I can say it confidently: Claire of Casita Encanta is the master of designing and decorating small spaces.
Just look at how she transformed this 475-sq. ft. gem of a vacation rental in Patagonia, Arizona!
Tucked away in a small, eclectic mountain town that draws guests for its ideal weather, arts scene, and eco-diversity, Casita Encanta wastes not a single square foot. And yet, despite being packed to the rafters with personality and vacation essentials (check out all these amenities Claire squeezed in!), the space is open, airy, and has enough leftover space for her guests to do yoga without bumping into furniture (she even provides the yoga mat)!
Living Area Before
Living Area After
So, how did she do it? Magic was my guess. But Claire insists she made some deliberate design choices, too.
"I wanted the space to feel fresh, alive and light-hearted," she says. "I chose a palette with bright pops of crayon colors...[and] we swapped out the very basic contractor-grade lighting and plumbing fixtures for fixtures I found from more inspired sources such as Pottery Barn Kids and Barn Light Electric."
And if having less than 500 square feet to work with wasn't challenging enough, the casita also had no closets.
"I had to get creative with where to put kitchenware and other essentials," says Claire. "I added wall shelves above the kitchen sink and re-purposed the antique armoire in the kitchenette [to the left in the above photo]. One side of the armoire holds the vac, broom, cleaning supplies and other guest essentials...The other side has the coffee maker, electric kettle, teas, sweeteners, spices, cooking oils. I had my carpenter build in a divider between the two sides of the armoire as an extra finesse."
Much of Claire's gorgeous design elements and furnishings are Craiglist finds that she dressed up with custom chalk paint or spray paint. The intricate headboard in the bedroom, for example, was once white. With a coat of turquoise paint, it fits right into this vibrant space.
Claire then added our Centium Satin Sheets to the bed and topped it all off with some bright, textured pillows and throws. It's impossible to feel anything but joyful in this bedroom!
Even the bathroom is happy-making, with fun pops of color and innovative storage solutions, like a hanging wall basket for her cleansing bars and a fluffy stack of Lynova Towels.
But I saved my favorite part of Casita Encanta for last.
When you have a small space, outdoor areas are key. And Claire made phenomenal use of a courtyard that she says was "in a sad state...a dirt corner overgrown with weeds surrounded by an ugly leaning fence."
Of her courtyard makeover on-a-budget, which in the end added 300 more sq. ft. of living space to her casita, Claire says:
"Our original plan was to replace the fence and install a Mexican-brick patio. But at this point in the renovation of the adjacent main house, our funds were severely limited -- so we had to get creative.
We shored up the fence and found 16-foot rolls of bamboo reed fencing for $25/roll at Home Depot which we nailed up on the inside perimeter of the fence. Instead of an expensive brick patio, we weeded and covered the dirt with landscaping fabric and decorative Santa Fe Gold 3/8" gravel, and added some small accent boulders here and there to ground the space and add visual interest.
We also painted the stair railing white and stained the steps chocolate brown."
Claire added turquoise paint to the corrugated shed that forms one border of the courtyard, then put up corrugated privacy screening at the top of the stair landing. Potted plants, bright, comfy cushions and outdoor furniture from Craigslist finish the look. Mexican-inspired art and accessories help the courtyard blend in perfectly with the vibe of artsy Patagonia, which is located 20 miles north of the Mexican border.
Congrats on a spectacular makeover, Claire! And thanks for sharing your secrets for turning a small space into a bright, southwestern work of art!