How one woman developed her cottage’s style by getting past trends and following what she really loved.
It took more than five houses, a woodside retreat and a beach cottage for Cynthia Tuverson to find her style. Some of these addresses—the Glendale home where she grew up, her grandmother’s house in Brentwood that she visited often—planted seeds for her tastes. But later, after marriage, with each move she and her husband would make from Glendale to Pasadena to Brentwood to Pacific Palisades—all iconic Los Angeles area addresses—she found a new home to decorate, a new location to inspire her. Cynthia discovered what truly stuck and what didn’t matter.
As she putters around her kitchen in her home in Pacific Palisades, she points out various items: a chaise lounge that belonged to her husband’s mother, an armoire she purchased at an antiques shop almost 20 years ago. The sprawling kitchen gives way to a bright breakfast nook overlooking an idyllic garden on almost 7,000 square feet of land. The home’s interior is equally serene and calm. A mostly white color palette is flooded with light cast from oversized windows on all sides.
The furniture is both casual and elegant, a playful mix of comfy upholstered sofas and carved ornate tables and armoires. A few rustic shabby items offset regal antiques. However, Cynthia’s environs weren’t always the picture of livable romance.
“I learned the hard way that you don’t have to do it to the nth degree to do it right, and you don’t have to have everything picture perfect,” she says, reflecting on the home she remodeled when she and her family lived in Los Angeles’ posh Brentwood neighborhood. The environment pressured her to pull out all the decorating stops with expensive furnishings and accessories. She crafted a contemporary home with all the modern bells and whistles. Ironically, it was this home that reacquainted her to her love for romantic design.
“It started with one room,” Cynthia recalls. After a visit to an antiques shop in Venice Beach’s stylish Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Cynthia came upon an antique leaded-glass panel oozing with rustic Old World glamour. She knew she wanted to incorporate that decor in her home, and the room she experimented with was the media room. She had sliding panel doors built to conceal the entertainment unit. The design incorporated mirrored fronts and Old World details to mimic the style of those antique panels she had seen in the shop. The result was a stunning romantic touch that overshadowed the big TV.
Not long after, Cynthia, a realtor, was in the market for a new move. When she and her family stumbled upon the Palisades home, it further reconnected Cynthia to the Old World romance of her past. Growing up in a colonial-revival home that was once used for filming a scene in Gone With the Wind, Cynthia always had a love for older homes. The house, with its stately brick façade and colonial view, was a nostalgic gem, and within three weeks the Tuversons had the deed and were ready to move in.
“This home was really like a blank canvas for me,” Cynthia says. Still inspired by the rustic romantic look, she set out to transform the new home to suit her growing ideas. “We bleached and whitewashed all the wood floors downstairs, added the wood floors upstairs and closed up a hallway that led from one bedroom to another to create a much bigger closet for my daughter’s room. Then we upgraded the tile in her bathroom,” she explains. “Downstairs, we tore out then sealed up a spot where there had been a Japanese sunken tub in the guest bathroom.”
Within a year and a half, the home was transformed. Cynthia’s preexisting furniture was transformed as well. Many of her antiques—pieces that had been in storage or relegated to her vacation home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada—received fresh coats of white paint to fit her new dreamy style.
The rest of the home was furnished with flea-market finds and unique estate-sale purchases. Cynthia also received assistance with design and treatments from her favorite boutique owners. Tumbleweed & Dandelion, another Abbot Kinney shop for one helped transform her old furniture, execute paint treatments and connect her with great finds.
“When you go into different places you take note of what people do,” Cynthia says. “You mix and match the things that strike a chord.” Decorating with antiques and unexpected finds also brings Cynthia full circle with honoring her own past and treasuring designs that celebrate tradition. “It’s not my ideas, it’s everyone else in the world that come together,” she says.
Of their six children, only one still lives at home during months on return from college. However, Cynthia still considers the house their family home. “Everyone has a place here; my daughters bring their children for a stay to get away,” she says. “It really is a casual, comfortable place to put your feet up.”
“Everyone has a place here; my daughters bring their children for a stay to get away,” she says. “It really is a casual, comfortable place to put your feet up.”
In the process of finding a new style to embrace, Cynthia reconnected with memories of her youth—possessions that had always inspired her—realizing that what she really loved she had all along: an appreciation for the past, celebrating tradition and using all the ideas from the journey to create the ideal home.
By Jickie Torres
Photography by Mark Tanner
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel