Tara & Thierry’s Charming Cottage

published Feb 26, 2016
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(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

Name: Tara and Thierry Broucqsault, their son Henri, dogs Lola and Junebug, Maverick the cat, and Bobby the Gecko
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 11 years; Owned

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Set high above the street, Tara and Thierry’s charming cottage is a place where family, pets and guests can truly feel at home. Tara is a design enthusiast who doesn’t hesitate to re-arrange whenever necessary to integrate a gem of a find that cannot, in good conscience, be passed up. And while she’s a sucker for a great piece, she and her husband have made a home that is meant to be lived in—and enjoyed.

(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

In recent years, the couple have made a point of furnishing their home with things that appeal to the eye as much as to the low-maintenance, kid- and pet-friendly lifestyle they value. Clean lines, modern pieces and natural elements mixed with charming antiques, vintage fixtures, colorful artwork, and family photos complete the comfy cottage.

Tara has succeeded in pulling her stylish home together without a lot of splurges. She has a keen eye for finding pieces with great lines and high design potential that won’t break the bank, as well as an affinity for decor that is rich in charm and character. The result balances both high and low, with antique and vintage picks softening the modern and new.

(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

In addition to having an innate sense of style, Tara is also a Craigslist aficionado, which means even the high in the mix—most notably the Room & Board Upholstered Chelsea Sofa with Chaise—doesn’t represent a splurge, but rather a steal. “Best Craigslist deal EVER,” Tara proclaims, one she considers well worth the trek to LA and back it took to get it here. The only hitch came when they arrived home and moved the sofa into place. While it technically fit, “it looked really cramped in the living room,” Tara says. Searching for a solution, she and Thierry decided to buck convention and flip the typical dining and living room spaces in their great room. The sofa moved closer to the kitchen where the large dining table had been, and the dining table took up residence in front of the fireplace where you would expect to find a sofa.

The new arrangement worked, not only in balancing the look of the furniture layout, but also in yielding the unexpected benefit of creating more family togetherness. Since here, like in most houses, the two places that get the most traffic are the kitchen and the couch, situating the sofa close to the kitchen enabled more conversation and interaction for the whole family—couch dwellers and kitchen hustlers alike—during meal prep and clean-up. “Having the couch closer to the kitchen just means we all hang out together more,” Tara explains.

(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

In addition to being parents, Tara and Thierry are busy professionals. Tara is the director of communications for Laguna Blanca, one of Santa Barbara’s oldest K-12 independent schools, and Thierry is a manager/buyer for the UCSB Bookstore at the University of California Santa Barbara. Despite work demands, they both value the experience of “home” and have dedicated themselves to undertaking numerous house projects in the 11+ years they have lived there—everything from replacing rotten floor joists and re-configuring walls to add a second bedroom, to landscaping their small but sweet yard.

In Santa Barbara, an even-keeled Mediterranean climate means the yard is often on par with the house in terms of importance. In the back garden, the couple jack-hammered up an old concrete patio, installing crushed pea gravel as a soft permeable alternative. Next, they added a shade sail for day and festoon lights for night, creating a lovely outdoor space where on many a fair evening you’ll find the wine flowing and the butterfly chairs filled.

(Image credit: Sarita Relis)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Simple and clean, yet cozy. I’m drawn to the clean lines of modern design, but some shabby chic from my early years of nesting always seems to sneak in. I’m sentimental, so the character found in vintage pieces often tugs at my heart strings.

Inspiration: Unique finds, organic and natural beauty. Our home is nature-inspired with soothing colors of blue, green, white, brown and sand. I’m drawn to interesting textures, patterned textiles and fragrant candles! I find our home to be an unfussy and comfortable place with an eclectic blend of styles.

Favorite Element: The view of Santa Barbara’s Riviera from our front porch. It’s what sealed the deal and inspired us to buy our home.

Biggest Challenge: Lack of storage and dog hair!

What Friends Say: Your house has amazing light and is always so organized.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our overstuffed garage! CONFESSION: That’s how I keep our home so organized.

Proudest DIY: Our backyard garden. Half our yard included a giant concrete patio and Thierry jack-hammered the entire thing so we could create a more charming outdoor living space. We stained large pieces of the concrete black and recycled it as slate-looking pavers in our landscaping. Later, we replaced the concrete pavers with pea gravel. I love the crunchy sound it makes when I walk on it.

Biggest Indulgence: Our bed! After all, the Lady of the House needs her beauty sleep.

Best Advice: If you make a bad design choice or purchase, don’t be afraid to change it. Try and try again until you love it.

Dream Sources: Pinterest, Dwell, HGTV, DWR, Porch, Botanik



  • Living room: Valspar Secluded Beach
  • Dining room: Valspar Secluded Beach
  • Kitchen: Restoration Hardware Silver Sage
  • Master bedroom: ???—still looking for the darn can! I heard it was the perfect white from Architectural Digest… but it has way too much blue.
  • Henri’s bedroom: Restoration Hardware Silver Sage
(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)


  • Sofa: Chelsea Sofa with Chaise from Room & Board via Craigslist (Most Exciting Craigslist Find!)
  • Floor lamp: CB2
  • White sideboard: antique store in Ojai, California
  • Coffee table: military-issued footlocker via yard sale
  • Standing mirror: 100+-year-old reclaimed teak wood from Bali, Indonesia
  • Vintage block prints: estate sale in Los Angeles
  • Line art over fireplace: made by Henri in kindergarten
  • Wolf painting on hearthside shelves: also by Henri—he loves wolves.
(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)


  • Extendable table: IKEA Norden
  • Red Eames-esque chairs: Craigslist
  • White antique mirror: estate sale in Santa Barbara
  • Bookcase: IKEA
(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)


  • Island: Crate & Barrel
  • Floating shelves: IKEA Lack
  • Tulip table: IKEA
  • Ladder-back chairs: estate sale in Newton, MA
(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)


  • Pillow covers: locally based Raoul Textiles
  • Drapes: locally based Raoul Textiles
  • Bedside tables: Cominichi’s vintage store in Santa Barbara
  • Lucite table lamp: Porch in Carpinteria
  • Armoire: local antique store
  • Dresser: local antique stores
  • Vintage block print of boy with balloon: estate sale in Los Angeles
(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)


  • Armoire: Mexican Import Store
  • White bookshelf under window: IKEA
  • Platform bed: IKEA
  • Gecko painting: Amber O’Neill
  • Self-portrait: Henri
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Inspired by the painted steps in front of Botanik, one of Tara’s favorite garden shops, the couple painted their concrete steps a rich chocolate brown. (Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

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Thanks, Tara & Thierry!