This California Cottage Couldn't Be More Charming if It Tried

Can we move in?

Updated 05/07/19
all-white kitchen of this California cottage
Lane Dittoe

All too often, remodels strip homes of their original charm. Thankfully, this was not the case for Anna and Johnny Sherwood's historic Balboa Island cottage. Designer Mindy Gayer saw to it that the Sherwood's Southern California beach home retained every ounce of its 78-year-old character. The cottage, originally built by Anna's great-grandmother in 1936, was expanded from its original two-bed, one-bath footprint into a four-bed, two-bath home in order to provide enough space for their family of four.

"The home is a true family jewel of a property," designer Gayer told MyDomaine. "Because of Anna's family's long history with the property and it being recognized as a true historical cottage, we held on to a lot of the original elements and bones of the home, updating it just enough to be the perfect home for their family. Even after the remodel, you can still feel the soul and charm of the original home." Keep scrolling to step inside the historic Balboa Island beach house. Prediction: You'll want to pin every image of this California home to your "cottage-chic" board.

bright, white living room
Lane Dittoe

The remodel was quite an undertaking for Gayer's team. "We gutted the entirety of the home, keeping only the original exterior walls and some of the living room's original ceiling details and millwork intact," the designer explained. As an ode to the craftsmanship and design of the original beach cottage, the design team mimicked the original millwork wall paneling found in the living room and replicated it on the staircase.

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Balboa Island cottage built-in shelving
Lane Dittoe

The Sherwoods approached the remodel as an opportunity to make the best improvements possible to their home, all the while wanting to start fresh with new furnishings, noted Gayer. Although many of the furnishings are brand-new, the couple had plenty of personally collected accessories for Gayer's team to incorporate into the space. "As avid travelers and curators, the Sherwoods had some really fun pieces that helped personalize their otherwise new home," Gayer told MyDomaine. "Johnny is an avid music lover, so we designed an area in the remodeled living room to house his ever-growing collection of records," she pointed out.

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cottage living room
Lane Dittoe

When it came to choosing a color palette for the newly remodeled cottage, white was the clear favorite. "We love a fresh white palette, and our clients were on the same page from the very beginning of the project," said Gayer. "Keeping the palette light and bright allowed us to visually maximize the square footage to make it feel even bigger," she explained. "White is magic in our book!"

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all-white kitchen
Lane Dittoe

The ambitious remodel also involved expanding the square footage of the home to open up the kitchen and dining areas for the family of four. "We enclosed the previous exterior rear courtyard, back rental unit, and garage of the original home into what's now their kitchen and dining room," Gayer explained.

modern dining room
Lane Dittoe

"The first pieces we purchased for the home were the specialty light fixtures, particularly the rattan pendants over the dining table and the kitchen island," Gayer revealed. "They were the items we planned the rest of the furnishings around to achieve that beach-boho aesthetic," she explained. "They perfectly complemented the updated cottage design."

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charming cottage bedroom
Lane Dittoe

Although much of the cottage was remodeled, the master bedroom and master bath were among the rooms kept within the original footprint. However, that doesn't mean that they were overlooked during the renovation. Gayer's team gave each a mini face-lift, outfitting them with new windows, floorings, and furnishings.

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cottage bedroom
Lane Dittoe

Thanks to details like cerused wood nesting side tables the master bedroom exudes the same cottage-chic vibe as the rest of the home.

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tiled cottage bathroom
Lane Dittoe

In the master bath, swoon-worthy Spanish tile flooring lends the small space the beach-boho aesthetic Gayer was going for.

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cottage kid's room
Lane Dittoe

Among the new rooms included in the four-bed, two-bath footprint are the Sherwoods' daughters' bedrooms, explained Gayer.

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charming kid's room
Lane Dittoe

The eldest daughter's room boasts colorful artwork in shades of blue, pink, and purple. Woven accessories that are both stylish and functional seamlessly carry the beachy feel of the cottage into the bedroom.

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kid's cottage bathroom
Lane Dittoe

The eldest daughter's bathroom is one she'll use for years to come, so a teak step stool lends a helping hand until she's able to reach the sink as she grows into the family home.

nursery
Lane Dittoe

Decked out with pink accessories and rattan baskets, the nursery walls may be all white, but the space is far from lacking the cottage's signature charm.

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nursery seating
Lane Dittoe

Gayer's favorite thing about the project? "How charming the entire home is from top to bottom," she says. "And how simple is often best. When you're building a new house or doing an extensive remodel, it's easy to lose some of the charm that many houses inherently possess, especially when they were built in another era."

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