Cape Cod Style at California

When Julie and Rick Borgens purchased this bluffside home in California’s Orange County, the magnificent ocean view and expansive outside area overshadowed the dull 1970s stucco exterior. But with the help of Todd Custom Homes, Tuvalu Home and R.J. Imports, they were able to redesign the area into a home worthy of its dreamy site. Native landscaping and a luxurious backyard pool helped finish its transformation into a Southern California paradise.

in a Glance
Who lives here: Julie and Rick Borgens and two brothers, ages 19 and 21
Location: Capistrano Beach, Orange County, California
Size: 4,000 square feet; four bedrooms; four baths
That is interesting: The outside dining table was custom-built with additional height so guests can see the ocean while they eat — whales and dolphins often swim by.

Dana Nichols

A teak furniture collection and outside fireplace create a warm setting beside your home’s backyard pool. Julie put glass within an empty drum to generate a dining table which may be full of sand and seashells in summer and pine cones during the vacations. “As the seasons change and it gets chilly outside, we travel from the ocean side of the home to the fireplace around the pool side,” she states.

Driftwood heart and wreath: Tuvalu Home; drum table: R.J. Imports; teak chairs: Patio Outlet

Dana Nichols

The grottolike swimming pool and spa are tucked to the house’s backyard. Orange cape honeysuckle and blue salvia colour the landscape around the pool.

Landscape layout: Jan Houghton, Houghton Design Group

Dana Nichols

Instead of a classic front door, guests enter the property through the backyard gate which leads beyond the pool place.

Dana Nichols

Julie loves to include her favourite accent shade, bright blue, in careful doses so that it doesn’t detract from the home’s decor. She filled buckets with plants and seashells and piled them onto a blue chair to create a charming vignette in this outdoor place.

Wooden chair and bucket: R.J. Imports

Dana Nichols

Creative plant arrangements take the place of conventional art in this home. This six-wreath succulent arrangement in the entryway bridges the exterior with the interior. Lanterns turned terrariums serve the identical purpose in different areas of the home. “Art appeared too expected,” Alter says. “So a lot of people would only waste this space”

Succulent arrangement: The Ivy Guild, Inc

Dana Nichols

The home includes three indoor and outdoor living spaces in total. Doors from this open onto a deck perched high above an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. The custom made fireplace surround is made of Canyon Creek stone from the northern Rockies.

Palecek chairs and sofa: Tuvalu Home; stone fireplace surround: Sepulveda Building Materials; TV framework: LCR Furniture and Design, Inc

Dana Nichols

Julie wanted several intimate seating areas within her home rather than one big one. Each is varied enough for entertaining, yet intimate enough for casual living — like this downstairs area. “It’s kind of interesting,” says Julie, “but we do use every area”

Seagrass chairs and menu: R.J. Imports

Dana Nichols

External, a custom-built grill using a huge backsplash offers privacy from the neighbors. Julie’s favorite beachy blue appears in the porcelain vase.

Rick enjoys winemaking, so the couple’s next job is a wine cellar on the lower level, available through a secret door.

Grill: LCR Furniture and Design, Inc..

Dana Nichols

In the kitchen, custom cabinetry hides the refrigerator and microwave. Julie originally envisioned a glistening white kitchen but cabinetmaker Michelle Anderson of LCR Furniture and Design, Inc. advocated this antique-style variation as a suitable match with the mix of walnut and other imported woods through your home. An oversize navy island offers plenty of entertaining and prep area.

Turquoise vases: Tuvalu Home

Dana Nichols

Upstairs in the stairwell landing, an open press room serves as the house’s third living room. The window seat, having a sea view, is one of Julie’s favorite places in the home. The brown leather couch came from Costco, the firm at which Rick has worked for 30 decades.

Glass lamps and drum: Tuvalu Home; master bedroom bed (through the doorway): R.J. Imports; framed artwork: Tuvalu Home; couch: Costco

Dana Nichols

The bedrooms are simple and modest in size compared to the home’s entertainment locations. “Apart from sleeping, we do not hang out in our bedroom a complete lot. No sitting chairs or anything,” says Julie. A mirror, rather than a dresser, makes the space look and feel bigger. This massive piece reflects the ocean view all around the master bedroom.

Paint: Silver Sage, Restoration Hardware; bedding: Pottery Barn; mirror: R.J. Imports

Dana Nichols

The guest room overlooks the pool side of the home, and another massive mirror reflects light.

Mirror: R.J. Imports; lamps, pillows and seashell blanket: Pottery Barn; striped coverlet and blue throw: T.J. Maxx; bed: Urbanism Furniture, Costa Mesa, CA; paint: Silver Sage, Restoration Hardware

Dana Nichols

Glass railings onto the deck framework the ocean view, but the couple found that a regular 36-inch-high dining table wasn’t tall enough to allow diners to see over it. “You’re constantly looking through the railing in the ocean. We had this dining table made at pub height so that we could see over the railing,” says Julie.

Custom bar-height dining table: LCR Furniture and Deisgn, Inc.. ; chairs: Patio Outlet

Dana Nichols

Backyard plants were selected for low water usage, ground-hugging colour and textural interest. Either side of the pathway are landscaped with native plants and succulents such as sedums and aeoniums, dwarf agaves, salvia, California fuchsia, ceanothus and sea lavender. The stone pathway leads to some other firepit down the hill.

Log planter: Plant Depot; landscape layout: Jan Houghton, Houghton Design Group

Do you Reside in a beachfront home? Discuss it with us!

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Serene Cabin Retreat Near Austin

This cozy cedar cabin was originally built as a refuge for Melissa and Mike Wilson. When the opportunity arose to allow them to create this 20-acre property outside Austin, Texas, they understood that it was the perfect feast for their hungry cousins. The creative couple first designed a simple and colorful space to escape and operate in. Now they share their oasis by renting out the space to others, and hope to build yet another vacation rental in their property soon.

at a Glance
Who resides: A vacation home for Melissa and Mike Wilson
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 1,000 square feet; two bedrooms, 1.5 baths

Kara Mosher

Minimal furniture invites visitors to use the comfy, alternate chairs in the living room. A Costco memory foam beanbag is paired with a cushion for a makeshift cushioned chair.

Kara Mosher

After Melissa first moved to Austin, she stayed at the Hotel San Jose and fell in love with the relaxed, contemporary design. “I’ve followed Liz Lambert’s work and have stayed at all her properties over time,” Melissa says. “Her work really motivated me. I wished to keep the design clean and simple, uncluttered and with a few unique pieces to invite you bring down your heart rate a little. I hope it does.”

Kara Mosher

Mike loves music, so the cottage’s album player (tucked beneath the ladder) is an essential accompaniment to his impressive vinyl library. “I think that it can help to set the tone for the distance. We do not have a TV or phone so it’s great to unplug, lie back, listen to great music and enjoy the warmth and solitude the cabin attracts,” Melissa says.

Sconces: Manuel’s on 5th Street (currently closed)

Kara Mosher

The exterior and interior of the home are produced from a regional species of cedar timber.

Kara Mosher

The couple has hosted everyone from honeymoon and wedding guests to writers needing somewhere to finish projects. The cabin has even been used by musicians working on albums and gearing up for excursion — including bands during Austin City Limits and SXSW.

Kara Mosher

Melissa put her own creative touch on decoration pieces across the area, such as this written reminder:”Discussing does not always improve upon silence.”

Kara Mosher

The simple kitchen is outfitted with stainless steel appliances and custom cedar attributes. Both the countertops and seat are custom made.

Kara Mosher

The couple loves spending time in the floor-to-ceiling cedar space and fun with friends. One of Melissa’s favorite pieces is the dining table Mike designed; it sits against the wall with bench seating. “All you need to do is pull it away from the wall and you’ve got space to have six people for supper,” she says.

Kara Mosher

The cabin’s most important bathroom has a classic claw-foot tub. “A long soak in the bathtub is one of my favorite things I do to relax,” Melissa says. “I make sure we keep relaxing bath salts on hand for all guests to use.”

Kara Mosher

The limited color palette echoes the rest of the cottage’s soothing layout. Melissa used mainly green, giving the distance power and life.

Curtain: Cost Plus World Market

Kara Mosher

Melissa is a therapist also uses a spare bedroom for her very own private counseling practice. She and Mike intend to keep the cabin for a vacation rental and aspire to build yet another unique structure on the house within the next couple of years.

Kara Mosher

Upstairs, the second bedroom is in a spacious yet cozy loft space. A barrel nightstand contributes to the rural sense.

Throw cushions, blankets, nightstand: Pier 1 Imports

Kara Mosher

The downstairs bedroom windows fill the room with soft light, highlighting the colors of the room. Melissa made the light rainbow mosaic-tiled art bit.

Rug, bedding: Cost Plus World Market

Kara Mosher

Melissa and Mike enjoy their saltwater escape is close to downtown but still feels a world away. They recognize that it’s rare to find 20 acres in Austin and feel blessed to have this escape. “We are only 20 minutes away from amazing Hamilton Pool, and down the street from The Salt Lick BBQ and Lady Bird Wildflower Center.”

Kara Mosher

The creative couple’s thoughts aren’t limited to their own rural retreat — they also attend Burning Man each year. They brought the cedar swing set shown in this photo there in 2011. Two musicians at Curious Customs made the lamp hanging out of the swing set.

Kara Mosher

Melissa snagged this birdhouse out of a neighbor who had helped a girl with an amazing birdhouse set clean out her home. “They were just going to be thrown away, so I was able to choose a couple that I loved,” she says.

The weathered wooden picnic seat was salvaged from a local skating rink that needed to get rid of some tables. “I love that it has so much character and several layers of paint,” says Melissa.

Do you have a nation cabin? Show us your property.

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Style In Stereo: Fine Design For Your Media Center

On the lookout for a means to house your music and media equipment? So am I. Whether it’s a vintage stereo console or a new media centre, here is a range of stylish options I’ve gathered.

I’ve been on the hunt for a vintage stereo console or recording player that looks like this cabinet for awhile. A few of those cabinets were designed with so much care that they are unique stand-alone pieces of artwork that can double as either a house for your media equipment and a console table.

Amy Lau Design

If I were to come across a stereo cabinet having a nice shape for this, my goal would be to rehabilitation the device with a few punchy color to give it a mid century kick. On that note, be aware that if you are planning on repurposing a vintage stereo cabinet, you might need to wash out a lot of old technology for example non-functioning record players and tape decks to create room for your new networking technology. You also might need to drill a few holes in the back to accommodate wires.


Truth be told, most of the units I am discovering on Craigslist or at thrift shops are of the gaudier laminate selection. I never would have thought to paint 1 cherry red and put in white upholstery to achieve a Regency Glamour look. Now that I am seeing this smart sew paired with the dark paint and white greyhound statuettes, I can see new potential in formerly rejected styles of vintage stereo cabinets.

SBaird Design

By default, I lean towards the Scandinavian wood made stereo cabinets that work so well with today’s modern technology and other contemporary furniture icons. How cute would a tiny unit similar to this appearance with a flat screen TV overhead?

Denise DeCoster Architect

If you enjoy the appearance of a stand-alone cabinet with doors to conceal all your stereo equipment, but don’t gravitate to vintage, an armoire that has been altered with openings for cables and sliding doors for speakers can be just the answer. This stunning gold-leafed beauty is the centerpiece of the living room.

Elad Gonen

Another fairly common solution is a minimalist, simply assembled open cabinet, available at most contemporary furniture shops. I enjoy the simplicity of this solution, but remember that wire management can become unsightly.

Elad Gonen

Another opinion of a similarly engineered cabinet demonstrates how it appears to float on thin metallic legs.

Alexander Johnson Photography

If you are willing to spend some more bucks on a personalized solution, an entire wall unit that incorporates drawers and shelving is best. A low-slung, long flat layout beneath contrasting dark wall is a contemporary approach.

S.A.N Design Group, Inc..

A more conventional built-in unit occupies the entire wall with both proportioned shelves around the top and timeless cabinets across the bottom.

James Cleary Architecture

If your floor plan allows for it, working your built-ins to home media/stereo equipment in under the stairs is a space saving and unconventional route.

FORMA Design

One of my favorite solutions for housing stereo equipment incognito is a small built-in cabinet to both sides of a fireplace. Back in the day, these were used as wet bars or for extra storage, but as more people mount their flat screen TVs above the fireplace, these cabinets are being repurposed to discreetly house AV equipment, with the cables to the TV hidden behind the drywall.


Grid media console – $499

Some resources for media cabinets include CB2, which delivers this adorable little white oak/white painted steel combo.


Franklin Media Cabinet – Gold Leaf – $2,685

Dwell Studio has released a brand new line of furniture and also among the standout layouts is this gold-leafed media cabinet. It reminds me of the armoire featured previously.

Urban Outfitters

Draper Media Console – $249

If you can’t find an original vintage stereo cabinet, Urban Outfitters will happily sell you a replica for about precisely the exact same cost or less than the originals go for.


Illusorio Console – $1,698

Maybe a more rustic conventional version with lots of drawers would be a much better fit in your living room? There is a console out there for every style.

See How TVs Are Passing the Designer Test
Design Dilemma: Where to Place the Media Center?
Fall Premiere Season: Where to Set Your TV

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