A Bright, Comfortable, Inviting Small/Cool Space

Name: Peter Thomsen

Blog or website:

Instagram: @peterthomsen

Size: 660 sq ft

Home type: House

Location: Scotts Valley, CA

Years lived in: Since 2006, owned

Household: Wife (Jana), dog (Libby), and cats (Rosie & Stanely)

Have any design professionals worked on this space: No

How did you use color in your space? The exterior of our place is the most colorful part of our home. It is a bright and happy green that blends well with the natural surrounding. To us, it evokes vibes of life and growth. One of the things I love most about the color is how it was applied. I went mountain biking for the weekend. While I was gone, Jana and her friend surprised me and painted the exterior. I was completely surprised and excited about our new color.

Describe your space:

When we bought this cabin it was gross. It was dark and dilapidated. We loved the sunny location and saw past the obstacles to the potential. We gutted the interior to the studs and spent the year remodeling in the evenings after work and on weekends. It 100% reflects our labor, vision, and joy. The overall design is influenced by the time we spent living in Japan in small spaces. We did all of the work ourselves with lots of help from friends and family. We appreciate how each piece was touched by someone we love. Now it is a bright and peaceful place of refuge to enjoy and share.

Did you DIY anything in your space? And, if so, what's your favorite DIY?

Almost everything in our house is DIY. From the design to demolition to framing to building, we figured it out along the way and did it ourselves. Some of our favorite elements are the bathroom floor, bedroom door-window, salvaged and restored clawfoot tub, loft with Japanese joints for the supporting beams, medicine cabinet, and pine ceilings. Finishing the kitchen cabinets with milk paint and installing the Fireclay Tile subway tile backsplash was also rewarding.

How do you make your small space work for you and feel bigger than it really is?

Under-bench storage around the table stores dishes for 20+ people. The hide-away bed in the couch brings the house sleeping space total to 9. Attic storage with library ladder access utilizes the space. An elevated bed with drawers offsets the lack of closet space. Vintage wood crates under the coffee table stow yoga gear, charges, etc. The built-in bookcase in the kitchen cabinets keeps cookbooks handy. Our back deck extends the living space most of the year. The main way we make our small space work is by having less stuff.

How does your home reflect you?

It’s simple, creative, DIY, peaceful, and welcoming. We designed and built it ourselves with lots of help from friends and family. We used as many natural and reused materials as possible while keeping plastics and synthetics to a minimum. The small size and efficient construction keep our environmental footprint small. We love to be outdoors. Our home flows smoothly between the inside and outside spaces.