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A Fairy Tale Guest Cottage

Between the pandemic and the housing crunch, we are finding a lot of homeowners need to expand their space at home, whether for study space, home office space, guest space, home gym space or just someplace to retreat to and find a little alone time. These Sandy Spring homeowners wanted to turn their dilapidated, ivy-covered backyard shed into a guest cottage straight out of a fairy tale. It would be used from time to time by their daughter, and one of the homeowners also wanted a space where she could spread out some of her projects. The rehabbed cottage inspired a backyard beautification project as well, and includes new gardens and a new patio.

The Cottage Idea

Our clients, one of whom is an interior designer, had great vision, as you’ll confirm after you see the “before” photo next. Their charming cottage is picture-perfect. Surrounded by a beautiful garden and patio, details like the hipped roof and custom shutters make the little house an absolute dream. But make sure and take a good look at the “after” photo here, because you won’t believe the before.

Backyard Shed ADU

Cottage Before

Seriously, can you even believe it? The English ivy had made a meal our of this sad little structure. Speaking of English ivy, did you know you can hire a team of goats to get rid of it by grazing? It’s the cutest thing — all the neighborhood kids love to come watch them make a meal out of the invasive Hedera helix.

Anyway, our clients knew the dilapidated eyesore of an outbuilding on their property had potential. We were able to give it an extensive rehabilitation and turn it into a guest cottage right out of a fairy tale.

fairy tale guest cottage

From Dilapidated Shed To  Fairy Tale Cottage

The very extensive remodel included, but was not limited to:

  • Tearing the structure down to the studs
  • Replacing some of the floor framing
  • Turning the two-level floor into one continuous level
  • Replacing the gabled roof with a more charming hipped roof with curved edges
  • Replacing the windows and doors
  • Adding new windows and shutters
  • Fully conditioning the space with sheathing, insulation, heating and air conditioning
  • Adding a bathroom and connecting it to the sewer lines
  • Installing new granite steps, brick walkway and iron railings
  • Installing new lighting

fairy tale cottage entry, lights

Cottage Surroundings

With the invasive ivy eradicated, the renovation inspired new garden surroundings for the new little cottage. Granite steps, a brick path and custom railings create safe access to the structure, while stone retaining walls and new shrubs, perennials and annuals accentuate its fairy tale vibes.

We also love the outdoor lights our clients chose. They light up the little house at night. And their lantern style nods to traditional while their streamlined look balances in more modern style.

Interior fairy tale cottage

Cottage Interior

There’s about 300 square feet of living space inside the cottage. We installed a luxury vinyl tile that’s durable and looks like wood. (Side note: We’ve been amazed at LVT is — vinyl has come a long way.) The interior is covered in shiplap to add texture and cottage charm. We were able to use the existing window openings from the original house. But we added these two windows at the end of the room to let in more light and enjoy the view. We also installed recessed ceiling lights and a ceiling fan.

A mini-split unit helps keep the cottage a comfortable temperature all the time. Our client found the armoire on Craigslist and it was just the right fit. The pocket door leads to the compact bathroom.

guest house cabinets open

While our clients originally wanted a kitchenette out here, they ultimately decided they wanted to conceal any kitchen elements with the white cabinets on the right. They  conceal a sink,  microwave and fridge for snacks and drinks. There is also room for a coffee machine, toaster and a few snacks.

cottage guest house bathroomCottage Bathroom

The bathroom is compact but has everything anyone could need. Retractable doors chosen by our clients fully open up the corner of the shower stall for easier access. And light colors keep the space feeling airy.

fairy tale guest cottage

Cottage Fairy Tales Do Come True

Here’s one last look at the cutest little cottage in Sandy Springs! We hope you have enjoyed the tour. If you’re thinking about renovating or adding onto your home, or if you’re ready for an ADU for your own backyard, please schedule a free consultation to let us know more about your project.

If you enjoyed this story, here are a few more we think you’ll enjoy:

Garage Renovation Adds a New Sunroom

Refreshing a Pool Landscape

An Inviting Screened-in Porch