" The cottage reminded me of a Tijuana Shanty at this point!"
The beginning seems like the most logical place to start. Of course, not the beginning of me, that would be an exhausting tale, but the beginning of how this beach house project came to be.
I'm definitely not a writer, as you will soon discover, but I do have an extensive background in building, drafting and design. My wife, Shana, and I are both from California, originally. I was born in Marin County and developed most of my skills in Northern Cal. We have two children, Blake and Lexi and when they were both in elementary school, we moved them to the island of Kauai. I had just recovered from an illness and wanted a big change. The move to Kauai, definitely provided that. My years there introduced me to the Polynesian and Bali styles of building and design, as well as provided me with an eclectic mix of clients, from pro surfers and skateboarders to CEOs of major corporations. When our little girl grew to be a women, she was married on Kauai but moved to her husband's home in North Carolina. Three years after her departure, some fifteen years after moving to the island, my wife and I couldn't take the distance any longer. We left Kauai and purchased a 1926 Tudor Revial in North Carolina close to our daughter.
1926 Tudor Revival in North Carolina
The Tudor was in sad shape but it did have good bones, so to speak, and retained most of it's original details. (Photos of the house can be viewed on my website) We spent two years restoring it and just about the time it was finished, our daughter announced that she was going to move back to Hawaii. That news lead us to sell the Tudor, which took all of four hours, and look west for our next home that would put us closer to our kids again. Let me admit here and now, that I never would have believed as a younger man that I would have let my children dictate so much of my life's direction, but the truth is, life is just so much better with them in it. So, off we went to find our next home.
My studio in North Carolina
The North Carolina home sold completely furnished so we weren't burdened with storage or moving trucks and we were free to travel around the country searching for our next home. We had never owned a travel trailer or RV before but it seemed an obvious choice. We purchased a 2017 fifteen foot travel trailer and completely gutted it. It's tough to be a designer and accept the interior decor of most travel trailers as "livable". So, out with the plastic countertops, sinks and faucets and in with real walnut and stainless steel. Out with the two inch foam mattress and in with memory foam and Belgian Linen. Out with the horrible LED lighting and in with strands of incandescent lights and candles. And, finally, bye bye to the smoker green/yellow walls and ceiling and hello to Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace!
Remodeled travel trailer all ready for the road
We headed west in search of our new home in the summer with no real idea where we would end up. The west coast has always appealed to us both and we were especially drawn to the Pacific Northwest. Since we had no time constraints and were perfectly comfortable in our newly remodeled trailer, we just took our time wandering around the U.S. staying in different locations and visiting as many towns and cities as we saw fit. We hit some National Parks along the way and made new friends. the U.S. is such a diverse and beautiful country. I recommend to anyone that has a desire to road trip across it, DO IT! I promise you won't regret it. I have made the trip four times and each time has been an incredible experience.
Trailer under the stars, Badlands National Park
The slow pace of our trip allowed us to take time for hikes and exploration that we otherwise would have missed out on. We didn't find any towns or locations that appealed to us for "living" until we reached the Oregon coast near Cannon Beach. We sure did take in some amazing scenery along the way, however.
Iceberg Lake, Glacier National Park
We looked at some properties around the Cannon Beach area and I spoke with the city planner about the available properties and local building requirements should we decide to build from scratch. Not a lot is available in that area and during our stay, it just seemed a bit too wet for us. While it is amazingly beautiful, we believed that down south a bit would give us a tad drier and warmer climate. We had been to the central coast before but never with the intention of looking for a home. We really like the old town of Florence and felt with the dunes, Heceta Beach, the beauty of Cape Perpetua and the easy access to Eugune via 126, it would be a good choice. There are very few small stick built homes available in Heceta Beach. People who own them seem to hold on to them or use them as vacation rentals. We were able to find one available within a couple blocks of the beach, however, and we toured it a.s.a.p. The house certainly wasn't a looker and at 536 square feet, it was no mansion, either. It was simple and sweet with loads of potential. After all of the work maintaining the Tudor back in North Carolina, we were looking for something small that could serve as a base to exploring the Pacific North West and not burden us with loads of maintenance and chores. I knew that we would be changing and updating the look of the house so a solid foundation and nice setting close to the beach with mature trees were highest on the list of priorities. This little cottage fit the bill. We closed escrow on it some few weeks after making the offer and moved the travel trailer in through the back ally immediately after closing. And so it began.
before photos of cottage
Let's take a moment to talk about things you find in an old house during a remodel. I inevitably start out tearing open walls, ceilings and floors hoping to find things like treasure maps, priceless antiques or maybe even gold bars. So far, that is far from what I actually have found on any given project, but it doesn't stop me from hoping. What I have actually found worth mentioning, is an early Clorox Bleach bottle and a near perfect condition pack of Camel cigarettes from the 1940's. That's it! And I've torn into my share of walls over the years. This project did reveal one hidden secret upon removal of the bathroom ceiling, however. Cartoon clouds had been painted on the bathroom ceiling somewhere back before the drywall was installed. Who doesn't like puffy clouds? Sadly, these will be going to make way for exposed rafters. Still fun to find, none the less.
Puffy Clouds revealed themselves under a layer of drywall
The direction we are going with the cottage is most definitely open concept with a Scandi vibe. Lots of fur is on the horizon given the colder climate here, mixed with natural jute rugs, linen fabrics and distressed leathers. The flat 8' ceiling will be removed exposing all of the 1940's rough sawn timbers. The timbers will be finished using a dry brush technique that will leave them looking frosted. We will go for an all white interior but the exterior will most definitely be a black. I've been wanting a black exterior for years now and this project lends itself beautifully. I have worked up a Photoshop rendering of the front facade to get an idea of what it will look like finished. The egg swing is a "must have" item. As are the ball topiaries. Gooseneck barn lights from Restoration Hardware for lighting and custom built shutters will flank the front door. Come back for updates and details as the project progresses.
Photoshop rendering of finished project
Once the ceiling tiles were removed, we discovered that the original 1940's rafters were all this great rough sawn finish. Decided to highlight the texture by using a dry-brush technique on them with white paint. There was some exposed OSB sheeting from when the roof was replaced last so I used a heavy coat of paint to hide it. The finish reminds me of those oatmeal cookies with frosting on top. I just love it! It has taken a crazy amount of time to finish all of the ceiling by hand but I think it was worth it. Just can't imagine living in a house this small having only eight foot flat ceilings. Now to get some lighting up to highlight all of that hard work!
Frosted dry-brush technique on old rafters
Working on getting the floating shelving built and installed over the kitchen tile. You would think that after all of my years as a tile contractor, tile would be an easy thing for me to select, but it proved to be a difficult task on this project. When dealing with this small house, every detail is quite visible, so the backsplash tile even needs to go well with the bedroom, since you can see it from there! Decided on the white diamond pattern from Merolla Tile. I wanted a modern look in black and white and grays, so this one fit the bill. It wasn't my first choice but the cubic pattern I initially chose, was just to much "pattern" for my wife. Oh, how I love compromises...
White Diamond Tile with Cedar Shelving
Lucked out with some nice weather so I started building the fence and gates around the property. Decided on a horizontal pattern for the fence using random width cedar boards. Made my own stain using a natural oil and pigment. Decided on Sherwin Williams, Iron Ore for the house body color and the gates. Going with Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace for the trim around the windows. Fell in love with black exteriors with white gridded windows while traveling around Iceland. I've been wanting to do a black house ever since!
Fence and Gate Style and Colors
Exterior Paint and Trim Color
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