Name: Zoe Peters
Location: Mill Valley — California
Size: 231 square feet
Years lived in: 3.5 years
Nestled under trees on the far edge of family property in Mill Valley is a charming cottage Zoe calls home. Near Mount Tamalpais, it’s the perfect home base for a nature lover. And it’s got a history packed with artistic spirit; the space used to be her brother-in-law’s grandmother’s art studio. A little over three years ago, Zoe made a fantastic deal with her family; she would convert the small existing structure into a home in exchange for living in the space. Though Zoe’s renovation updated the cottage’s look, it’s still an inspiring space: Artwork created by Zoe adorns the walls.
Zoe designed every detail of the cottage, as well as the layout. And while she lucked out with this space, she borrowed money to complete the renovation and is now paying back those renovation costs. So rent-free, but not free-free!
Because space is limited, Zoe kept the design modern and minimal. Sleek built-in cabinets keep kitchen appliances out of sight. There’s no oven, but that doesn’t keep Zoe from having friends over for dinner. And the bathroom holds a favorite element:
“Rain or shine, my favorite thing is my shower. It’s very large for my small space, and I had always dreamed of a tile shower. Plus, I snuck a couple of strips of blue Heath tiles in there that were leftover from my sister’s back splash,” Zoe reveals.
Zoe loves hanging out in her backyard, which doubles as a second living room when the weather is nice. There is a hammock for relaxed reading, a table set up for lazy breakfasts and a fire pit for s’mores nights with friends. And for those nights when the fog rolls in over Mt. Tamalpais, Zoe installed a big pull-down screen for movie nights inside her cozy cottage.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Sleek and modern, yet comfortable, full of texture and playful in the details. Ultimately, I am extremely sentimental and proudly picky.
Inspiration: Houseboats, tree houses, and Wes Anderson movies.
Favorite Element: Weather permitting, I adore my back deck, hanging lights, and fire pit patio. It allows me to have many people over and be the hostess with the mostess. Rain or shine, my favorite thing is my shower. It’s very large for my small space and I had always dreamed of a tile shower. Plus, I snuck a couple of strips of blue Heath tiles in there that were leftover from my sister’s back splash. Score!
Biggest Challenge: Not accumulating things. Saying and believing and sticking to, “I don’t need that.” This challenge is ongoing and enforced by the limiting factor of display and storage space. However, I’m very sneaky and often find a way.
What Friends Say: “You live in a fairy house in a fairy garden” and “Where is your stuff hiding?”
Biggest Embarrassment: That big chunky metal heater. It’s an eyesore that couldn’t be cheaply avoided. Though others might not notice, I dream of a mini fireplace and make myself feel better by putting a painted metal sign on it to distract and elicit memories of my trip to Morocco.
Proudest DIY: “Etching” my front door by taping the border and spraying with frost paint. I was so nervous to do it, but I’m so happy to not have a fabric curtain that billows or a blind that loudly hits the door every time it opens or closes. It provides privacy but lets the light in.
Biggest Indulgence(s): Custom storage bed and projector complete with very large pull-down screen that’s hidden in the beam.
Best Advice: Infuse your spot with lovely things given or made and take your sweet time. Appreciate family and friends’ talents; revel in the treasure hunt!
Dream Sources: Everything at Heath Ceramics and lush botanical gardens.
Front Door DIY Frosted Glass Spray Paint — Amazon
Everett Chair — West Elm
Blue Chair — West Elm, no longer made
Floor Lamp — Urban
Grey Bookshelf — Urban Outfitters, no longer made
Hooked Rug Wall Hanging — my Mom, custom made
California Poppy water color, painted by my brother-in-law’s grandma. This little building was her art studio for years before I converted it.
Orange Viper Tool Box — Amazon
Bar Stools – IKEA
Dish-drying rack and wall storage system — IKEA
Cabinets — IKEA, no longer made
Oregon Topographical Poster — a flea market plus a DIY framing project
24″ Refrigerator, no longer made
Metal Cart — IKEA
Custom-storage bed from a small business in San Francisco that is no longer open
PAX Mirror Closet — IKEA
Painting above bed from me! I painted it!
Plant Hangers — Amazon
Table Lamp — West Elm
Blue Duvet Covers and Shams — Crate & Barrel