Peek Inside This Thatched-Roof California Cottage

vintage kitchen renovation
Styling By Sunday Hendrickson, Photography By Mark Lohman

By Hannah Jones

When Annalisa Valenza and her husband were searching for a home along the California coastline in San Diego, they had a few must-haves on their house-hunting list, but at the very top was a fixer-upper right beside the water. Their 1930s English-style cottage fit the bill almost perfectly, sans ocean views, but the couple was willing to make the sacrifice for the charming retreat.

garden gate entry to thatched roof cottage
Styling By Sunday Hendrickson, Photography By Mark Lohman

“My husband fell in love with this home because of the thatched roof,” Annalisa remembers. “Everybody in the neighborhood called it the Hansel and Gretel house because that’s exactly what it looks like.” Walking along original brick pavers through the red gate is like walking into a fairy tale. After moving in, Annalisa sought help from a landscaper to keep the home true to style with an English tea garden.

period-style living room
Styling By Sunday Hendrickson, Photography By Mark Lohman

Their landscaper was the only outside help the couple used for the home, though—they designed and renovated their little fixer-upper completely on their own. While her husband is a general contractor, Annalisa had no professional experience as a designer at that time, but she knew exactly what she wanted: shabby chic vintage with her own unique twist. “When I was researching vintage and shabby chic style for this home, there were so many floral prints that had been done so many times,” she says. “I wanted something different. I wanted the same look with not as much floral print.”

To achieve this, Annalisa mixed in period-style Hawaiian floral prints in addition to a few coastal motifs to go along with the beach cottage theme. She continued to break up the floral theme by using striped linens for her pillows, which were made from French mattress pickings. To add her personal flair to the design, Annalisa brought in a little bit of animal print in the form of rugs and pillows as well as pieces with an East Asian-style influence.

vintage red chairs in Hawaiian-style vintage dining room
Styling By Sunday Hendrickson, Photography By Mark Lohman

When negotiating the purchase of the home, Annalisa didn’t just ask for the property—she also asked that the chandeliers be kept, as well as two red vintage chairs in the dining room that the previous owner had found.

In addition to incorporating personal style through furnishings, the couple also made some tremendous renovations. They completely overhauled what little was present in the kitchen—the previous homeowners had left them essentially without one—including bringing in hand-distressed cabinetry from Arizona and honed marble. Annalisa also got a butcher block-topped island to match the shabby chic vintage style in the rest of the home.

vintage canopy bathtub
Styling By Sunday Hendrickson, Photography By Mark Lohman

Though the kitchen was the largest renovation in the house, Annalisa and her husband didn’t stop there. Their master bath was also a major renovation. The previous homeowners went with a coastal theme for the room, which Annalisa promptly removed. “It just didn’t fit with the rest of the home,” she recalls. She replaced the porthole window with an old window from a greenhouse, put antique wooden posters around the tub, and added curtains to create the ultimate retreat.

back patio in vintage-style home
Styling By Sunday Hendrickson, Photography By Mark Lohman

After six years of renovating the home, Annalisa fondly calls the cottage her labor of love. “When I get a project I’m working on, I live it and breathe it until it’s done,” she says. Through an abundance of design-savvy style and renovation choices, the couple brought patinated charm back to their beautiful home.

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