Perfect Potential

Transforming a ho-hum cottage with good bones into a family’s dream home.

December 2006

When Sandi and Jeff Johnson first saw the Cape Cod-style cottage in Cherry Hills, it fit more into the “potentially perfect” category than the “dreamy design” classification. “It was a dreary little house with dark colors and dingy drapes,” Sandi says. Add to that the ceilings were low and bedrooms cramped—not a good fit for the family they were planning. On the up side, however, were some very desirable features: nearly three acres of land, a pond, a creek, and a structurally sound house in a fabulous neighborhood.

As the pair balanced the pros and cons of the purchase, they asked themselves several questions: Could the house be brightened up? Would they be able to use the furniture they already owned? Could the existing cottage bear an addition and a facelift? And could it be childproofed? The Johnsons called in the experts and rolled up their sleeves.

“Actually, this house had that oldest of clichés,” says interior designer Lane Elisabeth Oliver, the first pro hired by the Johnsons for the transformation. “It had good bones.” It was two stories tall with spacious stairways, and the kitchen needed no work. The individual rooms were well-proportioned and looked out over richly landscaped yards in both the front and rear. “We just had to maximize what we started with,” Oliver says.