A Designer Turns a Tiny Cottage Into a Truly Stylish Space

At just over 1,600 square feet, this adorable Atlanta starter home became picture perfect in the hands of a talented designer.

April 10, 2020

Photo By: Josh Vick

Photo By: Tina Rowden

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Josh Vick

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Christina Wedge

Small + Stylish

This circa 1946 bungalow in Atlanta's charming Peachtree Hills neighborhood is just 1,600 square feet with two bedrooms and one tiny bath. But that didn't stop designer Catherine Branstetter and her colleagues at Carter Kay Interiors from turning this sweet cottage into a shockingly sophisticated space built for cocktail hours and gatherings.

Designer in the House

Now based in Nashville and working with Rachel Halvorson Designs, designer Catherine Branstetter made her mark on her Atlanta starter home with a mix of traditional, vintage and eclectic elements that gave her home its unique character.

Don't Fear Granny Chic

"A lot of people my age are scared of antiques" says Catherine. But, antiques don't "have to feel old ladyish" if they are mixed, like this nailhead console, with funkier elements like the vintage metal artwork on the wall and the retro chairs flanking the console. Catherine recommends young collectors invest in a few timeless pieces that you will want to move from house to house, "pieces that will work in any home."

Designer Advice

Catherine recommends homeowners decorating their first space take it slow. "I know people are eager to be done," she says, but don't rush into filling every nook and cranny right away. Instead, take the time to hit antique stores and consignment shops to find the perfect pieces for your new home. Catherine found the $25 rattan coffee table base in her living room at Atlanta's Scott's Antique Market and had a piece of glass cut to fit.

The Art of Travel

Tribal shields used as wall art and a Greek evil eye dish on the coffee table give a global feel to the home and connect Catherine to past travels.

Collectibles Cameo

Catherine enjoys spotlighting souvenirs from her travels in her home including these objects featured on her well-curated living room coffee table.

Adaptable Furniture

The Moroccan ottoman and smaller, lightweight chairs and tables allow Catherine to move elements around for entertaining. Keeping her design open and furniture adaptable means "you can squeeze a lot of people in there," she says of this living room she decorated to accommodate parties.

Beachy Dining

Catherine characterizes her style as transitional and is a big fan of rattan as in this retro dining set she found for her dining room. Catherine recommends blending vintage pieces with classic, traditional ones and a few statement pieces like this Arteriors chandelier for the perfect mix. "It makes the room feel like it has depth," she says.

Touch of the Exotic

The zebra dining room swivel chair cushion fabric from Clarence House and the coral-colored Mosaic mirror from Serena & Lily add colorful, exotic elements to this dining room.


Catherine cleverly transformed a mudroom leading to the backyard into a far more functional and entertaining-centric bar area. She painted the room in Pratt & Lambert's Obsidian. "It ended up being one of our favorite rooms" says Catherine of how this transitional space perfectly suited the flow between inside and outside. Even the retro crank windows look chic with the striking paint color. Catherine says she didn't want the expense and bother of replacing the windows so she did what she advises homeowners in older homes to do: "Embrace some of the old quirks of the house." The tall, open shelf is a great way for Catherine's husband — and house mixologist, Austin — to display spirits and bar necessities while keeping the room open and airy.

Streamlined Outdoor Space

Busy lives call for a streamlined solution and this outdoor space with an outbuilding for storage, string lights, fire pit and a few tables for people to gather does the trick.

Bath With Attitude

Catherine picked up the concrete fish that decorate the wall in Greece. This is the home's only bathroom and she invested the space with some definite attitude thanks to Thibaut's Tanzania wallpaper.

Small Bath, Big Impact

Catherine uses Thibaut Tanzania wallpaper in black on cream in her home's small bathroom. "Since it was our only bathroom," says Catherine, she decided to "make it fun." Even the ceiling is wallpapered for maximum effect.

A Sculptural Bed

The striking queen-sized Noir bed in Catherine's master has a sculptural quality. In a smaller home, there wasn't a lot of room for furniture in the master but Catherine rightly notes that "you don't need that much furniture in the bedroom." The simple blinds keep the space from feeling claustrophobic and allow for privacy while still letting light in.

Monochromatic Dresser Tableau

To keep things from looking too busy in a smaller space, Catherine keeps accessory clutter to a minimum and in this bedroom, creates order by keeping her decor elements in the same color palette.

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