A Small Backyard Cottage Rental Is a Cozy, Soothing Home After a Renovation

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Main living area, with chairs from Serena and Lily and an antique table.

Name: Alden Fletcher, my husband, and my 3-month-old baby
Location: San Francisco, California
Type of home: Cottage
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, renting

Alden Fletcher is an interior designer and furniture refurbisher, based in San Francisco, California.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: This cottage is in the backyard of my parent’s house. I grew up in the front house and could see the cottage from my bedroom window. Four years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to move into this property and do a renovation. We couldn’t afford to buy our own place in the city, so this allowed us to curate a space, despite being renters. We rebuilt the entire second floor, adding a second bedroom with the hopes that we would have a baby. Our son was born this May. We are so fortunate to have this sanctuary as new parents in quarantine. Since it is off the street, nestled behind my parent’s home, it feels like a secret oasis outside the city. Lately, we spend lots of time in the yard that connects our two homes.

Antique dish cabinet

I’m a creative person with a need for organization. When I was a child, I embroidered, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” on a kerchief. My home reflects that aspiration. I’m also a creature of habit and routines; I have tea everyday and often a bath at night. I wanted my home to be well-worn and a place with history, so lots of my furniture is vintage. The coffee table in our living room was the table that we grew up with. My siblings and I ate many meals sitting around that sturdy wood table. The Cuthbert’s house in “Anne with an E” would be my dream home. It’s a place suited to comfort, baking, and reading, surrounded by materials that are beautiful, useful and handmade.

Painted stairs

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Green Gables meets 21st Century

The baby room, with a dresser and crib from West Elm.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is my son’s room. This room was mostly ignored when we moved in because I didn’t know if we would be able to have a child. At one point I decided to stop waiting and start designing it. The starting point was the wallpaper from Svenskt Tenn. It is such a joyful pattern, and brings in nature. When that wallpaper was put up, it really changed the aura of that room and I began to feel positive when I looked in, rather than sad. Now, when I put my baby down for a nap in there, he stares at that wallpaper, mesmerized.

The baby room, with wallpaper reflected in the mirror.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last big house purchase was the coral chair in the baby room. It is from Interior Define. We wanted something that was petite, passed Prop 65 standards, and could be used in multiple rooms as the baby grows.

My bedroom with a vintage dresser and cane bed frame from CB2.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t wait to create the space you want for your future self. There is no time like the present. Creating a space that supports the person you want to be helps you grow. Also, movies and TV are great sources of inspiration (especially now since we can’t go out to restaurants, hotels, etc.). Think about what movie set design inspires you or gives you a feeling of contentment. Maybe the aesthetics of that movie or show can be incorporated in your home.

Entrance to my bedroom.

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