Sink or Trim: A Cottage Revolution


BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME

Pencil drawing of the All Joy Cottage.
The first pencil renderings of the Outfitter’s Cottage.

The ‘build it and they will come’ theory had proven itself true in our first model home turned weekend rental, the Pamlico Cottage.

Built in uneventful real estate years and not quick to sell, it ended up being the perfect place for guests to stay and explore the neighborhood.

This was a topic of conversation in the May edition of Sink or Trim. But eventually we had a pending sale on the Pamlico and it was time to come up with a game plan for the next series of weekend cottages.

We pitched the Fish Camp Cabin project to the developer, and it was received with what I’d call hesitant enthusiasm… why not, let’s give it a shot.

It did appeal to their shared passion for an outdoor lifestyle, which tends to be the reason so many people visit the area and end up landing here. There are definite advantages to being surrounded by water.

We realized that ‘fish camp cabins’ could be perceived a bit more rustic than we were going for, so switched up the name, and were given an official green light on the Outfitter’s Cottages.

COTTAGE COURT


There were only a few lots zoned multi-family, and to make the numbers work we would need to put up to three cottages on each homesite. The lot locations were perfect, across from and next to the Outfitter’s Center… an amenity fitting to the stay-and-play vibe with kayaks, a screened in hang out space, and dock access to Mill Creek.

Front elevation of the All Joy cottage.
A finished product, the “All Joy” Cottage

 

 

The "All Joy" cottage home floor plan.
We settled on a plan for this flagship cottage… lot 1 of 4, cottage 1 of 9, would be 900 square feet, 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom with an open living space. And a front porch for rock’n and a back porch for chill’n of course.

 

Sunset at the All Joy cottage home.
In the beginning… the lone Outfitter’s Cottage.
In the end… triplets!

COASTAL COZY


Front porch of the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.Coastal was the obvious design path to take but that can easily become a bit much, we didn’t want to go overboard.

We’ve all been to those houses where it looks like a theme threw up all over the place, show some restraint people (no offense to anyone that took offense).

‘Coastal-cozy’ is how I’d describe the style… cozy being a more pleasant word than small of course.

We chose a bright galvanized metal roof and a darker gray/taupe/greenish rustic color for the siding.

The accent color for the shutters and board and batten was 3 shades lighter than the siding.

Tip: Skipping up the color wheel a few shades always gives the perfect tone on tone contrast.

We ‘beached’ it up with a coral door and went for classic white trim and gray walls inside. This is where my love affair with Sherwin Williams Argos gray paint started. I have since used this perfect cool neutral on almost a dozen homes, this creature of habit sees no need to stray.

Coastal decor in the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place. Coastal decor in the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.

This is also the first time we used LVP flooring, aka Luxury Vinyl Plank. How do you get someone to buy vinyl floors? Put the word Luxury in front of it and just like that, vinyl is back baby. I must say, to this day the floors look great, an ideal option for a pet and kiddo friendly rental that’s bound to get used and abused.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.They let me furnish this one too, but there was that B word again. Budget for the whole house soup to nuts, get ready for it… $6,000, I kid you not.

The money was tight for sure, but the biggest challenge was to make it look good enough that people didn’t think we were on a budget.

Lucky for me, a furniture fairy named Deane came into my life. She lived in Highpoint NC, and her friend Michelle ran some of the modern warehouses where they held THE furniture market, the largest furnishings trade show in the world.

This is not a little deal, this is a very BIG deal where just about everyone that has anything to do with furniture comes to showcase or select the lines they will carry for the year.

We’re talking 2000 exhibitors in 180 buildings with attendees from over 100 countries.  If you are in the biz, you don’t dare miss this semi-annual tradition.

Deane and Michelle let me come in after the market event and buy showroom samples for crazy deals, small fractions of the marked up prices you see on the beautifully staged pages of Pottery Barn.

After each trip, I’d be on a furniture high for like a week… yes, that’s a thing. I mixed in the High Point pieces with others I found locally or ordered online and all in all, the cottage turned out seriously cute.

Inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place. Inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.

BIG LIVING IN A SMALL SPACE


So how do you make 900 square feet as livable as possible? The open kitchen/dining/living and high ceilings certainly helped.

Inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place. Inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.

Add in the front porch and back deck so your living space flows outside four walls, and it was quite comfortable for a smaller footprint.

View from the back deck of the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place. View of the back deck at the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.

New construction doesn’t usually come with character, you have to find ways to build it in.  Sometimes it’s the good ol’ classics that bring warmth and depth to a new build.  We bumped up the charm adding a plate rack above the sink with a cup rail underneath, natural bead board ceilings and horizontal porch and stair railings, a detail we carried through all 9 of the cottages.

Details inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place. Details outside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.

Also full of character, the dining nook had dual purpose built in benches… a space saving place to dine and much needed storage in the benches, form + function.

Details inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place. Details inside the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.

When the last nail was hammered and the last pictures were hung, we got to show it off. It was very well received and we felt like we were on the right track with the concept for sure.
The time had come to find an owner.

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD, AND DID.


Chocolate lab sitting on the porch at the All Joy cottage home at Arlington Place.Well that didn’t take long. A local businessman saw the potential to scoop up an investment property at a low entry point and offset his expenses with rental income. He believed in us and he believed the direction the neighborhood was going. The new owner named the cottage “All Joy”, he must’ve known what was coming.

It was instantly popular and his ROI was close to 20% each year. It rented like crazy then and still does now. After a few years, he ended up selling All Joy to pursue another opportunity. It sold quickly for 30% more than he paid for it.

So let me get this straight…

He put money in his pocket every month from rents, had a stay-cation place for himself, friends and family, AND made money on the sale?

…in a down real estate market nonetheless.

That’s a pretty sweet deal and the new owner is tickled with his little rental machine. My only regret? Not buying it for myself!

Countless vacationers and potential property buyers (and their furry friends of course) have made The All Joy Cottage their home away from home. On AirBnB it has 162 five star reviews and counting. The success of this cottage spurred construction for 8 other Outfitter’s Cottages, all rented through AirBnB. More to come on those later.

It’s weird to think back to that random idea about a fish camp and how it has evolved over the years. It seems like eons ago that we were building All Joy and crossing our fingers that someone would like it enough to buy it. It has exceeded our expectations by miles.

For looky-loos, staying in the neighborhood is the best way to explore the area and try AP on for size. For many it’s been a fit, and it all started with this little guy.

Curious about those other Arlington Place cottage homes? See more about them here, browse our rental cottages here, or just click the AirBnB logo below to see what’s available.

Arlington Place blog author Becca Lang.
Story by Becca Lang

Hey there, I'm Becca... a real estate agent by trade (kinda designer by choice) that was thrown into the deep end of the development game. In the Sink or Trim series, I'll share lessons learned by trial and (lots of) error from foundation to finishes.