Beach Bungalows with Vintage-Inspired Details

steve nikki carlson cottage and sea

Steve and Nikki Carlson run the popular blog and Instagram account for Cottage + Sea, their collection of cute sea-inspired rentals in Southern California. Part of their process is purchasing beach bungalows and fixing them up with revamped, modern, and incredibly beautiful interiors. A recent project of theirs included brass cabinet hardware from Nostalgic Warehouse. Let's find out more about Steve and Nikki's Cottage + Sea projects.

brass cabinet hardware california cottage sea
brass cabinet hardware california cottage sea

Please give us some more details on Cottage + Sea. How did you develop it, and what sets the business apart?

In 2018, we had been looking for our first home together after several years of waiting for the perfect timing and trying to find the ideal place. Steve is an avid surfer, and Nikki loves older homes with charm and character. We started concepting the idea on Instagram (@cottageandsea) because we wanted a cottage near the sea! And days later, we found our perfect home! This gave us a passion to renovate and create our perfect space and share the process - which led to creating spaces near the coast for others to enjoy.

Through Steve's property investment and renovation experience and Nikki's passion and experience for design, decor, and hospitality, Cottage + Sea was born, and we continued expanding. We are unique because we love renovating small older cottages near the sea. We bring them back to life with vintage touches and modern and luxurious functionality while incorporating unique design trends. Our properties and projects have been featured in Origin Magazine, Coastal Living, Apartment Therapy, Dwell, MyDomaine, Modern Home, and more.

How did you choose a house to buy and renovate?

We love older fixer cottages with a lot of character in a desirable location. We fell in love with Mint + Sea, which consists of two 1950s cottages of 460 sq ft each.

Did you do a remodel on the entire home? If so, were there specific rooms that were more challenging than others? Why?

We remodeled the entire home at Mint + Sea. The kitchen was the most challenging because we pulled up the laminate flooring to uncover the original hardwood underneath. Fortunately, we restored most of it and matched any extra pieces needed, which was very satisfying! We also updated the original tile countertops to that era and learned a lot about where to place all the cuts. We love how it turned out with the Nostalgic Warehouse Deco brass cabinet hardware, hand-blown Art Deco vintage lighting, inset cabinets, a fireclay sink, vintage appliances, and more!

How did you choose the hardware featured in this project? What attracted you to Grandeur Hardware and Nostalgic Warehouse?

We were looking for hardware that had a luxurious feel, as we love designing with luxury. We also wanted to find a unique company that shared our love for vintage designs but with modern functionality. Both Grandeur Hardware and Nostalgic Warehouse had products that exactly matched that vision for our home. When we received them, they exceeded our expectations as the quality was immediately transparent, they were absolutely gorgeous … and we were excited to incorporate them to create that luxurious experience.

brass cabinet hardware california cottage sea
brass cabinet hardware california cottage sea

Will you use this hardware again in other projects/areas of your home? If so, why?

Absolutely! The quality is impeccable, and we love the unique styles, especially those with a vintage look. We love the brass as well as the crystal knobs. We truly love everything about this hardware, whether designed for a vintage or modern look; there are styles that match any design preference.

Did you learn any tips and tricks about cabinet hardware that would benefit others?

The placement of the cabinet hardware can influence the overall look of the cabinets. Some people place knobs in the center-right of shaker-style cabinets or at the bottom right. However, we chose the placement above 3 inches from the bottom on the right of our inset shaker cabinets and love how it looks!

What is your design style, and how do you incorporate those decorating decisions within your home?

We love restoring older homes with character, often from between the 1920s-1960s. We then incorporate some of the era's design styles, bringing modern functionality and updated trends. We love being by the beach, so we decorate with bright organic aesthetics such as rattan, cane, and plants - while incorporating some of the current modern trends such as brass accents, black furniture, Turkish rugs, vintage art and decor, and vintage wood furniture or accents.

Where do you find design inspiration?

We find a lot of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest. However, we like putting a twist on the designs so they are unique to us. We love incorporating finds from previous eras and gaining inspiration from other homes we have renovated, such as The Mint Casa from the 1920s. It had the original pulley system windows and quaint tile countertops.

brass cabinet hardware california cottage sea
brass cabinet hardware california cottage sea

When starting a project, how do you organize and plan for it?

We develop the concept, mood boards, measurements, timeline, and resources to bring the vision to life.

Many people want to take on large remodeling projects. What are some recommendations for readers who wish to do an extensive remodel project?

Consider the time and budget involved and understand that they may go beyond what is projected. If you are not a contractor, ensure you get an excellent general contractor who knows how to do everything to code and can bring your vision to life, be committed to your project, and won't cut corners.

What are some tips for readers who wish to make a transformation in their home?

Consider the timeline, budget, and any life impact it will make (for example, whether you can live there while renovating). Depending on the work, if it is more cosmetic, like painting, changing hardware, or updating doors, you can DIY those aspects, which can make a huge impact. If it is more involved, get the right people to help.

Are you working on any other properties or projects besides your own home?

We finished up Mint + Sea Cottages in Encinitas, CA, which we plan to offer as a stay for short-term rental. We are looking for our next beach home to renovate and design in another great beach town. We'd love to create another cozy space and retreat for guests to enjoy while they stay. We are both entrepreneurs and plan to expand the Cottage + Sea brand.

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