Open shelves - they’re all the rage these days! And for good reason, because if there’s one thing I love, it’s functional storage that’s also...
Season 2 Episode 7: The Original Cookie Cutter House
Thomas and Barbara [Bebe]
Built in 1905, this 836 square foot kit house has to act as home, office, and school for this family of four. The tiny little beach cottage had charm and character galore, and the homeowners loved it, but they needed help making every single square inch as functional as possible in order to continue living and working here comfortably as their children grow.
I wanted to update this house without sacrificing any of its charm, and give every space a purpose (or even multiple purposes). This will entail rebuilding the front porch and re-staging it as a continuation of the interior living space; raising the interior ceilings and reworking the layout and flow of the kitchen; and breathing new life into the living room by incorporating updated materials and multifunctional furniture and storage solutions into the design.
This house might be small, but it presented huge challenges. When you don’t have a lot of space to work with, every square foot and design choice has to count. Not to mention that Tom and Bebe live two doors down from me. If they didn’t like the final product, things could get really awkward on our street!
S2 E7 Exterior BA
I am really proud of the way this exterior turned out, both as the builder and designer, and also as a neighbor and a Huntington Beach local. I feel like we were able to maintain the historical integrity of the home while giving it a cheerful and personalized update that really speaks to the family living, working, and home-schooling inside.
S2 E7 Exterior
Special Project | Outdoor Shower: This was a special request from the homeowners, who frequent the beach and were spending long hours sweeping up as a result. Now, sandy feet need not set foot inside. This formerly forgotten corner of the yard has been reclaimed for a worthwhile purpose!
S2 E7 Outdoor Shower
Special Project | Porch Personalization: In order to create an outdoor room that felt like an extension of their home, I wanted to put as many personal touches on the front porch as possible. Huntington Beach is such a front porch community, and with the ocean just a few blocks away, there are beach breezes and evening sunsets to coax you outside year-round. Here are a few special touches we added to the front porch to make it feel like home for Tom and Bebe:
- Railing Bar: Building this DIY tray to sit on top of the porch railing provides an extra surface to use for drinks or decor.
- Trap Door Storage: Whoever DOESN’T wish they had a hidden trap door somewhere in their house, raise their hand. I don’t see any hands, and I’ll ignore the fact that this may be because I’m writing the post at home, alone, and continue on, since I’m assuming there isn’t anybody out there who would say no to a trap door! By reclaiming the formerly unused space beneath the porch, we were able to add just a little extra storage to this home. And in 836 square feet, a little extra storage goes a long way.
- Front Gate: By adding a front gate, the four legged family members can now safely enjoy the porch alongside their two legged counterparts.
- Hand Stenciled Walkway: I share this project with you somewhat begrudgingly, since I feel like it officially elevates this house to The Cutest on The Block status. And, considering the fact that I live two doors down, this is not a title I bestow lightly. For more details on how to DIY, check out this blog post.
S2 E7 Porch Customizations
S2 E7 Kitchen BA
For a tiny home, the space allocated to the kitchen was generous. It just needed some updating, and a little reworking of the layout. With some ingenuity, and without removing any walls or adding any square footage, we were able to add a ton of storage space, additional work surfaces, and the all hailed dishwasher, bringing this little cottage into the 21st century.
If ever a house called for Waterproof Luxury Vinyl Flooring, it would be this one. Tiny, host to two children, and two blocks away from the beach, this floor will give this family the freedom to enjoy their home and the beach without having to worry about wet, sandy footprints damaging the space.
Cabinets & Hardware
We could have gone white on white on white with this design and it would have been beautiful, but maybe not entirely true to this family. First of all, what family with two young children can maintain a pristine white design scheme? And second, we’re at the beach, here. In a beachside community, it’s borderline sacrilegious not to reference the ocean somewhere in your design. In this room, we used a soft, sea foam green for the cabinets so as not to offend King Triton and his angry hordes. We think he would be pleased with the way the antique brass hardware adds a subtle pop of shine to the room, in an ode to the sun-kissed waves of the pacific.
Plumbing & Appliances
Again, keepin’ it classy here with a stainless steel sink and appliances and matte black plumbing fixtures. And could you feel the joy when the homeowners saw their new dishwasher? It was pure and it was real.
Countertops & Backsplash
I wanted to pay tribute to this home’s history by carefully selecting classic, timeless materials. IMHO, there is nothing more classic than a glossy white subway tile backsplash and a Carrera marble countertop (except that in this case, it’s a Carrera-LOOK quartz counter, which is the more durable, modern-day equivalent of the classic marble countertop).
Furniture & Accessories
With such a small space, it was important to keep the work surfaces clear from clutter. We used wall art and a select few, functional accessories to add interest, warmth, and layers to the space.
S2 E7 Kitchen
Special Project | Murphy Island: With the help of Brian from B and D Cabinets, we designed, built, and installed this hide-away work surface. There were a lot of happy tears in this reveal, but this project caused some serious waterworks because Bebe’s father is a retired pastry chef who bakes with his granddaughters all the time. When tucked away, the island is hidden behind a beautiful, statement piece of art by local artist, Joe Vickers, which was printed onto a wooden canvas by Woodsnap. Open or closed, this project adds value, sentiment, and functionality to the kitchen.
S2 E7 Murphy Island
The Living Room
S2 E7 Living BA
You know how they say you can’t be all things to all people? Well, in the case of this living room, that old adage just didn’t fly. This room DID have to be all things to all people. Play room, guest room, entertaining space, hang out and chill space, entryway: making this room functional for ALL of its various uses was a tall order. Everything in this room had to serve multiple functions, and since this is the First Impression Room, all this functionality had to look beautiful, to boot.
S2 E7 Living Room
Special Project | Secret Mantle Storage: The motto of this house seems to be “reclaimed storage,” or, in simpler terms, taking unused space and putting it to good use. Here, a mantle built by Micah Girelli of Girelli Woodworking is both beautiful and multi-functional. It is the crowning glory of our overall fireplace refresh, which incorporates a unique and delightful tile pattern that gives a nod to the beach without feeling kitschy.
S2 E7 Mantle
Special Project | Pull Out Bunk Beds: Before, the living room was host to a sofa bed for guests which, in and of itself, is not a problem…until you tried to walk through the living room (which, by the way, is the only way to get through the house and into the kitchen) and found yourself clambering over the guest bed. Now, when guests come to stay, Tom and Bebe can transform the sofa into an ingenious pull-out bunk bed, allowing guests a comfy place of respite while also allowing easy access to the rest of the house (no clambering required). When Grandma and Grandpa come to stay, the girls will be so excited to camp out in these clever, cozy bunks while the grandparents can have the girls’ room. Unless, that is, Grandma and Grandpa decide to lay claim to these surprising new guest quarters…
S2 E7 Bunkbeds
The Dining Room
S2 E7 Dining BA
Again, like all of the other rooms in this house, the dining room had to play many roles, working overtime as both an eating and gathering space, a home office, and a classroom. The dining table is where the girls are home-schooled, where Tom, a graphic designer, often des his work, and where the family gathers together for every meal. Now, with a simple re-orientation and some built-in benches, we were able to add a built-in desk to this multi-functional dining area, allowing the family to separate their work space from their family gathering space when needed.
S2 E7 Dining Room
Shop the Look
This project could not have been made possible without our amazing vendors as well:
Custom Eat In Bench: Old Tech Designs