Photographer Josh Gibson and his interior designer wife, Michelle Prentice, weren't looking to downsize when the small outbuilding behind their home came on the market in Beaufort, South Carolina. Beaufort’s historic preservation laws prevent historic structures from being torn down, so they decided to purchase the property. "It became clear that we should restore it to use as a guesthouse and Airbnb rental,” says Prentice. “It was uninhabitable when we got it. There was no insulation, it had only one window unit, and the floors were squishy,” says Gibson. “At first, we were just going to fix the structural issues and slowly work on the exterior, but then that became a complete yearlong gut renovation.” Along the way, they uncovered the home’s deep history. Footings for a 6-foot-wide fireplace found in the foundation and building-material inconsistencies revealed that half of the cottage was built in 1880 as a working kitchen for a larger house in the neighborhood. The second half of the home was added in the 1940s. Because of this, they nicknamed it “The Cook House.” As construction continued, the couple stayed the course, restoring the old Lowcountry cottage with both its integrity and their budget intact. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” say both Prentice and Gibson. Here are their tips for tackling a small cottage renovation.
Living in a tiny house doesn’t mean you have to give-up style.