Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Introducing Bella Rustica Cottage

At Christmas, I purchased what is fondly referred to as "The Pink House" on Saint Simons Island, GA.

For those who don't know, a year prior I transferred to this area with my federal agency to be an instructor at The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Southeast Coastal Georgia.  So, LABBIES California became LABBIES Georgia.  Saint Simons Island is the land of second homes for wealthy Floridians and Georgians so in the struggling economy, the vacation home is the first to go. As a result, the market in general was soft but this particular house had been unoccupied for almost 8 years.  It is located within 4 blocks of the Atlantic Ocean.

I bought it for 200K, filled with mold, open beam ceilings, lots of potential, and made it my own.  I decided on a coastal look with Italian attitude - diverso (different) for this area.  Most of the homes here are Coastal Cottage shingled or tabbied ( a concrete and oyster shell finish) but The Pink House was stucco, similar to my house in Coronado, CA.  As I continue to learn about this part of the United States, I have come to understand that pink stucco is very "Florida".

After removing the carport, I painted it Universal Khaki (Sherwin Williams) and exposed the terra cotta brick over the carriage garage doors. I worked within a budget which is honestly more fun than having carte blanche.  Because I have done it both ways I can say this.  For those of you who don't know me, my Life Philosophy is that Life is mostly Plan B.  Once you give in to this concept (a reality anyway, amici) Life becomes simply more fun and adventuress - like this re-model. For example, instead of marble countertops I did thick slabs of Live Oak from a local mill and I love it.  When my contractor said we could not do something I asked what we could do and then we went from there.  As a result, even I did not know what it would look like in the end.

To the left of the front door is an alcove (see below) where I leaned a hand-made chalkboard I'd made so people can leave messages for me. 

Because the lot is so long, I wanted to plant my organic raised beds in the front yard, similar to the Victory Gardens of World War II.  Aside from the herbs and vegetables in the raised beds, all additional plants are rosmarino (rosemary) and mexican sage.  Initially, I wanted to plant rows of lavender but it does not thrive in this climate.  

Herbs, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and yellow, orange, & red bell peppers are the bounty. I used crepe myrtle branches for rustica tomato trellises and they work perfectly.  

Melanzane (Eggplant) maturing.

Please come back for more photos of the cucina rustica replete with a 7-foot farm table, exposed brick, Live Oak slab counter tops, hand-painted cabinets, and travertine marble flooring ($1.88 a square foot on sale at Home Depot). 


  1. How exciting! And what a labor of love! I was just browsing your blog last week to see if any new posts were up, and long behold this new post! Can't wait to see more photos of the interior.

  2. Hi Dear Kim
    Was just thinking of you yesterday and here you are posting..

    How exciting for you that you have bought a home!! I'm sure with you flair it will be absolutely wonderful and can't wait to see more...

    Now.. 200k.. wow.. you can't buy a shoebox here for that price...[not even an apartment] I may have to move to the US...

    Hope all is well your way and have a lovely week.. ciao bella .. xxx Julie

  3. I am SO excited to see another one of your amazing transformations!! And YOUR own home to boot!!!! Congrats!!

  4. So excited to see the rest of the house. It looks great Kim!


  5. You are Back!!!!

    I am looking forward to getting inside that lovely home of yours.

    Love the gardens!

    janet xox

  6. Wow! What a beautiful transformation. Love the new color and your garden is fabulous!!!
    ~Debra xxx
    Capers of the vintage vixens

  7. Unbelievable how such a place can be transformed into this amazing cottage. I'm sure it was a hard work but also fun. this became absolutely "Bella" Too bag you don't rent it, because I'm a big fan of cottage rental for my vacations.

  8. Anthony and I love it! Your design skills never cease to amaze me. Can't wait to see the interior. Nicole

  9. Ciao Kim,
    la casa sta diventando stupenda!
    Mi piace molto anche la cucina. Baci Rita