, contrasting nicely with the cool white walls and concrete floors.
The minimalist island was designed to resemble a piece of furniture because it divides the kitchen and connected living room. An under-counter refrigerator hides on the back side of the island, and open shelves hold arrangements of pottery and dishes for a decorative touch.
Floor-to-ceiling casement windows open to the backyard. “With the screened porch on the front and the windows on the back of the house, I get great cross-ventilation that keeps my cooling costs down,” Amy says.
The back porch needed an overhaul, so Amy and Jim replaced it with a small addition that enlarged the master bedroom and bath. At night, light from the addition illuminates the backyard.
Words of Wisdom: Amy recommends serious planning. “Making split-second decisions never yields good results in remodeling,” she says. “My renovation worked because I spent a lot of time tracking down materials and finishes in advance -- before we got too far into construction.”