Cottage as Canvas
Spectacular views enhance a bright and cheerful mid-century sensibility in Manhattan Beach.
Written bySuzanna Cullen
Rarely are homes as interesting as the people who live in them, particularly in areas dominated by new construction and big box store furnishings. The recent housing mantra of the South Bay is “newer is better” and “what’s cool is hot.” But not for one Manhattan Beach resident.
Rose Jacobson is a life-long resident of Southern California, having grown up in Venice Beach and raised her family in Manhattan Beach. The owner of Cotton Cargo on Manhattan Beach Avenue, Rose has been an integral part of South Bay business for decades. However, her first priority remains her family, evidenced throughout her newly renovated home.
When her son, Matt Jacobson, found an original beachfront cottage in Manhattan Beach, he snatched it up as a gift for his mother. “Every room felt dark, the kitchen was cramped and closed off, and the views to the Pacific were obscured by small tinted windows,” shares Kristopher Dukes, Matt’s fiancé, who applied her savvy fashion sense to deconstruct and remodel the cottage into a clean, simple, peaceful home.
“Kristopher knows me so well that I just stayed out of it and let her do it,” says Rose. The kitchen was gutted, but with beadboard walls, galvanized steel countertops and open shelving featuring Rose’s collection of Bauer Pottery, it has a modern retro style.
Blond plank floors replace the original dark hardwoods, and dark red brick has been painted crisp white like the rest of the walls. Exposed-beam ceilings are also painted white, lending a loft-like, open feel to the space.
Panoramic views of The Strand and the Pacific dominate Rose’s house, now that a wall of glass faces the beach. Every room has an ocean view, even those not on the beach side of the house.
In a creative fait accompli, Rose’s bedroom window looks across the inner courtyard through the living room and onto the ocean beyond.
“Nowadays most builders want to max out the square footage of a home, especially if it’s on a pricey beachfront lot,” says Kristopher. “Because of the same sentiment that urges people to cram in almost unusable guest rooms, the open space of the courtyard has a quiet luxury about it.”
The master bathroom rivals any spa. White Carrera marble and glass create an immaculate and spacious bathroom, while campy sconces resembling red coral are the single blast of color in the room. Strategic space planning permitted the washer and dryer to be conveniently placed in the large bathroom, making laundry an easy task for Rose.
While the architectural features of the home are that of a simple cottage, it is the interior design that makes this house a home. “Rose and I agreed early on that I’d have free reign designing the renovation and she’d take care of the furniture and accessories,” Kristopher says. “I decided to go with bright white wood-panelled walls and muted white-washed wood floors to give her a blank canvas for her collection of painted furniture. I also thought open shelves would help transition the kitchen and the living room into one natural space, while giving Rose room to showcase her collection of pottery and scrimshaw and Russian dolls.”
After spending 40 holiday seasons at The Royal Hawaiian in Oahu, a bright painting depicting Rose’s room at the hotel hangs permanently in her bedroom as a reminder of family vacations. “Growing up, Matthew thought Santa Claus only came to The Royal Hawaiian,” laughs Rose.
Books, family photos and a reproduction of Matt’s childhood surfboard line the walls of Rose’s office. They are ever-present reminders of a full life in this beachside community.
A collection of paintings hangs on a wall in the living room. Rose explains, “I bought them from my neighbor because I liked them, and the boys in the paintings reminded me of Matt.” Years later when the artist died, Matt found a matching painting for sale online, thereby rounding out Rose’s collection of the artist.
Kristopher mixed Rose’s mid-century modern furnishings with a few newer pieces. Nothing is excessive, and everything flows. From the bright dining room table and chairs to the relaxed burlap and linen sofa, it all blends seamlessly.
With a nod to nostalgia, a pink-and-white quilt covers the bed in the otherwise simple, modern bedroom. In each space, nothing is left to chance, yet old and new meld in a perfect union.
Houses become homes when the owners take possession and the personal becomes public. Objects handed down through generations, family photos and well-worn books tell the stories of the residents.
Anyone can renovate a home, and everyone can install new, impersonal furnishings into a house. It takes the confidence, wisdom and authenticity of a wiser generation to teach us to appreciate where we came from and how to beautifully integrate it into our lives.
To that end, Rose Jacobson’s home is a rich history of her roots, an insight into her interests and a testament to her priorities—all blended in the contemporary beachfront cottage she calls home.
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