Vacationing in a real California Beach Cottage

I recently returned from five days in Northern California, visiting one of my friends who lives in an authentic beach cottage.  Now, I usually don’t share my travels on the blog, but this one is too good not to share with my friends that love home decor.  When you step inside this charming beach cottage, you will see why.  My friend Darrielle’s cottage is actually a 100 year old farmhouse, originally located on a dairy farm in the small town of Soquel, California, and just over a mile to the beach town of Capitola. The neighborhood has grown over the years, but the cottage has remained as charming and picturesque as can be.  Darrielle has transformed this house into a beautiful beach cottage, filled with one of a kind vintage finds and surrounded by lush plants and flowers.



I met my friend Darrielle on the internet! It is true.  We met on instagram almost two years ago, where we participated in a few share groups for home decor accounts and quickly became friends.   We both love vintage finds, cottage style, blue and green, chippy paint, photography, flowers, decorating and staging.  But beyond home decor, we love the outdoors, country music, hammock life, homemade jam on French baguettes and long walks on the beach.  Plus, we are both blonde moms of teen girls and we both grew up on horse ranches, so I have officially dubbed us as soul sisters!


Darrielle and I on the beach, searching for driftwood we can transform into wind chimes and sail boats.


To be honest, I had been crushing on Darrrielle’s cottage for over a year before I really got to know her.  At the time, her instagram account was larger than mine, she had been blogging and decorating for years, and I was in awe of every furniture makeover, dreamy vintage inspired vignette and bouquet of fresh flowers that she posted.  I knew her cottage would end up in a magazine someday soon, so in my mind, Darrielle seemed intimidating, far too talented and fascinating to be friends with little ole me, albeit not reality.  As I have navigated my journey on social media, I have realized a few things.  We are all human.  There are real, authentic people behind each square on instagram.  I have gotten to know many talented women who are willing to share what they know about decorating, DIYing, painting, or blogging in our home decor community.  We inspire one another, cheer each other on through our accomplishments, and even laugh or cry together when parenting, relationships and real life gets hard. So when I hear that common misunderstanding that social media isn’t real, I beg to differ.   I traveled over 1400 miles from Texas to visit my friend Darrielle in California.  After interacting on social media for less than 2 years, meeting in person felt like hanging out with an old friend.  Darrielle is the real deal.  She is so kind, genuine, and a beautiful soul. She encouraged my daughter and I, who traveled with me, to try so many new things; to climb the tree, to stop and smell the roses, like literally each different flower and herb we passed, taste foods that we haven’t had before like calamari, and touch the center of sea urchins until they enclosed around our fingers.  We ate fresh blackberries pulled from the vines and tasted ‘sour grass’ in the middle of the redwood forest.  We tried an olallieberry pie for the first time. It was so good with ice cream. Just know, I will pass on any ‘green juice’ in the near future.


Herbs from D’s yard


Now, let the beach cottage tour begin..


Here is the front yard of Darrielle’s cottage, surrounded by a white picket fence.  So quaint and charming, y’all! We enjoyed an afternoon bicycle ride on the cutest beach bikes.


Here is one of my favorite places at the cottage!  The backyard is so pretty and includes the cutest guest cottage!  I love how Darrielle created lots of places to relax or hang out with friends or family.


Y’all, this is the cutest guest cottage that I have ever seen. It makes me want to build one in my backyard. I love the front porch attached to it, too. So many great spaces to sit back and relax!


Inside the cottage is a place to read, write and a pull out sofa for overnight guests!  Maritime art depicts inspiration from the sea and is displayed beautifully around the room.  Darrielle has a wonderful way of mixing vintage finds and I love the collection of paintings grouped together.  She loves the hunt at local flea markets on the weekends.


The weather is so nice in northern California that the windows stay open all day and night.  No air conditioning necessary. That is so hard to believe after living in Texas all my life.  It was nice to hang out on the back porch without sweating.  In the evenings, you just cozy up with a blanket. And yes, I had a nap on the back porch!  My daughter loved relaxing in the hammock ,too.  Darrielle built the farmhouse table on her back porch.  I love the mix of raw wood and white and mismatched chairs. The blue stripes create a nautical feel, very reminiscent of the beach life.


Now, let’s step inside the main cottage house.  This sitting area was originally the front entry to the home. Over the years, it has been a playroom for her daughter, but currently serves as the music room with several places to sit back and enjoy the breeze while skimming through home decor magazines.  I love the vintage grain sack Darrielle used on the piano bench.


I love the beach inspired vignettes in Darrielle’s home.  She combines so many beautiful colors and textures, uses a variety of lines and has a play on positive and negative space.  Between Trader Joe’s and her own yard, Darrielle always has fresh flowers displayed in her home.  Some of her favorites are gladiolas, hydrangeas and daisies, as well as a variety of plants.


I am drawn to the cottage style of Darrielle’s home including the weathered finishes, natural fiber rugs, and pops of color found in nature.  I love how the colors pop off the white slipcovered sofas and light grey walls in her living room.  Darrielle repurposed this coffee table from reclaimed wood!  It has so much character and time worn charm. The chippy green shutters are my favorite.


One of my favorite places that Darrielle restyles for each season is her mantle.  Take a look to quickly see why.  The textural layers of sea side finds like coral and shells with vintage crocks and aqua glass jars filled with fresh daisies are perfect for summer.  With a few simple changes of flora & fauna, it is ready for the next season.  This styling is simply gorgeous.


The living room opens up to the dining room.  I love how her home is filled with vintage pieces and painted furniture, so characteristic of the cottage style, too.  Darrielle has been painting furniture for years. She uses all kinds of paint including Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint, chalk paint, and salt wash paints.  I love the combination of distressed white paint and wood on the hutch that Darrielle painted. Don’t forget to check out the original wood flooring!  So pretty!



Here is a peak inside Darrielle’s bedroom.  One of her signature pieces in her decor are antique gold mirrors.  I love the juxtaposition of the gold, glam mirrors with distressed wood furniture and colorful vintage pieces.  Darrielle is not only a talented painter, but at upholstery too.  I adore this grain sack striped chair that she DIYed. It has beautiful lines.


One of my favorite rooms that Darrielle has remodeled is her master bathroom.  It contains several pieces of her signature stye: gold mirrors, distressed furniture and pops of color.  Darrielle made this sliding barn door from new wood.  She used several layers of blue and green salt wash paint to create the textured surface, then applied white chalk paint, before distressing. It is eye candy!!


The blue shutters and cabinet were painted with Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint.  I just love the unique character that is achieved on each different piece of furniture with milk paint.  The shiplap walls and white subway tile are simple, yet classic choices that add a lot of charm to a small space.


Have you noticed that I have used the word ‘love’ like twenty times? I do know other words, but I just LOVE everything in this beach cottage.  There is no other way to describe it.  I have always dreamed of living near the beach, and this cottage is what my dreams are made of.  There is so much character in each room, including this second bathroom.  Beadboard walls, y’all! Nothing is overdone, or too fancy, but everything is intentional. Darrielle uses antique cabinets as the vanity in her bathrooms.  So creative!  She is a DIY queen!



I mentioned that Darrielle is great at upholstery, but did I mention our common love for buffalo check and grain sack stripes.  I mean two of my favorite patterns in my favorite color.  Can it get any better?  Nope, it can not!  Oh wait, do you see the raw wood stripped down and the curvy legs on these two chairs.  Awww, this is my love language.  I had to share my two favorite chairs. While you are drooling, look at the chippy green stools. I can’t even.  If these ever go missing, just look in Texas, D! Or, rather not!  The right picture is taken near the kitchen eating area.


Here is a peak of the kitchen table nook on the left! (I didn’t get any more pictures of the kitchen! Oops!).  I want to share these vignettes because they can teach us a few simple things about styling! Group items in 3 or 5, include greenery, vary the height of your objects, use trays to corral items, use a variety of textures and include something unique or funky to add interest.  I am always looking at how others decorate their homes.  Good decorator friends always inspire one another and Darrielle is an inspiration to me to keep being creative.


Speaking of great styling, the bookshelf in the office area is so pretty.   It is backed in bead board and painted the prettiest shade of aqua blue.  There are lots more spaces including the bedrooms that I didn’t get a chance to snap a picture of, but you can see more of Darrielle’s home and furniture makeovers on her Instagram feed at @ddscottageanddesign or at



While visiting Darrielle, she took me to the charming little beach town of Capitola.  We took a stroll along the river flanked by historical cottages and beautiful flowering yards.  Here are a few of my favorites views of the flowers.  They grow so well in California.  I think we found one hydrangea flower larger than my daughter’s head.


This was my daughter and I’s first trip to California. We were lucky to have a wonderful tour guide and dear friend to show us around and experience so many ‘firsts’ together including a 4 mile hike in the redwood forest.

We visited a few beaches during our visit, but I think this is ‘Rio Del Mar’ beach.  My daughter loves the beach as much as I do… the sand… the crashing waves…it’s amazing!


We took a stroll along the beach to watch the sunset one evening.   It was beautiful how the sky was painted pink and yet orange on the other side.


pic by darrielle


pic by darrielle


This is the Crow’s Nest restaurant near Santa Cruz! It is gorgeous there and so calming to be near the ocean.  We loved the sight of the sailboats and lighthouse on the water. More amazing sunsets…

Thank you Darrielle for opening up your beautiful home and heart to my daughter and I!  It was a real adventure! I can’t wait for the next one!

I will share our road trip to Carmel, Ca on another post! We took too many photos for just one blog post of our wonderful trip to California!

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One thought on “Vacationing in a real California Beach Cottage

  1. Hi Amy, Enjoyed all your Instagram posts on your beach adventure with Darrielle in Soquel. So glad you enjoyed your visit to my home state. I LOVE Texas, but, have to admit, NOT in the muggy, muggy summer. Can’t wait for your next blog on the Carmel portion of your trip. That is such a magical little town. Very pricey, but magical!

    Don’t forget to check out the new novel “Because I’m Worth it” which takes place in Carmel and Big Sur. I’m sure you’ll love it!

    Smiles, Carol

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