A 500-Square-Foot Backyard Guest House Is the Perfect Blend of Vintage and Contemporary

published Feb 7, 2020
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In the kitchen, we installed beveled subway tile all the way to the ceiling, which gives the space an edgy feel. The butcher block counters really give the space warmth.

Name: Maggie Clarke (She shares the main house with her husband, two daughters (5+3), and dog. They share the guest house with family, friends, and family friends.)
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Type of home: Guest House
Size: 500 square feet
Do you rent or own your home? Own

I love the piece of art over the sofa. It's from society6. I could stay on their site for hours.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Our home was built in 1910 and the main reason we purchased it, was the tiny detached guest house in the backyard. My husband is from England and my sister lives in LA, so we have guests all the time. When we found this house, the main house was newly renovated (not exactly to our taste, but we’re working on it). The guest house itself was basically a dilapidated shed. It appeared to have been untouched since the 1950s. Our contractor and his team gutted it to the studs and we got to start fresh. It has turned out even better than I imagined. It’s perfectly cozy and curated. I love to escape back here to work on my interior design business when no one is visiting.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Collected, contemporary mixed with vintage, edgy, and cozy

The one bedroom in the guest house feels so serene. We carried the shiplap throughout the entire house to create a cozy, cottage vibe.

What is your favorite room and why? It’s hard to choose which is my favorite because it’s all so adorable. I do LOVE the way the kitchen turned out. We painted the stock cabinets from Lowes in Sherwin-William’s “Vintage Vogue.” It’s such a beautiful green and gives the house a pop of color as the rest is painted in Benjamin Moore’s “White Dove.” We chose tiny little white appliances to create a more open feel. Our contractor installed stair treads for open shelving. Here I have displayed thrifted art and brass pieces with a mixture of modern dishes from Target. We laid beveled subway tile in an unconventional pattern all the way to the ceiling, which gives it the edgy look I was going for. I’ve been loving the look (and cost) of butcher block counter tops lately. They give such warmth to the space. The space as a whole represents me so well and I love how it turned out. It makes me happy every time I walk in.

My favorite combo of art. A piece of geometric DIY art, a thrifted $15 painting, and a "South Ferry" sign I found in NYC.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I found for the guest house was a vintage painting of a blonde lady. It’s a peculiar piece, but also very fabulous. I found it at my favorite local antique mall for $15. I framed her in a simple wooden frame from Michaels. I put her in between a “South Ferry” sign I found in New York City and a piece of DIY art. This combo of art is the first thing your eye is drawn to when you walk in.

I kept the bathroom simple with white walls and marble hex tile floors. This vintage waterfall cabinet was a Salvation Army score that I found for $100.

Any advice for creating a home you love? The key to creating a home you love is to not be in any rush. It’s a process that takes time. If you rush out to buy a bunch of items from a big box store, your space will look basic and not like you. Collect things over time. Go thrifting and antiquing. Save or pin photos you’re drawn to in order to see a common theme. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.