When I got the call to redesign a second home on the beach near Santa Cruz, California, for a client living in the San Francisco Bay area, I would never have imagined it would be the beginning of a lifelong friendship. But from the moment I met Suzanne and her mom, Mary Dell, there was an instant connection. They trusted me to refurbish a vacation home that had been in their family since 1949. And so our journey began.
We started by taking a walk down memory lane viewing the gallery of photos on the stairway wall, telling the stories of decades of summers at the beach with family and friends. Picnics, beach bonfires, barbecues, dog walks, and of course, beachcombing for sea glass.
We peeked in the powder bath to see the “port hole” window and then upstairs to see the “ship’s wheel” dining table. All nautical elements that were part of the original design when Suzanne’s grandparents built the home. Our objective was to brighten and lighten the newly remodeled home with fun furnishings, paint colors, wallcoverings, and accessories that reflected a coastal flavor, while integrating family heirlooms and antiques that spoke to more New England and Cape Cod traditions.
The existing five-foot diameter “wooden ship’s wheel” provided a unique dining table top for many dinners and glasses of wine over the years but needed some new comfortable dining chairs. Rich in color and texture, but light weight and easy-to-move, the brown woven wicker seating we found is the perfect solution for large or smaller groups.
The challenge in the great room was creating furniture layouts that focused both on the ocean view to the south and the fireplace to the north in a relatively small space. By creating back-to-back groupings, our mission was accomplished. I always believe form follows function. So once I knew the room would function both during the warm summer days by the deck or the cool foggy days and nights by the fire, I was ready to start the furniture selection process.
And here is where we began to have our fun with color and whimsy. Custom marine blue sofas and swivel chairs anchor the great room and create the perfect back drop for colorful seashell throw pillows and blankets. I designed custom demi-lune end tables, which were fabricated by a local furniture maker and painted in all the bright fun colors featured in the throw pillows. The clear glass cylindrical table lamps are an ode to “beach glass,” filled with sand and glass treasures from years of beachcombing. White washed rattan directors style chairs in blue-and-white canvas cloth flank the fireplace. Nautical elements were repeated in table top accessories such as the glass floats, wooden seashells, and a wooden lighthouse on the tables throughout the room.
At the end of the day, I felt we had accomplished our goals. The result: a bright, cheery, comfortable beach house filled with old and new treasures. The biggest compliment as a designer is to have a client invite you back for cocktails and dinner to admire your work, and you can share in their joy. Suffice it to say, we’ve had many yummy meals and many margaritas together in the new abode. And the best part of the journey was meeting lifelong friends.