Alisha’s Bright White Guest Cottage

published Jul 29, 2010
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Alisha, Graham & Finley Irwin
Location: Fairfax, CA
Size: 320 square foot studio cottage with loft
Years lived in: newly built guest cottage behind our home
Rented or Owned: owned

When Alisha and her husband were ready to renovate their tiny guest house they decided on two things: to keep it as low impact and green as possible and to infuse it with their happy, bright, vintage style. Even though it’s small by most people’s standards, the high ceilings allow space for a sleeping loft and tons of vertical storage, leaving the cottage open and inviting.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Alisha’s husband, architect Graham Irwin of Remodel Guidance remodeled the guest cottage to green standards by using reclaimed windows, doors, cabinets, flooring, sink & tub. The space uses Energy Star Appliances, has a solar water heater, got additional insulation to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Plus the space is filled with vintage and antique furnishings and accessories, one of our favorite ways to keep things green (and also, ahem, to save some green).

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Alisha is the owner of Splendid LIttle Shoppe, a home and fashion boutique in Petaluma and co owner of Beach House Style, a lifestyle shop in Marin that also offers design services. Obviously her style of East Coast Prep meets shabby chic meets the laid back vibe of California has shone through in the little guest house with plenty of white and nice bursts of color and pattern that keep it lively without overwhelming a small space.

Being smart about the space also meant using the vertical space to their advantage. The high ceilings offer great options for storage and even allowed for their to be a washer and dryer in the kitchen. So even though it’s a small space, it’s got all the amenities of a larger home without feeling cramped.

Apartment Therapy Survey
Our Style: Our style is buttoned-up east coast prepster meets flip-flop Cali girl. Graham brings form, function and an eye for classic style. I bring a casual spontaneity, sprinkles of seashells and the colors of sunny skies over turquoise seas.

Inspiration: Creating spaces that retain vintage charm in “greener” pastures.

Favorite Element: My favorite element is the “OOFTA” over the sofa, it’s a Swedish expression my Grandmother uses, which closest translation is “wow!”

Biggest Challenge: Convincing my husband to paint it all white!

What Friends Say: “When can I move in?”

Biggest Embarrassment? : How long it took to build it ourselves (5 Years). Some of our first dates were spent pouring the foundation and picking up the 20 foot long ridge beam from a sawmill up north. Now we have a 20 month old son…

Proudest DIY: Besides our son, Finley, our cottage! Graham designed a space that has all the charm of a 1920’s bungalow while being eco-friendly and functional with custom built-ins, a Murphy bed, a loft, a solar water heater and high performance insulation.

Biggest Indulgence: Many scoops of Vanilla Honey Lavender ice cream from The Scoop (our local ice cream shop).

Best Advice: A happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.

Dream Source: Driving to every barn sale across the county with an unlimited amount of space in the back of our 1959 Chevy Apache pick-up.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Appliances: Bosch, Sears

Rejuvenation, Van Dykes Restorers, salvaged

Flea market finds, Cisco sofa

Accessories: Anthropologie, vintage finds from Splendid Little Shoppe and Beach House Style

: Barn Light Electric

Tiles and Stone: DAL Hexagon and Subway Tile

Beds: Antique Murphy bed from Craigslist

Etsy & DIY

Paint: Ralph Lauren Design Studio White

Reclaimed Oak

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks Alisha and Graham!

Images: Alyssa Remington