Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Work | A Charming California Cottage Before + After

I'm so excited to share a little glimpse into this lovely home with you!  This home belongs to the precious Matsumoto family in San Diego, CA and it has been a true pleasure to work with Karen, the wife and mother, and such a joy to watch her take the ideas and make them come to life.  She has done such a beautiful job!!

(Hi Owen, Hi Everett!! :))

The Matsumoto's moved back to San Diego after eight years of living in DC and Northern Virginia to be closer to their families.  As much as they love the area where they live, they miss the charm and classic East Coast architecture found in DC and they have been on a mission to bring a little of that to the West Coast.  They transformed the exterior of their home and came to me looking for help with the interior, starting with their living room and master bedroom.  Karen knew what she wanted but needed some inspiration to get going and a fresh perspective on what could be possible in her rooms.  Today, I'm going to share how the living room is coming together - it's so cozy and pretty, even though there are still finishing touches, like drapes and details in the foyer area, that will happen over time.

Here is the room before:

Here is the inspiration board I put together for the room.
(Sources and details are withheld from the blog post out of respect to the client. Thanks for understanding.)

One of the biggest recommendations was to add architectural interest in the form of built-ins, classic  millwork in the fireplace/hearth area and raised paneling or wainscoting in the foyer.  Whenever I can, this is one of the first places I suggest investing in, since it adds a level of character you can't achieve with furniture and fabrics alone.  Some homes have it to start (lucky ducks), but lots of newer construction homes need a little push in this area.  The idea Karen was most excited about was adding the built-in bookcases and "window" seat.  Here were some inspiration images I used to get her wheels turning...

adding sconces was a must!

^^I originally suggested painting them a darker gray blue like the above, but I love how fresh the white turned out.  Perfect for a home with so much natural southern California sunlight!^^ 

All of these are great examples of how to add the coziness of a window seat, even when there isn't a window. :)

Now here are the afters (or durings, since there is still more to come!): 
^Amazing, right??!! And how great do the old wingbacks look slipcovered?  And the new fireplace too!  The bookcase and reading spot steal the show though.^

It really does feel good to play a small role in such a transformation.  This is exactly what I had hoped for when I began my consulting business.  Thank you, Karen, for trusting me and for making it even lovelier than I imagined - you are one talented lady!!


  1. Great job, Tessa (and Karen)! What a transformation!

  2. Looks so good - love to see these updates! Adding the shelves and bench was huge and now it looks so cozy and inviting. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to seeing the rest of the details come into play.

  3. Looks beautiful! The new fireplace and built-in make the room! l also love the small touches - how the coffee table was painted gray and I adore her painting flanked by the sconces. It looks like she had that before and it is a showstopper!

  4. Beautiful job! The fireplace and built-ins really add so much to the room. Love all the details!

  5. This looks awesome! I love everything!!!!

  6. Tessa, looks FANTASTIC! Who did her pillows? I'm in the market for some ;)

    1. Thanks Katie! :) my seamstress actually made the pillows!

    2. Tessa, if you have time to share, what size pillows are on the couch? And could you share your fabric source? Thanks so much :)

  7. Gorgeous! I absolutely love the transformation!

  8. Thank you Tessa - we were thrilled to work with you! We can't wait to send you photos when we finish with the remaining details. You helped make our house truly feel like home. We are so excited to work with you again in the fall :)