Tricia and Stefan's Seaside Haven

Tricia and Stefan's Seaside Haven

Gregory Han
Dec 11, 2009

Name: Tricia and Stefan
Location: San Rafael, California
Size: 1,225 square feet
Years lived in: 8 years

Every home can tell a story, but Tricia and Stefan decided to go the opposite direction when it came to decorating their home: create a backstory, and then use that for inspiration. This home incorporates nautical and beauty elements with nods to the very Bay it overlooks. Read on to see how this family created their own haven...

AT Survey:

My/Our style: Elemental. This place is a haven, very easy, comfortable, never finished!

Inspiration: I wanted it to look as though an old sea captain had finally come ashore, and pulled his home together out of what was to hand.

Favorite Element: The water. We eat and live (sometimes sleep) on the deck overlooking the Bay.

Biggest Challenge: It's like the set for a French farce: eight doorways off the central room so we keep it relatively empty – just a long dining table, the woodstove and a big driftwood-framed mirror. Built-in bookcases and sideboard along the street wall segue into the kitchen. Our sitting area is the enclosed porch overlooking the water.

What Friends Say: "Wow!" "Love the ceiling!" and "It feels like being on holiday."

Biggest Embarrassment: Condo carpet in the bedrooms – to be replaced when our twenty-year old Maine Coon Suscipe is no longer with us… and we have prodigious fluff, from my textiles and the cat. One remaining popcorn ceiling.

Proudest DIY: Raising and planking the ceilings, one bathroom, the kitchen – I even planked the fridge.

Biggest Indulgence: Yet to come! I get what I want one way or another. I am not extravagant, just dogged. A stepped garden down to the Bay in our spare lot would be nice, and I would love NanaWall instead of our aluminium sliding glass doors.

Best advice: Don't do it all at once, let it evolve. Other people say stop changing it! Misguided fools.

Dream source: The place with the big blue Adirondack chairs on the way to Sonoma, and Heritage Salvage in Petaluma


Appliances: Zanussi cooker from John Lewis in Oxford Street, London; Jotul woodstove. Brilliant Grohe Freehander shower over a deep Canadian bath with a comfortable sloping back (most US baths are horse troughs). The AeroPress coffee maker which has transformed our mornings.   LG Blu-ray video machine which also plays Netflix from the Web. Sharp HD video projector from Costco.

Hardware: Marine Corps door knocker from e-Bay (to deter burglars), other bits and pieces are original to the house.

Furniture: Ikea sofas with custom rough linen slip covers, a vaguely modern oak dining table, chairs from Hille International, proper British Rail laundry hampers used as side tables. My dressing table is an old school desk, with inkwell. I made my bathroom cupboard carcasses from mahogany with oak inlays over the screws, and scavenged walnut from Ikea Molger benches for the doors.

Accessories: Found items: driftwood benches, old rope and fishing nets, flotsam and jetsam, crab nets, and many nautical flag cushions from Coastal Cushions. Big mirrors framed in driftwood, reflecting the sea. My mother-in-law's silver coffee service and platters, my grandmother's blue and white china. I could kick myself for giving away a blue and white embroidered tablecloth and need to create another.

Lighting: Ikea Marin ceiling fixtures, converted crab nets three feet across hung from chains and lined with an ombré plissé fabric, skylights, an oyster chandelier in the making. I steam-punked the cheap fan-with-bullet-lights in my bedroom by fitting galvanized wire cages (made for gutters) over each nasty shiny bullet.

Paint: Farrow & Ball, they have the best colours. I often get a darker tint and play by adding varying amounts of white.

Flooring: Stripped and polished original Douglas fir, battered but proud. The sitting area (the old porch) has 2' concrete tiles softened with milk paint, and the gap between is filled neatly with rope, like oakum on old ships.

Rugs and Carpets: None. None that we want, anyway, except a rug I bought in Istanbul, in the entrance hall.

Tiles and Stone: White subway tiles in the bathrooms – so American! Glorious Fireslate counter in the kitchen: I fantasise about creating 'fossils' on it with acid.

Window Treatments: White linen: I love the way it blows in the breeze.

Beds: Rough Linen bedding of course, and I made upholstered headboards but replaced one with driftwood, much less respectable.

Artwork: Haphazard: some by friends, some found pieces, like a corroded sheet of metal I framed. I have enough skulls, shells, coral, feathers and rocks to stock a natural history museum.

Other: We have a retractable screen mounted over the doors to the deck with a high-mounted projector facing, and lie on the sofas to watch movies. My office (30"x60") is the old entry, and holds my computer and art supplies, and wall-mounted speakers so I can deafen myself with iTunes. Stefan's studio used to be the third bedroom: I work on the dining table.

(Thanks, Tricia and Stefan!)

Photos by Tricia Rose

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