Today we are taking a peek into the home of Megan Arquette. Megan moved from a rambling Victorian in Boston to a much smaller bungalow in California that had been stripped of architectural details before she moved in. She has embraced her new surroundings without forgetting the East Coast, has transformed the home by infusing it with style and personality, mixing flea market finds with catalog finds (and everything in between). When you can't find Megan chatting over at The Skirted Roundtable
, you can catch up with her over at her fabulous blog, Beach Bungalow 8
Please tell us about your “first meeting” with your house.
I came to Manhattan Beach, from Boston, to look for a house in 4 days. I was completely unfamiliar with the area before then. We were living in a very large, Victorian in Boston, and the 'new house' beach lifestyle threw me for a loop. I looked at probably 15 houses in two days. I was invited to a friend's home for lunch on my second day in town. She lived on what was called a 'walk street' ) no cars, only a walking path to the beach) - It was there that I saw my little old bungalow, nicely kept with a recently completed addition to the back. It was tiny, and sold as a 'liveable teardown' but it had more charm than anything I had seen thus far. I new I could make it work.
What was the very first step of your remodeling/decorating process?
The woman that had lived here before, really wanted her home to feel like a large Mediterranean home. She tried to force that style on this little beach bungalow. She had heavy velvet drapes on the windows, and green glazed walls. All very heavy and not what I had envisioned. The bedroom was painted, smooth dry wall with large arches which she had placed big decorative urns in. I had the idea to attach white painted, wood 1 x 4s over the entire room and add windows where the arches were. Creating the look of an old east coast beach house. This really set the tone of the rest of the house I think.
Tell us about the biggest renovation/decoration challenge you faced.
There was nothing architectural about this house. No crown moldings, nothing that would make you say, 'wow good bones' and so I had to create character using color, textiles and interesting furnishings.
What are your favorite styles and color combos?
I like anything that's unpredictable but that has balance and purpose. I love modern, classical design mixed with flea market kitsch if it works. I think I tend to go for an urban beach look in this house. I tried for a few years to give it a beachy, laid back feel, but it kept wanting to be a bit more dressed up than that.
As for color, I tend to fall back to the colors of the ocean, greens and blues with strong touches of espresso browns.
Where is a favorite spot in your house that makes you very happy/proud?
I think I love my bedroom the most. The light is really beautiful in there and it really feels as though you're at the beach. I brought an old door from the house in Boston. I used that as the bathroom door and I love that I've brought a bit of soul from that old house into this sweet, younger one.
What is your most precious piece (accessory/furniture/art)? If there is a fun story behind it, please share it with us.
I have some fish drawings that were a gift from someone at Monticello. I was told that they were hand drawn/colored by Thomas Jefferson. I have no idea if this is true however, but it's an interesting story! I also have an antique cabinet that is very precarious. Whenever we have an earth quake I'm known to run past my children and hold onto it so that the contents won't fly out! my kids love to tell everyone that my furniture is most important in an earthquake. We laugh about it. Although I'm fortunate enough to have some fine pieces, some of my favorite things are art found on eBay, or my jadeite collection found at various thrift stores over the years .
What is your next house project?
I painted the floors a few years ago a dark brown. I sort of think painting them white would be so fresh and create a whole new look. Maybe just change the whole palette to something less intense, more tonal. So I may dive into that project next.
What inspired you to start blogging?
A love for design and living a lifestyle that celebrated beauty, design and creativity. I was reading a few other design blogs at the time, and I thought, this would be a great way for me to post what I love and write about something that I'm passionate. It turned into something that far exceeded any expectations.
Please give us your best tip for the remodeling/decorating beginner.
Paint is your friend. Don't be afraid with color, go for it! you can always repaint. Study and expose yourself to everything. There are so many great design blogs out there, start files and educate yourself so that you know what your own style is. Collect things that you love. Even if your living room has a few basics like a sisal rug (overstock.com has some well priced sisal) a white basic slip covered sofa, a woven shade (home depot) there is SO much you can do to add personality on a budget. Purchase cool art on etsy and create a wall of it. Use a great piece of fabric and have pillows made from it.
What is your favorite source for home decor (etsy? flea market? grandma's attic? Fyndes? Homegoods?)
Etsy has great pillows and art for sure. I love eBay and Craigslist. Even your local thrift shop, if you go regularly, you'll see something that will work. We have fantastic flea markets, here in L.A. Try and look for ways you can repurpose items using paint and new fabrics. There's something so satisfying in the outcome. I also think that there are some great resources through catalogs out there. Ballard Design has some great basics, and Restoration Hardware has wonderful light fixtures. Home Goods is great too. I even found small, blue and white 'chinoiserie' cache pots at Walgreens for 99 cents. I bought several and load them up with tight bouquets for table decoration.
What is your biggest design pet peeve?
When people order everything off one catalog page. There's zero life in the room when that's done. The matching dark wood sleigh bed to the dark wood side table. Mix it up a bit. Go to the local flea market and find a small table instead of a night stand. Or a small desk. Mix your dining table chairs up. Matchy-matchy rooms are no bueno. You have your own personal style, even if you don't know it yet. Don't let others dictate for you.