Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bella Rustica Cottage

Kim Kelly - Creative Woman, Animal Advocate, Federal Agent

Meet Kim Kellyshe is just adorable  . . . artisan, animal advocate,  and federal agent. What she has done is so AMAZING!!!  The before and after images for her refurbished Bella Rustica Cottage.  I just had to share her post with you all. :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


At Christmas, I purchased what is fondly referred to as "The Pink House" on Saint Simons Island, GA.

For those who don't know, a year prior I transferred to this area with my federal agency to be an instructor at The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Southeast Coastal Georgia.  So, LABBIES California became LABBIES Georgia.  Saint Simons Island is the land of second homes for wealthy Floridians and Georgians so in the struggling economy, the vacation home is the first to go. As a result, the market in general was soft but this particular house had been unoccupied for almost 8 years.  It is located within 4 blocks of the Atlantic Ocean.

I bought it for 200K, filled with mold, open beam ceilings, lots of potential, and made it my own.  I decided on a coastal look with Italian attitude - diverso (different) for this area.  Most of the homes here are Coastal Cottage shingled or tabbied ( a concrete and oyster shell finish) but The Pink House was stucco, similar to my house in Coronado, CA.  As I continue to learn about this part of the United States, I have come to understand that pink stucco is very "Florida".

After removing the carport, I painted it Universal Khaki (Sherwin Williams) and exposed the terra cotta brick over the carriage garage doors. I worked within a budget which is honestly more fun than having carte blanche.  Because I have done it both ways I can say this.  For those of you who don't know me, my Life Philosophy is that Life is mostly Plan B.  Once you give in to this concept (a reality anyway, amici) Life becomes simply more fun and adventuress - like this re-model. For example, instead of marble countertops I did thick slabs of Live Oak from a local mill and I love it.  When my contractor said we could not do something I asked what we could do and then we went from there.  As a result, even I did not know what it would look like in the end.

To the left of the front door is an alcove (see below) where I leaned a hand-made chalkboard I'd made so people can leave messages for me.

Because the lot is so long, I wanted to plant my organic raised beds in the front yard, similar to the Victory Gardens of World War II.  Aside from the herbs and vegetables in the raised beds, all additional plants are rosmarino (rosemary) and mexican sage.  Initially, I wanted to plant rows of lavender but it does not thrive in this climate. 

Herbs, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and yellow, orange, & red bell peppers are the bounty. I used crepe myrtle branches for rustica tomato trellises and they work perfectly. 

Melanzane (Eggplant) maturing.

This was the original galley kitchen in a home not lived in for eight years.  My design was based around a "J" design.  I had to remove the wall to the right to open the kitchen to the living room to just over 7 feet to allow for my 7 foot farm table.  In order to accommodate the refrigerator, 30 inch farm sink, dishwasher, the range, one (36) inch cabinet and two lazy susan cabinets the back door wall had to be extended.

Here is the just over 7 foot opening I mentioned.  I opted to have the upper portion of the wall arched for accent.

I was on a budget for this home so I ended up choosing cabinets from a display model at U-Save Cabinets. I would never have chosen the original style - Mission - but knew I was going to paint and shabby them up.  It's amazing what paint can do. I paid less for these all-wood cabinets than I would have for the particle board unpainted cabinets available at Lowes or Home Depot. I primed them with a gray primer and then added layers of two brown-grey paints mixing them with glaze to extend the time I had to move the paint around until I found the perfect combination.  For contrast, the original wood color in seen on the sides of the cabinets. In between, I sanded edges and created "worm holes" and then hand wiped burnt sienna acrylic oil paint onto and into the raw wood.  I finished with layers of orange oil. I love the finished product.  

I had already decided on Live Oak solid wood countertops so off to Saint Simons Mill I went.

The logs are milled thirty feet from where they lay and then moved into the warehouse.

If you have never had an appreciation for wood, you would have coming here.

I choose the thickest width of wood the cabinets would hold and then asked that the edge of the counter remain natural in form and that when the back pieces where cut straight to accommodate the walls, that natural edge be used for the backsplash. 

I hoped that when the original false-ceiling in the kitchen was removed, the open beams used in the living and dining room were also originally used, and they were.  Because they were covered right away with the ceiling they were never painted like the rest of the house. I chose to allow the kitchen ceiling to remain natural and would have wanted to sand-blast the other rooms to match but it was cost prohibitive. Because the kitchen was extended, there was not enough original flooring so instead of matching it I decided to lay rough hewn travertine marble.

In order to accommodate the copper farm sink the door to the cabinet had to be removed.  Rather than having them cut down the doors and re-attach them, I opted to skirt that area in burlap.  The copper farm sink was an eBay purchase steal at $300.00.  I would normally not have chosen the embossed sea shells but that was where the savings came in and since I am less than a mile to the ocean, why not?

Apparently, the house was made of stucco over brick so when the kitchen wall and ceiling were removed the exposed brick was peeking through so I immediately knew I wanted to open the back wall up.  This was the only area this could be done so it ended up making more of a statement.

I had the ever-talented Tamerie Shriver made my roman shade out of, what else, burlap.

I splurged here and saved there. The lighting over the sink is a galvanized barn lamp available at Loews for $20.00.  You just have to have exposed galvanized metal over old brick so that made it easy for the electricians.

The alcove behind the range idea I swiped from a magazine and recreated it here.  The street address sign I had made the last time I was in Italy and it depicts the address of my genitori italiani (parents), Alfonso e Carla Tomasi, 24 Via Monti, Sesto Fiorentino, Italia.

More photos to come on Kim’s blog... here

Kim,  I absolutely adore your cottage,  you have done an exquisite job.  I love the way you bring in the unexpected by selecting the textures and materials you’d find in nature. Beautifully done!!!!




  1. Such a great post, Laurie. I love all the detail in her home!


  2. I love her kitchen remodel! Especially the sink and the bulap accents - the roman shade is fantastic!!

  3. Wow! I love what you've done! Thanks for sharing!


  4. What a beautiful transformation. Very inspiring!

  5. Laurie,
    I am so ready to move right in :)
    Love the rustic euro-chicness !!!

    Thank you for sharing your creativeness in postings!

  6. Laurie, thanks for visiting my blog. What a transformation on the house! OMG...It is lovely!

  7. Laurie - AMAZING! Love your home! I can not believe the transformation!!!

    Have a PRETTY day!

  8. Awwww Laurie, you are way to kind with the words you left at my place!
    adding that you love the finish I give my painted pieces.
    You mentioned that you used candle wax under the paint to age it. Well here is a TIP: light a candle and then hold over a piece pretty high in the air, then tip the candle on its side letting the dripping of wax splash onto the piece with a splatter then drip long streaks of wax to the piece letting the heavy wax dry hard...Then you apply the primer to the piece letting primer dry to then paint the piece, when dry you take a putty knife or a cooking utensil for flipping pancakes and scrape the ecge of the wax off, this leaves the piece with these chipped areas and distressed areas on the finish that looks to have been chipped with time and age to it. Then you can sand the piece to add extra aging to the edges and suffaces with a 80 grit and then smooth it with a 220 grit and voila you have an aged piec looking as if it has age through time.

    Thank you my dear friend for all the beauty you add to the blog world :)

    come visit often, I will visit you as well, I have you on my side bar I won't miss a thing you are up to :)
    So. Calif

  9. Laurie,

    Your house looks gorgeous! I love all of the changes you've made, and I LOVE your raised beds in the front yard. We're in the process of adding new raised beds to my potager/garden, and seeing a garden like yours gives me so much inspiration!


  10. Laurie,

    What a beautiful house! What an accomplishment and labor of love! That would be such a dream come true to buy a house and rebuild it to perfection...But I could only imagine all the hard work and sacrifice that went into every square foot. She did an amazing job and has great taste. Love the garden beds, the house colors, the burlap roman shade, cabinets, the wood counter tops and the farm sink! Gorgeous! Can't wait to see your next post! Love, Christi

  11. Thank you beautiful Laurie for your beautiful visit to my OPERA!!!

    Your comment is so treaured making a connection with another Califorina girl is perfect :)

    Have a beautiful soulful weekend letting it inspire you to create.

  12. Laurie, Sorry I am so late visiting this post but I am so glad I stopped by to see this home. This is a beautiful transformation. She has created a gorgeous kitchen and the raised bed garden is wonderful. The exterior doesn't even look like the same house. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend.

  13. Thank you Laurie for your visit, adding your beauty to my day!

    I WANT a ZINC top TABLE soooooo! BAD!!!
    I am excited to see what you have come up with! Are you making it from salvaged parts, or fund it and you are restoring it??

    So hurry get it posted or email me some photos!!
    I often visit to see this house taken from nothing. I love the simple garden scape in the front yard, I truly could do this :)
    The inside and all its rustic european feel leaves me wishing it were mine :)
    What a home to love!

    Have a perfect day with all that inspires the soul.

  14. Hi Laurie, I cannot get enough of this house, its small but big in style and home fashion.

    Come visit me and my galvanized treasures, I know you will so get where I am coming from after your galvanized zinc project. Cannot wait for you to post it :)


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Laurie Blaswich