Before-and-After Cottage Makeover

A 1930s Austin, Texas, cottage gets a major overhaul. It's practically unrecognizable — in all the right ways.

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  • Pro Homeowner

    Leave it to homebuilder and remodeler Royce Flournoy to have the coolest new home in his neighborhood — and it's 73 years old! (Royce Flournoy, Texas Construction Company, Austin, TX, 512-541-8050,

  • Before: Rundown Fixer-Upper

    Some people wouldn't think twice about tearing down and rebuilding from scratch. Not Royce. He gave this shabby-looking house a second chance.

  • After: Modern Cottage

    The homeowner says, \"I wanted a clean, modern look without sacrificing the original architectural charm of the place,\" he says. So with a few coats of paint, lots of limestone and some inventive landscaping, his cottage got a curb-appeal boost that extends all the way to the backyard. By converting a rickety carport into a media room and an office, which he connected to the house, he also boosted his quality of life — and his home's value. \"Covering my car wouldn't make me nearly as happy as kicking back and watching TV in my new space,\" he says.

  • Cheerful New Colors

    Royce preserved most of the original wood siding and updated the look with fresh paint colors: Iron Mountain on the siding and Pale Avocado on the shutters, both by Benjamin Moore. The trim is Gypsum by Pittsburgh Paints. The front porch's deep-seated swing from Design Within Reach is made of recycled plastic, so it's fade-resistant and waterproof. Royce painted the concrete floor gray; try Pelican by Valspar.

  • Hardy Plants

    The Amerishade grass thrives under the yard's mature trees because it's so shade-tolerant. Royce chose the small boxwoods since they require minimal water, and he can hedge them as they grow to maintain a sculptural look.

  • Camouflage Trick

    The homeowner painted his gas meter the same color as the house.

  • No-Maintenance Garden

    Overgrown shrubs that once blocked the porch got the ol' heave-ho. In their place: a bed of limestone gravel. It requires zero maintenance, and it matches the chimney, to boot.

  • Privacy Fence

    The home is on a corner lot, so Royce enclosed the backyard. The fence's cedar slats run horizontally, like the house's siding. \"Cedar turns gray as it weathers,\" says Royce. \"So over time the fence will look even better against the house.\"

  • Before: Backyard Blues

    Royce's dismal backyard would need a lot of tender loving care to create the perfect outdoor space.

  • After: Parking Pad

    Royce poured concrete for a parking space that's surrounded by gravel. He gave it texture and skid resistance with a salt finish, a treatment that creates small pockets in the concrete. \"I wanted it to look a little worn down, not like a new parking lot,\" he says.

  • Stone Wall

    The limestone wall looks pretty from the street and is a buffer between passing traffic and the yard. Royce hired a skilled mason who put up the wall in a week. \"It makes for a nice, cozy, private feeling in the backyard,\" he says.

  • Outdoor Eating

    \"I love to barbecue and entertain — luckily Austin has warm weather most of the year,\" says Royce. He filled the empty space by the back door with a teak dining table and weatherproof plastic chairs.

  • Lots of Blue Pots

    For a cool pop of color against the brown house, Royce went with ceramic planters in shades of blue, from bright turquoise to deep cobalt.

  • Brand-New Rooms

    Royce kept the roof of the original carport intact, but he reframed the layout and enclosed the space to create an office and a media room with cottagey windows running across one side.

  • Year-Round Container Plants

    The landscape was designed with ease of care in mind: hardy grass, sturdy boxwoods and fuss-free gravel. The same goes for the decorative pots, which Merrideth Jiles of Austin's The Great Outdoors nursery filled with practically invincible plants. \"They won't wither in the heat or drown in heavy rains, so they're perfect for challenging climates like we have in Austin,\" says Merrideth. \"And they'll thrive all year, so you don't have to change out your containers.\"

  • Icee Blue Yellow-Wood

    This conifer tolerates strong sun and stays fresh with regular pruning.

  • Cali-Brachoa \"Tequila Sunrise\"

    These mini petunias have great color and bloom most of the year.

  • Dichondra \"Silver Falls\"
    (aka Silver Pony-Foot)

    It's popular for its drought tolerance and silver foliage.

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