Simple Seaside Living


Text by Katie Wood / Photography by Stephanie Welbourne

After downsizing over the years, Brenda Speller’s tiny Katrina cottage has just enough space for simple seaside living.

Made popular by the need for emergency housing after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the quaint, prefabricated Katrina cottages are typically small, single story cottages constructed from factory-made panels. Because they are prefabricated, these extremely durable cottages can be built quickly and economically, often within a few days. When people visit Brenda Speller’s tiny Katrina cottage, their lasting impression tends to be a sentiment of “this is all you really need in life.” Though her one-bedroom cottage provides less than 600 square feet of living space, it offers a simplistic solution to beach living.


Brenda decided to move to the beach after retiring from 20 years of service in the military. The undeveloped wooded property she owned in Seacrest, Florida, housed two small buildings, a washroom and a one-room guest bungalow, and allowed just enough space to add a prefabricated Katrina cottage. Brenda gutted the cottage to create a simple home that maximized every inch. And with the help of interior decorator Tonya G. Kilpatrick she was able to employ a few design tricks to make the space feel larger. When working with a small space, Tonya suggests finding furniture pieces that can be utilized in more than one way, like the side tables pictured here that can also be used as stools for extra seating in the kitchen or living area.