Cottage Design

Remodelers expect to work around limitations and overcome challenges; it’s all part of the job.

When the owner of a 1,000-sq.ft. Texas cottage decided to upgrade the 1928 structure, one of the immediate challenges for CG&S Design-Build of Clarksville was an incomplete set of plans drawn by another architect. As the project got underway, both the plans and the budget evolved — another challenge ordinarily dreaded by remodelers but one that CG&S coped with successfully.

The project originally had a budget of $80,000, says project manager Jay Schaefer, an amount that grew to $143,270 by the job’s completion. A large amount of that difference was accounted for by a radical change in design for the kitchen. The initial plan was to open up the space by removing a peninsula separating the kitchen from the dining room, but during the framing stage the owner decided instead to completely gut and renovate the kitchen.

Originally a guest house on a much larger property, the cottage had its charm, but space was limited — a frequently heard remodeling lament. Adding a large addition was out of the question for several reasons. First, a large addition wouldn’t have fit on the small lot. Further, it would have been entirely out of scale and character — and preserving the character of the dwelling was a high priority for the homeowner.

A small addition, however, was exactly what the house needed. A 206-sq.-ft. extension adjacent to the small existing kitchen and dining area makes the design work. That addition now accommodates a utility room for the washer and dryer that previously took up space in the old kitchen. The utility room features a laminate countertop over the stainless steel washer and dryer as well as pantry and storage cabinets.

CG&S, working with a cabinet maker, designed and built all new custom kitchen cabinets. The new kitchen features an apron sink, a red glass tile backsplash, and stainless steel appliances. To give the small space a sense of space and transparency, the upper cabinet doors were outfitted with patterned glass fronts.

A sitting room, complete with fireplace and entertainment center, and a guest bathroom also occupy the new space, which connects to the side yard through French doors. The new guest bath features a slate floor, a red vessel sink, and onyx countertop, and a walk-in shower with slate walls and a polished river rock floor.

To accommodate the owner’s desire for a large master bathroom and a walk-in closet, an essentially unnecessary hallway between the two bedrooms was eliminated, a small change that did not alter the footprint of the house but one that efficiently reallocates space. Entry to the master bedroom is now through the dining area, and the second bedroom — now an office — is accessible from the living room. The office is slightly smaller than the bedroom that it replaces, the square footage added, instead, to the new master bathroom.

As with many remodeling jobs, there was at least one surprise: Demolition work in the hallway revealed that there had been a fire in the house. Charred wood that had not been repaired had to be replaced before work could proceed.

The new master bathroom features new cabinetry, a painted vessel sink, a granite countertop and a glass tile backsplash. Entry to the new walk-in closet is from the master bath.

A number of details add to the success of the project. One is a custom-built ship’s ladder that leads to a loft above the bedrooms. It replaces a unsightly pipe ladder that was one of the first things a visitor saw when entering the house. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the new ladder makes access to the loft easier.

Other details include vintage doors and light fixtures purchased by the homeowner at a consignment shop. The doors had to be cut down and re-hinged; new jambs were built and new leaded glass installed. Likewise, antique lighting fixtures that looked like they could have come with the house were rewired and installed.

In the end, what could have been a logistical nightmare gave new life to a humble cottage and added another satisfied customer to CG&S’s client list.