Here’s what happens when a custom builder and an interior designer team up to turn a factory-built home into the beach cottage of their dreams.
Prefabricated homes often get a bad rap, but this Gulf Coast cottage is a far cry from a double-wide. Called a “hybrid home,” the 1,476-square-foot house was built entirely off-site and then delivered via truck. “It follows the concept of factory built but is hand assembled,” says homeowner Onno Horn, who shares the Blue Mountain Beach, Florida, home with Jennifer Hunter. The couple are hardly strangers to coastal style. He’s a custom builder, and she’s a designer. So when it came to their own cottage, they decided to start with a stock GreenSteel Homes plan and tweak the design to better fit their lifestyle.
The result is a win-win: a charming, low-maintenance cottage complete with custom layout, materials, and finishes delivered
with an efficient, healthy, and environmentally friendly building process. “It allows you to have the newness of the factory
but also create an environment with an aged appearance,” says Onno. “It looks like our house has been in this spot for years.”
Here, the couple shares the architectural and decorating details that make the house their own.
Siding: Select Cedarmill HardiePlank Lap Siding.
Siding paint: Yuma Green (SW2090) Sherwin Williams.
Shutter paint: Edgy Gold (SW6409); Sherwin Williams.
Trim paint: White Chocolate (2149-70); Benjamin Moore.
Roof: Galvalume Standing Seam Roof by Gutter Drain Inc.; 850/581-5600.
The wide framed opening allows this office sitting room to function as an extension of the living room, but it’s also where
Jennifer works from home and where they both retreat to read. Because there isn’t a lot of empty wallspace in the sitting
room, Jennifer used colorful, patterned Roman shades in place of art. “The green ceiling also adds some contrast to the white
walls,” she says.
Ceiling paint: Dill Pickle (2147-40); Benjamin Moore.
Shade fabric: China Seas’ Island Ikat (6460-26); Quadrille Fabrics.
Rug: Celeste rug in Natural; Crate & Barrel.
Coffee table: Era coffee table; Crate & Barrel.
Green chair: Mina chair; Room & Board.
Fish pillow: Dory; Dermond Peterson Design.
Desk chair: Philippe Starck’s Louis Ghost armchair for Kartell; Design Within Reach.
Ikat pillows: Cooper Grey.
Sconce: Tolomeo Wall Spot; Design Within Reach.
The construction is modern—for strength and safety, its frame is entirely steel—but Onno incorporated traditional Southern
architectural details such as lap siding, exposed rafter tails, a tabby-covered pier foundation, and shutters. “Visually,
you’re getting a mass-produced box from the factory,” says Onno. “Adding historical details on-site gives interest.”
“We didn’t want our house to stick out,” says Jennifer. “We wanted it to look like it had always been here.” So she based the exterior palette on her surroundings. The bark of native scrub oaks inspired the greenish brown color of the planked James Hardie siding, while golden-hued shutters mimic the highlights of palmetto leaves.
Floral pillow fabric: Galbraith & Paul’s Sunflower (192-153); Perennials Fabrics.
Striped pillow fabric: For a similar look, try Row Stripe (100-17); Perennials Fabrics.
Wind chimes and pottery: McCarty Pottery; 662/748-2293.
The kitchen was the largest alteration to GreenSteel’s original plan. Knowing they needed more cooking space, Onno added a
third, smaller module to the design to house a combination kitchen and breakfast nook. “This addition dramatically altered
the feeling of the house,” says Onno. “It created a separate wing that looks and feels as if it was added on over time.” A
large framed opening keeps everything airy and well connected, while a combination of closed-front cabinets and open shelves
maximizes space in the small kitchen and keeps it from feeling static.
Jennifer and Onno made strategic budget choices in their design. They saved on standard solid-surface countertops so they could spend more on the signature recycled-glass tile backsplash. Jennifer created the butcher-block island’s custom finish by using blue paint and a liming wax.
Onno expanded the kitchen by adding to the stock plan. The movable butcher-block-topped island provides extra prep space.
Cabinetry: Graff Cabinetry LCC; 239/344-6992.
Hardware: EPC-AS38-18-SS by EPCO; The Hardware Hut.
Backsplash: Kawaii Recycled Glass Mosaic Tile in Atami; Anchor Bay Tile.
Countertop: Solids in White (F1-8016); Avonite Surfaces.
Appliances: Café Series; GE Appliances.
Island: Le Classique (RN-C) (custom paint finish); John Boos.
Storage accessories (on backsplash): Grundtal System; Ikea.
At first glance, the wall opposite the cabinets appears to be painted a pretty greenish blue, but look closer and notice her surprise. “I used standard chalkboard paint with just a little white added,” Jennifer says. “It’s a great place to jot notes and reminders.”
A built-in bench turns a small niche inside the back door into a sunny breakfast nook. “Our goal was to create something that
has all the benefits of new but appears to have been built a very long time ago.” —Onno Horn
Table: Odyssey; CB2.
Light: Large Drum Pendant in Sea Salt Linen; Jamie Young.
Chalkboard wall paint: Specialty Chalk Board Paint (homeowner added white paint); Rustoleum.
To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, Onno upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light.
He also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space. Jennifer’s
cheery palette stems from the floral fabric she used for chair pillows. “I’ve always loved all the colors in it,” she says.
Paintings large and small that were collected during travels or commissioned from local artists add more personality.
Ceiling fan: Ball fan; Modern Fan.
Sofa & slipcovered chair: Alex II; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Blue pillow fabric: Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks’ Katana (GWF-2812-313); Lee Jofa.
Floral pillow fabric: Tracy Large Blotch Flower (2960-9773); Opuzen Design.
Side table (white): Saarinen Side Table in White Marble; Design Within Reach.
Table lamp: Tolomeo; Design Within Reach.
Instead of using GreenSteel’s standard flooring, Onno installed white oak planks with a limed finish—perfect for disguising
sand tracked in from the beach. A clear wax on top keeps it sealed and hardy.
By keeping walls and furniture primarily light and neutral, Jennifer ensures the combined living and dining room feels open and spacious. “Colorful upholstery would have made the room feel choppy,” she says.
Table: Orion Walnut dining table; Crate & Barrel.
Armchairs: (C5203-01); Lee Industries.
Side chair slipcover fabric: Prairie Denim in White by Diversitex (UG-147); Fabric.com.
Chandelier: Bamboo Cloud in Cumulus by Roost; 17th and Riggs.
Painting: Mississippi Delta Landscape by Rorie Scroggins; Rorie Scroggins Art.
Before construction, Jennifer and Onno made these key changes to the original plan.