Cottage Makeover: The Beginning

February 17, 2015 | By | Comments (15)

We are excited to introduce a new series today! For the next 4 weeks, join along as we follow Arkansas landscape designer Daniel Keeley as he details the makeover of his 1,000-square-foot cottage in Fayetteville, Arkansas. While the house may be short on space, Daniel definitely has big ideas. You will be amazed at this transformation! Check back every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for a new post.
—Jessica Thuston, Executive Editor

Now, let’s meet Daniel …

Keeley Garden

At my company, DK Design, our motto is “Live Outside the Box.” As the play on words suggests, we not only encourage clients to enjoy living in the spaces outside their homes but also to make those spaces personal, unique and extraordinary. I am constantly encouraging clients to spend as much time and effort creating and decorating their outdoor rooms as they do the rooms inside their home. With the quality and variety of outdoor furnishings on the market today, it really is possible to have exterior spaces that rival indoor rooms for comfort, sophistication and style. Still, it is hard to convince some people to give up that old patio set or adirondack chair. It surprises me how often I see homes that are beautifully decorated with high-quality furnishings on the inside, yet when it comes to the outside, the owners settle for a low-quality (and low-style) set of furniture from the discount outlet. There’s no reason why our outdoor living spaces should not exude the same sense of customized design and personalized style as our indoor decor!

To help prove my assertion that outdoor furnishings are every bit as stylish and sophisticated as indoor furniture, and to play around with how we relate to our indoor and outdoor spaces in general, I decided to use my own house as a sort of laboratory. For the biggest part of my experiment, I actually have to turn my company’s motto a little bit on its head…but, hey, breaking the rules is fun, right? My plan is to decorate the inside of my house exclusively with outdoor furnishings. From sofas and chairs to rugs and drapery, everything will be tough enough to weather the outside elements but elegant enough to welcome inside without hesitation. Since my house will undergo a full remodel, I also plan to incorporate some fun design ideas, to help blur the lines between indoors and out, and to improve the house’s efficiency and make it more eco-friendly.

So, I invite you to join me as my house undergoes its transformation and eventually gets filled with its unconventional contents. My hope is that, along the way, we will all learn a little more about how to Live Outside the Box!
The house was built in 1948, so it is not exactly new…but new to me. I was drawn to its simple, symmetrical design and relatively level, corner lot, which will give me plenty of opportunities for gardening and outdoor living. I have plans to remove the old vinyl siding but am happy with the standing-seam metal roof, which is both stylish and a great value, since it will likely outlive me. I am also excited about the potential of the carport structure which includes a small room that served the previous owner as a workshop. I am not totally sure what I am going to do with this space, yet, but you can bet it will become some sort of garden-inspired retreat!

Inside, it seems hardly anything has been done since the house was built, except to lay down a layer of shag carpeting (I’m guessing sometime in the 60’s) which, fortunately for me, has kept the original oak hardwood flooring underneath in great shape over the years. The combination living/dining room forms an ‘L’ shape and is small but workable. In fact, at 1004 square feet, the whole house is small! But, one of my favorite mantras is ‘quality over quantity’, and I am going to do my best to put it into action with this project.

The kitchen, with few and outdated cabinets and no appliances…What can I say about the kitchen? Well, the wall color is cheerful…perhaps a little too cheerful for my morning coffee routine, as I am not a morning person. Expect some significant changes here!

The first of two bedrooms sits on the front of the house and shares a wall with the main living space (hmmm, wheels turning…possible potential here). It also has two decently sized closets which, no doubt, will come in handy in such a small house.

The second bedroom, at the back of the house, only has one closet but already sports an indoor/outdoor theme with green walls and a decorative applique of white lattice. I guess I can leave this room as is…just kidding. Guess again!

In the hallway leading to the bedrooms, there is another closet and the home’s only bathroom. Did I mention the house is small? This is perhaps most evident in this tiny bathroom. This is bound to be a formidable challenge in making a room appear larger than it really is! Check back on Thursday for “The Plan” and the beginnings of demolition! Sincerely, Daniel Keeley

See more of the transformation: Cottage Garden Transformation


  1. Amy C

    It looks really great! Can you give me a ballpark of your budget for the whole thing?

    March 11, 2015 at 5:24 pm
  2. Kathy Cooper

    It’s all in the eye of the beholder…..looking forward to the journey:)

    February 18, 2015 at 11:24 am
  3. alan long

    Such a treasure! We are so lucky to have DK Designs, and Daniel in Fayetteville!

    February 18, 2015 at 11:07 am
  4. Carolyn

    Excited to see the “after”.

    February 17, 2015 at 5:57 pm
  5. Betty Epps

    I am very interested in seeing what you do with the picture window in the living room.
    I have a 1950’s rancher with a narrow living room with picture window on one wall and fireplace on opposite wall. Can’t decide how to decorate window.

    February 17, 2015 at 5:50 pm
  6. Yogi Clinton

    what was initial cost? Cost of redo? And sales price? I think this will really be a cutie! I graduated from the Univ of Arkansas and always loved Fayetteville. It is a beautiful place and the people are very friendly.

    February 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm
  7. pat Dennis

    Can’t wait to see the chanes!

    February 17, 2015 at 3:30 pm
  8. Kathy

    Can’t wait to see the changes!!

    February 17, 2015 at 3:19 pm
  9. Glenda Holler

    I do not like attic fans. According to Duke Energy they let out a lot of heat and are costly. Can’t wait to see the house finished.

    February 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm
  10. Becki Cullipher

    I love your idea of outdoor living, but down here on the Delta we have mosquitoes the size of small hummingbirds! No can do!

    February 17, 2015 at 2:43 pm
  11. Karen Sherman

    You didn’t even point out the wonderful attic fan so many of us grew up with in the South.
    So do tell us your budget, something very crucial to any project either large or small.

    February 17, 2015 at 2:18 pm
  12. vivian sullivan

    Wish you would come and make my house over!! ranch type!

    February 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm
  13. Suzanne Mooney

    So exciting. I love these projects…and I wonder what you have in mind for the master bedroom, that set wheels turning.

    February 17, 2015 at 12:21 pm
  14. Lauren Bonner

    What a fascinating series. My 1950’s cottage is very similar to this house plan with the addition of a small ‘office’ added on in the 60’s to the side of the living room. I can’t wait to see your plans! I’ve completely renovated my cottage but always looking for new ideas.

    February 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm
  15. Patti Mann Mitchell

    Wow…you have your hands full but what a quaint place it could be.

    February 17, 2015 at 12:03 pm

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