Makeover Monday

Happy Monday! As promised, I have a dramatic makeover to show you. Pictures of this cute cottage have been in my tear files since 2008 and they still look fantastic! Plus, there’s great design wisdom in how a tiny, drab home became an unforgettable gem!

My favorite thing about makeovers is that they can contain clever ideas we can all use. Good design is not only beautiful but teaches you something and as you will see, every inch of this home was intelligently planned to maximize its potential. The exterior alone is unrecognizable, while the interiors were reconfigured with minimal architectural tweaks to fit two bedrooms, two baths, a laundry room and an open bar kitchen. For all this, credit goes to New York designer John Bjornen.


Homeowners Tim and Susan Davis purchased a tiny 930-square-foot cottage with a fabulous location. With two small bedrooms, two baths and wraparound water views, the house was drab and dated but had immense potential. This is how the home looked like before…It’s not terrible  but it’s certainly plain.


And here is the after!


Designer John Bjornen replaced the exterior planks with shingle siding (more expensive but worth the splurge, especially on a home this size). The old windows were replaced with bigger ones while the new shutters were painted a deep, rich blue that adds contrast and instant appeal. Symmetric plantings and a curving brick pathway increase the home’s  charm. Even the blue hydrangeas were chosen to cleverly coordinate with the shutters! To keep the costs under control, the homeowners reused the original bricks in a reconfigured pattern, separated and replanted the original boxwood and did most of the work themselves. Two charming square windows flank the front door and have the added benefit of bringing in more natural light.

The color palette was kept neutral with soft touches of blue that match the exterior hues. Bjornen used simple patterns like thin stripes, plaids and  mostly solids.


To increase the perceived square-footage of the home without an actual addition, the designer vaulted the ceilings and removed a wall between the kitchen and the living room replacing it with an open breakfast bar.

coastal kitchen

coastal kitchen 3


Here’s a look at the master bedroom before…

coastal bedroom before

…and here it is after!

coastal bedroom

Classic wainscoting and beadboard in every room lend the home a traditional feel. The master bedroom even has a charming window seat to enjoy the beautiful water views!

coastal window seat


The patio before…

coastal deck before

…and after!


The backyard was cleverly reconfigured as well. Bjornen expanded the existing deck, turning it into an outdoor dining area. He also added a brick and blue stone patio and by doing so, created two extra living spaces!!! Genius!

I feel so inspired by this project, it’s not only stunning but packed with clever ideas we can all implement.  I managed to track down the original floor plans so we can see the actual evolution of the interiors in terms of room redesign. The footprint is the same but by reconfiguring some walls, the house gained a second bathroom, a laundry room and a dining area! Now that is smart!

floor plan

If you’d like to know about the blue on the shutters (I did), it’s closely matched by Benjamin Moore’s Blue Symphony.

Benjamin Moore - Symphony Blue



Photography by Tria Giovan.

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