From Cottage to Zen: Mind-Blowing Home Renovation

From on September 04, 2009 in General Remodel

A step-by-step look at this contemporary remodel

Although I’m partial to cottages, I’d have no problem living in this brilliantly designed contemporary dwelling. The Garfield home, located in La Canada, California, was a simple three-bedroom, 2,700 square-foot cottage ranch. The homeowners wanted a modern look and more open feel, so they hired the services of Los Angeles-based design house (fer) Studio for the remodel and expansion.

The original 80s home is shown on the right. The finished home’s façade is almost entirely glass – in fact, if you look closely, you’ll see that you can peer all the way through to the backyard.

zen cottage walkway remodel

The Goals

These homeowners have a 15,000 square foot pine tree-covered lot – they wanted to take full advantage of the surrounding views. They also wanted to add a private master bedroom suite and open up the kitchen. The completed remodel and expansion took the house from 2,700 square feet to 3,500 square feet.

zen cottage backyard landscaping remodel

Exterior & Landscape

The original house was defined by a high-pitched middle roof area that gave it its cottage look. Rather than tear it away, the design concept focused on making that roof more inviting and contemporary.zen cottage remodel glass doors

The new, spacious front courtyard is contained by smooth, plaster privacy walls that match the house finish. The courtyard adds texture and visual transition from the street through the courtyard and into the home. The stone and pebble walkway create a sense of calm and tie in beautifully with the new color tones.

Demolition Time

They knocked out the entire front wall of the entrance and dining room and replaced it with full-height glazing and a gorgeous, wood front door. The ceiling was raised to follow the pitched roof lines.

Talk about opening things up! The separation wall between the living and dining room was partially removed to create a visual link from the front through to the backyard.

Kitchen Makeover


You can hardly recognize this kitchen. They completely opened it up to the living room, raised the ceiling and added a huge skylight. And that stainless steel countertop runs through the wall to an outside dining counter – a seamless transition from indoors to out.


Check out this full-height bi-fold door. It opens up to the new, rear semi-sunken patio with fire pit and wooden bench seating surround. With the bi-fold doors open fully, the room doubles in size.


Deck & Patio

zen-cottage-outdoor-steel-countertop.jpgOutdoor steel bar & countertop

zen-cottage-stone-deck.jpgGorgeous stone deck and roaring fire pit

Master Bedroom Hideaway

zen-cottage-master-bedroom.jpgThe master bedroom was added to the back of the house for total seclusion. Right outside the room, they designed a small, exterior courtyard that links with the living room patio area. The old master bedroom is now a laundry and storage room, and the existing bedrooms got minor makeovers with skylights and new furnishings.


Just look at those great picture windows and row of small awnings.