Jim Hurley was quite content with the diminutive Morro Bay home had had lived in for 29 years. But this changed in 2008 when Jim married Rosie, a London-born interior designer with a flair for remodels.
Built in 1973, the home had two bedrooms, one bathroom, and was just 900 square feet. The only upgrades Jim had performed were adding a fireplace, installing kitchen skylights and partially enclosing a small patio area at the front of the home.
“With two people living in the house full time, a little extra space was needed,” said Rosie, who owns a home staging business, Sunset Staging Company. “Generally the house, being over 35 years old, needed a refreshed look.”
They hired as their primary contractor Jim’s brother, Bill Hurley, a custom wood framer who owns Dos Osos Timberworks. After plans for a second story addition were scrapped because of cost, they decided to add approximately 400 square feet total to the front and rear of the home, creating a new dining area off the kitchen, and adding an extra six feet to the master bedroom. They also opened up the kitchen to the dining and living room areas for an enhanced feeling of space.
To maximize light, they added flared skylights to the living room area and the bathroom. Additions were given vaulted ceilings to augment the new open feel of the home. They also added large expanses of glass in the front and back.
The couple worked with a limited budget, but still managed to create the designer look they were after. They saved by purchasing IKEA cabinets for the kitchen. They originally selected dark wood, but realized lighter colors would visually expand the space. They decided on upper cabinets in white wood laminate with glass inserts and lower cabinets with an ash finish — a combination that complements the hues in their granite countertops.
A mix of materials also brought life to their small bathroom. They chose pebble flooring for a textural, organic look that is also slip-resistant. Slate with glass tile accents on the walls and travertine countertops continue the natural theme.
Although most of the project was carefully premeditated, one standout feature was a complete surprise. The couple was at a loss as to how to revamp their flat-fronted, tiled fireplace to better suit the new interior. Friends offered them as a wedding present some cultured stone which was left over from a home project.
“We were not originally sold on the particular color, but once Jim decided we had no other plans firmed up, he decided to give it a go,” said Rosie. “It has become quite the talking piece of the living area and bought a touch of class to the entire house.”
Both Jim and Rosie are intrepid do-it-yourselfers and were eager to save money by handling some of their work themselves. Jim, a special education school teacher, created stone walls and laid slabs in the front courtyard area. He also contributed to the demolition by removing the stucco at the back of the house, demolishing the rear deck and tearing out most of the old kitchen.
When Dos Osos Timberworks began gutting the inside of the house in October of 2008, the couple and their two elderly dogs moved into their friends’ home around the corner. Only one interior wall remained when the demolition was complete.
“The local raccoons enjoyed having a house to play in at night,” Rosie reminisced. “We often found the refrigerator open in the morning with their footprints all over the floor.”
Jim and Rosie moved back into the house a couple of days after Christmas that year with no water and bare floors.
Having gone over budget, they took on some finish work themselves, such as interior painting and sealing the tile floor. Jim built a deck at the back of the house to allow access to the back garden.
Rosie, who was moving from a much larger home in Colorado, had her furnishings shipped to the refurbished house. They chose to buy or keep pieces that do double duty in the small space, such as an armoire for the master bedroom that stores the television and bed linens, and a daybed in the dining area that serves as both seating and as an overflow sleeping area for guests. She also brought with her pieces collected from her travels, such as ceramic jugs from Europe and Oriental rugs.
In September of this year, Jim completed his last home project — laying bricks for the driveway.
“The house is a joy to come home to,” said Rosie. “People are completely bowled over, saying it can’t be the same home — well, apart from one wall, it is not!”