The down-at-the-heels, circa-1950 cottage for sale in Napa Valley, Calif., was a tiny, 712 square foot shack, but the buyers purchased the place anyway. They saw beyond the grime and the grimness, and envisioned what the house could be with a little patience and a lot of TLC.

The original house may have been small, but its pie-shaped site had even tougher constraints—a street, creek setbacks, off-street parking requirements, the location of a well on the property, and more—that made the redesign challenging.

Led by architect Dan Hale, the design team retained and strengthened most of the foundation, doubled the size of the living space, and added a wrap-around porch to take advantage of the Northern California climate.

Hale oriented the new house to maximize the site’s southern exposure, its new lawn, and the redwood grove and creek. Its most dramatic feature is, perhaps, the porch that runs almost the entire length of the structure on two sides. Measuring 930 square feet, it serves as a ceremonious front entry for the home. Sliding doors allow the homeowners to extend the living space onto the porch, affording them cooling breezes on hot days.

Balancing the old with the new was important. Hale reused what he could from the existing house and specified wood floors that were salvaged from a tobacco shed. In addition, he and the homeowners focused on sustainability with items such as on-demand tankless water heaters, energy-efficient appliances, durable fiber-cement siding, and a metal roof.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Napa, CA.