This Home’s “Relaxed Californian” Style Is Perfect for Small Spaces and Budgets

This Home’s “Relaxed Californian” Style Is Perfect for Small Spaces and Budgets

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Home Type
Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Beth Sayler and husband Richard Sayler
Location: Orange, California
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

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When we moved from San Francisco to Orange County, it was hard for my husband and I to leave behind the charming Victorian architecture that’s so abundant in the Bay Area. Finding our rental in Orange was like discovering hidden treasure. The owner had painstakingly updated her home in its original Craftsman style and even kept its wood floors from 1910. Despite its small size, we were enamored with its sunny windows and large kitchen, but what really sealed the deal for me was its clawfoot tub!

When it came to decorating our new home, our challenge was transitioning from the colorful, mid-century style that we had decorated our last place with. We knew that too much mid-century wouldn’t feel right in this classic Craftsman home, and we were also ready for a more toned down, and soothing palette. To achieve this, we kept everything in a tight color scheme of white, tan, and blue. Anything we owned that didn’t fit with this theme, we sold on Next Door and Craigslist, which gave us a little spending money for new items.

My one concern with this neutral color scheme is that it can often end up feeling cold and sterile. To avoid this I sought out items with cozy textures and casual flair, such as leather, linen, sheepskin, and jute. We also challenged ourselves to find as many secondhand items as possible so that we could surround ourselves with pieces that have special meaning and are one of a kind. This forced us to mix a lot of different design styles, but the tight color palette really brought it all together and resulted in a home that feels like us.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Relaxed Californian. Growing up in San Diego, it’s a style that feels most like home to me.

Inspiration: I really admire Amber Lewis, of Amber Interior’s work, as well as Ken Fulk. While their styles are different, they both have such a flair for layering beautiful textures and textiles.

Favorite Element: Our giant ivy pathos plant that’s creeping its way around our wall. We bought the plant when it was just a little thing, about five years ago. When we moved, it was the only house plant that I couldn’t part with. By the time we placed it in our current home, its vines had grown so long that we had to start hanging it up on the walls so we wouldn’t tread on it. When my mom saw the plant, she told me that my great grandma had done the same thing with her house plants. It makes me so happy to know I have found a special connection with her, even though we never got to meet.

Biggest Challenge: We had the hardest time finding the perfect dining table. It was an important piece because you can see the dining room from almost every room in the house. After weeks of searching, my parents asked if we wanted their old dining table that had been gathering dust in their garage. Miraculously, it ended up being the perfect fit for the space!

Proudest DIY: Oh my, where to begin? So we actually went a little overboard with the DIYs, including the plaid bedspread that I sewed out of linen upholstery fabric because I was THAT stubborn about finding a teal, plaid bedspread (don’t ask). But by far the hardest DIY we took on was refinishing the four cane-back chairs that were handed down to us by Richard’s parents. They have this really beautiful shape that I knew would be perfect in our home, but they were quite beaten up and their cherrywood stain was pretty dated. So we came up with the grand idea to re-stain them in a satin black and natural jute color, which meant we had to sand EVERY INCH of the old stain off. This ended up being a much greater endeavor than we imagined but in the end, I couldn’t be happier with the result and they are one of our favorite pieces in our home.

Biggest Indulgence: The Serena & Lily coffee table. I had been eyeing this table for a couple years but always felt it was more than I needed to spend. Finally, I gave in and splurged. It was one of the last things we bought when decorating our home and it felt like the last puzzle piece that fell into place.

Best Advice: When looking for accessories, and even some bigger items, start by hunting at your local thrift store before checking out the more mainstream stores. I have found so many treasures there that cost very little compared to what I would be spending elsewhere, plus it’s good for the environment! The three items I especially recommend you go thrifting for are jute baskets, candle holders, and books because you are always guaranteed to find a nice variety there.



  • Walls: Benjaman Moore — Moonshine



  • Hand Oil Rabbit Painting — Etsy
  • Opalhouse Side Table — Target
  • Leaf Tray – Anthropologie (sold out – this one is similar)
  • Fireplace Accessories – Thrift Shops
  • Bookshelves – Thrift Shops & Personal Collection


  • Dining Table — ​Vintage
  • Chairs – Target
  • Turkish Cream and Black Pillows – Etsy
  • Rug – Overstock
  • Vase – CB2 (sold out – this one is similar)
  • Table Runner – Boutique in Sayulita, Mexico
  • Seventy Tree Art Print – Urban Outfitters
  • Cabinet Accessories – Thrift Shops
  • Opalhouse Wood Mirrors – Target (sold out – this one is similar)




Thanks Beth! See more of Beth’s work on her Instagram and her website.

This submission’s responses have been edited for the length and clarity.