White slip-cover sofa and painted trunk coffee table
Slipcovers are Tammy’s secret weapon against the dirt and grime that comes with being a parent and pet-owner.

In a Spanish-style bungalow by the beach in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, lives Tammy Serrano, shop owner of Cloth & Patina. She resides here with her 10-year-old son (her older daughters have already grown up and moved out) and has downsized in square footage, yet her home has plenty of charm and character that make it the perfect place to call home.

Every square foot of space matters, and Tammy’s home features many architectural details that make it unique, while playing down the fact that it’s a little on the small side. “The home has higher ceilings and lots of windows and sliders, which open it up. Otherwise, it would feel tiny,” Tammy explains.

Here, she shares how she’s designed her home with space-saving tricks and the right amount of personal style.

Small Scale, Big Style

A little creativity goes a long way, especially in a small home. In Tammy’s bungalow, you’ll see antique pieces in an eclectic mix of décor styles, but she keeps the look very curated so it doesn’t overwhelm the space. Whitewashed furniture and coastal accessories, including garlands she made from driftwood and crushed seashells, make it feel cozy and casual inside.

“I call it French Bohemian coastal with a little bit of shabby style,” Tammy says. “I definitely like the weathered look, and I put a Bohemian spin on things. Being in south Florida not too far from the ocean, I always try to add some coastal style, and I love French pieces, so I blend it all together.”

Color Me Mine

A palette of warm, weathered details creates a soothing and serene atmosphere. Continuing the same color scheme throughout keeps the décor cohesive, and the vibe refreshing and relaxing. She’s painted over most of her furniture with gray and white chalk paint to give it a seaside flavor.

To create a calm, clean-slate effect, Tammy incorporated white details by using white slipcovers on her sofa and chairs. Take it from a mom of three, who lives with a few pets and a son who loves to track in dirt, that white is livable: “I know not everybody is all about white, but that’s the beauty of slipcovers,” Tammy says. “White opens any space, and you can always add throw pillows and blankets for color.”

Old Things, New Purpose

An expert at refurbishing castoff furniture pieces and beautifying them, Tammy decorated her entire home with roadside or flea-market finds she’s refreshed with her personal style.

Her all-time favorite piece is a big gray armoire that houses her TV and everyday objects she wants to hide behind closed doors. While the antique hand-carved teak piece had lovely detailing, the finish wasn’t quite her style. “I tried to live with teak for a while because I felt bad wanting to paint it over, but then I ended up painting it with white and gray chalk paint to blend with all the rest of my décor.”

Her coffee table is an old vintage black trunk repainted white, which she uses to stash her throw blankets and magazines. “At the time, I couldn’t find a coffee table that fit the small space, so it serves dual purposes.”

Tammy advises that in a small space every furniture piece should be purposeful and multifunctional. She also stresses the importance of minimizing everything, including clutter. “I try to keep things as open as possible,” Tammy says. “Paint pieces to blend in with [the color of] your wall, only add a few key pieces and don’t have too many boxy pieces. It keeps everything open and flowy.”


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