Name: Beth, Jeff, Ruby, and Fiona
Location: Bixby Knolls, Long Beach, California
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years; Owned
Set back off of a quiet street in Bixby Knolls is Beth and Jeff’s lovingly crafted one-story 1920s home, shared with daughters Ruby, 4, and Fiona, 9 months. But it wasn’t always so quaint. When they purchased the home six years ago, it was dilapidated and in desperate need of TLC. With Beth’s artistic vision and Jeff’s DIY skills, they redid everything inside and outside the home themselves, as a team.
Beth has been selling vintage clothing and accessories in her online shop, Salvage Life, for the past six years. The goal of Salvage Life is to provide customers with one of a kind, creative offerings to make their lives beautiful and unique. She has plans to open a brick and mortar shop just a few blocks from her home in July. The selection at her shop will expand beyond vintage and will include modern items, children’s clothing, and a home and gift section.
As an online vintage shop owner, Beth finds that her work life often intersects with her home life. Fiona often joins her at the flea market and on buying appointments. Ruby has inherited her mother's eye — she chose her own adorable vintage outfit to be photographed in. Since she spends a lot of time hunting for vintage treasures for her shop, Beth often finds items for their home as well. She finds it difficult, however, to buy things on the fly. Often she will get home and realize her new find doesn’t fit the way she envisioned.Then there is a lot of moving things around and reselling what isn’t working.
Beth considers their home to be unfinished, as it’s constantly evolving to their changing tastes. She concedes that having children adds a whole other element to decorating, as one must consider fragile items and also make sure the space allows room to move and be creative. Beth reasons that she would much rather have a home that gets a lot of use and is inviting for creativity rather than a space that is uber-clean and perfect.
He's currently a High School Administrator, but Jeff’s prior construction experience, coupled with his strong work ethic and some help from his father, has given him the confidence to tackle home projects, even tasks he has never before encountered. Projects have included pulling up the carpet, refinishing the original hardwood floors, restoring the double hung windows, hanging drywall throughout the house, adding crown molding and recessed lighting, gutting the bathroom, remodeling the kitchen, re-siding the house, and landscaping the yard. Jeff steadily worked on the house on his days off and for the first six months, the couple moved their mattress from room to room as their projects dictated.
What’s old is truly new again when it comes to this couple's home. Vintage items mix seamlessly with current pieces throughout. This casual blending of styles is a true testament to Beth’s creative talents. Breathing life back into an older home can surely be a daunting task, but when tackled with a partner, nothing is impossible.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Vintage + Bohemian + Whimsical. Since I sell vintage in my shop, I’m always coming across pieces of furniture and decor items on my shopping trips. Our home is constantly evolving as I bring home new things from the flea market. I think I drive my husband a little nuts, but I moved a lot growing up, so I like the space to feel new and different. We have a mix of vintage, modern, recycled, and handmade items in our home. Jeff has traveled to many countries and I would love to travel more in the future, so you’ll definitely see splashes of ethnic decor and nods to travel such as our large antique map in the dining room and several globes throughout the house. Now that we have kids, we have to be more practical, but kids allow you to be more quirky too, as they don’t subscribe to social norms.
Inspiration: I’m inspired by store interiors such as Anthropologie, flea market booths, and salvage yards. I have a large collection of Domino magazines and vintage interior design books that are always a great resource. I also love to look at the work of Found Vintage Rentals, blogs such as ohhellofriend for vintage, and designlovefest for a modern style that incorporates vintage and great color inspiration.
Favorite Element: I honestly love almost everything about the house. It can feel small at times, but more space would just be more to manage. I think that the thing that brings me the most joy is the yard. Living in a big city and working a lot of hours can wear you down. Being out in the yard allows us to escape and relax. I’ve always wanted a cutting garden and an area to entertain, and now I have both. We’ve hosted numerous parties under our pergola and invite our friends and family to host their events here too. During the warmer months, we eat dinner outside every night and play in the yard. It’s the highlight of our day.
Biggest Challenge: Since our home was built in the 1920’s when people had less possessions, we have to get creative when it comes to storage. We are always looking for ways to add storage space. When Jeff remodeled the kitchen, he was able to add some extra cabinets, which was really helpful. My closet is essentially a painted antique wardrobe in our bedroom. You will find lots of bins and baskets, wall hooks, and shelves throughout the house.
What Friends Say: When they first walk in the door, visitors are always surprised by the wallpaper. They love it, but most wouldn’t put it in their own home. We also get asked a lot of questions about all the work we have done. It’s fun to share stories about how we moved our mattress around from room to room, gutted the bathroom and took the backyard from dirt pile to oasis. We even have a book that contains before, during, and after photos of each project.
Biggest Embarrassment: We’ve done so many large projects, but there are a few little things that still haven’t gotten done. We still don’t have transition pieces on the floor from the hallway to the bathroom and the kitchen to the laundry room. If you look closely, you’ll find little places where we patched a hole and never touched up the paint, or trim pieces that never got a second coat.
Proudest DIY: This is so tough, everything seemed like an impossible task to me when we started. Jeff always assured me that he could do it, but I didn’t fully trust him until he gutted the bathroom and then put it all back together properly. Now if he tells me he can build something, I just say, “go for it”. I think the kitchen renovation that Jeff managed to complete over the two week Christmas break is pretty amazing. We retained the old cabinets, and he built new cabinet doors and drawers and had granite countertops installed over the existing ones. We moved the window and extended the cabinets for more storage space. Jeff added a built in shelf for the microwave to save counter space and added a cabinet over the fridge and stove. I love the open shelving we had in the original kitchen, but the placement was odd, so he rebuilt it in a better configuration. The kitchen was the last of our large projects and I was surprised how much more joy I could have in the kitchen with it looking more beautiful.
Biggest Indulgence: I’m not sure we “indulged” in anything. We were practical without being stingy. I definitely think that the yard was something we ended up spending a lot more on than I expected, but it was completely worth it. Since our house is on the smaller side and we live in such a great climate, we’ve always wanted to create an outdoor space that we could play, eat and entertain in. When we moved in, the backyard was essentially dirt with a few overgrown trees. We hired a landscape designer to help us with the layout and plant selection, then to save money, we did the rest of the work ourselves. Jeff built the fence and pergola for the outdoor dining area. We planted all the plants and laid the flagstone and sod.
Best Advice: If you buy a fixer upper, don’t skimp when making renovations. This is your best chance to make the house just the way you want it, and it would be better to spend a little more up front and avoid having to redo things in another few years. Spend less on decorative items that you can switch out and more on things like tile and lighting.
Dream Sources: I’d love to visit European flea markets, go picking with the guys from American Pickers or Jeni of Found Rentals, and have Emily Henderson and Keith Johnson decorate for me.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLOR
- Kitchen: Behr - creme brulee
- Ceilings: Glidden - base white
- Trim: Glidden - antique white
- Bathroom - Behr - sterling
- Floors: original, we removed the carpet and refinished them
- Wallpaper: American Blinds, Wallpaper
- Curtains and rods: Bed, Bath &
- Leather sofa: Macy’s
- Vintage settee: Sweet Treasures
- Large printed throw pillows: World
Market, the rest are vintage
- Kilim tapestry: Long Beach Antique
- House plant and pot: Home Depot
- Bird coat rack: Home Goods
- Vintage coffee table: Long Beach
- Gold side table: Target
- Mirror: estate sale, we painted it
- Vintage trunk: Urban Cottage
- White cabinet: thrift store find
that we painted
- Cuckoo clock: Orange Street Salvage
in Long Beach
- Various art in frames: estate sales and thrift stores
- Vintage drink cart: thrift find that we painted
- Yellow wall art: estate sale
- Vintage dining table and chairs: Warehouse 1333 in Long Beach
- Vintage Buffet: Sweet Treasures
- Vintage wall map: estate sale
- Bookshelf: Crate and Barrel
- Vintage filing cabinet: estate sale
- Framed home poster: estate sale
- Red chandelier: I made Jeff dig out of a trash can at one of his construction sites. He thought I was crazy, but we painted it and now it adds a lot of charm to the room.
- Cabinet doors: made by Jeff
- Handles: Home Depot
- Countertops and sink: Granite Transformations
- Toy kitchen: Ikea
- Vintage chalkboard
- Vintage fruit prints on clipboards
- Wall basket and test tube vase: Salvage Life
- Towel hook: Urban Cottage Long Beach
- Wooden step stool: Pete Deeble Furniture
- Chandelier: garage sale
- Sheer curtains: Target
- Bed: Craigslist find that we painted
- Vintage bedspread
- Bedskirt and wallhanging: made by Beth
- Nightstands: Home Goods
- Lamps: Target
- Dresser, mirror, and wardrobe: thrift finds
- Black trunk: found in the alley
- Wine rack (used as a clutch holder): Anthropologie
- Jewelry rack: made from a vintage sifter purchased at Vintage Emporium in Long Beach
- Tall wooden jewelry box: Pier 1
- Blinds: Budget Blinds
- Floor tile: special order,
- Shower tile, vanity, and light fixture:
- Shower curtain: West Elm
- Eve print: Courtney Oquist
- Embroidery hoop art: handmade by my little sister
- Remaining art: vintage finds
- Shelf: Target
- Mirror: Home Goods
- Towels: Target
- Crib: Jenny Lind
- Ruby’s Bed: vintage, purchased at the Rose
Bowl Flea Market
- Ruby’s bedspread and blankets: vintage
- Vintage yellow toy crib: garage sale
- Vintage toy buggy and high
chair: thrift finds
- Dresser, bookshelf, and desk turned
changing table: mine from my childhood
- Girl with hedgehog print: The Black
- Deer wall hangings, crewel flower
art, and floral hooks: Long Beach Flea Market
- Birdcage wall decal: Etsy
- Curtains and pillows: made by me
- Blinds: Budget Blinds
- Plants: H&H Nursery
- Flagstone: Thompson’s Building
- Dining table: made by Jeff
- Vintage miscellaneous chairs: flea
market finds and Urban Cottage
- Wood bench: Long Beach Antique
- Red metal chair: Martha Stewart line
- Yellow table: Home Goods
- Pillows: Target
- Rug: Rose Bowl Flea Market
- Toy basket: Target
Thanks, Beth and Jeff!
(Images: Bridget Pizzo)
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