Built in the late 1920s, this California beach bungalow wound up in the hands of a loving couple, and they resolved to make the precious cottage a guesthouse for family and close friends. They brought in designer Marshall Watson, of Marshall Watson Interiors, to restore the beautiful home and bring European influence into the space. Marshall says, “They commissioned me to restore, reconstruct and revive this cottage without losing the initial spirit.”
Because of strict preservation laws, the exterior of the home could not be touched. However, the original glass windows were restored to preserve the beautiful views that southern California has to offer. The addition of shutters and plentiful gardens surrounding the property brought earthy and natural charm to the exterior.
In the interior, the master suite and public rooms were enlarged. Marshall says, “We removed quite a few walls in the house because it was divided up into very small rooms. We added a spacious, open quality to the home.”
Stylized choices reinforce a “Scandinavian summer cottage” appeal, Marshall explains. High wainscoting with a glossy finish and stained European oak hardwood floors were installed to bring warmth and luminosity to the home. “High gloss brightens a space, and yellow emits light, like the sun,” he says. Bright yellow floral-patterned wallpaper adds a hint of color to the entryway, welcoming guests with a feminine touch.
A color palette of gray, white and yellow brings light into the home. In keeping with the homeowners’ desire for European influence, Marshall says, “Pulling the precious light inside the house is so important because in northern European countries the homes are dark half of the year.” The combination of bright colors, lighting choices and open spaces are perfect for the home.
The color scheme provides unity and comfort, while fabrics introduce subtle interest and delicate ease. For example, in the living room fabric furnishings and a beautiful yellow rug add contrast. Dark, framed fabric displayed above the 19th-century French daybed in Louis XVI style adds an authentic, vintage allure.
Furnishings with slender, graceful legs play a fundamental role in evoking a sense of European style. “Most of the pieces are from Sweden, Poland, Austria and Denmark,” Marshall reveals. A few more key pieces of furniture are the Gustavian neoclassical chairs and Biedermeier breakfast table in the entryway, which create a high-end feel in the cottage.
For the homeowner couple, this cottage was a dream–and a romantic getaway for them. With this in mind, Marshall designed the guesthouse for intimate gatherings and close conversations. Multiple small seating areas feature handpicked furnishings, feminine fabrics and enriched colors for every occasion. Key pieces of décor, including florals and 1950s dishware, enliven the spaces with timeless charm.
Take Marshall’s advice to achieve the “clean romantic” in your own home. “In a small home, a limited palette helps unify the home,” Marshall says. By working within the chosen palette of gray, white and yellow, Marshall avoided overwhelming the home and its corresponding outdoor spaces with too much color. Instead, he used patterns and delicate textures to enhance the romantic appeal.
Another design tip is to unify the space, rather than break it up. The entire home features wainscoting, Dunn-Edward’s Swiss Coffee paint color and glossy woodwork, creating a subtle and serene backdrop where furnishings and décor can take center stage.