How This Rundown Kit House Became a Beach Rental Dream (That Pays for Itself!)
"If you rebuild it, they will come."
That was the mantra that fueled Tiffany Caliva throughout her renovation of a down-and-out 1970s beach shack in Hollywood Beach, California. Despite its reputation around town as a drug den, the funny little gambrel-roof house had done a number on Caliva, a graphic designer from the Los Angeles suburbs who was smitten with the home’s low-key neighborhood and its historic character—admittedly hidden behind years of neglect. The catch? She could only afford the mortgage if she put the home on the vacation-rental market, but who would want to stay at a house that had suffered such abuse?
Caliva had a vision of reinventing the home she nicknamed The Beach Lodge as a shrine to vacation memories, filled with midcentury relics that would evoke nostalgia from her guests. Throughout the renovation, “I just kept channeling that famous line from the movie Field of Dreams,” says Caliva. Two years later and the house is now an Airbnb and Instagram darling, sought after by vacation renters and design brands like West Elm alike. In fact, it’s so popular—the home’s Instagram feed (@thebeachlodge) has more than 60,000 followers, and it’s booked solid for six months of the year—that the Caliva family stays there just a handful of weekends annually. Here’s how Caliva turned her dream into a bona fide beach livelihood.
The Hollywood Beach, California, home is a modified A-frame kit house built in the 1970s.
Making the Discovery
Were you in the market for a vacation home when you bought this house?
Tiffany Caliva: Not at all! We live in Ventura County, which is a suburb of Los Angeles, but my children go to school about 25 minutes away. So I thought, “Well maybe I’ll look for a new place, somewhere closer to school to cut back on our driving time.” This house didn’t work for our family to move into full-time, but I just had this connection, this unexplainable feeling that it belonged to me.
What condition was it in?
TC: It was literally a drug house. The house was painted inside and out this putrid green, and it was dark inside and smelled terrible. There was weed growing in the garage, and the neighbors told us they’d jog really fast by this house.
What, then, made you fall so hard for it?
TC: I’ve always loved old houses! This one was built in 1971 by a man who bought the lot for $10,000, and then purchased the kit home for another $18,000. But also, when we started bringing our kids with us to stay while we worked on it, we noticed an immediate change. Instead of playing on our phones, we were playing board games with each other or playing outside until dark. We just don’t do that in L.A.
Ready for Renters
What inspired the house’s name?
TC: My husband [George Talledo] came up with Beach Lodge. Our concept of what a “lodge” is—a place for intimate gatherings of friends and family—seemed like the perfect way to describe it. We wanted to create a place that envelops its guests, and we wanted it to feel familiar, like home.
Hollywood Beach isn’t that well known. Did you worry about your ability to book renters and generate the income you needed to pay the mortgage?
TC: I just had this mindset that if we revived the house, people would come and love it as much as we did! Within three months of posting a photo of the master bedroom on Instagram, we were booked as the location for two advertising campaigns, featured in an online story by West Elm, and named one of the 100 hottest new venues in The Venue Report. Not bad for an old beach house in a little-known beach community.
The marble-and-wood coffee table was a flea-market find. Caliva re-covered the seat on the lounge chair with an African indigo mudcloth.
How has that popularity changed your day-to-day life?
TC: I never imagined how much work would be involved with running The Beach Lodge. It’s because I think of it as a business, and of myself as a small-business owner. I could just hire someone to clean it and let it run itself—the short-term-lodging services out there make it easy to be very hands-off. But I believe little details make a big difference, so I go through the house myself and make the adjustments. Marketing on Instagram has driven our popularity, and that requires showing seasonal changes we make to the decor and connecting with potential guests. Like any business owner, I’m constantly thinking of ways to improve its visibility and to expand. For me, it’s not just a rental—it’s a brand.
You’re not an interior designer by trade. Where do you turn for inspiration?
TC: I trust my instincts, and I look for inspiration everywhere. I never spend too much on vintage items. I think they’re more special that way—castoffs that mean little monetarily but hold so much intrigue when displayed with care. So my best advice is to let joy take the lead and just play. Try different combinations and step back to see if it’s working for you. Taking a photo always helps me see what’s working and what’s not.
There’s not a single beach-rental cliché here. How do you characterize this style?
TC: I wanted it to feel comfortable, relaxed, personal, and collected—not at all sterile, staged, or generic. Every piece in the house tells a story.
What collections evoke the most reactions from your guests?
TC: From a nostalgic point of view, the Hardy Boys books have garnered the most smiles. They bring people back to their childhood days. From a design perspective, my pillows and textiles get all the love. I just opened an online shop, Scout & Miner, that lets people “shop the house.” For a guest, it is the ultimate souvenir; for those who can’t make it for a stay, it helps them create their own lodge at home. And for me, it helps fund a constant refresh for The Beach Lodge.
Unmatched vintage blankets brighten the beds in a twin bedroom. The blue pillows are crafted of African mudcloth, and the art prints are of Hindu gods.
How often do you switch things up in the decor?
TC: Pretty often—rotating things like textiles and pillows gives them longevity. Plus it keeps me excited about the house day in and day out.
Do you still get to spend downtime at the house?
TC: We save one weekend per month for our family. I want my children to feel a connection to this house so that it has a permanent place in their childhood memories. I also want to carve out time to pause and reconnect with family. That’s what started it all!
The porthole windows are original to the house; the table counter is new, crafted of Douglas fir. The directors’ chairs are from Overstock.