A Christmas Flea by the Sea
A creative empty nester turns a 450-square-foot cottage into a resplendent holiday retreat that’s full of flea-market finds.
To see more of Kelly Mcmaster’s style, visit cottagefleabythesea.com or @cottagefleabythesea on Instagram.
IN THE MASTERFUL HANDS OF KELLY MCMASTER, A LAGUNA BEACH COTTAGE BECOMES A FLEA-MARKET LOVER’S CHRISTMAS FANTASY.
“This was my first time decorating my new place,” Kelly says. “It’s actually a rental that’s been split into upper and lower units. I occupy the ground level.” For Kelly, who is transitioning from a sales career to creative pursuits with her Instagram (@cottagefleabythesea) and website, the 450-square-foot space was the perfect, snug home for the holidays. Over the course of three weeks, she transformed it into an eclectic wonderland brimming with flea-market finds. She started by “shopping” her own collections. “I went through my many boxes and bins filled with Christmas décor,” she says. “Some of it I’ve had forever; some of it
I’d purchased during post-holiday sales and squirreled away. It was fun to rediscover my pieces.” With the assistance of Sunday Hendrickson, stylist from Divine Creative at Large, she decked the halls to reflect her cottage-meets-fleamarket style.
When you step into Kelly’s home, she hopes you feel “loved, comfy, relaxed, warm, welcomed, happy and, perhaps, intrigued.” This may seem like a tall order, but Kelly’s larger-than-life style does just that and, during December, you can also add “whimsical and festive” to the list.
“MY HOLIDAY STYLE IS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS MY STYLE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. I’M RED, YELLOW, ALWAYS DRAWN TO ROBIN’S-EGG BLUE AND A BIT OF SPARKLE OR SHINE.”
As you enter the home through a sliding glass door, you are met by holiday décor in unexpectedly bright and happy colors. Kelly loves mixing patterns, building layers and combining the old with the new; she collaborated with Sunday to add holiday touches to her home with hallmarks of the season, like a mini tree and sled.
The setup of Kelly’s home is unique because you can see from the front room, through the bedroom and all the way back to the kitchen. “I don’t have a separate living room or bedroom,” she says. “My bed and the mirror above it become the focal point of my home by default.” She dressed her bed for the holidays with a platoon of pillows. “I’ve collected pillows for about twenty years,” Kelly says. “Whenever I see a cute or unique one at a flea market, craft sale or even at TJ Maxx or Target, I bring it home.” The holiday pillows—she found the Santa pillow cover for $1.50 and the white furry one for $7—have a vintage feel, while a glitter Christmas tree displayed on a small sled adds a dash of sparkle. Sunday stacked a variety of old crates at the foot of the
“AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ME IS BEING SURROUNDED BY ITEMS THAT REMIND ME OF MY CHILDHOOD OR THOSE OF MY SONS.”
THE HOME is accessed by a sliding glass door. The wide opening allows Kelly’s décor to spill outside. “Only so much of my collections fit indoors, and the rest stay outdoors,” Kelly says. “I had to accept that when I moved to Laguna Beach, I might eventually lose them to the elements.” But in order to stave off deterioration from the weather, she painted everything with patio paint and a clear top coat.