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.
“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.
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.