1946 Beach House Renovation…Must See!

Found this article by Becky Harris on Houzz about a wonderful beach house renovation  and wanted to share it with you!
Design/Build Firm: Collins Design Development
Location: Laguna Beach, California
Size: 900 square feet (84 square meters); 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Year built: 1946

“My goal for the exterior was to keep it simple and quaint,” Collins says. He added details like plant pot shelves, latticework and a Dutch door.

The city of Laguna Beach has identified homes and other structures with potential historic significance, but the register includes only structures built before 1942, so Collins’ house was slightly too young to be a candidate. However, he was able to research it himself to restore its original charm. His experience and advice regarding Laguna Beach can certainly help guide you no matter where you live.

When Collins lifted up the wall-to-wall carpeting, he was delighted to find the original oak floors. The wood windows and mantel are also original to the cottage. He set out to replace missing original features by combing favorite antiques sources; the fireplace screen (from Santa Barbara Forge & Iron), for example, was a lucky find. It has “1946” stenciled on it — the year the cottage was built.

The home’s original pine paneling had been covered with drywall, but Collins wanted to bring the look back. He took out the plasterboard and added vertical pine paneling. In his research he found that a 2- by 4-inch detail where the walls meet the tongue and groove ceiling was common back in the ’40s, so he added that as well.

The charming built-in curio cabinet is also original to the house. Collins added lighting from the era all over the home, including the fireplace sconces, which he had rewired and refurbished.

“Years ago I owned a lighting company; It’s become a real hobby and passion to find period light fixtures for each of my projects,” he says. He recommends combing local antiques stores, eBay and Etsy for period lighting. If you don’t want to go through the searching and refurbishing process, he recommends shopping at companies that make reproductions, like Rejuvenation.

All of the art and furniture pieces are from his personal collection. The seascape painting over the fireplace, “Windy Day at Laguna,” is by Dedrick Stuber, who arrived in California in the 1920s and painted many seascapes and landscapes there.

Paint on all woodwork throughout the house: Cottage White, Dunn-Edwards

Collins made a nautical stair railing from an old wooden oar he found in his garage. The seascape above the oar is a modern piece by Geoff Krueger, an artist who hails from Orange County, California.


Also in Collins’ archives was a collection of vintage bathing suits from the 1920s. He had them repaired, cleaned and framed on linen backgrounds.


With a small kitchen, functionality is key. “Nothing is fussy,” Collins says. He chose soapstone, because it was appropriate to the home’s era and incredibly practical. “I was able to have a drainboard carved into the stone, which is both practical and a nice design detail,” he says. “I also felt the color contrast of the dark stone prevents your eye from getting bored.” At the same time, he kept the eye from getting overwhelmed; the cabinets are a simple Shaker style.

Collins added coastal details here and there without going overboard. For example, the refrigerator handles are solid-brass deck cleats from a nautical antiques store, and he hung two seaweed prints on the wall.


To fit seating into the tight space, he added a breakfast nook. The wraparound bench eliminated the need for chairs and added lots of much-needed storage space.

One of the spot-on details Collins mentioned is this sweet built-in cabinet in the downstairs bedroom. “The cabinet provides storage and a place to display beach finds and good books — both essential for a weekend beach retreat,” he says.

The caned bed adds some British colonial style, as do the linens, by John Robshaw and Peter Dunham. A dhurrie rug grounds the room with soothing texture and is durable enough to stand up to the beach.


“The master bedroom was filled with natural light and had a wonderful ocean-view deck,” Collins says. He continued the vertical paneling throughout the entire house. “The continuity of the materials on the floors, walls and ceilings makes the cottage feel larger, and so does the light paint color,” he says.

Collins’ passion for restoring Laguna Beach cottages continues; he completed another renovation after this one was done and is currently working on another.

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