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Four weeks ago, we finally moved into our 100 year old cottage and what a joyful experience it was. The cottage is our new second home; a place to unplug – a place for silence, nature, slow living and no rush.
I’ve done my best to capture a series of before and after photos, and I hope you will enjoy seeing the transformation we made. Restoring the cottage was a heart-driven project my husband and I did together – flipping and designing homes is a shared passion. But this has been our biggest project so far. It took five months and of course, there’s still a few things missing – like the staircase to the wine cellar and a few lamps here and there.
I call this phase 2 because phase 3, which is the final phase is converting the barn/garage into a guest house and workout/wellness space. Did you miss phase 1? Read about it here >>
Almost everything in the cottage has been changed and renewed with respect for the original style. On the outside we have changed most of the windows and doors which has truly lifted the overall look.
We kept the original windows as you see on the main building and then we found new windows that matched to install on the attached building. The old windows got a new extra layer of glass on the inside so we will be able to keep warm during winter. Then we painted the house white to give it a clean fresh look and make it stand out as a contrast to the nature that surrounds it.
On the back side of the cottage (as seen above) we created a large wooden patio and to soften the square layout I planted different kinds of grass on both sides.
The idea is to move wild nature as close to the patio as possible and create a cozy sea-side atmosphere. I’m excited to see how the grasses will grow and evovle because I have absolutely no experience with them so far.
In the living room (above) which is the main room in the white cottage we decided to keep the wooden floors and restore them instead of changing them. We sanded them down and gave them a white lime wash treatment.
We also changed the staircase. We cut off a big chunk of it and painted it white to make it more light and less dominating in the room. The front of the living room has the most beautiful view over the fields and the ocean. Very close there’s a small harbour with boats coming and going – very peaceful to look at. The best thing about the view is that the neighbour’s horses are coming for a visit making the scene look like a fairytale land.
The cottage is heated with electrical radiators and a wonderful old fireplace. An electric radiator is never pretty nor very economical so we changed them in to new models and put a cover over them.
The dining room (below) was a fun makeover to do. When we took over the cottage it was a bedroom with built-in cabinets, but we decided to make the most of it and turn it into a dining room. This is the black wooden side building you see when you look at the house from the out side. It was added to the cottage about 15 years ago by the previous owners. By turning it into a dining room we made the cottage seem much more spacious.
We took the cabinets out and painted the back wall with a vintage blue chalk paint. The room demanded some kind of unique lighting and we decided to go for two big crystal chandeliers which took me about four hours to put together – piece by piece. (Can I get a high five…haha..)
I absolutely love how the hall turned out. This is the section that connects the old cottage with the black wooden building. I’m amazed at how big of a difference it made changing the doors and the tiles. I really opened up the space. We also painted the hall with a light beige chalk paint to make it more warm and welcoming.
On the photo below you can see the new patio through the glass doors. If you look closely you can also see that we put up a natural wooden fence. Even though the cottage comes with a lot of land and we are the owners of the tiny road that passes by the house, this is the best way to keep an eye on our dogs and keep them safe.
We bought all the furnitures especially for the cottage, because the last two houses we sold was sold with ALL the interior inside. Therefore, we had to start all over and buy everything from kitchen supplies to bedlinen, and garden tools to decorative props. My husband and I carefully planned every room using mood boards.
While we waited for the cottage to be ready we stored all the furnitures in a warehouse storage facility and all the boxes with the smaller things was pilled up in my studio at home. A lot of coordination, a lot of planning and a lot of mess was a part of this process.
The only thing I forgot to consider was how to storage our shoes. And when you live in the countryside you need many different shoes and boots. Luckily, I found a local Brocante shop and was able to get my hands on this beautiful old cabinet you see in the above photo. This is now how we keep our shoes in the cottage. Works perfectly.
When I first saw the cottage I immediately spotted the opportunity to create a small working area in the hall. And when I by coincident found this old vintage table on Instagram I knew it would fit wonderfully. It’s lovely to sit there and work, edit photos and write blog posts while looking out on the garden, the horses and the sea. Notice how much of a difference it made to change the window.
Let’s move on to the kitchen. We wanted a bright and airy feeling, with a Scandinavian country vibe, exclusive yet simplistic at the same time. We ended up with a hand crafted kitchen with a marble table top and a brass sink. The knobs looks black in the photos but they are made of rustic matte brass and in reality they are more golden than they appear in the image.
The kitchen lamps are my favourite lamp of all time; the Jiedel lamp from France, designed by Jean Louis Domecq. They are vintage from 1950 but newly restored by a company in Copenhagen. I love them so much that I also put them in the bathroom.
We wanted to keep the kitchen open and simplistic and therefore we decided to avoid hanging cabinets on the upper wall. Instead, I found an old kitchen shelf for $20 that I painted to match the kitchen color.
In the photo above you can better sense the true color of the handles. The knobs are made of antique brass.
The wine cellar was my husbands idea. And what a HUGE asset this is to the cottage. At first I thought it was a crazy idea but he ran with the idea and made it happen.
In the old days, the cellar was functioning as the “fridge” because back then they did not have access to either electricity nor a fridge. So all food was placed down below the kitchen.
The cellar was so tiny that you couldn’t stand up in your full hight. And the worst thing was; it was dark, cold, wet and full of woodlice! And not just a few…. imagine the walls completely black covered with thick layers of woodlice. It was so awful that the first time I saw the cottage I ran and said to my husband “I’m NEVER going to buy that house!”
Luckily, my dear husband convinced me otherwise. The bug exterminator went down to clear the basement twice and since then it has been completely free of any little creature. We renovated the basement with new floors and digged down and improved the ceiling height. Now we can stand up straight which is nice and we even have space for a bar table and some chairs down there.
A nice detail to the wine cellar is the tailor made glass hatch that you can walk on. It took some time getting used to – a little scary to begin with. My dog Conrad still doesn’t trust the glass will hold him and he will avoid walking on it.
The bathroom was completely transformed as well, the only thing we re-used was the toilet paper holder. It fitted in perfectly with the brass shower and brass water tap. One of the drawer sections is a hidden cabinet and behind it is a washing machine.
Let’s move up stairs. Below you see before and after photos of the bedroom. It was original a hall way with two tiny rooms. We took down all walls and opened up the ceiling to make the most of the space.
In the photo above with my dogs you can see how this room looked the first time we visited it. And in the first photo below you see the narrow hall way.
The bedroom was totally chaos for a couple of months and it was hard to imagine that it would turn out great – but it did in the end. I love the white, summery feeling is now has.
The wall behind the bed we created to hide the chimney. On the other side of the wall is our dressing room with a day bed.
There’s one more room upstairs (see below) and that’s our snuggle/TV room. To make the most of the room we put in a sofa bed, so during daily living it’s a useful space for entertainment but when we have visitors we can easily turn this room into a spare bedroom.
So that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the cottage. Our next and final phase is to flip the barn/garage (see below) into a space for wellness, workouts, creative work and guests. Hopefully, it will be ready before Christmas.
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If there’s anything I’ve noticed from coaching creatives for the past 20 years, it’s that confusion is a given. Yes, confusion is super NORMAL. That includes confusion about what direction to take in business, what niche to choose, how to promote yourself the right way, how to grow your career and where to invest your time + effort.
Creatives are often more personally invested in their work, so their confusion is more personally painful. Especially if the confusion phase continues for days or weeks. It can be a very painful process because confusion can stir up a never-ending spiral of feeling stuck, insecure, not good enough or “being a failure” in opposed to feeling in control.
We think that if we are confused or feel lost, then there must be something WRONG with us! Luckily, this is far from the truth!
In reality, confusion always comes before a real breakthrough. It’s a sign of great and powerful change. A sign of growth.
When you feel confused, it’s a sign that your mind is expanding. It’s a sign that you are allowing your heart, mind, body and soul to make room for something that wasn’t there before.
The good thing is that by becoming aware of what confusion really is you can start changing things around.
What confusion really is and how to deal with it:
#1: Confusion is NOT a sign that you are broken
When you feel lost and confused, remember that it’s a normal part of life. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed.
Accept that you are in the confusion phase and think about it as a positive sign of you getting closer to a breakthrough or turning point in your life.
Breathe through it if you feel anxiety and stress arise. By focusing on big deep belly breathing you calm your nervous system and remind yourself to be present in the now. Live life one moment at a time. Clarity comes when it comes.
Before clarity, there’ll be chaos. This means that whenever you feel confused, there is something happening within you – you are growing, expanding your mind, evolving into a better you.
Finding acceptance, respect and patience for this process will help you tremendously. Try not to judge yourself or become angry with yourself. Find compassion for what you are going through. Support yourself like you would support your best friend.
#2: Confusion is the fear of getting it wrong
I often see creatives use confusion as a “shield” against wasting time and effort on the wrong things. Instead of testing our amazing creative ideas out in reality, we spend time finding negative aspects of the idea, we look for all the reasons why we shouldn’t test the idea and then in the end you have used your energy and feel drained + confused.
This is where you no longer see the point of the idea anymore. The truth is, we kill the idea quickly because we are afraid it’s going to be a waste of time or a failure, so we better avoid it at all costs.
We convince ourselves that our idea is pointless or bad. This releases more confusion because the next thought is going to be; “but what am I going to do then?” and the cycle continues.
Instead of looking for a guarantee that what you create or do will be valuable, know that today is valuable. You’re using time well by starting, testing and trying out your ideas.
And what if you go in the wrong direction? So WHAT!!The success is found not in the result but in the process of discovering new skills and gaining new knowledge.
#3: Confusion is the fear of making decisions
Confusion is also the mind’s way to avoid having to make decisions. One reason we allow ourselves to stay confused is because we don’t want to take responsibility for making decisions.
We’re terrified of how we will think and feel if we decide something and feel it was the wrong choice later.
In reality we are rarely confused, we just don’t want to make a decision. Often we know the decision in our heart (or gut) but we are afraid to make the decision, because making a decision means we have to take action.
We use confusion as a weapon against making hard decisions. Staying in confusion mode becomes an excuse for not taking massive action. This is why many people stay stuck in the same place or end up unhappy.
Often when people are confused they feel pain, depressed, insecure, frustrated, anxious or completely powerless, but what they don’t know is that 90% of that pain often comes from not making a decision.
When you make a decision, when you choose a direction you move on and then you get momentum and momentum is freeing. Momentum and taking action is what gives you confidence and change your life – but you gotta make those hard decisions first.
Notice Confusion, Accept Confusion and Move On
Dealing with confusing in a constructive and positive way, has truly helped me change my life. I trust my ability to make fast + hard decisions and then take action without looking back for regret.
I only focus on moving forward all the time – even small decisions every day to make things better is essential. I never wanna waste my time in confusion land – I wanna live life to the fullest so I jump.
I’m often afraid but I jump anyway. I often feel confused just like everyone else. I just move fast through it. I notice my confusion. I accept my confusion and then I move on.
I’m not afraid of making mistakes or taking a wrong direction – I have changed my business so MANY times and so can you. You twist it as you go. You don’t have to have all the answers to start. You just gotta have your heart in it. If your heart isn’t in the entrepreneurial journey it it’s better to get a full time job.
I also want you to remember that all good things takes time. I started my first business when I was a teenager and I started my online photography business 10 years ago, so I have had many years of practice.
I was not born a super focused entrepreneur – I GREW into who I am, I grew into my skills by trying, testing, falling, failing and getting back up again. I kept walking even when I felt confused and afraid and that’s what matters!
Begin taking a step forward and see how it feels. If it feels good, keep walking in that direction. Keep it slow and steady until you are ready to take that leap of faith.
The beauty about life is that there really is no wrong turn or wrong path. Every road traveled is a blessing in some way, so take the stress out of life’s decisions and trust that all roads really do lead home.