The Shopping Center Rescue

Randy Harelson and Richard Gibbs purchased a 1948 cottage, moved it, and made it their own.
Article: Jeanne Huber

Randy Harelson and Richard Gibbs love to remodel old houses. So when they heard that a 1948 cottage they’d admired was for sale because it was in the way of a planned shopping center, they rushed over. “We knew within the first minute that the house was for us,” says Randy. “It had a wonderful, relaxed floor plan, and the scale was great.” They were living in nearby Seaside, where Richard had been the town architect, but were looking for something with more age and a little imperfection. “In this house, the doors don’t line up,” says Randy, laughing. Aiming to refresh the cottage without changing its character, they updated all the functioning parts (wiring, plumbing, air-conditioning, and heating), added a fireplace and skylights, and extended the back for two new baths and a large shower. But the cottage looks the same from the front, and the interior is still lined with charming knotty pine. “The house was so well constructed that nothing had to be rebuilt,” says Randy. “We just had to hook the house back together and say, ‘Wow, it’s done!’ ”

What Randy and Richard Did

  • Attached a small screened porch to the rear so they could open the house from front to back
  • Added two baths with a rear addition and bumped out the shower for views of Choctawhatchee bay
  • Turned the existing small bath into a laundry room 4 repurposed the front bedroom as a studio and later added more studio space with a second addition
  • Installed three skylights to bring extra light into the all-wood interior