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Introducing My 2013 Project: Remodeling a 1905 Cottage!

Have you ever fallen in love with a … house? I have to confess, this happened to me.

I fell in love with a little cottage just around the corner from my home. It was built in 1905 — and even though it’s been remodeled over the years, its charm shines through. I was afraid someone would buy it, tear it down, and build something else on it. That is what has happened with all of the other old houses in our neighborhood.

Ever since we moved into the neighborhood, almost 11 years ago, I would walk past this little tiny house and image what it has seen in its lifetime. I imagined the families that lived there, seeing electricity come into it’s little corner of the world. I imagined the roads being paved. Cars replacing horse-drawn carts.  The telephone. What was life like then??

old fashioned kitchen


Then a few years ago this little tiny house came up for sale. I hoped that someone would buy it that would appreciate its history. I heard that there were people who wanted to buy it so they could tear it down and build something grander. That whole summer I walked past this little house and wondered what would become of it. I finally talked to my husband and by the end of the summer I had talked him into letting me make an offer on this little tiny home. So I did. And then I heard that it had been taken off the market.

little house for sale

So I waited. I put aside any money that I had from blogging and thought if that little house ever came up for sale, I was going to try to buy it. I wanted to preserve that little piece of history. And then last year I got a phone call. The couple that owned that little house wanted to know if I still wanted to buy the home. They knew that I loved it and wouldn’t tear it down.

This post has been about a year in the making. Last June we bought this little house. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt an overwhelming feeling that this was right for us. And it has been an incredible experience. This is my new office. And I am not sure, but maybe a future site of craft weekends, or maybe one of my kids will live here someday or maybe even my husband and I will live here one day when our kids are grown.

All I know is that I love this little cottage and it has been so fun to work on it –trying to restore it to what it once was, maybe even a little better than it once was.

Here’s what it looked like before we started on it (on the outside):

1905 cottage before - outside

(You can see its charm already — and the awesome, old, huge trees that surround it.)

There isn’t much left of the old buildings in our neighborhood. Our small community, now largely part of a bigger city, was founded around 1859, but there weren’t very many people living here until around 1877 when it hit its stride as a mining town. In the 1880s, several homes were built along the main street, as well as a school and general store.

granite church next door

And that’s where the story of this cottage begins: it’s on the site of the original general store, and … as you’ll see in later posts, we believe there is a bit of the original general store walls left in this cottage. The cottage itself wasn’t built until 1905. Over the following century, it was loved by various families, expanded and “modernized,” most recently by a nice couple who used it as a ski cottage for the past 20 years. They came in the winter and then it was empty for the majority of the year.

little house look into living room

beaded chandelier tutorial at Tatertots and Jello

When it was originally built it had incredibly high ceilings for the time — 10 feet. Super tall doorways – 8 foot doors. And beautiful tall, narrow windows with arched brick on top. Over the years, various owners covered up the original knotless hardwood floors with layers of linoleum, took out the beautiful tall windows and replaced them with boxy square ones and dropped the ceilings and doorways.

ghost busters

The 10-foot ceilings  were dropped to barely 7 feet. A laundry room was added in the 50’s to the front porch, but you had to go outside to access it.

little house progress kitchen

little house planked kitchen ceiling

So we literally stripped the house to the walls. (Turns out they’re about 9 inches thick,  and brick and plaster.) In many ways it was like a new construction — we reframed the walls, we ran all new electrical and plumbing. Plus, I found one of the original light switches and we decided to put reproductions of these in all of the rooms – so fun!!

old fashioned light switches

I’ll tell you all about that and more!

Some of the upcoming posts will include:

Tile how-to’s

Alternatives to crown molding and how to do molding like a pro

Taking out a Wall – what to consider

Creating a Planked Ceiling

Tiling a wall

Refacing a cracked cement porch and stairs

Adding a sliding door to an outside wall

Adding trim to windows to add character

Transforming a bureau into a DIY sink cabinet

Installing a farmhouse bathroom sink

Tiling an entire wall

Adding a light tunnel to a small room

Creating a barn door on a curved wall

How to create a charming dutchdoor for less

Replacing siding on your home

Creating a DIY pergola

Making a hanging bed swing

Creating a DIY upholstered headboard from plywood

Adding simple base moldings

Creating DIY windowsills

How to create an easy planked floor

The essential renovators’ toolkit: the 10 tools you must own

How to create a Modern planked room

How to refinish antique wood floors

Crazy things we discovered about the house’s history (here’s a preview: “murder warrant” in the attic)

blue and white nautical wreath

You may have noticed some of these projects over the past several months. I’ve been sneaking a few in here and there. (I’ve put them on this page if you want to see some.)

little house living room into entry

oegboard organizational wall office at Tatertots and Jello

I also have a whole Pinterest Board — 1905 Cottage

It’s dedicated to inspiration for projects I have done or am going to do with this space.

Check it out – there are tons of ideas for adding cottage charm to new OR old houses!!

1905 cottage pinterest board

I am hoping to put the cottage on our city’s historical register when I am done!

I hope YOU will follow along with me on this journey.

It really has been AMAZING so far and I am so excited to see what will happen next!!

And thanks to my husband, my family and friends who have been so incredibly supportive as I pursue this dream.

Have a Beautiful Day! 

xoxojen signature

PS — It’s Friday!! 

My favorite day of the week. 

Tonight is the Weekend Wrap Up Party.

I love seeing and featuring YOUR ideas.

I hope you can stop by for the fun.

The party starts at 6 pm MST.


  1. What is the name and type of paint you used for your yellow front door?

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  14. I love this project and post! We live in a 1950’s cottage in St. George and I would love to remodel it this extensively one day…you are amazing! The way you describe how much you love this cottage is how I feel about our cottage–I know we will keep it in our family forever :) Awesome post! :)

  15. Dear Jen, What is the big yellow marshmallow on the roof and when are you going to give it a make over? 😉 I’ve just been wondering.
    Warmly, Sarah

  16. Great you chose something unique to discus in your blog and it’s really attractive I shared it on my facebook profile with my friends.

  17. I’ve been seeing #1905Cottage all over and I kept meaning to pop over and catch-up. I’d see a post here or there, but I finally got to read the whole story. How amazing to restore and beautify this home. I bet it was holding it’s breath, just waiting for you! It got so lucky you swooped in to save it! What a wonderful experience. Look forward to reading all the other posts Jen :)

  18. I don’t know how I missed this but this is awesome! The cottage is so cute and I am dying to see everything you have done to it over the last year! I love it!!
    xoxo, Claire

  19. Awesome! We purchased our 1910 farmhouse home in 2010 and had to strip the walls down to the brick and plaster too because of layers and layers of wallpaper. For us tho, we switched out the button light switches for modern ones, the husband thought they’d be safer =)

    • Nora – your house sounds like such a fun project!! I would love to see pictures!!

      We ordered reproduction light switches because the original one weren’t grounded and weren’t safe. But I love the look of the old switches :)


  20. This is so fun and so charming! I am excited to follow your journey!

  21. This is AMAZING!!! I have always dreamed about doing something similar too and I am just in awe that you went for it! I’m a history nut, so this is right up my alley! Huge congrats to you and I can’t wait to check out the rest of the posts!

  22. Somehow I missed the big announcement. I love that you bought it and are restoring the cottage! What a fun story!

  23. This is SO fantastic!! Just found this through Serenity Now and I will be a new follower. Can’t wait to see more of the projects you’ve done on the cottage. One of my life goals is to renovate an old house so this really speaks to me!

  24. Oh my heck Jen this is AH-MAZING! I absolutely love all you’ve done so far and the whole story behind this adventure. Excited to see everything else you do! :)

  25. My mother recently purchased an old home in Moroni, UT. Built in 1885, it’s on the historic register and needs so much work. She is all about remodel as she has already taken a 1920’s home in Springville, UT and remodeled it 4,5,8 times over. I know you would get along so well with her! And I wouldn’t mind brushing shoulders with you either! You are amazing and I enjoy every project you do.

    • Hi Kerry!!

      Thanks for the sweet comment. I would love to meet you and your mom!! Her new home sounds amazing. Does she have any pictures of it online anywhere?? I would love to see it!!


  26. Absolutely amazing transformation!! Great job! :-)

  27. Congrats Jen! What a beautiful place to put the stamp of your heart & soul into! I cannot wait to see what you do with this little cottage…but I know it will be wonderful in every way! Angie xo

  28. I love that you are doing this. Do you ever watch Rehab Addict on DIY? She does this same thing. I hope you find great success and happiness in making this old cottage have a voice again. Congratulations you are doing a wonderful job. I look forward to more posts.

    • Hi Annette!

      No – that sounds like a wonderful show. I will have to check it out. Thanks for following along on my crazy journey – it’s been so fun so far!


  29. I wish I could have seen it at the cookie exchange, but excited to see it when I can! it’s just lovely! I’ve always loved vintage houses and DREAM of restoring/updating it… but not a project with 5 young kids at home, someday!

  30. I just read this post and I LOVE that you’re sharing your journey with your readers. I’m a renter (always have been) but I plan on buying/building my own place eventually and reading your struggles/successes will help me when it comes time for my own place. Thankful for your blog. I never met you in person but I feel like we would be BFF’s 😉 BTW, I’m sure you hear that all the time lol <3

  31. It looks really great, Jen! I can feel how proud you are of it in your words– as you should be! Can’t wait to see what all else you found and what you show us!

  32. Oh, what an awesome project! Can’t wait to see what you do with the place; what syle do you have in mind? Chic, Modern, Contemporary; be sure to keep us posted!

    • Hi Jennifer!! Thanks for the sweet comment. I am going for a modern cottage vibe. Trying to stay true to the home’s period but also to infuse some modern, clean design ideas. I think it is going to be a beautiful mix of styles :)


  33. Jen! This is so exciting, you are amazing. Can’t wait to see all the posts. Loved this story. Xo

  34. I love this so much it hurts. We bought a little house that was built in 1943 and I wonder about its former families as well. You’re an inspiration.

    • Hi Amanda!! I just love old houses. There is so much history there and a sense of responsibility too. I bet you just love yours!


  35. You are an amazing woman! Your little house is so cute, a true labor of love.

  36. WOW!!!!!! I am blown away but what you have done! I never would have been able to see through the changes made to the beauty underneath. (And I am DEFINITELY not handy enough to take on a project like that!) I think that is just so so amazing and I LOOOOVE that you have it as your studio/craft workshop. How AMAZING!!! I have always been in love with old houses. We lived in St. Louis for awhile in a 1920s apartment building that still looked the same, and I long to move into charming historical homes like those that surrounded us during that time! See you at SNAP! 😉

    Sarah (Craft Quickies)

    • Hi Sarah!!

      Thanks so much!! It has been so fun. And that apartment you lived in sounds amazing. I love old buildings and all of the character that they have. I am excited to see you at SNAP too. It will be so fun!!


  37. i. love. you. #theEnd.

  38. That’s awesome, Jen!!!

    • Thanks my friend. I just an so in love this little house. It has been such a wonderful experience working on it with my family. I hope things are going well with you. You are amazing.


  39. Wonderful!! Love the yellow rug! Do you mind sharing where you got it?

    • Hi Tiffany!

      Sure! I got the rug at RugsUSA.com – they have awesome sales. You can get them at 80% many times a year. I actually think they are having an 80% off sale right now.


  40. I can not believe all the work you are doing. I would love to come and see it in person some day when we are in Utah. You are amazing!


  1. […] so this just impresses me to no end!  Check out her journey, beginning with the introduction post HERE. Amazing, right?!  Bathroom reno post can be found HERE.  Go browse them all—you […]

  2. […] you heard about Jen from Tatertots and Jello’s 1905 cottage project? You have to read this post about a blogger who fell in love with an old cottage near her home, […]

  3. […] Thanks for all of your supportive comments on the 1905 cottage. […]