This Charming Bungalow Is 15 Steps From the Beach
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Nostalgia can be a powerful blueprint, a vivid map that can influence anything from architectural style and square footage to materials and geography. The latter is what drew David and Tracy Beauchamp to their classic bungalow on Peninsula Point, a quiet enclave at the tip of Newport Beach's Balboa Peninsula. "The neighborhood, with all the old beach houses and walkable streets, reminded us of our youth," says David, who, like Tracy, grew up here when it was still a small town. "Most of these cottages were built as summer homes for folks who'd drive from L.A. and stay for a month or two. They were simple structures, small in size. That's because people didn't come down here to hide out inside a giant house. They came to be on the beach."
Owners Tracy and David Beauchamp welcome grandchildren Hayden, 7, and Logan, 2. The siding is painted Wrought Iron, and the new Dutch door is Basic Black, both by Benjamin Moore.
Restore Rather Than Redo
The Beauchamps' cottage is 1,650 square feet, was built in 1936, and sits about 15 steps (but who's counting?) from the beach. And though many of the old bungalows have been razed and rebuilt over the years, the couple wasn't interested in expanding. "It definitely needed work, including structural changes, but we didn't want to blow it up and make it into something that it was never meant to be," says Tracy. David adds with a laugh: "I wish I had a nickel for every contractor we talked to who wanted us to tear the whole thing down and start over."
The wallpaper in the guest room is a hand-drawn pattern by Kerri Rosenthal, and the indigo-striped linen bedding is by Cultiver.
Preserving the Glory
The Beauchamps weren't interested in changes like that. In fact, they liked the deck as-is: a breezy outdoor living room with a prime view of the Pacific, perfect for drinking coffee or a cocktail and looking out at the beach. For the rest of the house, they primarily wanted to restore the diminutive structure to its original glory and create a family-friendly landing pad for their kids and grandkids.
The rooftop deck overlooks the beach along Peninsula Point, near the end of the Balboa Peninsula. The deck furniture is teak, and the cushion fabric is by Sunbrella. The rug is by Dash & Albert.
They hired local designer Raili Clasen, who spent years working in the surf industry at Quiksilver before venturing into interior design. And her style is about as California-easygoing as you'd expect from someone who was once so entrenched in surf culture. "When you're lucky enough to work on an old California beach bungalow, you do everything you can to restore rather than redo," says Clasen.
Clasen created a graphic arrangement in the bath with cement tiles on the floor and wall; the stool is vintage.
She began the project by making a list of the elements that needed to stay: the wooden ceilings and beams, which had mercifully been left untouched over the years; the few remaining original light fixtures that she knew she could restore; the brick fireplace with its unique little firewood cutouts; the old brick walkways and interior courtyard; the classic exterior shingles; and the original Saltillo tile floors. "When we first toured the place, I thought, "Oh my word, that tile has to go." But that was before we cleaned up years of beach grime and saw the beauty and warmth of the original tiles coming through—and then I realized there wasn't another floor I could put in that would work better or be more practical for a house by the beach," says the designer. "They knew what they were doing back then."
The Saltillo tile flooring in the dining room and throughout is original to the house. The lighting is by Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., and the table is by Bobo Intriguing Objects
The windows, however, needed replacing, and the baths all had to be updated. In the small pass-through kitchen, Clasen refaced the cabinetry and painted it navy blue, added brass hardware and white subway tile, and installed white Caesarstone countertops. She then fashioned a bar out of an alcove between the cabinets and the refrigerator, and outfitted it with open wooden shelving to hold stemware. "We wove lots of different shades of blue throughout the cottage," Clasen says. "And I love a pop of yellow against the blue—it's like sunshine in the sky."
In the small pass-through kitchen, Clasen replaced the counters with white Caesarstone, updated the hardware with brass pulls, and painted the existing cabinetry Hale Blue by Benjamin Moore.
Let There Be White
The walls in most of the living areas were awakened with fresh coats of white paint, as was the original fireplace. Timeless pieces like vintage safari chairs, a white slipcovered sofa, and kilim rugs help freshen the interiors without appearing too modern, and a collection of blue Almond surfboards injects the rooms with energy. "These are like works of art to me," says Clasen. "I love bringing them inside because they set the tone of the house. You can't see a surfer carrying his or her board to the ocean and not smile. The same thing happens to me when I see a surfboard in a room. It relaxes a space and sets the mood to happy."
Interior designer Raili Clasen made the most of the California sunlight by painting the living room walls, ceiling, and fireplace Decorator's White by Benjamin Moore. The safari chairs are vintage, and the mod round coffee table is from Nickey Kehoe.
Polka Dot Daze
Clasen extended this buoyant ethos to the tiny upstairs bedrooms, most prominently in the grandkids' room. When she couldn't find a wallpaper with big enough polka dots, she had them painted on the walls instead. "I have this go-big-or-go-home attitude about small rooms," she notes. "The smaller the space, the larger the format: It really forces the room to live large." As a result, the guest room, too, is alive with graphic pattern, this one a blue-and-white wallpaper with a hand-drawn print.
The oversize polka dots in the grandkids' room were custom painted, and the yellow steel bed is by Room & Board.
The designer saved the biggest "wows" for the exterior. She replaced the existing doors with Dutch doors—"None of these old bungalows have AC, so it's a great way to get the cool ocean air into the house," she says—and convinced the Beauchamps to contrast Southern California's light, bright surroundings with a dark exterior paint color. "Raili said, "What do you think about black?"" Tracy recalls, noting the shingles were formerly pale blue. "I said, "You mean dark gray?" And she said, "No, I mean black—for the shingles and the trim." We really had to hold our breath and trust her on it because I couldn't picture it at all."
A collection of vintage paddles hangs along an arched breezeway connecting the cottage with the garage and outdoor dining area.
Leap of Faith
Neither could the neighbors: Upon spotting the first coat of paint, they asked the Beauchamps if the black was just a primer. "We had to tell them that this was a leap of faith for us, too," says David. "But when it was all said and done, our neighbors started coming by and asking us for the exact paint color, because they loved it so much. Raili was right. Just because a house is small doesn't mean it can't make a big impression."
The wall and ceiling wood-work in the master bedroom is original to the home. The striped linen bedding is from Restoration Hardware, and the artwork is a 1938 photograph by Russell Lee.