Inside a Californian beach house
We are touring the beach home of Alex & Amit in Capitola, CA, a beach town near Santa Cruz, CA. They have both lived here for 3 years. Alex is from Brazil and wanted to live near a beach and nature for a long time and she is the brains behind this beautiful, calm, zen-like abode of theirs. In this home tour, Alex tells us about the key theme behind her décor and some interesting stories about pieces that are close to her heart.
Tell us a bit about your yourself and who do you share this beautiful space with?
Well it’s just Amit & me and the house is perfect for us because it is just the right size and we love to wake up and look outside at nature and the light. We love having people around and this house is great because we have our bedroom and a study upstairs and a guest bedroom room downstairs. So when our friends and family stay with us, they have more private space for themselves.
You looked for a house for quite some time and explored different neighborhoods in the bay area before settling here. What drew you to this house?
I was born in Brazil, close to the beach and I wanted to live close to the beach & nature again. The outside of this house was the main attraction. We have a beautiful backyard facing a river and these lovely tall trees – almost like a painting. And it is close to the beach and yet far enough to not be bothered by weekend tourists. We also needed to consider the fact that it was at a reasonable driving distance from San Jose - where Amit works, so the house ticked a lot of boxes.
What was your vision when decorating this space?
The star attraction of this house is the outside and we wanted to decorate the place to bring the outside indoors as much as possible. To do that we wanted less and low furniture. All the furniture needed to be short, so that when you enter a room, your eye travels first to the outside than to the furniture. A low seating, short dining chairs instead of taller and as few pieces as possible.
This is also a beach house and we wanted to evoke the feeling of the beach, so another inspiration was coastal décor which we incorporated via the colour scheme – mostly, blues, whites, greys & beiges.
You both are a well-traveled couple. Did your travels inspire your décor?
We have pieces from our travels, that we put around us and when we look at them we think about that adventure and memories from that place.
Any specific pieces from your travels that speak to you?
I recently bought this mask from Morocco, it’s a Punu mask from Gabon, Circa 1950. It’s a very serene & peaceful mask. It is quite atypical of African masks in that it inspires peace. It's almost Asian or Buddhist and brings a sense of tranquility. I find it very beautiful.
How did you go about looking for the right pieces in keeping with the theme?
A lot of internet searching, sometimes you go into a store and they don’t have all their pieces displayed. Pinterest was really good to use for ideas and also to see how things come together. We also researched before going to the store so that we could talk with the store staff in a more informed way. I also ran through some magazines but found the internet to have more inspiration and also that I could already know where to find a piece I liked on the internet.
Were you drawn to some specific stores more than others?
Yes, a lot of furniture in our house is from Restoration Hardware (RH). We were looking for shorter furniture, which in many cases is not the standard. At RH I could get things custom made in the length and height I wanted. For e.g we wanted a longer table because we spend a lot of time there and wanted to have a space for more people around the table. This meant that we needed to go longer than the traditional US size and RH could do that.
Our couch was another piece where we needed something shorter and minimalistic to go with our theme.
Which pieces were the hardest to find?
The barstools – I am still not happy with them. I wanted something low, slightly hidden and white or black. I also wanted a wooden construction and I could not find one with a seat in white or black to go with my black granite countertop. I could not find them and had to settle for white & metal.
How did you go about choosing your textiles?
We kept the curtains from the previous owner. They are Belgium linen curtains and I liked the colour and the fabric. The rods are also very pretty, so we kept them.
We then looked for cushions to go with the curtains – some close to the colour of the curtains and some that were contrasting. For eg. the red on the couch provides a great contrast to the blue & white.
What is your crown jewel?
I love those cushions there( referring to the white and blue lumbar cushion on the beach chair, see image below). Again, I found them in Restoration Hardware. They were made from African design and I love Africa, so they are very special to me.
I also like my dining chairs a lot. I found that it is very difficult to find comfortable dining chairs and I believe mine are quite comfortable. They are the right height for what I wanted and I am quite happy with them. My husband Amit sometime works on the dining table instead of the office upstairs because he finds these chairs more comfortable than the Herman Miller chair.
We are now in your bedroom and it is a zen-like space. What was important to you when decorating your bedroom?
Comfort. I wanted a bed where I could sit on comfortably and read a book or watch TV. We designed the bedroom around the bed. As you can see the upholstered headboard is very comfortable for the back and yet not very soft. I wanted light colours to bring a calming feeling rather than agitation or energy. That is why the room is very minimalistic, not too many extraneous objects or paintings. I wanted the bedroom to be the place that would prompt us to relax and go to sleep instead of giving us too many ideas or energy.
Anything in the bedroom that is very special to you?
I love the lamps in this room. I wanted mirror-detailed lamps. I looked everywhere and they were all made of crystal and very expensive. I could not wrap my head around a lamp made of crystal. I thought if I break it, I would feel very bad. So I kept looking and then I found these in Ross dress for less for 10$ and I was very happy with my find and I think they look great.
A Restoration Hardware bed with Ross lamps and they go together. Very cool!
Sometimes when you really know what you want, you should spend the time looking for it. When you have to settle, only settle when you really are not able to find it. Keep your eyes and mind open. You can find something that is inexpensive and looks good. It took 6 months to find these lamps.
Which was the last room in the house that got done?
The office. The office chair was the last purchase. We needed to have the bedroom first – so that we could sleep. Then came the living room where we needed to eat and we could take more time with the office. All pieces in the office are from different stores because we could take the time to look for them.
Our couch is from Bo Concept. The table is from pottery barn, the chair is Herman Miller and the carpet is from West Elm. The couch is a pull-out bed with a spring mattress and it is easy to open. We needed a pull-out bed that would open perpendicular to the couch because this room is longer than it is wide and so we had to look for a couch that could fit into this space. We wanted spring mattress so that it would be comfortable and these combinations are difficult to find. So, we kept on looking till we found the right one.
Do you have any advice for people who are working on a home décor project of their own?
I think it is important to figure out what is important to you. So, for instance, I did not want a lot of furniture in my living room that also means that I do not have a lot of sitting space in my living room. If having a lot of sitting space is more important to you, then decorate around that. Think about how you want to use that room. Find one piece that you love and build the room around it.
My living room is built around the couch. I wanted a low, blue couch. Once I found that, then I started looking for pieces such as dining chairs in colours that would complement the couch.
Eventually, things need to work with each other. A bed that is short will need a certain kind of nightstand as compared to a bed that is tall. So, once you have figured out the key important elements, you can build your space around these.
Did you have to make compromises when designing your home?
I like modern design a lot. My design concept did not allow for modern design. I could not bring in very modern pieces because they did not go with our theme and with the architecture of the house. Our house is a modern take on local architecture. It is not a modern architecture, yet the open space, fixtures, glass, sliding roofs and wooden outside along with the clean lines make it modern. Elements like the very industrial sliding door of the study add a touch of modernity.
From a furniture standpoint, the only part of the house that has modern furniture is my office. So, that is a compromise I had to make.
How do you keep up with design trends?
I don’t. I don’t like trends. I am a contrarian. I like beautiful things – and I believe those things last in terms of beauty for a long time.
Your house is a very organized space, how do really think about organization in relation to your headspace and feed it into everyday living?
If I see something out of place, it disturbs me. I need to be relaxed, so I will put the object back where it belongs. I have 1 space where I throw things around and not be bothered by it. That space for me is my closet. I have stuff out of place there and I can live with it for 1 or 2 days because I don’t see it.
According to me, every object should have a place in the house. From a cabinet to a cup to a dress to a hanger. Having a place for every object allows you to put them in the right place. However, these places also have to be organized in a way that it is easy to put things back in their place. If the space is very cluttered, it would require reorganizing to put the object back and that one will not do.
Do you think pieces from TalesonSilk fit into your kind of décor?
I certainly do. As you can see, there are a few TalesonSilk cushions here and they are a great addition to my decor.
Well Alex, Thank you so much for allowing us into your home and telling our readers about your design inspiration. We are sure that all of them took some great tips & inspiration from your home.
Here are some more pictures from Alex & Amit's home