Less is More

Lara Bobo of  Bobo Workshop gives us a tour of her Fredericksburg cottage

by Hannah J. Phillips
Photographs by Kate Zimmerman Turpin
Bobo Workshop Tour

At a cottage on College Street in sleepy Fredericksburg, Lara and Tim Bobo of Bobo Workshop have created a cozy modern haven that proves less is more. Where most saw a dilapidated old house, the Bobos saw the structure’s potential as a peaceful modern bungalow. Gutting the house from the inside out, they transformed it into what they now call the Dark Horse project.

“Most people would have driven by and not even noticed it,” says Lara Bobo, “but we took it and renovated it – out of nowhere it became a winner.”

We featured Bobo Workshop in our Makers Issue this month, but we asked Lara to take us on a more in-depth tour of their creative rehab.


Approaching the house, steel planters direct guests up a tiled path to a wood-framed glass door. Tim Bobo made the steel planters, installed to hide concrete steps. Originally intended for a bathroom in the backhouse, the dark inner circle of the white patterned tile coordinates with the blue-gray tones of the home’s exterior paint.

“I knew I wanted that understated style of door on this project,” says Lara. “The warmth of the fir wood contrasts with the dark, cooler color of the exterior, and the glass lets in lots of light.” Rather than fitting an expensive custom blind, she bought a 24-inch burlap runner with finished edges from Carol Hicks Bolton antiques in Fredericksburg, affixing it to the door with a dowel rod and cup hooks.


As you enter the front door, you arrive in a large white, vaulted room with the lounge to your left and a calming green reading nook to your right. “So many old houses have super low ceilings, seven or eight feet tall,” Lara shares, “so vaulting it gave a feeling of more space, conducive to creativity and lots of good things.”

Bobo sourced artwork from Austin-based Nanny Inez to bring an avant-garde touch to the more traditional nook. “I knew I wanted that piece with a plant to bring back that modern feel. I really like the eclectic look, and I don’t want the house to look like all one style – I want it to look cohesive but with different influences.”


Lara laughs that she lost the most sleep over this cozy nook, nervous that it might feel too small or not make sense. Since the house was originally a two-bedroom, Bobo wanted to maximize the functionality of each space in the converted one-bedroom home. “I like to think of the small ways to fit storage into the walls, so you can have less furniture taking up space,” she says. Using an inset box with sheet rock, the Bobos installed floating shelves painted the same sage green as the walls and ceiling to create a saturated, moody feeling that would contrast with the large white lounge. A notched corner door frame adds an extra separating effect.



Standing at the front door, the lounge is to your left. Here, Bobo’s inspiration started with the couch and grew from there. “Everything you buy affects the other things,” says Lara, “so I have to commit to one piece, whether a rug or chair or couch.” In this case, Bobo wanted something that felt luxurious but not stiff, a cozy, comfortable look but with simple lines. “In this project, you’re sacrificing space, yes, but if you are really thoughtful about it, you can still have everything – just less of it.”


Choosing a full-size couch meant focusing on just one statement side chair, and Lara found the perfect white Wassily piece at a thrift store in town. Tim built the center coffee table out of red oak using round legs, and Lara sourced a dark wood hourglass-shaped piece from World Market as a more portable option. “I love pieces that are small and light that you can move around the room.”


In the kitchen, Bobo’s main priority was incorporating all the luxuries of a full kitchen in a small space. She utilized black hardware on dark green cabinetry, inserting a panel front on the dishwasher to avoid the look of too many appliances. A fridge is tucked behind a wall rather than facing into the room for a beautiful, simple view.


“My favorite thing is the little kitchen pantry cabinet built into the shiplap wall,” says Bobo. “Instead of building it out into the space, we built into the wall to maximize space.”

Bobo sourced the rattan light fixture from Trouva, an online shop that represents small boutiques in Europe. The fixture pairs well with the Danish modern chairs, where tightly-woven rope is slightly softer than a wicker alternative.


Bobo sourced the rattan light fixture from Trouva, an online shop that represents small boutiques in Europe. The fixture pairs well with the Danish modern chairs, where tightly-woven rope is slightly softer than a wicker alternative.

To create a timeless effect, Bobo used tongue and groove wood on the walls to add texture without using a lot of color. “I didn’t want it to feel too feminine or masculine, so I loved the high contrast of the white and black light fixture with the floral Nanny Inez piece for balance.” Ever maximizing space, the mirror is an inset medicine cabinet.

Since the bedroom gets less natural light than the rest of the house, Lara hesitated to paint it white, which can look less bright and airy without natural light. “I liked the idea of the bedroom being a little more moody and relaxing,” says Lara, “and grey still felt like a neutral, especially with the pink headboard.”

Lara designed the circle headboard using a soft vintage rug from Etsy; Tim cut the headboard shape and they worked with a local upholsterer to finish the custom piece. As in the lounge, the rest of the room flowed from there, with side tables and lamps building off the round geometric nature of the space. A long, dark lumbar pillow with contrasting cream detail is the finishing touch.


Lara designed the circle headboard using a soft vintage rug from Etsy; Tim cut the headboard shape and they worked with a local upholsterer to finish the custom piece. As in the lounge, the rest of the room flowed from there, with side tables and lamps building off the round geometric nature of the space. A long, dark lumbar pillow with contrasting cream detail is the finishing touch.


Read More From the Makers Issue | August 2019


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