Cottage House Flip: Before Tour & Video!

Last week I shared all the numbers in the Cottage House Flip Kickoff Post, and now it’s time for a detailed Before Tour & Renovation Plan!

I paid a visit to the house the day it closed and spent the weekend clearing out the house, taking photos and shooting video. One thing I regret not doing in past homes is making sure to thoroughly capture the “Before’s”, so I’ve promised to stay on top of it this time.

I thought it’d be fun to document the renovation not only in photos & blog posts, but through a video series so I can take you there with me. I present to you, video #1, the Cottage House Flip Before Tour:

Let’s break down the room by room plans. Starting with the exterior:


Plenty of charm and potential, but a closer look reveals some obvious (major) issues.


This siding has seen better days. The right side of the house is bowing where the foundation needs to be repaired (a $15k fix):


I also plan to replace both lower windows and the door, as their current placement is very random and non symmetrical.

The back side of the house isn’t much better:


There’s dry rot on the porch and the fireplace needs attention:


There’s a lovely wraparound porch, but the railing needs to be rebuilt:


The carpet will also need to be removed with the wood flooring refinished, and I plan to add a beadboard ceiling.


Paint, lighting, furniture and accessories will finish off the space.


Then there’s the other necessities like a new roof, reframing of the windows, adding a ground barrier along the entire perimeter of the house, new retaining walls in the front and new lighting installed should do the trick—but this is all expected to cost over $40k. Yikes. Let’s go inside.

The entry situation is strange. You enter through the lower exterior door which opens to an unfinished/dirt area underneath the house, then take the staircase up to the front porch, then enter through the porch door. You could enter through the back door but there aren’t any steps leading to it—just a dirt hill (there’s no driveway or garage). Things are a bit different here in the wilderness.


Once you walk inside, you’ll find the living room on your left, a staircase straight ahead and the kitchen on the right. Let’s start with the living room:


The above photo is taken from the front door. It’s a decent sized room…


Because there’s no dining room, I’ve decided to split this into two sections, creating a dining area on the left.


The table will be placed where the current coffee table is, along the large picture windows. There will also be room for a reading nook where the couch/bookshelf is along the back wall.

The second portion will be divided into two seating areas. I’ll place the sofa facing the fireplace, pretty much in the same spot they have it now:


To the left of that will be two smaller love seats facing each other.


The fireplace will get a mortar wash treatment on the bricks and a rustic wood mantel. If it fits in the budget, I’ll install a row of cabinets on the left where the bookcase currently is. Oh, and all of the wood will be painted white, leaving the door and window trim the existing wood color (unless I decide I hate the way that looks).

Here’s a view from that corner, looking back toward the front door. You can see the staircase in the center and a sliver of the downstairs bathroom on the left:


In almost every situation I’d try to find a way to knock out any walls blocking the kitchen to make it open concept, but of course we can’t do that with a staircase so the layout is staying as is.


It’s not too closed off though—here’s the view from the front door looking to the right:


Don’t be fooled by the wide angle lens—this isn’t a very big space. The existing layout makes it worse.


The fridge is awkwardly positioned in the center, obstructing the walkway to the right. So that’ll be relocated just to the left of where the stove currently sits:


Can you imagine how much that will open this up?


The side porch door will be removed entirely so the whole back wall can have cabinets & counter space, and the stove be relocated to that wall as well. (Warning: cell phone photos ahead)


Along the double windows, I’ll build a custom bench seat and add a small table for extra workspace and eat-in casual dining:


And to the right of that, I’ll run additional lower cabinets for more storage & counter space, with a floating shelf or two above it:


The downstairs bathroom will get an update (leaving the existing tub), but I can only spend around $3-4k in here to stay on budget:


That covers the downstairs—let’s head up to where the magic is!


(Yes, this is the original carpet from 1956 and it will all be replaced by wood floors).

We’ve arrived to the hallway with surprises behind every door.


There are 8 doors up here including 6 bedrooms, a laundry room and bathroom. Let’s see what’s behind Door #1…


This is the biggest room of them all (by far). And I am slightly obsessed.


All we need here is to get rid of the wallpaper (white walls), light gray closet doors, new flooring and new bedding/furniture/lighting/decor.


That’s actually the plan for every single bedroom. Upstairs should be relatively easy (famous last words…)


Ugh, all this wallpaper.

Bedroom #2 might be my favorite of them all, because of this awesome little alcove:



Bedroom #3:


I’m digging the wood paneling—can’t decide whether to leave it or paint it gray.


The laundry room is immediately to the left of the staircase.


I plan to replace the door with a barn door to free up some walking space and paint the walls/cabinet.

Bedroom #4 is the littlest of them all, just big enough for a twin bed:




Then we have bedroom #5, currently dubbed The Red Room:



Across from Bedroom #5 is the upstairs bathroom. This is what my bathroom dreams are made of:


If you can’t picture it now, just wait.


It won’t need a ton of work—tile floors, paint, new vanity & a few accessories to be the stunner I know it can be.


Lastly, bedroom #6.


I love this room too, but it’s not deep enough to fit a bed without the door hitting it, so it’ll have to swing out into the hallway.



Can’t you just picture clean white walls, wood trim and a soft gray on the closets? I’m actually excited all of the doors are cheap-o flat panel wood, because that means I get to add molding & paint for a cheap and easy but super impactful transformation. I plan to use this DIY method (it’s one of my favorite projects to do) on all of the doors. The entry doors will be painted black, and the closet doors will be painted gray (at least that’s the plan for now).

And that pretty much covers it! Can you see why I fell in love with the house? Are you able to picture the end results? It might be hard to see now but we’ll get there.

A reader had asked where I start when beginning a renovation—planning, budget, or inspiration? For me, it starts before I even purchase the house. When I walk through each room, I try to visualize the “After”. Sometimes I can see it right away, other times it takes a day or two of creative brainstorming (while looking at Pinterest for inspiration). If I can’t come up with something I love or the amount of work doesn’t make sense (labor costs), then I’ll move on.


Often it’s mostly cosmetic, and I can usually find ways to get the look I’m after in a very cost effective manner. Most of this comes from experience and trial & error over the past eight years.


So in a nutshell, I start with the inspiration/final picture in mind, then reverse engineer the best way to achieve that. Planning and budget go hand in hand, and I’ll shop around for the lowest possible price that will get me as close to my vision as possible while staying in budget.


I use the same general process for a flip vs my own home, except for a flip I have to plan everything at once in a much shorter period of time. And I’m not able to put as much thought or attention to detail into each space as if it were my own, which is tough as a perfectionist, but I have to keep the bigger picture in mind. Just like everything else in life, it’s a learning experience 🙂

Alright, time to get working on my next video & post for you guys. Progress is underway and there’s no time to waste! You can keep up with the adventures on my instagram stories, snapchat (@jennasuedesign) & facebook and make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for video updates & tutorials! And don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions/comments, I love chatting with you guys and it helps me stay motivated during those long DIY days! See ya soon,



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35 thoughts on “Cottage House Flip: Before Tour & Video!

  1. So. much. potential. What an exciting project. I will be following along. 🙂 (Unrelated: I moved here to NY from the Sierra Nevada foothills of Central California.)

  2. Love all the visual imagination you have behind all this. Just an idea: since you have some many tiny bedrooms upstairs, maybe its possible to remove some of the walls and create 1 bigger room out of the 2 small bedrooms? That would be ideal for at least the master bedroom to create that luxury feel to the bedroom.

    Good luck on you journey, will be excited to follow up! Such an inspiration! 👍🏼💐

  3. Loving this new project! Out of curiosity- did they leave behind all the furniture and “things”? Also, do you plan on marketing the home as a vacation home? If not, have you considered combining two bedrooms for a larger master suite? Can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

    1. Yes, they left everything. The home will most likely stay a vacation home and knocking out walls is not in the budget so I’m keeping the floor plan as is 🙂

  4. everything sounds so interesting. Since the bedrooms are small and there are 6 of them, does the layout allows you to merge a couple of them so you will have a larger master bedroom/bedrooms?

  5. So I know you said you hate the wall paper, but what about doing a little nod to the home’s history with some mix of vintage/modern wallpaper in your favorite bedroom?

  6. This is going to be so fun! I can’t wait to see how things unfold!! Since you said you love the look of the wood paneling upstairs and can’t decide whether to paint it or leave it the way it is, have you considered doing a white/gray wash so you can still see the grain?

  7. I’m SO looking forward to what you do with this house, Jenna! It’s going to be amazing, I just know it 🙂

  8. What a treasure!! A bounty of Pickwick Pine! I bought a storybook cottage built in 1954 last year with many walls of the Pickwick. It is all painted white now and so unbelievably gorgeous! I can’t wait to see what you do with this.

  9. So excited to see what you do to this place Jenna. You continue to amaze me with your ability to visualize and bring out the full potential in a space! Keep up the good work!

  10. I love it! In the same way I would anticipate Thursday when you were traveling last year, I’ll be salivating waiting for posts on this new endeavor.

    One question (I may have missed the answer):For this project do you have a buyer type in mind? For instance, do you see this being used as a vacation rental by a potential buyer? I’m curious if the buyer type plays a role in your reno’ and decor decisions. Thanks and congrats on your new project!

    1. Thank you JN! The majority of home owners in the area use it as a vacation home, so that’s a likely scenario. It could also be purchased by a family who likes to frequently host out of town family/guests and needs a gathering spot equipped with enough bedrooms.

  11. Dear Jenna

    I might be one of your most active blog followers all the way from South Africa. I love your decor style and enthusiasm with which you tackle and conquer each decor challenge. I am looking forward to this cottage flip and know I will learn a lot from your ideas. Good luck.

  12. It sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to see it come to life. On another note how strange the sellers left all that stuff. Cleaning all that out was a feat in and of itself I’m sure!

  13. You have great vision and creativity. Love a girl with her own tools! Question about painting all the wood paneling, how will you stop the knots from bleeding through?? Looking forward to seeing your vision and hard work unfold.

    1. Thanks Jodi! I think since the wood is 60+ years old, the tannins should no longer be active. I’m assuming the painter will also be using primer, but I’ll double check 🙂

  14. I really like the idea of painting all the wood white – but leaving the window trim wood grain color. I think it will look modern but still homey and maintain the charm of that pine! Plus, can always go back and paint if it doesn’t look just right! Also, I have to say I love the black windows – you are keeping all of those, correct? The contrast of them will look great against white walls. We bought a house in Chico CA in June with black windows and I thought I would want to replace them with white, but my mind has slowly been changed. Can’t wait to follow along with this house – I can definitely see where you are going with it! Curious to see how light grey closet doors look…:)
    My dad has lived in Angels Camp for years – I love visiting the area!

  15. I’m so excited to watch this unfold! I’m always blown away by the before and after of your last house! You are very talented!

  16. So excited to see the end result, but also the progress along the way!! I was wondering if maybe on the stairs you could reconfigure it to be open railing rather than hidden between walls? Just a thought, as I’m still learning about all these design techniques myself. I love your design style, and wish you all the best and so much fun during this flip!!!

  17. Jenna…
    I have been following you for a while. Love what you do… you sure admire me…
    Most of vacation homes walls are left natural. I love it in white.. but why do they leave it natural. I guess no need to keep it up with painting. Want to know what are your thoughts… can’t wait to see the transformation!! Keep it up!

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