The Little House with Big Views

Inspired by Big Sur's mountains, native oaks, and crashing waves, a California couple takes a humble cottage with a storied past back to its roots.

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Big Sur Cottage:
Photographer David Tsay

A Fresh Look

By the time the wood structure came on the market in 2006, nature had taken a heavy toll: Years of beating rains and heavy fogs had rotted window frames and decks; the once-glorious garden was mostly gone. "This cabin was worth saving not just because of its history, but also because of its relationship with its mighty surroundings," says Mary Ann Schicketanz (pictured), the architect and interior designer who oversaw the renovation.

The new owners were drawn to the cottage's cozy warmth and wanted to celebrate its woodsy ocean and mountain views, but they preferred a more modern approach. So they enlisted Mary Ann to restore the cottage in a manner that reflected their tastes but also honored the place and its past. Out went view-blocking blinds and dark wall colors. Much of the Monterey pine flooring stayed bare, and Mary Ann swapped a bamboo kitchen ceiling for pine to match others throughout the house.

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Lacy curtains, fresh florals, and plenty of monogrammed pillows are just a few of the feminine touches that give this room its calming and sweet mood. Pieces scored at thrift stores and flea markets were refreshed with paint, then artfully applied to achieve the shabby-chic distressed look.