Revisiting Beth’s Teeny Tiny Peek-a-boo View

published Jun 10, 2010
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(Image credit: Jess Watson)

Name: Beth of Small Cool 2010 fame
Location: Sausalito, California
Size: 365 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years

There is no doubt that everyone remembers Beth’s Teeny Tiny Peek-a-boo from this year’s Small Cool Contest. As winner of the Teeny Tiny division, we were all impressed by how much Beth was able to do in such a small footprint. Still, five images were not enough and left us all wanting to see more. Luckily, Beth happily obliged and invited Apartment Therapy over for a full house tour.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Beth’s cottage is hidden away down a private path from a private road in the hills of Sausalito. While it’s just 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, it feels worlds apart. Surrounded by a garden, trees and amazing views, one quickly realizes that this little cottage is most definitely a gem and Beth is one lucky lady. She has taken advantage of this find and infused it with her own special charm. Filled with color, pattern and light, Beth’s cottage is comfortable and inviting without trying too hard (and feels nothing at all like only 365 square feet!).

Beth has realized that ‘change is the only constant’ and her home is a constantly evolving project. With such a small space, it’s almost necessary in order to maintain excitement over the home. Still, as Beth says, “Being teeny-tiny is never about living small. It’s about ‘making it work’. I have a lot Tim Gunn moments.” And boy, does she make it work. From her clever use of a TV storage cabinet as a bar (with the genius addition of the mirror) to her red “pouf” ottoman that plays the role of both coffee table and additional seating, Beth has learned that the most functional pieces in a small home are those with multiple functions.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: I gravitate towards bright, bold colors and prints, grounded by whites and neutrals preferring to mix design periods, and definitely modern. The notion of slow design, collecting and curating items and artwork, over time resonates with me. A piece picked up while traveling, a family heirloom, a flea market find mixed with a crisp graphic on a pillow all thrill me. What has served me most: my curiosity to figure out design puzzles – evaluating relationships of scale as they relate to the flow of a space; how to repurpose a piece to serve another use; the balance of shape, color and found objects while expressing my quirkiest sense…humor.

A big believer in well-designed pieces and not skimping on luxury either, I shop high-end to the auxiliary thrift store, and lots between! My background in interiors and a buyer has helped here. A few favorites are my bright yellow Danish pots and pans (gifted to me), the red ‘primary pouf’-ottoman, and my antique white twill “knuckle chair”,all strong – it’s their diversity that sets me free.

Inspiration: I’ve been interested in design since I was about 7 yrs old. It started with my extra large white dominoes, which I used to create walls and rooms for houses. My mom’s Architectural Digests bookmarked dream swimming pools and cool bedrooms. I’ve observed little kids and us big kids alike respond to innovative spaces which provide whimsy, order, imagination and a sense of safety. It’s as true of a tree house in the woods as the biggest house on the lane. But I’m most inspired by the design revolution taking place right now both inside homes and outside in gardens everywhere! I’m sparked by the truth that “change is the only constant”, so remember having fun tinkering with the challenges versus perfection is the goal.

Favorite Element: The cottage is circa 1930’s with this flip flops on the front porch ease about it. My favorite element is definitely the light. I love that the living room floods with a brilliant glow. From the sofa there’s a peek-a-boo view of sailboats, blue water and the green garden and trees that wrap the property. On warm afternoons with the front door wide open, my outdoor chandelier flutters and tinks in the breeze. I am lucky to have such a relaxing retreat just ten minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Biggest Challenge: “What’s bigger than an iPad and smaller than a fire truck?” My home! This tiny 365 square feet of space clearly marks my biggest challenge. Yet, I found this limitation provides a great opportunity for innovative solutions. This is never truer than in my 5′ x 7′ kitchen. I love to entertain and have even had parties for as many as thirty people in the cottage. I grew up in a big family, so having folks over and kids around is natural. I love to cook and bake, but painstaking planning is required when I get serious in the kitchen. There’s no room for clutter or teetering piles of dirty dishes; my counters are reserved exclusively for food prep. I have my mother to thank for that. She always told us to “clean as you go.” Thanks mom!

What Friends Say: When I first moved in, a childhood friend that was in town dropped by for a visit. About halfway through the evening she turned to me and said, “Do you ever leave your house?” “Of course,” I said. “Why?” She looked at me and said, “Because if I lived here I’d never leave!” Later I was told she lived in a 7,000 sq ft house.

Other friends have said things like, “It’s a very hip little cottage that I’d love to move into!” and “I love the use of color that expands the space and the red accent notes.”

Biggest Embarrassment: My closet, which has its moments of feeling like a hugely adolescent mess-fest; a by-product of limited space and a busy work/lifestyle. Getting lazy about putting clothes or shoes back in their place has colossal repercussions. My ugly teenager is a fearful creature. You don’t want to meet her!

Proudest DIY: 1. The elephant striped walls in the bathroom. Chunky horizontal stripes alternating cool greyish-khaki and white. That one simple element raised the ceiling, stretched the walls, expanded the space and me! 2. I love entertaining and chose not to compromise this passion because the cottage is teeny tiny. I re-purposed a TV media center for use as a bar. It’s a nod to civilized slow pace and storage combined. Installing a mirror in back provided an elegant expansive view of the room. The piece provides additional storage for glassware, liquor, candles, as well as a flat surface to from which to serve. Inside the drawers I hide media cords, papers and entertaining items best kept out of view.

Biggest Indulgence: Sturdy well-designed furniture plus a dose of time & patience. In design projects I always want to be diligent and make sure I’m having fun. For example, as a very inexperienced painter, I was daunted by taking on a painting project in my bedroom, but knew an infusion of color would wake up the space. By taking the time to do the project myself, I saved money, derived a greater sense of pride in the finished room, and—the biggest surprise—discovered that I actually enjoy painting! My training in interiors & as a buyer has really paid off in combing the market for resources and pricing.

Best advice:
1. Create an archive of images (photos from print and online magazines, catalogs tear-sheets and photos taken or collected) and store in one specific location (such as a binder) to be used as a design-reference “tool kit”.
2. Buy pieces that can move along with you as your style evolves.
3. Invest in one good/valuable piece a year. Set aside money for that wonderful purchase. Ask yourself: Are the lines of the piece strong enough to stand on their own in a setting? If this were the only piece in the room would I love it?
4. Edit, edit, edit.

Dream source: Flexform sectional sofa: the proportion and scale is complete. The Rug Company: I’m born again British! And those Italians at 10 corso como !

Dream Purchase: A barn! Imagine the open space for making art, gathering friends, familly and children, gardening, and cooking.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Living Room
Walls – (pale greyish green-blue) I hand-mixed the original color, took it to the paint store had it scanned then I painted. – Annoying as hell, but it matches a Pratt & Lambert color-‘blue glow’ 25-28 old 1271.
Art wall color Benjamin Moore -‘Soot’ 2129-20 mixed at 75%.

Sofa – Michael Thomas sleeper-sofa all down, it’s super comfy. A bit older (see dream resource)
Slipcover – It’s versatile. There’s completely different fabric hidden underneath Over the years I have washed that slipcover a million times using rit-dye “white-wash” It’s the best brightener!
Vertical White Bookcase – Sapien from DWR
Orange chair – Eames “eiffel” chair
Bookcase with sliding glass door – Granemo from IKEA
Red square ottoman – by Arne Quinze at DWR
White “knuckle chair” – antique store, reupholstered
Mr. Levine Chrome Table Legs – DWR sample sale
Round glass tap – Williams Sonoma home collection

‘Bourgie’ lamp – by Kartell designed by Ferruccio Lavian
White shiny wavy lamp w/ white shade – West Elm
Shiny silver lamp – Lunares Home
Ikat Pillow – Krimsa Fine Rugs
Knotty driftwood log – Stinson Beach

‘SF 6:00am’ – Steve Larson
‘Pink House by the Bay’ – Bedford Malpass
‘Pool Side to the Pond,’ ‘Equanimity China Camp,’ and ‘Leaving Nicasio’ – Deborah Bertola

Benjamin Moore low VOC Surf Blue 2056-30

Antique distressed cupboard – east coast flea market

Archimon Lamp- Flos designed by Philippe Starck
Bedding – Hotel White Double Border by Frette
Pillow Shams – Area Home
Mannequin – apparel company sample sale

‘Restaurant Tables’ – Flicka McGurrin
‘Love Sex 1972’ – Thomas Sewell
‘Equanimity China Camp’ – Deborah Bertola

Stripes color – Benjamin Moore ‘Ashwood’ OC-47 and ‘Simply White’ 2143-70

Shower curtain – San Francisco boutique
Coral bath towels – Ralph Lauren home collection
Square wood cage for towels – West Elm

‘Finger Painting in Coral’ – Annabel Jackson “Pollock” (at 5 years old)
Poster – Jim Dine

Wire shelves – Elfa storage system from the Container Store
Boxes – Kiri wood from Roost Company
Yellow enamel cookware – Dansk, Le Creuset and Copco all collected and gifted to me

‘Slice of Watermelon’ – Celeste G (at 6 years old)

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

(Thanks, Beth!)

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