A Beach Bungalow’s Small Spaces Get a Modern Makeover
From the galley-style kitchen to the miniature takes on the living room, the family home plays with space in clever ways
Back in August 2017, interior designer Natalie Myers got a message from a young newlywed couple. They had discovered her designs on Pinterest, and had a little beach bungalow they were working on in Santa Monica that they wanted her help with. The owner’s brother was an architect, who designed the exterior update and expansions in the master suite and kitchen, and asked Myers to design the interior finishes, fixtures, cabinetry, and furnishings.
“They were convinced they would be moving in from the studio apartment in six months but I warned them it could take much longer and they should try to temper their expectations,” says Myers. “In the time it took the city to approve the building permit, the builder to build it and pass all the inspections, and the city to sign off on everything, it was closer to three years. In that time they got pregnant, had the baby, and their little one celebrated her second birthday. These poor sweet souls were living in their studio apartment the entire time with grace and equanimity.”
“This project illustrates the value of timeless modern design,” says Myers. “The goal was for my work to not seem dated. The final install felt as fresh and new to me as the day I designed it. I never changed a tile choice or a light fixture even though I had the opportunity to over the course of the project. Every time I checked if the original choice was something I was still into the answer was always yes and I stayed the course. I stand behind this design and believe it will feel as fresh 20 years from now.”
The layout of the bungalow didn’t account for a singular, large living room. “There actually ended up being two small living rooms, each flanking the front door.”
Myers designed them to both relate in style, given how close the rooms are, while making one a more formal area for hosting guests, and the other more casual with a TV and lounging space. “I found a Moroccon vendor with the same pattern rug in both a flatweave and shaggy style, and thought it would be the right gesture or relating these two spaces to each other.”
From the dual living rooms, you enter the galley-style kitchen. “This is the galley kitchen of galley kitchens,” says Myers. “Two long lines of custom cabinetry with a wider alley between them feel luxurious even though it’s not a huge kitchen.”
In the small space, Myers used both upper cabinets and open shelving. “I will never tire of open shelves and included them in this design, but I also provided upper cabinets for more discreet storage. There is a limited material palette here but just enough change in texture and colors to feel dynamic. I used Cesaerstone on the counters and the 20-inch backsplash for durability and a clean look.”
But Myer’s favorite space in the bungalow is hidden at the end of the galley kitchen. “The tucked-away banquette seating in the kitchen is where I would spend all day with my laptop and coffee or a good book and a glass of wine,” she says. “I love the light, and I love that you have a little private corner but are in the center of the action.”
The master suite was one of the major additions added during construction, but it isn’t an overly spacious area. “A smaller footprint actually feels grand with the help of vaulted ceilings,” says Myers. “We connected the bathroom to the sleeping area with a sliding barn door.”
The master bed continues to draw the eyes up with the four poster-style bed and the eye-catching sconces. The mix of textiles on the bedding and wall hanging keeps the room feeling comfy.
“In the master bathroom, I kept the tile mostly classical with beige glazed field tile and Calacatta marble hex flooring into the shower too,” says Myers.
But the big moment for the master suite is the accent wall in the shower. Myers used cement wall tile to add a playful touch to the shower.