It takes a certain eye to see a smart little cottage where others see a stucco teardown. But Steve and Shauna Mullins had exactly that vision when they first saw this 875-square-foot bungalow in Hermosa Beach, California.
“It was in a great location, less than a mile from the beach, and the basic layout was good—it hadn’t been screwed up,” Steve says. Still, the exterior of the 1941 house was showing its age, and its small rooms needed an update. Collaborating with architectural designer Rosa Velazquez on the front of the house, doing much of the work themselves, and enlisting a general contractor for the bigger projects, the couple lavished the tiny two-bedroom with a proud new facade and freshened the interior throughout.
For nearly all their redo needs, they jumped in the car and hit nearby home centers, scouring the aisles for well-priced shutters, fencing, cabinets, crown molding, paint, and more.
Removing the front wall’s stucco and putting up white fiber-cement lap siding refreshed the front face of the house. The other walls got a coat of white paint. Exposing the rafter tails, as well as topping the roof with new asphalt shingles, added welcome detail to the roofline. Relocating windows created symmetry and allowed room for shutters.
Building a deeper portico with chunky columns and crisp railing made the entry more welcoming. A bright red door with brass hardware, lantern-style sconces, salvaged brickwork, and a rose-entwined picket fence helped give the cottage a classic look.
Beige stucco and a nondescript entry gave the existing bungalow an institutional look, before.
2 Open and Update the Kitchen
Swapping in a new window, clean white Thermofoil cabinets, brushed-nickel pulls, and pale granite counters with an ogee edge made the kitchen brighter and more inviting. Ebony-stained crown molding and toekicks added sophisticated contrast. Stacked-to-the-ceiling pantry cabinets boost storage in the small kitchen.
The existing sad-sack galley dead-ended in a side-entry laundry area.
2 Open and Update the Kitchen, Continued
Creating a half wall to one side of the doorway, opened the space to the dining room. Building a post, made from a trimmed-out 4×4, gave it polish. New oak flooring added a warm note to the stainless-steel appliances and tied into the other rooms in the open plan.
3 Upgrade with Molding, Paint, Refinished Floors
Adding crisp white crown and base molding gave the living areas a tailored, pulled-together look. For contrast, walls got a suede-finish neutral beige. Replacing windows with ones that have simulated divided lights added detail.
Living Room, Before
The original living areas were drab and disjointed, before.
3 Upgrade with Molding, Paint, Refinished Floors, Continued
Refinishing existing oak floors with a medium-brown stain unified the spaces. Paint gave new life to the fireplace, white on the wood and fire-resistant black on the brick surround.
4 Extend the Living Space Outdoors
Adding a deck with a pergola off the master bedroom extended the living space without altering the house’s footprint. The deck steps down to the drive, a grilling area, and a lawn set off by a picket fence echoing the front of the house.
The back of the house, where the bedrooms are located, had almost no connection to the outside, before.
Replacing a small window with French doors brought in air and light, making the 12-by-12-foot bedroom feel larger.
5 Add Charm With Color and Wainscot
The second bedroom was strictly Motel 6. Adding beadboard wainscot gave the room (which became a nursery) its own identity while reinforcing the home’s cottage style. Painting the wainscot, trim, and furniture white helped keep the lilac scheme from seeming too sweet. Floor-length curtains, hung above the windows, help elongate them and make the ceilings feel loftier.
6 Upgrade the Garage
Swapping in a sectional door with raised panels and divided-light windows brought the garage up to par with the house. A blooming vine over the door softens the all-white facade. The flowering potato vine along the eves is trained on wires attached with eyescrews.
The freestanding garage had the blank, boxy look of a storage unit, before. Its tilt-and-raise door was sorely out of date.
The kitchen annexed a laundry area off the side door; the washer and dryer now fit behind cabinet doors. A wider opening and a half wall now connect the cook space to the dining area. French doors lead from the master bedroom to a new deck.