When you have been planning a project for 8 years you tend to collect a lot of stuff and ideas.
I have had a Guest Shed Pinterest board going a long time (7 years) and if you look at it, you will see that my ideas for the house changed dramatically over time. I love Pinterest. In 2017 I wrote a blog post with my plans for the cottage. A lot has changed because reality set in. At first I thought we would go with a total mid century vibe when I thought the roofline of the building would stay the same, the bathroom would be at the back, and the wood burning stove would stay. It felt low slung and sort of 50’s mid century modern look.
After deciding that we would raise the roof (it was less than 8 feet in about a third of the house so wouldn’t count as square footage on an appraisal) I really took a look at what I wanted, what I gravitate towards, and what items are special to me. When you have years you can finally come to he point where you really are honest with yourself. My husband did an awesome job designing the new roof joist structure so that the electrical for the can lights and ceiling fan run through the collar ties connecting the beams at the top of the ceiling. He had a total vision for what it would look like. I did not.
I realized as I looked though my stash of things collected that I had a lot of sentimental vintage items, antique furniture, and more of a time worn vintage look. Most of my collected things have a story.
I returned to my Pinterest board, and started collecting pictures from pins on Google Sheets. Google Sheets work a lot like PowerPoint but it is free to anyone who has a Google account and they are so easy to share with people who can work on them with you in real time.
The results were that even though our house doesn’t look exactly like the inspiration pages, it has the same feel. I did not link the photos or give credit to the creators but the original information is probably on my Pinterest page if you are interested in something you see.
As I look back at my notes I see that even though there were changes as we moved forward with the build from these inspiration boards the cottage still has the look I was going for. It feels like going back to my great grandma’s house but with air conditioning!
Our guest cottage needs a name. I believe all interesting houses need a name. As much blood sweat and tears we poured into this one sure needs to be called something. For the past seven years we have called the building The Guest Shed because well, it was way more shed than guest friendly even though we I had dreams. My husband has dubbed it Nonnie’s (My grandmother name) Playhouse but I am holding firm that we aren’t going to call it that.
I feel like this little house looks more like a little cottage than a house. It certainly looks more like a cottage than a playhouse!
I literally Googled “The difference between a house and a cottage and there is an actual site called “The Difference Between”. The difference between website says: “A House is a building or structure that serves the purpose of shelter, whereas in today’s reference a cottage is defined as a cozy dwelling, generally in the rural or semi rural areas.”
That settled it. It is a cottage!
Once it was settled that our sweet little place is a cottage, I researched names of cottages. “Choosing a cottage name is a very important endeavor, especially if you want a name to perfectly encapsulate the character of the house. It is about choosing a name that goes out ahead and represents your house properly”.
This site has a long list of names. It even has a cottage name generator. The name it first selected for me was Leafy Greens. I tried a couple more times and it didn’t get better but it was fun trying it out. Since I didn’t think Leafy Greens, Gopher Hollow, or Sage Sands worked for me, I thought about our property. We have a creek that bisects the acreage that actually has a real name you can see on Google Earth, Sand Creek. It has water in it 90% of the time, but right now there are only deep spots with any water. When it overflows we have plenty of water. The garden, the back of the property, and even the mower barn gets water.
Sand Creek Cottage it is.
We really don’t have plans for the cottage except to welcome our friends and family to come enjoy our little slice of heaven, but having it we hope it makes visitors feel like they can invite themselves to come see us and stay a bit longer.
When we decided to make the cottage a place to sleep in overnight we thought about bed sizes and I perused a lot of Air BnB suggestions on Pinterest. (They are a great resource for how to make a guest home work for guests.) We are a really tall family so that factored into the plans. We considered a Murphy bed but the largest they come in is queen and we thought a king would be our best choice. By the way, if you want a room to have lots of functions and a queen, double or twin work for you, Murphy beds are awesome. We installed one in our back bedroom it was a lot of work but we love that we have a comfortable bed or a work/craft space.
Also, I want to be able to use the cottage for more than just a place to sleep. Just this Saturday there was an impromptu dance recital performance by two of my granddaughters that required things to be moved against the wall so the room would be more open. (They were magnificent by the way!). I can see using the space for baby/wedding showers, birthdays, game nights etc. so I didn’t want a quarter of the space to be taken up all the time.
I discovered searching online that there are bed frames that can be bolted and unbolted together and there is a strap and filler made just for the purpose of making two twins a king. That sealed the deal for us. Two twin xl beds were going to be in our future.
I shopped marketplace and found two mattresses and box springs used to stage a home. The guy that bought them thought they could be returned once the house sold but they got a little scuffed on one end moving them in. They were brand new expensive mattresses. I bet he wished he had hired a stager instead of trying to work the system but his loss, our gain. The still wrapped in plastic box springs were donated to Restore. A friend gave us a king sized bed topper that will make it even better.
We now can configure the room several ways.
Daybeds in the corner (this is how it looks most of the time).
Side by side twin beds
The night stands were once a vanity table that had been left in a garage for years. I love how cutting it in two, removing the peeling veneer, and painting the body made the furniture useful again.
We are ready for company. Flushing potty, hot water, beds, and most importantly air conditioning!
Finally, finally, finally we have finished inside of the guest house. It was a project that we will enjoy for years to come and will increase the property value but man it was hard. I don’t recommend 60 years olds to take on this type project in the middle of a pandemic with supply chain issues and a shortage of contractors. Seriously.
We still have the porch ceiling to finish, erosion control, septic for the toilet (but it is happening this week!) and landscaping. It no longer stresses me to walk into the building knowing what we still have to do. Now I just get to enjoy being there.
I am going to link all the projects we have done here, mainly for myself, but if you haven’t followed along it might be something you want to check out. I apologize in advance for all the links!
We now have a functioning 464 square foot house that has the ability to sleep 4. We have on demand hot water, air conditioning, a six foot antique claw foot tub, a 1935 kitchen sink, hardwood floors and a peaceful front porch.
The twin xl beds can be bolted together to create a king and a very cushy topper makes it more comfy than our bed.
Thanks for following along on this year+ long journey.
I am really, really feeling like we are almost finished with the guest house. This past week we got the closet in the building built. It looks so good!
We built the closet on a concrete slab that was once where a wood burning stove sat. The closet is 4 foot by 6 foot and we decided not to add a ceiling. We knew we had to put the closet in this corner because the tankless hot water heater is there and it needs to be out out of sight!
We had a contractor do a terrible job sheet rocking the guest house so we decided we certainly couldn’t do any worse and jumped in. It looks great.
I can’t believe I didn’t get any pictures of the mudding and taping but my husband did a good job and I learned to do the screw divots. You can’t find them now!
After we finished the exterior we added shelves to the interior and remote controlled puck lights that can change colors. The add a cool glow out the top when the house is dark.
We saved a lot of money adding this closet by 1. Doing the work ourselves, 2. Buying a clearance pocket door frame that was too tall and cutting it down, 3. Using a door we bought at a garage sale and refinishing it, 4. Instead of priming walls, we used leftover latex paint before using the color we wanted.
We are so happy to have finished this project because it is the last inside project for the house. We are so close to being finished.
We are nearing the end of putting together the bathroom in the guest house! Hooray! At this point I think we have spent about $3,500 on everything that went into turning a covered porch area into a functioning bathroom. Concrete, framing, Sheetrock, electrical, plumbing, window, lighting, tile, pocket door, tub, tub refinishing, and toilet all added up. We have done most of the work ourselves, except the terrible Sheetrock job and exterior siding. I am ever so thankful for a hard working husband.
One thing we didn’t spend much money on was our bathroom vanity thanks to recycling things we already had and materials given to or collected by us. We literally only purchased paint, the water connects, and the drain pipe for this project.
In my mind I wanted a black vanity with a white top. On a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas I saw an antique porcelain legged vanity that I loved in a restaurant bathroom. A quick look online convinced me that the option may be out of reach. I was disappointed but I had so many other things in the bathroom that I loved, an inexpensive vanity would have been fine.
With my heart set on something white and black to go with our floor meant we had to get creative. In our stash of treasures I spotted a white vanity top that my buddy The Social Planner had given me ( I have great friends) and a grooved wood cornice board from the front window of our house that would work for the skirt. I had lots of legs I thought would work, but it sort of felt like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. They were either too damaged, too short, or the wrong style.
Deep into the stash Mr. Math spotted two newell posts that were perfect. I bought them a while back at a garage sale. I can’t even remember why I thought I needed them but they were inexpensive and oak. We already had a medicine cabinet in the guest house from the previous owner. The mirror is pretty aged and may need to be replaced eventually but I sort of think it is cool.
My husband cut the cornice to fit- and did an amazing job, cut the legs t length, attached the legs with giant screws and glue then even spackled the screw heads for me so I could prime then paint the vanity with a semi gloss cabinet and trim black paint. Mr Math attached leveling feet so that we could get the cabinet level.
Just as I was thinking about purchasing a faucet the hubs surprised me with yet another treasure that I honestly have no idea when or where it came from. He found a chrome faucet in the stash with porcelain handles! It was chrome but had was filthy. A good cleaning and tightening all the parts made it exactly what I needed to finish off the sink.
I really like how it is all coming together.
The mirror looks more distressed in photos than it does in person but we may be getting another mirror cut to fit down the road.
Next up we will be installing the faucet, shower ring and drain in the claw foot tub.
I just love our guest house porch. I am thrilled with the swing and rocker. I am crazy about the door to the house and am looking forward to our wood plank porch ceiling. The one thing I didn’t like was looking directly at a blank wall while on the swing.
I have wanted to make a barn quilt for a while and the blank wall seemed like the perfect place for one.
If you search “Barn Quilt on Pinterest you will see a ton of designs and pictures of quilts. I knew I wanted something simple and selected a modified version of the Ohio Star. It is really just nine equal squares with some of the squares divided diagonally.
I found this version on House of Hawthornes. Her quilt is on her porch too. She has great instructions and makes a three color quilt. I am not going to go through all the steps because the instructions are on their site and easy to understand. I am just going to tell you what I did differently.
I made my quilt 3 foot by 3 foot for the scale of the porch and used 3/4 inch plywood because that was what we had here to make a 4 color quilt.
I sanded, primed, and painted the entire board the light color that is in the corners and the edges of the stars then drew the design on top of the painted board.
Let me tell you that taping and untaping the different blocks on the quilt are tricky. I should have painted the base color over the tape because even though I pushed, smashed, and, pressed the tape it still bled when I painted.
I used the trim color, Behr Dove for the base color, our house door color Behr Whiskey Barrel because I wanted some brown to coordinate with our cool vintage porch door. The center is the turquoise color of the interior Behr Ocean Boulevard. I wanted some green in the quilt because of our tree filled property and found a color I liked for 50 cents on the Home Depot mistint rack. I always check that rack. It is 9.00 for a gallon of mistint, 3.00 for a quart, and 50 cents for samples. I am a fan of mistint paint.
I used a small brush to touch up the areas where the paint bled once everything was good and dry.
Once I was satisfied with the touch up it got a coat Polycrylic to seal it and got mounted on the wall. I really like the look.
It looks so good mounted on the wall.
I enjoyed making it and look forward to having it for years.
We spend a lot of time outside and porches are important to us. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the guest house has a little porch to welcome guests. The original building had a sort of porch but we took out the original slab and reconfigured the space. We now have an eight foot by twelve foot porch that is blocked by the north wind and rain we get in the winter but open to the prevailing southern summer breezes. It has a great view of the garden and down the road will have a nice front view. I have plans.
The porch ceiling isn’t finished yet ( or the top section of the house caulk and paint) but we are still moving forward.
Our future plans for the porch are to put in a shiplap ceiling painted haint blue, cover the front posts and beams with cedar, and possibly do something with the concrete slab.
I am excited to say that the house got a coat of Behr True Taupewood, it is a gray with brown undertones. The trim is almost done and is painted Behr Dove. It is going to look beautiful with the door, swing, and cedar trim.
Speaking of swing, my goodness this four foot cypress beauty is a show stopper. A friend makes swings and other items in his shop. I love that it was custom made for us, It is stained a cedar stain and has three coats of Spar Urethane so that it can hold up to the weather.
We also have an Adirondack style rocking chair that was literally salvaged from the trash and rebuilt by Mr. Math. It got a good coat of black spray paint and has a place on the porch.
On top of the finishing up we need to do, I also want to make a barn quilt for the blank wall by the door. The view from the swing is just a blank wall and this house is all about quilts.
The Behr App has a project tab where you can save colors and look at how they go together.
All of the paint is in my shop right now so the 36 x 36 inch plywood is all that is needed.
We are making great progress now and it feels like we are getting somewhere finally. I am so thankful for all the work my husband has put in to get here.
We are lucky enough to own a home with a garage apartment in Huntsville, Texas. The house is in a good location near Sam Houston State University and Huntsville’s cute downtown Our home is on a pretty corner lot. The one bedroom garage apartment door faces the backyard and has a sidewalk and deck off the doorway that provides privacy and a feeling of living more in the country than the city. My daughter in law says it feels like a treehouse and I agree!
The first of August we got notice that our awesome tenants in the garage apartment would be moving out due to graduating and getting a job in downtown Houston. We were bummed and a little nervous because ideally we like to switch tenants over the summer before August 1 for college students. Our tenants went above and beyond to move out by August 15th and to find us another tenant that we totally approve of and are thrilled to welcome. They move in September 1st.
Since our last tenants were there almost 3 years we knew we had some sprucing up and maintenance before the next move in. The guest house we have been working on recently is on a short hold while we get things taken care of at the garage apartment. Bummer.
We had some leveling to do because a center beam in the garage settled, a little rot around the stairs that needs to be addressed, and some stabilization of the steps by connecting the steps to the garage wall. It is an ongoing struggle with exterior upkeep. Huntsville is pretty hot and humid along with being amazingly rainy, the back yard is in the shade almost all the time, the trees drop leaves everywhere, and well, the building is 71 years old. The original garage floor was dirt which wasn’t uncommon in 1950. At some point concrete without any reinforcement was poured and it made the garage doors so low that only a sports car would fit in there.
We also touched up paint on the exterior. I am so grossed out every time we switch tenants with the front door that I was positive it wouldn’t be white again. I decided on red- Behr dark crimson to be specific.
The change is dramatic. I like dramatic.
We also switched from the exterior wall paint on the deck outside apartment to porch paint. I am actually shocked we got five years out of the porch being sprayed with exterior wall paint. We are going with Behr Slate Gray on the wood decked porch. It will provide a nice contrast to the blue paint. Mr. Math spent half a day power washing, nailing in popped nails, and scraping 6 by 6 the deck and stairs to get us ready.
During the hard freeze we got in Texas last winter a pipe burst in the bathroom and thanks to the Texas power grid issue, we went way more than 24 hours in the very low teens with no electricity. All the pipes are exposed in the garage below. Of course we fixed the burst pipe but knew we had damage to fix on the inside this summer. The water from the burst pipe seeped into a crack in the grout then froze under the tiles. The concrete backer board under the tile absorbed enough water that it swelled and burst in places causing four tiles to need to be replaced. We expected hardwood floor damage but weren’t aware of the bathroom issues. Four of the avocado green tiles in the bathroom had to come out. Surprise, surprise, we couldn’t find new green tiles. So, this quick reno involves four new beige tiles. I don’t love it but the bathroom is part of our long term plan and will be totally renovated down the road to allow for stackable washer and dryer and for the bathtub ceiling area to be raised.
The original to 1950 pine flooring is one of my favorite things about the garage apartment along with a super cute phone niche and the original trim and doors complete with crystal door knobs. The floor took a hit during the freeze with water covering the entire floor. There are also some pretty deep scratches from a tenant who lived there when we purchased the property’s two huge dogs that have to be addressed. This time around we will be patch staining and re-polyurethaning the floors. I really wanted to sand and strip but it will involve sanding, stripping, using wood filler, and probably replacing a couple of boards. The exterior walls of the house needs to be leveled before we tackle that. Since we have a two week turnaround, the poly needs to have time to harden before moving in furniture, it will have to wait.
We also cleaned the walls, windows, appliances, did interior touch up paint, cleaned inside the cabinets and will be having all the plumbing redone next week to the kitchen and bathroom. Hopefully the Pex piping will not be as prone to freezing.
We are almost there. The list is nearly complete.
Beside the plumber coming Thursday we need to add new solar lights along the gate sidewalk, exterior cleaning and new silicone to the tub, replacing 2 mini blinds, and a smoke detector, we will be done.
Owning and maintaining our own rental is hard work. It isn’t for someone who doesn’t mind getting theirs hands dirty and backs sore but it is a great investment opportunity.
We laid out the quilt and decided to display 9 squares in a 3 x 3 pattern.
Mr. Math designed a quilt hanger using two sections of 1 x 6 painted boards and four bolts to basically hold the quilt in place by squeezing the folded quilt in place.
Slipping the folded quilt in was tricky but the idea worked!
Mr. Math cut off the bolts then we hung the quilt with some small brackets that held up the wood part without touching the quilt.
It looked good the first try but a little too low. I could just see it getting pulled down.
The second try was much better.
I am so glad to have a place for the quilt. The frames next to the quilt hold two framed prints of quilts that we bought in the early 90’s and a piece of tatting my grandmother made. Still working on getting something cohesive for the pillows on the beds when using them as daybeds.
It is so nice to have another project done.
Thanks for following along with us on our journey.