The Cottage Renovation | Phase 2

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.

With love, Christina

To see more photos follow along on Instagram @christinagreve

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About Christina Greve

Christina Greve is an experienced Photographer, Educator & Mindset Coach with a passion for flowers, decorating & country living. She's the founder of The Lifestyle Photography Academy + The Empowered Creative Show. She provides tools, education and inspiration designed to help multi-passionate women, artists and creative souls find direction, push through self-doubt + make a living doing what they LOVE.She is known for her elegant storytelling photography and draws much of her inspiration from the Nordic countryside, travels, food and still life.Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, blogs and books worldwide. After a decade of working with psychology, Christina's passion for photography evolved into a full-time photography and coaching business.Today she runs a thriving + fast-growing international empire specializing in professional online training, motivating and engaging female photographers, designers, bloggers, makers and creatives. She has coached thousands of fabulous women from more than 40+ countries.With her Podcast "The Empowered Creative," her popular Instagram posts, and quickly sold-out workshops, Christina has become the go-to person for many creatives seeking like-minded sisterhood, real support and heartfelt encouragement.