The Shoebox Inn

House Tour

Name: Carol and Jeff Sayre
Location: Seaview, Washington
Size: 500 Square Ft
Years lived in: 12 years — own

The Sayre family bought their vacation home in Seaview, Washington twelve years ago. This one bedroom cottage is blocks from the waterfront in a sleepy coastal town just 3 hours south of Seattle. Now spending most of their time up north in the city, the Sayres have opened their home to guests and family friends who need a quiet getaway. Welcome to the Shoebox Inn.

When my friend Mike emailed me about his family vacation home, I realized what an opportunity it would be to show how compact living can be comfortable and functional, even when sleeping up to 6 people. Carol expressed her desire to stay thrifty, cozy and welcoming in the design of The Shoebox Inn. She feels that when designing a home it is most important to have "things around that you love but that also function efficiently. Make sure there are comfortable places to read with adequate lighting. That's what makes me feel most at home in a dwelling."

This cozy small town was like the set of movie; everyone seems to know each other in town, everything is locally grown and supported… and there is no need for glitzy state-of-the-art anything. Most specifically, Carol says the 1957 Zenith Range holds high significance in the home. "I'm sure it was the height of modern luxury and convenience when it was first made. It reigns like the "homecoming queen" in the kitchen, setting just the right mood."

With a home in Seattle and their two sons in Los Angeles, there were many influences and ideas that came together throughout the years in this vacation home. "Both of our sons live in Los Angeles. One works in the film industry and the other in design. I think there is a little bit of a Hollywood set "feel" about "The Shoebox Inn." Because of the great movie tradition of Los Angeles, there probably are few homes that aren't influenced in some way by the culture of Los Angeles, either directly or indirectly."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Vintage Thrift Store Chic.

Inspiration: My Grandma Betty, a woman who had both an aesthetic eye and a good sense of practicality.

Favorite Element: The nod to the 50's feel of the kitchen.

Biggest Challenge: Sleeping the whole family in such a small space. There was only one bedroom, so we had to think like we were on a ship. We managed to get two sets of bunks and a full size bed in the room by taking out the only closet and filling in the doorway from the bedroom to the kitchen. We replaced the lost closet space with storage baskets under the bunks. The new wall also gave us a place to put a dining room table in the kitchen.

What Friends Say: We all like to get away and one of my favorite things about owning the house is letting our friends stay. It feels good when they express appreciation for the look of the house, but we love hearing about the fun things they did in the area even more. This corner of the Northwest Washington Coast has really managed to stay unspoiled — no outlet malls, casinos or massive resorts blot the landscape. Thus the Long Beach Peninsula has the feeling of yesteryear about it. I think our friends appreciate that as much as anything.

Biggest Embarrassment: Booking two friends to stay at "The Shoebox Inn" for the same weekend.

Proudest DIY: Making built-ins so that a 500 square foot house could work for a family of six. I also like the black and white diamond painted porch. My friend Cynthia helped paint it. It was a bit time consuming, but it greatly helped the street appeal of the cottage.

Biggest Indulgence: We have a few prints, but try to buy original art as much as possible. We've made a game of collecting art for the beach house by putting ourselves on a thrift store budget. The cottage is cute and cozy, but because nothing is overly valuable, we don't worry about what might happen to the stuff when others stay. With the exception of one picture, we spent no more than $35 on any one piece of artwork in the cottage. Sometimes I'll get a painting at a second hand store and frame it with some great frame from a garage sale to improve the look. A good frame can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Best Advice: When decorating a vacation house, put your guests above your possessions. Be willing to share your home. It only increases your joy of ownership.

Dream Sources: My primary home, which has a different feel than the beach house, has an old world European feel — perhaps even monastic in places. I love the inspiration of many French and English magazines, especially old ones from the 90's, but I try to incorporate the looks in a uniquely American way.

Resources of Note:

* Carol noted that everything in the home was either brought over from their home in Seattle or purchased at thrift and vintage shops. She never spent more than $35 on any of the artwork in the home.

Thanks, Carol and Jeff!

(Images: Bethany Nauert)

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