A Shore Thing

Cal­i­for­nia dream­ers turn a charm­ing beach cot­tage into a com­fort­able home burst­ing with pa­tri­otic col­ors, fam­ily heir­looms, oil paint­ings and trea­sures from the sea.

Country Sampler - - Contents -

Pa­tri­otic col­ors, heir­looms and vi­brant art­work bring charm to a West Coast beach cot­tage as the own­ers con­vert it for com­fort­able year-round liv­ing.

Carol and Steve Cook can’t re­sist the song of the sea. Grow­ing up in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, they frol­icked in the Pa­cific. Vol­un­teer­ing for the Peace Corps, they ex­plored Ja­maica. When they be­came par­ents, they re­turned to the West Coast to raise their fam­ily and pur­sue pas­sions in ed­u­ca­tion and art. As grand­par­ents, they’ve en­joyed trav­el­ing to Hawaii with their fam­ily in tow. And now, as re­tirees, they’ve down­sized to a beach cot­tage in Ven­tura, Cal­i­for­nia. For the Cooks, life by the sea is sim­ply in­tu­itive.

Since tak­ing up res­i­dency in their cot­tage, Carol writes and dab­bles in pho­tog­ra­phy and Steve fine-tunes his artistry. Carol’s in­spir­ing blog, ar­tand­sand.blogspot.com, chron­i­cles her love for their coastal com­mu­nity. Steve is a tal­ented painter who cap­tures breath­tak­ing scenery at home and abroad. His paint­ings are highly sought by col­lec­tors, and Fire­stone Vine­yard in nearby Santa Bar­bara County has show­cased his work on their wine la­bels.

To trans­form the two-bed­room cot­tage into a com­fort­able fam­ily home, the Cooks tack­led some ren­o­va­tions. The cot­tage’s front door orig­i­nally faced a side­walk lead­ing to the beach; how­ever, the city re­con­fig­ured the pub­lic ac­cess decades ago. As a re­sult, the home’s ad­dress changed, and the back door be­came the dwelling’s new main en­try. This new con­fig­u­ra­tion was awk­ward, so the Cooks im­proved the cir­cu­la­tion by re­plac­ing the back door with a hand­some Dutch door and re­mov­ing a wall and a wa­ter heater to cre­ate a foyer that leads to the din­ing room. Other im­prove­ments in­cluded re­plac­ing win­dows, re­mod­el­ing the kitchen, in­stalling pull-down stairs that ac­cess the at­tic, in­cor­po­rat­ing cus­tom shelv­ing, and build­ing an artist’s stu­dio.

The unique blend of coun­try fur­nish­ings and coastal ac­cents makes the Cooks’ home stand out. Many of the an­tiques are heir­looms that trav­eled with rel­a­tives from the Mid­west to Cal­i­for­nia. Th­ese fam­ily trea­sures and the mem­o­ries teth­ered to them add heart and soul to the cot­tage. Carol says, “I was for­tu­nate to in­herit many fam­ily pieces. That means that my home decor isn’t al­ways in style, but it works for us. I dec­o­rate with pieces I love, that have a story and fit with our ca­sual beach life­style.”

Carol prefers to work with trea­sures she al­ready owns rather than seek out ad­di­tional pieces to add to her col­lec­tion. She finds fresh in­spi­ra­tion from mag­a­zines, In­sta­gram and other blog­gers. “My fa­vorite place to shop th­ese days is my at­tic. I’m at a point in my life that I don’t want to bring in new items,” she ex­plains.

Carol’s ap­proach to dec­o­rat­ing is sim­ple and cel­e­brates in­di­vid­u­al­ity. She says, “Your home should have mean­ing. Dec­o­rate for you.” For ex­am­ple, each room of her cot­tage fea­tures white walls and neu­tral car­pets that serve as a back­drop for vi­gnettes fash­ioned from painted fur­ni­ture ac­cented with ce­ram­ics or tex­tiles, white slip­cov­ered seat­ing graced with handcrafted pil­lows and quilts, and vin­tage props set here and there. The walls are adorned with Steve’s vivid art­work, which pro­vides a vis­ual ac­count of their trav­els. As Carol says, “Steve paints mem­o­ries.”

To round out the art and coun­try fur­nish­ings, the Cooks also in­clude items gath­ered while beach­comb­ing. Their many finds in­clude drift­wood, buoys, oars and small fur­nish­ings that washed ashore. All bear the hall­marks of be­ing tum­bled in the sea. Th­ese whim­si­cal trea­sures, fam­ily heir­looms and paint­ings com­bine to cre­ate a deeply per­sonal space that re­flects the cou­ple’s sunny spirit. “What you see in your home should make you smile,” Carol ob­serves.

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