It’s a big day around here! After so many wonderful years working alongside our favorite families to bring their dream homes to life, now it’s our turn! As newlyweds, we’ve been on the hunt for a home of our own. We’re so excited to share that we bought our first home earlier this summer. It’s a charming, one-story cottage in my hometown of Orange County. We’ve been working behind the scenes these past few months to dream up all of the little (and big) ways we’re hoping to make it our own. We can’t wait to share more of The Cottage renovation, and bring you along for all of the remodel fun.
Keep scrolling to see the “before” and hear more from Mindy on her plans for the space!
What stood out to you about this particular house?
I love the inherently charming cottage feel of the home the moment you walk up and step foot inside. It’s a nod to how many of the older, original homes around our neighborhood were built in the 1950s. Simple in design, original hardwood floors, wood burning fireplaces, lots of potential, charming details, and nothing too fancy. I love the simplicity of the original design elements. The first time we saw the house, we knew it had the type of character and originality we were looking for in our first home.
We also really wanted to be in a neighborhood that was surrounded by other families, and we were on the search for an original home with lots of front and backyard space, curb appeal potential, and ideally a one-story home with great bones and a cottage-like aesthetic.
We also loved the idea of a fun “project” house… Nothing too over the top or crazy, but a house to put our creative heart and soul into. Before we got this house, we’d put in an offer on an amazing Spanish style home that needed a TON of TLC. Truthfully, I think it would’ve been more than we could’ve tackled for our first home. It was a blessing that it didn’t go through!
Speaking of offers… Tell us about your home buying experience!
As newlyweds, we’ve been living and renting on Balboa Island – which we absolutely love. We started thinking about the possibility of buying our first home together earlier this year as interest rates were low and the market was bustling, albeit a tad bit wild and competitive.
We started by looking casually at homes for sale and pocket listings in a few different neighborhoods. We’re lucky to have a dear friend of ours who is a wonderful local agent. After a handful of tours, and a few weeks later, we stumbled upon this particular home after it had popped back on the market one weekend. Without sounding silly, it felt like it was meant to be from the first time we saw it. In this crazy competitive market, the house had just fallen out of escrow and the homeowners were eager to sell with their own plans to move out of state in just a few weeks time. We put in an offer quickly, and crossed our fingers that it might work out. And what do you know, it worked out! Quickly actually.
We’d heard disheartening stories from the last year about others in our shoes going back and forth with sellers, countering, getting out bid, etc. So, we were prepared to walk and keep looking. But instead, we got the call that the owners had accepted our offer, and we were off to the races. It was incredibly surreal to get the call! That’s when my mind started overflowing with all the things I hoped we could do to the house.
What are your overall plans for The Cottage renovation?
Because we dream up homes for families day in and day out, I love getting to imagine ourselves in this home. I’m always thinking about what we want to change to make it more functional, updated and just all around “us.” And at the same time, what we can do minimally, and cost effectively, to make the necessary upgrades so as not to overdo too many elements where it loses the simplicity of the home itself.
We’re starting the Cottage renovation with construction on the interior of the home first. We are prioritizing all of the interior updates before we get to the exterior next year. I love the original, narrow plank hardwood floors, so we’ll be keeping those and refinishing them in a new stain color. They feel perfectly suited to this style of home. In addition, keeping the original floors will also help with our budget so we can prioritize other areas.
From there, we’ll be replacing all of the baseboards, door and window casings, along with a few new windows and doors. The house is on a raised foundation, and was built in the 1950s, so there are some quirks that we’ll be working around. Regardless, that’s the fun part of remodeling. It’s like peeling back an onion at every corner. Some people may not love that part of the remodel process, but I love it. It’s a fun challenge to work within certain design constraints and limitations. Sometimes it’s budget driven, other times it’s time/schedule driven or just logistics.
We really want to preserve as much of the original home as we can. So we’ll be staying mindful of not going overboard or treating this like a new construction project. It’s also our first personal project, so it will be a different journey altogether!
The two existing bathrooms will be getting some love, and we’ll be adding a new ensuite main bathroom. All of the cabinetry throughout the home will be new. We’re excited to be partnering with some really fun trades and vendors on all of the craftsmanship and materials throughout the home. The kitchen footprint will be changing slightly as well, and I’m really excited about the new design. It’s simplistic and functional and charming. All of my favorite elements.
The couple that owned the home before us remodeled it a little over 10 years ago to make it larger and more functional. We’re excited to continue the Cottage renovation legacy by making the home a little more of our own personal aesthetic. Still, we want to stay true to the neighborhood and cottage bones that we fell in love with. Now the fun begins and we get to dream up making it our own for our growing family.
We’ll be sharing more about all of the details as construction progresses. However, this gives you a better idea of what we’ll be focusing on before the end of the year. Next year, once the interior is complete, we’ll move on to the exterior. We’re already dreaming up what we want to do out there!
We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to follow along with The Cottage renovation as Mindy transforms this space into the perfect home for her family. Make sure you’re following along on Instagram. We’ll be sharing regular behind-the-scenes of construction and more before and afters of each space. For more fun before and afters in the meantime, head to the projects section of our blog to see Mindy’s past renovations!