Name: Sophia & Rich
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Years Lived In: only 5 months!
Size: The entire house is 1858 sq. ft. This includes the 1 bedroom apartment we rent out in the back. We live in the front which is made up of the big open space with the kitchen and living room, 2 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms.
Today we're stepping into the home of Sophia and Rich in Santa Cruz. They bought their new beach house only five months ago and have already beautified the place to the nines. Sophia, who writes her own design and décor blog, the smartestfish, has really put her own touch on the couple's media room, along with her office. When figuring out what to do with their TV for example, Sophia wanted to avoid the obvious — placing the flat screen on the fireplace mantle. Instead she got some inexpensive Ikea shelving, cut it down to the right height, and painted it white. Now, while the TV isn't on the mantle, it does line up with it, creating a nice balanced line in the living room. After the jump we take a deeper look into the beautiful renovations this couple has done to their cute Santa Cruz beach house, which is a work in constant progress...
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Our Style: Danish modern beach house fusion
Inspiration: I am very inspired by jeu de paumes books. I also like to look at pictures of real people's houses on design blogs and flickr.
Favorite Element: Our back neighbors, Roye & Lane. They rented the studio behind the house we used to rent. When we moved, we brought them with us and now they live behind us in our new house. We love them!
What Friends Say: That our house is very unique and feels full of light.
Proudest DIY: Probably the Ikea shelf we cut down to size and painted white for our TV in the living room. It really took forever, but it is exactly what we needed there and was free.
Biggest Embarrassment: Our yard. We've been focusing on renovations, and haven't done any landscaping. It's all mulch and there are no plants. Our house looks terrible from the street! Landscaping is going to be our next big project.
Biggest Indulgence: Our biggest expense was removing the load-bearing wall between our kitchen and living room. I was nervous to do it, but Rich convinced me that it was worth the extra cost. It was worth it definitely...it completely changed the house! The house feels huge and full of light now. The huge open space in the front with the kitchen, dining area, living area, and my office is absolutely wonderful for hanging out.
One of our other splurges was a frameless thick glass shower door...expensive but it really makes a small bathroom feel big and luxurious. We also splurged on the bamboo and marble counter tops in the kitchen. Even though our cabinetry is Ikea, it all feels high end because of the really nice counter tops and good quality lighting.
Philosophy on Integrating Technology Into Your Living Space: Technology should be useful and blend in. I really didn't want to have a huge TV on top of our mantle dominating the entire room! I also try to keep my computer setup subtle by keeping all the computers on the floor and hiding as many of the wires as possible.
I like to invest in furniture I want to keep forever, but I never invest in furniture meant to hold TV's or computers because electronics go obsolete or get upgraded. We always go for the cheapest solution that works like making custom shelves from bricks and boards or cutting down Ikea shelves to size. My computer desk is also an Ikea table that I've already cut down twice to fit the space where I lived.
My favorite addition of technology to our house is installing electrical outlets in our island. I love being able to plug in my laptop to look at recipes when I'm cooking.
Rich's philosophy is pretty different than mine...he thinks the more monitors you have, the better!
Best Advice: Find a good contractor! Get at least 3 bids from different contractors. Check all their references, check their license, check any online reviews about them, and make sure you can communicate well with them. If you can find someone with a lot of experience in construction to give you names, that's even better. You really can't be too careful. Our first contractor was really horrible, and things were a painful mess. We got another contractor who was easy to communicate with and just amazing overall. Life was much much better after that.
Favorite Sources: We try to buy as much as possible on Craigslist. It's so much cheaper, the quality of the furniture is often much higher than what we can afford new, and it's nice to have something unique. Almost all of our mid-century and danish modern furniture came from Craigslist. We bought the vertical shelves, cubitec shelving, and min bed from Design Within Reach because all three are really easy to take apart and move. We got our Blu Dot dresser and nightstands from Design Public, and our counter stools are from Room & Board. Our rugs are from Anthropologie. We got some smaller pieces of danish furniture on eBay, and I also found some amazing vintage danish lighting on eBay like that brown pendant light over our dining table.
Most of the artwork is my own but some I got on etsy. The photographs are all old climbing photos of Rich taken by his friend Andrew Querner, who is an amazing photographer!
Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge in arranging our house was finding a place for the TV without putting it on the mantle. We really want to put a big piece of artwork over the mantle and have the art be the focus of the room and not the TV. We still wanted to be able to see the TV from everywhere in the front area though. I rearranged the furniture in our living room many times before I found something that felt right. I looked on so many websites looking for the perfect piece of furniture for our TV and never found it! Nothing fit in that corner without sticking out too much. We ended up taking some Ikea shelves that we already had and cutting them down to the right height. I painted the shelves white so they would blend in better, and then we put the TV on that and the DVD player and amp on the floor beneath it. I'm very happy with how it turned out. You can still see the TV from the kitchen, my office, and all the seating in the living area, and the TV doesn't stand out too much. The price was right too!
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