To have and to love series: California Cottage

I’m what you call a color fanatic. It is hard for me to not want some color in rooms, because I love it so much. But, this space just makes it easier to breathe better. The neutral walls and the peaceful art make me want to come here to have breakfast, then take a nap because it would make me feel so at peace I would want to go to sleep again.

Continuing with the series, I want to look at this California home together and gather all the ideas the designer Benjamin Dhong used. That way, we can repeat them in our homes too.

I know we can't all put sunlights in our house. Or install floor to ceiling windows. But, I do know that we can create spaces that feel just as peaceful.

Photo courtesy of House Beautiful

Photo courtesy of House Beautiful

  1. Where do you look first? Your eye immediately goes to the antique cupboard he has along the wall. I love that it’s a unique piece and redefines the typical idea of open shelving. I can’t bring you an antique French piece like this, but I can suggest that you incorporate a similar piece near the kitchen (or in the kitchen if you have the space). Flea markets, garage sales and retailers are all great places to look to find pieces that are in the same vein as this. You can even find an open bookcase that you could make have this same look. The other thing you’ll notice, is that all the dishes are white. If you don’t have all white dishes, I think that’s fine (and normal!). But I would try to really highlight the pieces that coordinate together and then store the rest.

  2. I love that island countertop. It has a “waterfall” look, meaning that the counter wraps over the edge and goes to the ground. This really applies if you have an island in your kitchen that you can do this with. However, it’s important that we understand why this works (because the concept is what can translate to other things). By having this treatment on the countertop, it gives this uninterrupted, seamless look. Since it’s not “fussy” it helps give that feeling of simplicity, rest and minimization. Our lives can be complex and by incorporating smooth, “uncluttered” looking spaces it can bring a sense of mental rest.

  3. That lamp is so sweet! “Why do they need that?” you might ask. It’s because they want to have a little ambiance at night and since the skylights are dark, they need something to add light to the room. The tip to take from this little lamp is good, though- don’t feel like you just have to put a lamp on a side table in a living room. You can put a lamp wherever you need one. Just remember the context it’s in and if it’s in a place like this, you want it to blend in.

Photo courtesy of House Beautiful, painting by Wade Hoefer

Photo courtesy of House Beautiful, painting by Wade Hoefer

  1. This is what really made me fall in love with this room- that painting. It’s large and soothing and let’s you escape into another world. In areas like this, where you probably wouldn't think to put large art, it can be such a wonderful dramatic statement (I would recommend hanging it though, not leaning it against the wall). It works really well with this space because it enhances the feeling of the room and if it wasn’t there, you probably wouldn’t feel the same way. Art is powerful like that- isn’t it great?!

  2. I’m a flower addict and having something natural as the centerpiece is perfection. With all the sharp edges of the kitchen, it’s nice to have something “soft” and these branches with yellow flowers are the right way to go. Plus they are large without taking up the whole table. Since the ceilings are vaulted, it’s nice to have something that utilizes the vertical space. My take away for this detail, would be to incorporate something natural in any of your rooms. Nature has the ultimate beauty and by bringing some of it indoors, it makes us happy.

  3. I love that the furniture is white. He could have done a wood toned furniture, but I love that he chose white on this side of the room. Since this part of the room is the farthest away from the patio doors, it’s also the farthest from the natural light. If you have a part of your room that is far from natural light, you can use lighter materials/colors to make it feel just as bright. Mirrors are also a great trick if you want to reflect light into another part of your room that doesn’t have a lot of light.
Photo courtesy of House Beautiful

Photo courtesy of House Beautiful

  1. Let’s talk about those bleached wood floors- ahhhh!!! They really set the tone for the room by making everything light and bright. What color your floor is or what rugs you have, can make a difference in how a room feels. If you want a room with hardwoods, look at some homes that have the style you are going for and copy it. If you want tile, research different looks then go with your favorite one that makes the most sense. Since it's the backdrop for all the furniture/art/cabinetry, it is worth making sure it goes with what you want the room to be.

  2. Instead of putting a furniture piece in that little alcove, I love that he put a day bed. It just repeats the theme of rest in this space. And the yellow color on the bedding is a nice change from all the white. It would be fine if he kept it white, but I like that he introduced a little bit of “happy” color into the room. If you have a nook or alcove in a room, know that you can make it into lots of things besides a place to put a bookcase. Besides putting a bench or daybed in those types of places, I love making them into little office nooks. 

  3. Lastly, the shiplap on the ceiling is lovely. It’s simple, tailored and add another detail to the room. By treating the ceiling, Benjamin is calling to attention that nothing has been left untouched. All the elements of the room have been carefully thought through. I love that it acts as a peaceful backdrop (like the floor). Your ceiling can be another element in your room. The easiest way to do that is through painting it a light color. It not only adds interest but also adds to the feel of the room. 

Rooms don't have to be a something we idolize and feel like we can never obtain. They can be sources to learn from and then use the same ideas in our own spaces. 

Do you have a favorite part about this room? Was there something else that wasn't discussed that you would love to point out?