Our first thought upon entering the 1940’s Santa Monica cottage that became our home seven years ago was how dark it felt. Crooked blinds covered the original wooden windows and the walls were a gloomy gray. The one pop of color was the hallway, which had been painted hot pink. I suspect it was the light switch decorated with matching hot pink fake fur that sealed the deal for my husband. “I refuse to live here,” he said. Needless to say, it took some convincing to change his mind.
The house was small – just over 900 square feet – but it had enormous windows that I knew would let in the sunlight once I removed the blinds. It had the charm of a summer rental, and I wanted to keep that feeling when I set about to choose the interiors.
In the small living room, I picked a palette of whites, blues and light grays to make the room feel bright and airy. A washable slip covered sofa in white kept the space from feeling cramped. The soft yellow lamp shade from Anthropologie tied in nicely with the Persian rug and gave the room a warm glow. The coffee table is a kid’s play table imported from Guatemala.
The wall decor in the living room – consisting of canvas frames covered in vintage seed sacks – was purposefully kept simple to give the walls a clean look.
A pretty dress used for a photo shoot adorns a dress maker from the 1960’s. Hung around her shoulders is a Polaroid SX-70 camera in its original leather case.
The bookshelves in the dining room house the home’s collection of hardbacks and paperbacks in a wide array of categories, including two shelves of Agatha Christie detective novels.
(Clockwise from top left): 1) The living room’s washed silk curtains in a light gray. 2) Six framed prints from my 2009 photography exhibit at the Edgemar Center for the Arts adorn the wall above the bookshelves. 3) A pretty vase from Kathryn Ireland Textiles & Design. 4) A vintage chair from Eastern Europe sits in the corner of the main bedroom.
One of my few addictions: fabrics! From stacks of vintage seed sacks (above) to precious yards of Raoul Textiles, it’s my biggest weakness.
(Clockwise from top left): 1) A frame from the Santa Monica Antique Market serves as a headboard in the main bedroom. 2) The bedding is from Anthropologie. 3) The yellow chair. 4) A close-up of the vintage Persian bedroom rug.
I loved that my home was so simple. Living her always felt as if I was on a dreamy summer vacation. As I’m packing up my cottage in Santa Monica, I realize that no matter how off-kilter the windows are, how worn-out the wooden floors have become or how much I’ve longed to change the pink tile in the bathroom, this home served me well. As for living in a house that feels like you’re on vacation? It’s not so shabby after all.
Photographs by Ulrica Wihlborg © 2013.