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Well, in keeping with the spookiness of Halloween
and all things SCARY ,
I decided I should share the exterior of our little guest cottage.
It was really pretty far beyond scary when we purchased our house...
it was downright FRIGHTENING!!

The now so- called Guest Cottage or Carriage House
at that time was a large aprox. 450 sq ft room and 450 sq ft garage
built together with a door inside between them.

It sat in the hillside, with the top section or room sunken into the earth a bit.
So it is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer for the most part.
The bonus of this guest house and our house is that they were built sturdy where it counts.
Foundation, framing, concrete work all done incredibly well.
This house was made when 2x4's were actually 2" x 4".

So, despite the obvious way beyond neglect for 60 years...
the bones of the house were in good shape.

The siding was old half log siding and was patched with pieces
of plywood where woodpeckers had pecked away, or it had dry rotted.

The windows were old original wood frame double hung
& the doors were regular old cottage interior doors.

The garage door on the front was a later addition but was dented badly and not very usable
& the cottagey old green shingles that were on the roof were rotting away.

I will never forget when my husband and boys decided to tear the roof off.
We were having a party for my daughter's birthday and as the party was coming to a close, everyone left but a couple friends who were straggling along
and they got to chatting about that oh-so-lovely roof across the lawn.

Right there and then,
they decided it was time for a work party
and started pulling shingles.

I thought the green color of the shingles was quite charming but they were way beyond usable and we had to tarp one room for a season due to leaking.
Underneath the green asphalt were old cedar shake shingles.

As much as I tried to make the siding and dilapidated appearance of the building work until we were ready to re-side and re-roof~
it was not happening.

I painted the tan/brown/blah half log siding cottage white-
I put the old screen door from our house against the side in the garden
and hung wreaths on it.
I planted tons of cottage garden flowers where there were none to homey it up a bit...
and added a meandering path through the plants.

But, the crusty look overwhelmingly stood out.

Luckily, I have good vision.
If I hadn't I would have turned and run from this house
from the moment my car drove into the driveway!
I knew that the house and small cottage could be something so much more than
what was before my eyes...

I saw a sweet little house
with cottage lap siding and a creamy white paint.
Paned windows with painted shutters and detailed trim.
Single french doors in place of the regular to add light and charm.
Cedar shake siding accents to warm it up.

Dentil moulding, cornices & hanging baskets.

I saw something charming and inviting and adorable.

View from driveway.

 A bank of four new windows
and a row of window planter boxes filled with geraniums and ivy.

Faded by rain and sun-
the cedar shake shingles we dressed the bottom of the cottage with
are turning grey.

The siding, shingles and trim on this side of the cottage
was done in one weekend- mostly by myself with help from my boys
while my husband was at work.

(this is where my 18 year old lives now- yes- he turned 18 a couple weeks ago!
I am officially the mother of a legal adult!)
(New roof on!)

I had such a hard time using a regular skillsaw-
they are too heavy, too big for my fingers to be able to hold the safety and
start buttons at the same time, etc.
So I bought myself a cute little baby skillsaw and went to town on the siding!

Did I mention that I LOVE construction?!

In order to tie in the cottage to our house exterior,
we wanted to incorporate some cedar shingles.
The bottom several feet of the cottage is foundation and concrete,
So we started shingling.

The window boxes ( 8 of them!) are made to match those on our house-
out of cedar fence boards.

I had to find something else to use for the guest cottage brackets since the ones on our house were made by my dad years ago out of a broken fence.
I found hanging plant brackets at our local Ben Franklin
and used those to set my window boxes on.

This is the first thing you see when coming up the drive way.

The old cement bench we found in the yard and moved here for a sitting area.

One of the spirea I planted in the cottage garden area.
It is turning to autumn colors already,
but during the summer they have a gorgeous
chartreuse green and yellow color
that I absolutely love!

We aren't finished totally yet with the outside-
we have some shingling in the
peak of the top room to do and a few other things to finish up,
But the overall exterior is done for now.
It has been A LOT of work, but so satisfying to get it done!!

The guest cottage now looks nothing like the decrepit forgotten building it once was.
I think it looks quite adorable now when pulling into the driveway -
instead of frightening.
It has the appearance of a charming little cottage in the woods.
When the hanging baskets are in full bloom and
the window boxes are overflowing with flowers cascading down,
it is a very welcoming petite maison!

linking toFrugal Friday


  1. I love the transformation of your carriage house. I almost find it hard to believe it's the same structure. It is so quaint but does not look like it's about to fall over any more. I really like the use of the shingles on the lower half of the walls.

  2. I love your carriage house!! It is such a dream....Kathy

  3. Courtney I just love your carriage house, its so charming (;

  4. It's absolutely beautiful. Wish I had one on my property. And I really like your plants, I can't grow anything, even my little bamboo plant has dried out and turning yellow (either too much water or not enough, not sure which).

  5. The carriage house is beautiful. You did an amazing job with it. You really had guts to take that on. I commend you.
    Thank you for the compliment on the Laundry room I designed and posted on my blog

  6. What a gorgeous transformation!! It is beautiful! Your vision became reality and good for you for going with it, well worth it!!

  7. You did a marvelous job of refurbishing the guest cottage. I can't believe you like doing construction. Good for you. You made it look so charming.

  8. Dear Courtney: What a great transformation - from a delapitated shack to a charming carriage house. Wow ... I didn't know you were so handy with the tools! Not only are you a designer but you can also do construction! You have many talents!

  9. Wonderful transformation, it doesn't even look like the same carriage house! You are handy with the power tools, and that is were I am weak, more afraid than anything of power tools. But when I get the nerve, I will be dangerous with them.

  10. Courtney! I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! I so wish I had something like that, but YOU are the perfect person to have that on your property because you knew just how it should be transformed! :-)

  11. What a wonderful vision you had, it has turned out beautiful! Just love it.

  12. ou from over at Average Girl's blog. It is always fun to visit new people.

    WOW and holy freaking WOW...the way you transformed that place is amazing. I'd say your 18 year old is one lucky person to be able to live in that beautiful place.

  13. Wow Courtney...that place looks GREAT! What a great view coming up the driveway :)

  14. I would never have believed it was the same cottage! It is drop dead gorgeous! I would love to have a little cottage like that for a studio/guest house. You lucky girl you! You did a fabulous job.

  15. sigh.. I love everything you posted.. well the after pics lol
    What a wonderful transformation!

  16. Well from another who loves construction and the satisfaction of building something myself I have to hand it to you, you vision and skills have brought this tired old building back to life. What a wonderful showpiece when you pull into your driveway. You should be very proud of your accomplishment, this project certainly does have the WOW factor.

  17. I can't believe my eyes! What an extraordinary transformation. Wow!

    And what a lucky son you have!!

    Thank you so much for your kind comments. I'd love to join your party next week...and I'm following you right back!!

  18. What a great blog! Fantastic taste! Thanks for stopping by my new lil' blog! I'm now a faithful follower here!

  19. Courtney you should be proud of this one! wow what a huge job and it came out so cute! Really must add to your property value too!!

  20. Wow that is just fabulous job you have done! You should be very proud! would love a tour of the inside one day too!

  21. You have totally transformed it. You are very talented and you should be proud!

  22. You guys did an amazing job with the carriage house. It's very charming. How lucky for your son to be able to live there!

  23. I had to read this post a couple of times! I so enjoyed it! This is an amazing task you took on! I Love it! And I love that it is called the carriage house!!!!

  24. WOW that is spectacular to have a carriage house. I love love love what you did. A lot of hard work, but oh so well worth it. Thanks for joining me this was a pleasure to have you.

  25. Huge transformation. That is amazing. I want to move into it.

  26. Extraordinary! I love how your vision and hard work created this amazing transformation! Beautifully done! :)

  27. That looks so good. I love the flower boxes.

  28. Agreed in full that this is really have a great transformation.

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  29. We love this party link and I wanted to let you know that we are planning on featuring it on our blog. We hope that you get a bunch of new visitors.

  30. What a wonderful vision you had and still have. I love what you have done with your cottage. I would see teh vision but have no idea how to achieve it. I'm impressed with all of your construction skills. The flowers are gorgeous too!! I have 2 planter boxes and they are up high because they are under the high bathroom windows. I wish they were lower like yours and others in the neighborhood. :)

    Thanks for sharing.