For those of you who follow me, you know I moved to California from a traditional home in New England… a 1917 stone and stucco Connecticut cottage to be exact. I grew up in older homes with lots of character and even lived in a historic brownstone building in NYC when I was first married. “Modern” just wasn’t part of my vocabulary. When we decided to buy a house in Santa Barbara, I was at first drawn to the older Spanish homes that oozed charm. I searched for nine months and knew every new listing as soon as it hit the market. One day while I was scrolling through endless pictures of homes on the internet, a new listing caught my eye. It was described as an “airy, informal, and romantic home… a stunning mid-century modern shaped to embrace the outdoors”. Hmm. Well it looked promising. It was bright and open in the photographs.
I called my realtor and was scheduled to see it the next day at the broker’s open. Not a patient person by nature, I plugged the address into my navigation system and went to check it out. What a disappointment! I couldn’t even see the house from the road… only the garage was visible. It had zero curb appeal in my opinion. I was used to quaint cottages and New England weathered shingled exteriors. This was a stucco wall and a flat roof tucked into what appeared to be a small lot. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen some photos of the interior, I would have never given it a second look.
The next day with incredibly low expectations, I attended the broker’s open. My first impression was how bright it was. It was completely open to the outside with curtains billowing and no screens on the numerous French doors. I was smitten and put in an offer that afternoon. My husband was still in Connecticut, but trusted me when I told him that this was the one. It wasn’t until later when our offer was accepted that I realized I had no idea how to furnish and decorate this style of house. It was completely foreign to me…this strange place of glass and metal doors and windows!
There were lots of obstacles to overcome before we were actually able to acquire the house. I won’t bore you with the gory details. Long story short, we weren’t able to move into the house until almost five months later. At the time, it was terribly frustrating. But I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and it gave me time to really think about this little house and how we would live in it. My sweet hubby’s only request was that it had to be comfortable, oh, and it had to have a hot tub…fair enough.
I scoured books, shops, and catalogs trying to figure out how I wanted to decorate our new California home. I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want it to look cold and sterile, and I certainly didn’t want it to look like a midcentury set from a Mad Men episode.
It was a little shop called p o r c h that ignited my decorating scheme for what I dubbed my “California look”… natural, organic, and yes, modern. After all, the p o r c h tag line is “where shelter and nature converge”. Perfect! I knew I wanted clean lines and nothing too cottagey and so I began gathering furniture and things for our new home. Our rental condo became a glorified storage unit!
Here’s what I have learned. Just because you have a modern home, It doesn’t mean you have to furnish it with all modern stuff. True, a Victorian settee probably wouldn’t have worked, but a few rustic and vintage pieces definitely brought some soul into our Little Glass House.
I wanted to draw attention to the stunning California vistas so I painted most everything white and used very little pattern so that the outdoors became the star. I used art to bring in color and personality. I really love ocean themed art and have been steadily collecting it over the years. With limited wall space, a gallery wall seemed the perfect way to showcase it. It continues to grow…
I had always wanted a big farm table to gather family and friends. With our open space concept, there was plenty of room for one. I bought ours from Restoration Hardware . It fit the bill because even though it was rustic, it had clean lines and extension leaves so that we could seat up to 10-12 people!
For my hubby, I bought a plump clean lined sofa and chairs from Pottery Barn. I do think we will eventually replace the sofa with a sectional for even more seating and lounging.
But my favorite furniture purchase were the two cool chairs we bought at p o r c h for in front of our fireplace. They are modern and organic at the same time. I’m a little obsessed with them if truth be told.
Fresh flowers and plants (see story flowers and plants, and trees, oh my!) further warmed up our home. They are readily available year round and add so much life to our abode.
Recently I scored some vintage tins for the kitchen from Mate Gallery that look like they came straight out of the fifties. I love the green color and that they can actually be used. They bring such energy to our kitchen! Sometimes it’s the smallest details that can make the biggest impact.
I’m never finished decorating. Tastes and needs change and things need to be replaced and updated… like the master bathroom. But that’s another story. So while I’m still a cottage girl at heart, I’ve made this modern home work for us and after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?