Horror Reveal Time at the Beach Cottage

Thu 3rd, Sep, 2009

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The Sitting Room Before 


I get a lot of questions and emails along the lines of this:-

‘there is no hope for me and my house, it is brown, filthy, stuck in the 1970′s, in the middle of a wood, has orange carpet and purple walls – it will never look anything like a beach cottage or for that matter any cottage.  I have a tiny budget, no money for professionals, please help do you think there is any hope for me?  I am so fed up with my house…’

this is for you…


And if we can do this, thousands of miles away from friends and family, on a shoestring budget and with no help whatsoever, then anyone can…here’s to white paint and sunshine!


I recently came across a whole load of pictures on an old phone of the day we first viewed the beach cottage (there’s more coming people, my goodness no wonder I was upset the day we got the keys to this tatty old place, boy were we brave)


so what we were faced with here was a whole lot of mess (& you thought the non-art on my walls was bad)

(I mean people who has an Open House like this?  hello!)

first impressions, hideous grimy colours, piles of junk, outdated fittings…a door that had been blocked up with a melamine bookcase…and did I mention the errrrm fragrance?

but wait and look beyond and you’ll see a fairly decent ceiling with a bit of detail and no gunk, wallpaper that could be easily removed, a faux bookcase that could be ripped out, a wide double sash window with heaps of sunlight streaming in and a wood floor under years of carpet layers…and a space that while not perfect offered opportunities away from the Family Room for quiet time…

So here’s what we did, first we pulled up the carpet layer, then the linoleum layer, then the newspaper layer and underneath we already knew was a beautiful wood plank floor (we sneakily pulled up every piece of carpet as we walked around).

That was sanded, in-filled, varnished and sealed.


Next we painted the whole room in simple, standard white (since been changed to Dulux Whisper White which doesn’t show up but is a touch of cool grey to the white) to clean it up and give us a quick easy palette should we want to change it in the future.

Painting everything in white meant we didn’t have to worry about cutting in and meant it was not only much quicker but meant we could buy in bulk meaning more economical.


The faux bookcase (purlease) you can see in the top photo that the owners for some reason put in was to the left of middle of one wall, it meant the room felt very tight and boxed in, apart from the its errm aesthetic properties…

So we pulled it out, it hid the original doorway to the breakfast room.  You can see here the original architrave is still there, we considered pulling that off and making it slightly wider, more of an arch but in the end because, again of time constraints we just painted it  white and left it at that

We’ve since talked about a glass door here but I now kinda like the little old doorway…


Old sash windows was on of the things on our list of must-haves for our old Beach Cottage when we were house hunting, these were for sure worse for wear, but they came up pretty ok and I love pulling them up with the breeze blowing in… Mr BC is not so sure and threatens to replace them in Stage II (like he’s got a say *wink)


One of the panes was cracked so we repaired that and I spent a whole morning from very early til after lunch cleaning this one window.  Years and years of neglect were stuck on there – I scrubbed the little runners with a toothbrush.  That afternoon as the paint went on it all suddenly started to look just a little less frightening…

Here’s the other side now


and often the blinds are up, windows wide and displaying a few shells



So on the window we added white blinds to emulate plantation shutters but without omitting the beautiful light that streams through here and without the cost.

Next up went a double layer curtain fixture in matt steel, with clear round finials.  Bottom layer drape natural unbleached linen and top layer a white heavy drop cotton.


The other side of this room there is another door to the tiny entrance hall which makes this room tricky to arrange furniture and this little corner has seen many a camera shot as I have collected various pieces of treasure and tried them out here… for the moment it is like this but one of the changes coming up is a small two seater sofa for here somehow…on the other side of the coffee table


So that’s it, a little cottage trash to beachy treasure

you can find more sofa pics, where it’s working for a living at the Beach Cottage and see how the furniture gets up and moves around all by itself ;-) here, here, here, and here.

and you can read here ways to add a bit of coastal country style in your sitting room for not a lot


window:  poles, finials, IKEA, blinds IKEA Lindmon, drapes (unbleached) IKEA Aina, drapes (white) IKEA Merete  rug: IKEA    coffee table: ten year old recycled pine table + natural distressing :-)   side table: old meat safe (more pics here) from junk shop, painted with Dulux Antique White   lamp table: old sewing box, one of my first thrifted finds ever   trunk: thrifted   butler’s tray: garage sale   pot cupboard:  auction, sale, read about it here  sofa: our trusty old white slipcovered, similar IKEA/Pottery Barn slipcovers   pillows:  now closed beach shop similar Target, bulap – made by me with coffee sack covers    lamps:  old vintage – auction, clear base, Target    mirrors:  all thrifted   lantern: IKEA   throw:  Bed Bath & Table   decor balls:  shells, now closed beach shop, pearl – Freedom   pitcher:  Wheel & Barrow    canvas: oh goodness, again IKEA  


stay tuned for more gruesome reveals, this little photo find has shown me a whole lot about how far we’ve come, wait til I show you the garden tour, euuuh…and if white coastal style is  not your cup of tea you can easily do a similar transformation in a more modern spiffy style – if you can look past the details you can change a room easily with some DIY, a lot of elbow grease and a bit of paint ;-) 


p.s. I’m on the mend and OUT of bed and if you have a question leave it in the comments I’ll answer it there :-) 


blogged for the fabulous DIY event at ASPTL


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93 Responses to “Horror Reveal Time at the Beach Cottage”

  1. sandy says:

    Wow, simply fun to see all you’ve done.

    You never amaze me! :)

  2. fairmaiden says:

    AmAziNg!!! You should be proud of yourselves…really I do hope The Beach Cottage is featured in a magazine someday.

    I also have been so curious to what your home back in England looks like…will you ever share?

  3. Having seen the before photo, I must commend your bravery. And say Bravo to your amazing makeover.

  4. Linda says:

    What a fantastic job! You are doing something remarkable & inspiring others along the way. thanks!

  5. Beth says:

    This is amazing. So beautiful and tranquil. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  6. heidi says:

    WOWZA! What a transformation! Looks so airy and bright. You did a lovely job. How long did it take??

  7. Hattie says:

    All I can say is, “Wow!” I love your style and your home has come such a long, long way! Beautiful!

  8. Heidi, it didn’t take too long, once the owners got all that junk out, the cleaning was the biggest thing, once it came to paint we were half way there…


  9. Bev says:

    Soooooo beautiful. So glad your felling better :-)

  10. Seriously? That was the open house picture? Wow. Just wow. You should get a medal or something, because the place is fabulous now! Love the burlap pillows, they really stand out to me. I hope to start making some very soon. There is a brand new coffee manufacturing plant a mile from my house, and I am going to hit them up for some bags soon!


  11. BEAUTIFUL!!! White paint and sunshine sure went a long way. Love it!

  12. yep Misti, these people truly let their house open to *other people in this stage

    too funny

  13. Rhonda says:

    I love it…I mean I love it all…every single thing! Fab-u-lous!!!

  14. Thanks for sharing.

    Renee @ Cottage Lifestyle

  15. Roeshel says:

    Stunning! You have the most gorgeous living room! I need you to fly over a.s.a.p. I have a living room nightmare that could use your creative genius and style. ;)

  16. Alison Gibbs says:

    Thanks for sharing the before you bought and after you worked your magic. You have done a sensational job.

  17. Sarah,

    Soooooo inspirational! There is hope!
    Link up to thrifty Thursday, ths is perfect.
    You amaze me!

  18. Wow Sarah! You sure do have a lot of vision and determination! That is just amazing!!! Thanks for sharing those before photos, it really does show that there is hope for any home!

    ~ Pam

  19. Lisa Shatzer says:

    I’ve seen this lovely, beautiful, gorgeous room on your blof before, but I had never seen the “before” picture. It is amazing what you have done!

  20. WOW!!! I am currently living in a 1970′s house with all of the charm of that era…yuck…after seeing your before and after photos I now have hope that one day my home will be what I want. I love your blog and all the inspirations it provides. You are very talented and your home is beautiful.

  21. Oh man – from your title I was hoping to find a DIY project that had gone horribly wrong. I guess I will take all the eye candy you provided as a close second – hee hee. Seriously – beautiful!

  22. Julie says:

    Great work Sarah
    How wonderful the floorboards were intact under all that grotty carpet..Maybe I should take you househunting with me!

  23. Can’t wait to see more. This was a treat!

  24. Vicki says:

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better and thanks for letting us see the “before” photo – it just proved to us what we all knew from the start – you’ve got a great eye for design and you just work magic in every thing you do.

  25. absolutely beautiful!

  26. justine says:

    Your vision to see through what was there is brilliant-I love the result, its so relaxing to just look at it.
    When I venture out to ikea I love looking at my trolley full of white, stainless steel, and hessian/natural looking finds(this feels like a confession-he he)
    So happy to your feeling better!!
    Thanx for sharing

  27. Floss says:

    Oh, that was fun! We didn’t take photos of our nasty run-down interior when we moved in, unfortunately. It would have looked quite good as a before and after, because the house had been rented for a good number of years then left empty, so everything was in perfectly good state underneath all the shabby grot, but it put off the buyers and we got the house for a song!

    Thanks for sharing your pics and tips. Do you know yet if you’re coming to France this Christmas?

  28. Would love to type something here but I’m typeless, sorry!

  29. Pearl Maple says:

    Great post full of honest this is where it was and this is what we did to get there to inspire anyone to make the changes to create their space just the way they like it.

    Thanks for sharing the adventure of finding what really lurks under grotty carpets and behind odd book cases. Hope you are soon on the mend.

  30. Pomona says:

    Wow! That’s vision for you! Well done – it all looks really fantastic!

    Pomona x

  31. Glad you are feeling better, Sarah! You have a beautiful cottage look. I am just now starting on that same path of transformation. Your blog inspires me.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Living it up at Lakewood,

  32. Heidi says:

    So, so stunning!!!! Good for you for showing that a room CAN be transformed more than you may think it can. Oh and I adore the floor! And the white furniture. Ahhhhhh.

  33. Courtney says:

    Oh wow, what an unbelievable transformation. You have such a great eye for potential and style.

  34. Jane says:

    Wow, what a fabulous transformation! It’s so inspiring!


  35. Michelle says:

    simply breathtaking! I love it! and I am happy to hear you are feeling better!


  36. Awesome sitting room, Sarah! It looks so light, bright and inviting…I ? everything about it. You are a true visionary.
    ?, Susan

  37. Morning T says:

    Thank you for sharing these Sarah…makes me even more ‘in awe’ {and envy} of you and the incredible work you’ve done at the cottage. Just amazing!

  38. Your pictures are among the most beautiful I’ve seen in blogland!! I hope you’re feeling better. :)

    ~ Wendy

  39. Tanya says:

    And this is why I love white so much! It makes everything so casual and clean. You’ve done a beautiful job!

  40. Sarah says:

    Woah. You are a miracle worker!

    I love the top of the child’s head in your before picture. LOL

  41. Marie says:

    Hello Sarah – I have no words, which is strange but true. You have mad decorating skills. Love it.


  42. You are so good at pulling together a cohesively styled room!
    Interesting point how painting everything white saves time and money.

  43. sarahpatillo@cox.net says:

    Wow! I would have bought it just for the floors! I’m a Realtor and I have to tell people everyday to “look past” what’s there ~ not everyone can do that. Your home is not only beautiful, it has that loved and collected look. Can’t wait to see more!
    Glad you’re feeling better. :)

  44. This is why I love your blog. Plain, straight, simple projects that make such an impact.

    Good luck on winning the Purdy Paintbrush in my giveaway!

  45. Truly amazing! You are so creative and inspired to have seen the potential and followed it through until you had the room exactly as you wanted it. Congratulations!

  46. Olive Rue says:

    That makeover is incredible. WOW. What an amazing difference. I love that rug too. Where did you find that? It’s gorgeous.

  47. Aoife says:

    stunning!! You are amazing. I love your thriftiness too. A class act!

  48. LizO says:

    I often encounter opinions about using white on walls that are negative. Boring white, white means no imagination – insert many more thoughts on white walls and you get the idea.

    Personally, I find white walls a great way to open a space and offer a crisp clean look.

    That’s not to say that painted accent walls aren’t great but this post is proof that white walls can and do work. (Which is good to know for those of us that rent and for whatever reason can’t or wont paint.)

  49. Victoria says:

    Thank you for sharing the before picture! It really does help to see how you can transform a room with paint.

    I love your style and the furniture makeovers! Keep ‘em coming! ;)

  50. truly amazing! you are gifted! but i bet you have that mummy poster hiding somewhere?

  51. that is amazing! glad you are doing better!

  52. What a wonderful transformation.

  53. cindy says:

    I love it! What a great result from all of your vision and elbow grease! Lovely!

  54. Rachel says:

    All I can say is WOW!!! What a lovely job you and Mr. BC have done!


  55. lindsey says:

    Love this! Wow, great job, and what beautiful floors!

  56. Kathy says:

    Beautiful and serene after you got ahold of it and worked your magic. Love it! Thanks for sharing the before and after.

  57. christi says:

    amazing! nice work!

  58. Marsha says:

    Fabulous – I’m a white fan too and even though ‘they’ say not to paint the outside of the house white I did anyway and am so happy with it.

    Everything you do around your cottage is perfect and inspiring to me -

    Marsha – chandelier magic

  59. Fabulous difference!!

  60. that is wonderful. Thankyou so much.

  61. Debra says:

    What an amazing transformation to the sittng room. Those wood floors are beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  62. Hello Sarah,
    I just found your inspiring blog and I just adore it. I’ll be back to visit again soon.

    This is truly an amazing transformation! Love it all! ~Gorgeous floors and furnishings.

    Have a wonderfully blessed Holiday weekend,
    ~Warmly, Melissa ;)

  63. Su says:

    It always amazes me when you hear people say…oh, but it’s hideous..so dark, and dirty!

    With vision, you’ve made a stunning home…from a little ugly duckling.

    Your home is beautiful…I love your simplicity of taste.

  64. hi Su
    thanks so much, too kind

    just took a look at your talent, wow! love it – you can sponsor a Beach
    Cottage giveaway if you like ;-) let me know if you want details…


    *Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/abeachcottage*

    On Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 5:42 PM, wrote:

  65. There is NOTHING quite as fun (in my book) as a good before and after!

    …Now, THIS is a good before and after.


  66. An amazing and inspirational transformation!

    My best,

  67. Alyshia says:

    It looks absolutely beautiful!
    You should be so proud of all that has been accomplished.

  68. Siggie says:

    Hi Sarah, just thought I’d stop by and say hi after neglegting my regular blog reads for awhile. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, thanks for posting about your home!

    I really enjoy seeing what you’ve made out of your cottage, it is such an inspiration. I hope it gives those that think they can’t do any type of renovation work the confidence to start on their own.

    It’s refreshing to see it come from a regular chic just like ourselves and not from a glitzy magazine, which make you believe you can’t have a nice place unless you spend oodles of money. I do like to look at magazines for inspiration every once in a while, but getting inspiration from the real deal is so much more fun!

  69. Honestly, you’ve got a gazillion comments on how wonderful this is but I HAD to add mine anyway. So lovely and what a wonderful mood it has. So lovely and calm!


  70. Ilse says:

    absolutely beautiful!

    all the best

  71. Brenda Kula says:

    Sarah, you have come a long way with this one! Undaunted at that! Here’s just a thought I had. That door that you speak of that you’ve considered a glass door for? How about an old vintage screen door? Folks are using those inside all the time now for their vintage prettiness! Glad you’re on the mend!

  72. Sarah,

    What great advise to give! Especially the white paint. It can work miracles along with lots and lots of elbow grease.

    Now the special little touches you’ve added, can only be done by “Sarah”. That’s my favorite part of your home.


  73. LuLu says:

    Sarah, The transformation is jaw dropping, I love every detail, you have to be so proud of your home… it’s such a special place!!

  74. Young Wife says:

    Beautiful! I love the neutral colors. What a great transformation.

  75. Journaling Woman says:

    I love paint and I love slipcovers. . . can change the whole room’s atmosphere. Wonderful.

  76. Brenda Bliss says:

    I would love to know what you have hanging next to the butler’s tray in the picture–looks like maybe shells? I love it….
    glad you feeling better Sarah!
    Brenda Bliss

  77. Rosie says:

    Oh, um, WOW…even SUPER WOW! What a stunning transformation, and a beautiful room. Just gorgeous!

  78. Kristin says:

    What an incredibly beautiful space! I LOVE the coffee table!

  79. hi Brenda

    it’s a driftwood hanging I bought from a local beach shop

  80. Susan C says:

    Hi Sarah…I’m new to the blogging world…but I love your blog…Just one question…Do u still have any of the tan striped pillows u were selling???I’ll be reading your blog and hoping the answer is yes…Susan C

  81. Janell says:

    Gorgeous! Unrecognizable, the before to the after!

  82. ImagineCozy says:

    What amazing photos you have taken! I loved seeing what you have done. The white is perfect for a beach cottage. And I really love the wood floors, Beautiful!!

  83. Joanna says:

    Oh those floors! How I envy you!

  84. Julie says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  85. June says:

    Very cozy and bright!

  86. Susan says:

    Great inspiration post, Sarah! You were so smart to see the potential hidden in your beautiful beach cottage. :-)

  87. Dee Dee says:

    Just Beautiful! It makes me want to curl up with a book and enjoy the breeze! I love the white… so freash and dreamy

  88. kim says:

    Nice, calm and peaceful and clean. I like the look…for some reason I have to have a lot of color in my home….I tried white and beige and it got to me….don’t know why cause I think it looks so nice!! We have had to do the same kinds of things as you–tearing out rugs, paint, clean , cry etc. (don’t know if you cried—one house we moved into the kitchen was so filthy and I had been cleaning and scrubbing forever , and I sat on the floor and bawled….but it eventually came clean). The problem with the house I now live in is that it has lots of shelves and I tend to over clutter them!!! ah well

  89. Wendy says:

    Its so pretty! Amazing transformation!

    Those floors are gorgeous.

  90. Denise says:

    Amazing transformation!

  91. Mona says:

    Waht a striking and beautiful difference! It’s wonderful! I love it. :):)

  92. stephanie says:

    absolutely breathtaking!

  93. But did you at least keep the “Mummy” poster? hahahaha!

    Seriously, WOW — girlfriend, you have some SERIOUS vision. I had NO idea how amazing the transformation was! BRAVA!!