February 8, 2023
Healdsburg Couple Transforms 100-Yr-Outdated Cottage Right into a Fashionable Dwelling

From the sunny aspect of their Healdsburg avenue, Katrina Schjerbeck and Danny Brennan’s classic two-bedroom Healdsburg cottage seems freshly up to date, with tall home windows and a brand new roof and siding.

However attending to this finish end result took greater than 10 years, because the household accomplished a sequence of initiatives over time. The cottage has grown into an expression of the household’s values. It’s sustainable, handcrafted and modest and no bigger or fancier than it must be.

Schjerbeck, a jewellery designer and co-owner of Gallery Lulo in Healdsburg, and Brennan, a pc engineer who not too long ago began a line of sizzling sauce, stay within the house with their two sons, Lukas, 13, and Kristian, 9, plus an eager-to-please younger pup, Charlie.

The couple met many years in the past in Rome by a circle of expat associates. Schjerbeck, whose father was a member of the Danish diplomatic corps, grew up primarily in Africa. Brennan grew up in rural Louisiana. From Europe, the couple moved to New Orleans, the place they renovated an older house collectively.

In 2007, after residing in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they have been open to creating a transfer. On a whim, Schjerbeck visited Healdsburg whereas within the Bay Space for a jewellery present.

“She got here again to New Orleans and stated she thought we should always transfer there. And I swear, there was a bottle of wine on the desk, and it stated Healdsburg on it. And I used to be simply, like, properly, that’s wonderful,” Brennan stated, laughing.

Healdsburg Couple Transforms 100-Yr-Outdated Cottage Right into a Fashionable Dwelling
House owner Katrina Schjerbeck units the eating desk with canine Charlie. The chandelier above the desk is a handblown glass design from SkLO Studio. (Eileen Roche)
Katrina Schjerbeck and Danny Brennan crammed their house with objects that categorical their values, from books and ceramics to artwork. (Eileen Roche)

The proper cottage

They rented on the town for 3 years earlier than discovering their cottage, which is inside strolling distance of the plaza and Schjerbeck’s gallery.

“It simply regarded prefer it was actual — these tall, lovely home windows and classic wooden in all places,” Brennan stated. “It jogged my memory of a 115-year-old home in New Orleans.”

Schjerbeck and Brennan stated the circa-1915 cottage was a traditional case of fine bones and chance, however circumstances inside have been tough. The flooring have been slanted. There was no warmth. The inspiration was just about nonexistent (“it was simply sitting on mud,” Brennan stated), and behind the home, a tacked-on utility room gave the general format an off-kilter really feel.

They introduced out the hammers and saws on Day One, decided to economize and do a lot of the work themselves, as they’d in New Orleans. They employed contractors to do the heavy lifting with the inspiration, however they tackled trim, tile and different end work.

They eliminated layers of outdated paint to disclose lovely unique Douglas fir subfloors. “After the conflict, I feel there was only a surplus of military inexperienced paint,” Brennan mused. “You’re considering, that’s gotta be somebody throwing it down within the ’50s simply because it was free.”

These first 5 years have been a little bit of a whirlwind, with two younger youngsters, Brennan’s full-time job, Schjerbeck’s gallery and main renovation initiatives taking on their free time.

“I bear in mind we have been consistently scraping down popcorn ceilings, and we didn’t have a dishwasher for years,” Schjerbeck stated. “The home was up on stilts whereas we did the inspiration. You look again and are like, wow, how did you do this?”

“It was much less disturbing if you had a glass of wine at night time,” Brennan joked.

High quality of window mild

They’re lastly at a stopping level, Schjerbeck and Brennan stated, after not too long ago finishing a long-awaited new kitchen and including a brand new household room and wall of home windows searching to the again backyard.

For Schjerbeck, the standard of sunshine from the home windows, each classic unique ones and the modern window wall in again, make the house. She and Brennan described the look as pared-down and comfy, true to Schjerbeck’s Danish roots.

“We all the time have music on and little candles within the winter. The children love these issues. And I like freshness. I like cleanness,” Schjerbeck stated. She and Brennan have crammed the house with ceramics, artwork and books, particularly handmade objects with detailed craftsmanship. They’re not overly treasured objects, however issues the household makes use of daily.

Katrina Schjerbeck and Danny Brennan did a lot of the work themselves on their 1915 Healdsburg cottage. (Eileen Roche)
Katrina Schjerbeck and Danny Brennan need their sons to recollect and recognize all that went into the renovation of their household house in Healdsburg. (Eileen Roche)

The most well-liked place within the house is the kitchen island, used for cooking collectively, artwork initiatives and homework. Schjerbeck likes to bake with the children, and each Friday is selfmade pizza night time.

“We’re huge into farmers markets, and I’d say 75% of our life on the weekends revolves round meals — procuring, prepping, consuming,” Brennan stated.

Brennan and Schjerbeck stated they hope they’ve cemented a love of older houses of their two sons.

“I feel it’s going to really feel regular to them,” Brennan stated. “Like, that is what a constructing that was constructed within the 1600s or the 1900s appears like — solidity of the wooden, the standard of the sunshine.”

Katrina Schjerbeck and Danny Brennan crammed their two-bedroom Healdsburg cottage with artwork and handmade objects with detailed craftsmanship. (Eileen Roche)
Katrina Schjerbeck and Danny Brennan take pleasure in a easy aesthetic of their Healdsburg house that features plenty of vegetation. (Eileen Roche)

Lukas and Kirstian bear in mind the levels of the renovation, and the household usually talks concerning the work they’ve lived by and the initiatives they nonetheless wish to full. The couple need the boys to know their lives are enriched by the effort and time they’ve invested within the house, and the transformation advanced over time, slowly and sustainably.

“It’s like all the things in our lives. We’ve needed to do it little by little,” Schjerbeck stated. “You develop that method — and you already know the inspiration’s actually robust.”

Gallery Lulo, which Katrina Schjerbeck co-owns with Karen Gilbert of glass artwork firm SkLO Studio, focuses on trendy craft and design. The companions carry the work of 40 jewellery makers and wonderful artists, together with many from the Healdsburg space. 303 Middle St., Healdsburg. 707-433-7533, gallerylulo.com

Final 12 months, Danny Brennan launched Healdsburg Ferments, providing fermented cayenne pepper sizzling sauce. healdsburgferments.com

Round City

Owners Katrina Schjerbeck and Danny Brennan say their weekends fall right into a relaxed cadence of meals procuring and farmers markets. Just a few of their Healdsburg favorites:


Schjerbeck’s go-to’s are the fried inexperienced tomatoes and eggs Benedict. And the entire household loves that you would be able to sit exterior and convey your canine. 60 Mill St., Healdsburg. 707-431-8474, theparishcafe.com


They are saying they’ll simply spend an hour or two searching the books and artwork and listening to jazz on the stereo at this family-owned spot on the plaza, not removed from Schjerbeck’s gallery. 306 Middle St., Healdsburg. 707-433-1118, levinbooks.com


Treats for Charlie at this downtown pet store with humorous toys and exquisite leashes and bandanas. 43 North St., Healdsburg. 707-433-9935, fideaux.web


After a morning on the town, it’s a brief, scenic drive out to Preston, the place the household likes to convey picnics and sit out underneath the olive bushes, and the mother and father can take pleasure in a glass of wine. “We love the informality of the place,” says Schjerbeck. 9282 W. Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg. 707-433-3372, prestonfarmandwinery.com

Subscribe to Our Newsletters!