To clear the way for a redesign, the family relocated to the guesthouse. And while 14 months may sound like a long time to hole up in 900 square feet with one bath and little more than a microwave and an outdoor grill for meals, "it really helped us figure out what the house would be," says Laurel. "It taught us about how little space you really need."
They also learned a helpful rule: "Think about the kind of family you want and how the space can support it," Laurel says. Some families crave lots of private space, for example, while in her household, she notes fondly, "we seem to all like to be together."
Shown: Interior designer Denise Welch-May united the spaces with soft greens, blues, yellows, red accents, and a reclaimed-barn-wood floor that has a checkerboard stain. Blue-tone slate counters and backsplash tile set off the kitchen, while a cottage-style rug defines the eating nook.