Click here to sign up for our newsletter!
Design Ideas
Cape Cod Inspired California Cottage
A Cape Cod vacation inspires this California home into a traditional coastal space with relaxed, modern sensibilities.
How can you combine the relaxation of a vacation with the bustle of daily life? This was exactly the challenge presented to Blackband Design when the homeowners of a San Juan Capistrano, California, home were ready to renovate into their Cape Cod inspired California cottage. Cape Cod Creativity “Inspired by a vacation home they’d visited,... Keep Scrolling
WRITTEN by ELISE PORTALE
PHOTOGRAPHY by BRET GUM
STYLING by JICKIE TORRES


How can you combine the relaxation of a vacation with the bustle of daily life? This was exactly the challenge presented to Blackband Design when the homeowners of a San Juan Capistrano, California, home were ready to renovate into their Cape Cod inspired California cottage.

Cape Cod Creativity

“Inspired by a vacation home they’d visited, they wanted to give this new home that vacation-home vibe,” explains project designer Ashley Porter of her Southern California clients. “The key for our clients in hiring us is our capability to take this very heavy, kind of drab interior Tuscan space and create more of a fun, light, bright, Cape Cod inspired feel,” explains Wendy Blackband, owner/designer of Blackband Design.

“Some people might start with an artwork; some with an accent piece of furniture. We really feel like a lot of our design is driven by fabrics.”

Two navy blue large check gingham ottomans placed next to a small wooden pedestal table at the foot of a staircase.
A SOLID BASE. “Those buffalo check ottomans looked so beautiful on that wood flooring, and that wood flooring really set the tone in the entry,” Ashley muses. Blackband Design and the homeowners took their time choosing the flooring, leaving wood samples for days at a time to see how the wood would look in different types of light. “Flooring is so expensive that you need to nail it,” Wendy says.

First Impressions

A mix of pieces, trinkets and materials fills out each space, but the refined Cape Cod-inspired seaside look of this home all started very simply. “Some people might start with an artwork; some with an accent piece of furniture. We really feel like a lot of our design is driven by fabrics,” Wendy says. From the buffalo-checked ottomans in the entry to the navy shibori pattern on curtains throughout the main living spaces, patterns introduce both color and texture into the space.

Peek into this sitting room with exposed ceiling beams, cream colored armchairs around a leather, tufted coffee table and shibori curtains framing the windows.
ANCHORS AWEIGH. The four-chair layout of the living room lends the space a type of formality and shape, but the strategic placement of a large piece can make or break a room. “You have that large bookcase and cabinet piece at the end,” Wendy explains. “It centers the room, or gives it an anchor for the space, so it doesn’t feel like it’s just floating.”

From the buffalo-checked ottomans in the entry to the navy shibori curtains throughout the main living spaces, patterns introduce both color and texture into the space.

A large framed print from the Sound Of Music placed over the fireplace and surrounded by bright white built-ins.
STORAGE WITH STYLE. What is now a gorgeous focal point started off as a rough combination of ugly stonework and poor use of wall space. Wendy and Ashley strove to design a symmetrical space that was both useful and eye-catching. The center point between the kitchen and the family room was the built-in. Wendy says, “We centered the fireplace, we cleaned up the arches … and we created these closed shelves for games and open shelving above for family photos and pretty accents.”

Coastal Vibes

The coastal feel of this home is a subtle one. While many of the furnishings and spaces present as very traditional, Ashley and Wendy use an elegant balance of mixed materials to craft an aesthetic that is refined yet thematic with Cape Cod inspired colors. “We use a lot of navies, grays and light, neutral whites and linens. We also mix in some darker leather tones with different colors of wood and burlap, then splash in some fresh teals and other kinds of accents and accessories,” Ashley explains. “It feels pretty simple, but well put together.”

A substantial dark brown dining table surrounded by upholstered dining chairs. Above are exposed beams and shibori curtains framing the windows in the background.
OLD SCHOOL, UPDATED. With the homeowner steeped in traditional design roots, the designers at Blackband had to strike a balance between modern and traditional looks, and the dining room is the crowning achievement of their hard work. “The table [is] classic and beautiful; its rich wood tone, balanced with the linen side chairs and the host chair with the nail heads and subtle pattern, feels really beautiful but still casual,” Wendy says.

Ebb & Flow

In each room of this West Coast Cape Cod home, balance can be felt in every choice, creating a home that is well designed and incredibly livable. The living room, a space both formal yet inviting, is the epitome of this balance. “We really wanted to create a space where you could sit and chat and entertain but that also had a polished feel,” Ashley explains. Chocolate leathers and burlap-backed chairs lend their natural textures to the crisp lines of the furnishings and the brightness of the space, while unique patterns break up the broad strokes.

“We wanted to create a space where you could sit and chat and entertain, but which also had a polished feel.”

A substantial dark brown dining table, set up for guests and surrounded by upholstered dining chairs. Above are exposed beams and shibori curtains framing the windows in the background. The entryway to the living room is framed with two large indoor plants.
PEEK-A-BOO. One of the most striking aspects of the dining room is how perfectly it frames the adjoining family room, a symmetry that took quite a bit of effort to achieve. “So many of these places are being opened up,” Wendy says. The space plan is very critical, especially for these kinds of spaces because they all flow together. But they’re also separate areas, so there has to be some sort of grounding or foundation to the space.

Bright walls and a dark, imposing dining table make for a dramatic contrast— yet the look is softened by a gentle mid-tone found in the host chairs. “The dark wood table is unexpected in that space,” Wendy muses. “Going with a reclaimed-wood table would have created an entirely different space, lacking the pop and contrast we wanted.”

Everyday Elegance

The heart of a home requires not just beautiful features but elements of practicality. To create a space that delights is fairly simple. To have that space delight even after daily life’s wear and tear is an entirely different matter. In the San Juan Capistrano home, those delightful spaces are the family room and kitchen, two rooms conjoined not just in location but in function.

Living room with a full wall of fold-away windows, filled with a large sand colored sectional, wooden coffee table and navy blue armchair.
DURABLE BEAUTY. When putting together an attractive space that’s livable, it’s all about combining sturdy materials with finer details. “If you put your feet up on that table, it’s not going to destroy the table. It is more casual,” says Wendy Blackband of Blackband Design. “Then you bring in these really beautiful fabrics, with the interesting legs of the ottomans and the nail-head detail, which is a little bit more tailored. It’s a good combination of comfort and beauty.”

“The fabric for the sectional is a slipcover, but it’s a nubby blended linen, so that piece alone sets the tone,” Ashley says. “It’s inviting and family-friendly … something you can use and sit on.” Neutral colors thrive in this space, adding both depth and texture, but also forgiveness. “Neutrals allow you to do that … you can create these real beautiful spaces that are also very practical,” Wendy explains.

An ornate entryway table with black metallic base and a stone surface topped with symmetrical mercury glass lamps framing a large circular wall-mounted mirror.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT. The circular staircase of the entryway is easily echoed in the ottomans and round table, but Ashley and Wendy wanted to break up the roundness of the space. A rectangular console with symmetrical elements is a welcome change, but a round mirror ensures that the look is still cohesive. “That mirror is such a classic, coastal look,” Wendy says. “You can put that over anything. It’s one of those classic elements in design.”

Luxurious & Livable

And that’s precisely the challenge of turning a vacation experience into everyday living. Where a vacation on Cape Cod is designed for luxuriating the days away and postponing the mundane routines of daily life, the home must be a space that serves you and your family first and foremost. “It all came together very perfectly,” Ashley says. “I feel that it turned out the way it was meant to.”

 

Want more simply beautiful ideas? Check out this post on Cape Cod Curb Appeal. 

Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of cottage inspiration!

you might also enjoy...