Home Tour: Inside an Awesome Coastal California Home
The expression “First time’s a charm” has never been truer than in the case of the 2014 Coastal Living Showhouse by Los Angeles-based Burnham Design. Not only was the project the first showhouse for founding partner Betsy Burnham, a veteran designer, as well as the magazine’s first-ever showhouse in California, but she and her partner, Max Humphrey, were also given free rein of the entire house—a landmark project for any designer. “Honestly, I’ve been asked, but I’d never done a showhouse before,” Burnham says. “Timing is such a large part of it, and until Coastal called, the timing for us had never been right.”
The only directive Burnham and Humphrey were given by Coastal Living’s editorial department was “that the palette not be dark, and that the vibe be our interpretation of ‘coastal’,” she says. Their goal for the 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house in Coronado, a San Diego-area resort town, was for it to look “effortlessly chic—sort of like a great outfit that carries from daytime to dinner and after,” she says. The design duo envisioned a place where kids and dogs could feel free to roam, inevitably trailing sand underfoot, as well as where one could entertain guests for cocktails and dinner.
While the word “coastal” may conjure images of seashells, sailboats, and coral motifs, Burnham and Humphrey wanted their showhouse “to be beachy but not literal—sophisticated,” they say. To that end, they infused an old-school Hamptons vibe, “filtered through the California sun.” Classic materials like ceramic and penny-round tile, tongue-and-groove wainscoting, and polished nickels were paired with modern splashes like clean-lined countertops and crisp white paint.
True to Burnham Design’s “layered, collected sensibility,” the designers added life, personality, and texture with skirted upholstery, faux bamboo, vintage rugs, linen drapery, rattan, glazed pottery, and numerous other accessories. In fact, there were 1500 hardback books used in the house in total. “The scope of the whole thing was extra large, and the logistics were definitely challenging,” Burnham says.
Show-stopping installations, like a table piled high with blue and white Delftware, a wall of framed nautical charts, and a wall dripping in maritime flags, are as graphically arresting as they are relevant to the coastal theme.
Some of the designers’ favorite finds were vintage. Over the course of nine months (the longevity of the project), “we hit up all the flea markets we could, and did some serious vintage shopping in Solana Beach,” Burnham says. In addition to vintage finds like panoramic photographs and game boards hung as art, the designers also integrated works by up-and-coming artists, including Elizabeth Huey, Kathryn Warren, and J.P. Greenwood.
Showhouses are inherently fantasies, but there’s something about this one that’s especially aspirational. We all dream of owning a beach house one day, don’t we? That said, it’s impressive how attainable the designers have managed to make the space look; we feel simultaneously in awe of all its special little moments and inspired to recreate something similar at home.
When asked to share her personal favorite space, Burnham says, “Can I have two? Because I can never decide between the living room and the entry.” As for Humphrey, he has his heart set on ‘the Bohemian Room’. “That’s what we call the middle guest room, with the hanging chair.” Ahh… to have a hanging chair in a bedroom by the sea. What a dream.
What's your favorite space in this house? Tell us by commenting below!
All images courtesy Coastal Living, a division of the Time Inc. Lifestyle Group, photograph by Tria Giovan. COASTAL LIVING is a registered trademark of Time Inc. Lifestyle Group and is used with permission.