Reclaiming and Restoring the Cottage

Y’all there is nothing like seeing something old made new again! Show me an old, broken down piano turned into a desk or a coal cart turned into a coffee table and my heart skips a beat!  My mom was with me the first time I saw the inside of the cottage, and she remembers thinking to herself there was NO WAY I was going to proceed with this project due to its overall condition.  Little did she know as we were tiptoeing through years of neglect and piles of memories, my heart was leaping!   I fell deeper in love with the cottage and was more determined than ever to reclaim and restore every square inch, turning what was old, into something restored and new!

From the onset of this restoration project, I’ve been determined to reuse and repurpose as many of the original architectural details as possible. And while I have included various modern, updated features, I’ve worked hard to incorporate many details original to the cottage in 1926.  What’s also interesting is I’ve been able to “doubly” reclaim certain aspects.  I’ve said all along I didn’t want the cottage to be cookie cutter and reclaiming and repurposing have helped me achieve uniqueness!

Take for example, my beautiful kitchen island.  After pouring over Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram, I eventually set my heart on an island made from reclaimed materials.  The challenge was finding the perfect lumber and the perfect craftsman.  For the last few years, I’ve followed the work of Shreveport Salvage and after meeting with them, I became confident in their ability to bring my dream to fruition.  Ironically, Denton Culpepper, who is restoring The Shadow House (the oldest plantation home in Northwest Louisiana), happened to have THE PERFECT aged lumber (from his porch ceiling) that he graciously shared for my project.  It was the ideal shade of gray with a hint of patina.  The next challenge was finding reclaimed lumber for the top of the island.   Shreveport Salvage happened to have some reclaimed barn wood from a 100 year old structure in Claiborne Parish.  Put all of that together and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.  My vision was brought to life and I now have the kitchen island of my dreams!  Each end of the island houses a trash receptacle, one for recyclables and one for trash.  Facing into the kitchen are four cabinet doors and drawers enclosing a plethora of storage.  An amazing double reclaim for the win!

In addition to island, I also was able to repurpose the same wood from the Shadow House as a mounting frame for the half bath mirror (which was original to the master bath) and also to trim out the new mirror in the master bath. Another double reclaim!

I’ve reused ALL the original interior doors and one of the exterior doors. Some doors were placed on a barn door track which instantly allowed for extra space (usually needed to accommodate the swing of the door). And I LOVE all the 91 year old door knobs!  A few of them are tiny measuring only around an inch in diameter.

Two of the former kitchen cabinets now flank each side of the office windows. The kitchen cabinet (originally over the huge farm sink) now resides in the laundry room above where my washer and dryer will rest. The original telephone station/pencil sharpener/corkboard is now mounted in my office and will be the perfect place to pin all of my Type A-to-do lists.

During the demolition phase, Bolin Construction saved and salvaged as much of the shiplap, baseboards, and crown molding as possible.  They did end up having to purchase a few planks of shiplap, but filled in the new walls as much as possible with the existing.  We repurposed some of the bedrail molding as trim for the back porch columns.  And just wait until you see what I’ll be doing with the old windows!  More coming, but be ready to swoon!!!

I cannot tell you how much fun I’m having reclaiming and restoring this little cottage! It’s incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. These beautiful, older structures are rapidly disappearing and I’m overjoyed to save a small piece of Minden, Louisiana, history.  I’m paying homage to the Fitzgerald family who put their heart and soul into the details during the build in the 1920s.  And the finish line is right around the corner! If you haven’t already, please LIKE Simply Southern Cottage on Facebook and follow the same on Instagram for frequent reclaiming and restoring updates. I’d love to have you join in on this journey!

*This post first appeared in the Sept/Oct 2017 issue of The Minute Magazine


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  1. shirley pirl says:

    what a wonderful story you have. Merry Christmas to you!

  2. Cindy briggs says:

    Can you tell me where you got your Roman blinds and if they are lined? You have a very similar kitchen and island to mine! Lol. We just moved into our new home and I still need cabinet pulls. I’ve been searching for the perfect combination of polished nickel but not overpowering the beauty of the craftsman style cabinets. I love what you’ve chosen!

    • Simply Sara says:

      Hi there! They are lined. A local friend of mine has a design business and did them. Let me know if you’d like her number. Thank you sooooo much for your sweet words!!

  3. Lori Postlewait says:

    Can you tell me what was used to finish the island countertop? Your place is adorable.

    • Simply Sara says:

      Hi Lori! So sorry for the delay! Shreveport Salvage built my island and the top is reclaimed barnwood. I hope this helps!

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