Peek Inside a 484 Square-Foot House in Texas That Used To Be Half the Size

updated Dec 6, 2019
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Credit: Molly Culver

On a commercial lot in the Texas Hill Country, Lara Bobo transformed two dilapidated 1930s properties into rental units. The first, which is already available on Airbnb, she furnished for just $6,000. This time, she set off on another renovation with a plan to double the back house’s existing floor plan and utilize sculptural furnishings and a soft palette.

Originally a mere 250 square feet, the second unit had a small kitchenette and living area, but due to local ordinances, Bobo knew she’d have to build in even more square footage from the ground up. 

“In our city, if you’re going to put anything on Airbnb, you have to have at least 200 square feet per person,” she says. “We wanted to make sure that a couple could stay there.”

Bobo and her husband, Tim, who runs a short-load concrete business, did all of the demolition and construction work themselves, preserving the existing concrete slabs and wooden framework “in order to build as close to the fence line as possible.” 

Over a period of six months, they completed the renovation, adding 231 square feet to accommodate a bedroom and bathroom, as well as sealed and polished the existing concrete floors. “We had three different colored concrete floors but instead of covering them up, it’s a cool feature of the house and we embraced what we had to work with,” she says. 

And while the process was smooth, the couple did encounter a deep crack between two of the concrete slabs near the bathroom, but they embraced the imperfection. “It just adds character to the house,” she says. 

Credit: Molly Culver

For the kitchenette, Bobo called in the help of Cliq Studios, a company which produces custom-designed cabinetry to fit the exact specifications of a room. “The cabinetry arrives pre-finished so all you have to do is install them,” she says. In an effort to save space yet still make it feel chic, she purchased a shelf from Shelfology, a rug from Ikea that was just $19, lights from Cedar and Moss and stacking mugs off Etsy. 

“I love those mugs because they are sculptural, which was a big theme in this project,” she says. “In small spaces, I love utilizing vertical space.”

Credit: Molly Culver

Additionally, Bobo picked up glassware from a local thrift store and a print from her photographer friend Gracie Jones

“When I buy artwork, it’s hard for me to buy something I don’t have a connection to,” she adds. 

Credit: Molly Culver

In the breakfast nook, Bobo tested her creativity through a fun DIY, creating a piece of art from vintage cloth. “My idea was to take some sort of fabric and put it over a canvas stretcher,” she says. “My husband ended up building me a frame and it turned out really well.”

Credit: Molly Culver

In addition to the modern decor and usage of different shapes throughout each room, Bobo went with a simple palette and added some color with dusty pink. Adding a $100 light fixture from Illuminate Vintage on Etsy and planter from West Elm completed the vignette.

For the main living areas, which include the living room and the bedroom, she wanted to make sure each appeared curated and intentional. The coffee table was purchased from a second-hand antique mall and fit together like a puzzle piece, while the couch was an Ikea steal for just $600 and the oval rug is from Serena & Lily. “I saw the shape of the rug and fell in love with it,” she recalls. “I feel like round shapes and arches are another theme in this house.” Bobo then added pillows from The Citizenry, a handmade ladder with a Turkish towel, which she says is a great throw blanket alternative, off of Amazon. 

Credit: Molly Culver

Because Bobo and her husband built the bedroom and bathroom, they were able to make both have taller ceilings than the rest of the rental. Conscientious of cost, she splurged on the architectural light fixture and went minimal with the rest of the room. “As far as guest bedrooms go, I love the idea that you can be simple because you don’t need to have the day-to-day things and it’s a great opportunity to create a peaceful space.” 

Credit: Molly Culver

The rest of the room features a butterfly chair, a table from local Austin shop, Nannie Inez, a king-sized body pillow in that same dusty pink color and a handmade wall hanging. “My dad is a jeweler and I designed the shapes on my computer and then cut them out of copper and bronze.”

Credit: Molly Culver

Overall, the guest cottage is tranquil, with a style that belies its small size.