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This tiny California cottage was transformed into a party-ready paradise

For Deb Brashear, updating her seaside cottage was all about geography. Everything she did needed to reflect its dreamy locale, and you can hardly blame her.

The cottage is just 100 yards from the Pacific, in Montara, California, close to rugged Half Moon Bay. So rather than updating the small cottage in a way that would be fitting anywhere, she set her sights on firmly rooting it in authentic northern California cool.

She hired San Mateo-based interior designer Heike Shelton, with whom she’d worked on previous residences, to not only help her update the indoor spaces, but to think bigger outdoors.

On Brashear’s original wish list was a fenced-in yard for her German shepherd, Shenoa. But Shelton saw so much potential in this one, stretching out from the back door and offering a view of the harbor. She added a new redwood deck and outfitted the area with speakers and heaters (handy after sundown in northern California), turning it into a cozy open-air living and dining area.

Updating the indoors began with a vibrant turquoise backsplash in the kitchen, which infused the outdated cookspace with renewed energy. “A new start in here was especially important because it’s the heart of the house,” says Shelton. “It’s in the middle of everything, especially when friends are over.”

Shelton also chose details that mimicked nature, like live-edge shelving and woven stools in the kitchen. “The natural elements really help to recalibrate Deb’s busy life,” she says.

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