Good Bones: The Tiny House on the Fringe

It's another brave rescue when Mina and Karen commit to renovating a miniscule 730-square-foot house that's in serious disrepair and located on the outskirts of a transitioning neighborhood. To appeal to young urban pioneers, they go with a solid open-concept floor plan and a few offbeat flourishes.

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Photo By: Mary Ann Carter/Getty Images

Purple Haze

One of the keynote updates on the Kennington house is this upstairs bonus room created in what had been an unfinished attic space. The space had original car-siding wood paneling (not to be confused with shiplap!), and Karen got creative with using a special tinted stain solution to give the wood a purple cast with a gradient ombre effect — darker at the bottom and transitioning to lighter at the top.

Balance and Context

Karen and Mina used low-profile furnishings and accessories with open design to maintain a lighter look in the living room. "We want to fill the space without overwhelming the space," says Mina. "It's 13 by 20, so you got to get it right."

Statement Kitchen

Extra high ceilings, double-stacked upper cabinets and a dramatic tile backsplash help define the kitchen's cool, clean look.

Cool Palette

A daring choice of purplish gray wall paint in the new master bedroom creates a distinctive look and soothing ambiance when mixed with accessories and wall art that bring in blues, grays and neutral tones.

Designing Within Parameters

A long platform enclosure in the attic was integrated into the structural support and could not readily be removed. "So, instead, we embraced it," said Karen."We made it into a daybed."

The Kennington Street House, Before

"There's a house in there? I don't see a house," said Karen when she first laid eyes on the next project house. "It looks like you bought some shrubbery."

Mina purchased the distressed property from the city for $5000. Not only was the yard monumentally overgrown, but the tiny shotgun-style house had multiple issues — including a large hole in the porch roof, copious amounts of trash inside and a rotting floor. Every window was broken out and a section of the foundation was being "supported" by (!) a rusted car jack.

The Kennington Street House, After

The front of the house has gone from barely visible to strikingly eye-catching with a number of curb-appeal-boosting upgrades. Once the jungle of weeds and junk trees was eradicated, the entire front porch was removed and rebuilt. The old, sagging roof was replaced and front windows were upgraded. The exterior is painted in a pale purple-gray, and a new front door in single glass-panel design provides a visual accent with a dark purple frame and white trim.

Backyard, Before

The home is located on the outskirts of downtown in an area that is still transitioning. "This is on the edge of Bates-Hendricks," said Mina, "so I want to make it a little bit funky, but soft funky. That's what it's asking for — to be a little bit edgy."

Backyard, After

At the back of the house, the roofline was modified to allow for a dormer that would provide greater ceiling height for the upstairs bonus room. An old shed roof was removed from the back of the house, and a new deck added with a water feature, outdoor furniture and a bistro table set. The ground was levelled and new sod planted. The rear deck was left sans railing to help give the total backyard a grander sense of space. 


"It's not how far your feet can go," said Karen, "it's how far your eye can go that makes a space feel big. And without a railing, there's nothing to stop your eye, so the space feels huge."

Holy Moly!

Opening the front door, it was immediately evident that former occupants had left behind — perhaps literally — tons of trash. It would require two 40-yard dumpsters, and a third 25-yard one, to haul away the refuse that had been left behind as well as demolition debris.

Living Room, Before

Like many older shotgun-style floor plans, the main living area was at the front of the house, and the kitchen at the rear. In this case, there was a separate living room and den toward the front of the house. Mina's design plan called for removing the dividing wall, making way for a single open-concept layout.

Living Room/Kitchen, After

After essentially gutting the interior, and removing the wall that had separated the two front rooms, the front portion of the house is now one large contiguous space that includes the kitchen, living and dining areas. A new master suite is at the slightly wider rear section of the house.

Living Room/Kitchen, After

Mina and Karen selected a sectional sofa in a light neutral tone and with a low back for a light and casual feel. An upholstered arm chair in bright green adds a colorful, eye-catching accent. 

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

Among the kitchen highlights is an impressive tile backsplash that, over the sink, extends all the way to the ceiling. The gray ceramic tiles are a dimensional style in hex shape that create a geometric honeycomb pattern. The upper double-stacked cabinets are in white, and the lowers in cadet blue. A butcher-block counter top, in a dramatic herringbone pattern and dark stain, helps warm up the space that otherwise employs a cool palette of blues and grays.

Before

After

The dining table is a contemporary design with clean marble top and light metal legs, matched with hairpin chairs. Again, careful selection of furnishings and accessories helps create a lighter and more open look in the relatively limited space. 

Hallway, After

The new master suite and a second downstairs bathroom are accessible from a newly configured hallway behind the main living space.

Hallway, After

Because the house is so narrow, the hallway is angled, providing a greater feeling of depth and also leaving room for a laundry closet in addition to the second bathroom. The stairs leading to the new upstairs bonus room are also accessed via this hallway.

Downstairs Bath, After

The redesign of the floor plan allowed for the addition of this second full bath. It features a single vanity and walk-in shower with dimensional hex tile, mimicking the pattern in the kitchen backsplash, but here in white.

Master Suite, After

The wider rear portion of the house was the ideal location to create an enlarged master bedroom with en suite bath and walk-in closet. 

Master Suite, After

The walls are painted in pale purplish gray and paired with blue and gray accents and a contemporary industrial light fixture with mesh shade in rubbed bronze finish. Full length window treatments are in a white and blue gradient, with the lighter shade at the top contributing to the feeling of spaciousness.

Master Bath, After

The en suite master bath features a full tub and shower, again with the dimensional hex tiles in white, and a double vanity.

Master Bath, Detail

A wide linen closet, with 18-inch depth, provides plenty of storage.

Attic, Before

The house had an unfinished attic, but the clearance at the top of the stairs too low to create a safe entry point. The renovation plan called for removal of the brick chimney and addition of a new dormer at the top of the stairs to create more headroom and safe access.

Karen was thrilled to find that a portion of attic wall had original car-siding wood paneling that was in relatively good condition.

Attic Bonus Room, After

Adding the dormer increased the ceiling height and made room for this nook which Mina and Karen adapted with French mattress cushions to fashion a day bed — so the room could potentially serve as a guest room.

Karen repurposed the original wood car-siding to create a feature wall, giving it a purplish finish that still allows the wood grain to show through. She also created an ombre effect — with darker shade at the bottom and lighter towards the top — using varying dilutions of paint with addition of of fabric dye to increase the color intensity.

'Car siding' is a term used for a type of wood paneling in which the adjacent boards are joined together with v-shaped tongue-and-groove joint along the edges to form a tight fit.

Attic Bonus Room, After

The remainder of the space contains an informal sofa, area rug, pouf chairs, a distinctive coffee table, and retro-style vinyl record player.

Hidden Treasures

The acoustic guitar seen here, with dramatically grained zebrawood body, was found in a drop ceiling during the demolition phase of the project.

The Reveal

On the home tour, Mina and Karen show the new bonus room to potential buyers Justin and Halie. Finishing the attic created an additional 400 square feet of usable space.

The Reveal

"You know, when you walk in the door, you're not expecting how big it is because, from the outside, it has this charming, little cozy feel. And then, you get inside, and it's pretty spacious." 
—Justin

The Reveal

"Going a little funkier on this house, I think, really paid off. We found out that it was attractive to those pioneers, first-time buyers in Bates-Hendricks. And that was really always our plan, so it worked out."
—Mina

"It's a great location; super walkable. I just don't think people realize it yet. We're gonna find some urban pioneers for this house."
—Karen

Afterword

Mina and Karen purchased the house for $5000 then spent $155,000 for renovations, including some unexpected costs associated with framing and foundation issues. With a total outlay of $160,000, they were able to list and sell the house for $195,000 — for proceeds of around $35,000.

If you enjoyed this Good Bones renovation, we think you'd probably also like this one: 
The Tiny Victorian on Woodlawn Avenue
And keep checking back here for more new galleries, videos and show updates.

Next Up

'Good Bones' Season Two is Headed Your Way

Those mighty Indy women, Mina and Karen, are back for a second season of home renos and rescues in their city's historic neighborhoods.

Good Bedroom Color Schemes

To find the perfect color scheme for your bedroom, start with the colors you love.

Find Your Design Style + Toast Your Good Taste

Whether your design style is classic or contemporary, looks to the future or is a blast from the past — there’s a cocktail for that! Take our quiz to learn which style suits you best, then whip up one of our delish cocktails and toast to your good taste. Cheers!