Interiorssneak peeks

A Tiny Southern California Beach House

by Amy Azzarito

When designer Julia Long moved into this home in San Clemente, California, she was downsizing from 1,000 square feet to 400 square feet. Julia spends her days designing décor pieces, sourcing products overseas and scouring flea markets near and far so for her own home she lives quite minimally,  with pieces that have been passed down through family, special pieces coveted and saved for or things picked up during her travels. (Julia designs collections for HomArt  and she tries to create products with that same ruthless editing vigor that she gives her own collections.) The architecture of the home is of a classic style in San Clemente referred to as Ole Hanson named for the founder of the beach town. Terra cotta pavers, 8” thick plaster walls, handmade bricks, cantera stone fountain, and an outdoor shower for the post-surf rinse off.  Julia’s design taste  for furniture and decor leans towards mid-century which pares perfectly  with this cool, Spanish style. The minimal décor is the perfect foil for Julia’s collections and favorite objects. She wanted her home to be cozy without feeling crowded.  (Julia’s lesson: When collections are massed together they create the most visual impact without looking chaotic.)  Everything from white stoneware dishes, vintage oil paintings, glass bottles and green books – Julia was able to keep all her precious collections even in her much smaller house. Thanks, Julia! And a big thank you to Shawn Parkin for the lovely photographs. –Amy

Image above: I created a pair of pendant lights (one over the couch and the other over the credenza) using a vintage cloth wrapped cord, brass fixture set and found industrial glass globes. With 8” thick adobe walls the best electricity option was from above, the clean white of the room (Pure White 7005 by Sherwin Williams) really sets off the light and provides amazing illumination at night. Couch from Crate & Barrel.

Image above: The juxtaposition of a large collection of dishes and a teeny, tiny kitchen inspired me to move the everyday dishes and stemware from the kitchen cabinets into the hallway and this space turned into the hub where everyone ends up congregating at parties. Open shelving is my favorite solution to utilizing space in a visually pleasing way. It makes my guest feel welcome to grab a glass for wine or even help set the table. Reclaimed Wood Harpoon Stool by HomArt.


See more of this Southern California home after the jump!


Image above: These gorgeous cane back chairs are something I truly treasure, I adopted them from friends of mine – an interior designer husband and lifestyle blogger wife – when their family was growing and they needed their dining seating to be more kid friendly and wanted their treasured chairs to find a good home. I think they have! The best meals have happened around this table, round tables tend to generate the best conversation. The duo of clipper ship paintings – one classical oil and the other paint-by-number –have the same composition executed in two very different methods but I feel they are destined to be hung together. Both are flea market finds.

Image above: My grandfather’s bar cart fits perfectly under my favorite window in the Casita. I love its proportions, its height and the late afternoon light that it brings into the living room. My decorating style leans very much toward tight and sparsely placed vignettes (you can even find me there on Instagram @vignette ) these tight little stories can flaunt a collection without feeling messy.

Image above: White English Ironstone is my kryptonite.

Image above: I had this teak display case shipped back from an antiques buying trip in India. The scale of it is quite grandiose for my little space but I wouldn’t choose anything else and everything that fills it is 100% in my day-to-day use. From books to high heels to knitting!

Image above: A view from the front door, home sweet home.

Image above: A stack of my small-scale watercolors, some are used in HomArt product designs others become homemade cards for friends.

Image above: The true-to-style Cobalt tiles in my kitchen have coxed the color lover out of me and became the perfect compliment to my ever-growing collection of kitchen larder inspired still life paintings.

Image above: The tiniest of bathrooms felt like it doubled in size when the small medicine cabinet was removed and a large, round burlwood mirror was added. Essentials are stored on an Ikea shelf while other sundries are stored in the vintage tin first aid box. Glass Utility Jars by HomArt.

In a room where precious artwork cannot survive, my bathroom is decked with framed book pages. Indexes, copy pages and chapter prefaces take on a whole new glamor when matted and framed.

HomArt sea grass baskets provide discreet storage and make a happy grouping with an antique oil painting from Hong Kong, a coveted wood millinery mold and giant bird of paradise leaves clipped from the courtyard.

Image above: Another family piece, my father’s dresser has been refinished many times since it lived in my first college apartment. Topped with a jewelry flaunting flamingo and some precious baubles.

Image above: I’ve had this brass ladder for many years; it was a found object from my friend Robert Ogden of Lostine who acquired it from an old textile mill. It’s lived in many of my homes and always serves a different purpose; here is doubles as a place to hang an extra blanket or to access the vintage suitcases above.


Image above: The open floor plan creates the best energy – the kitchen the view goes right past the bedroom, over the dining table and out to the private courtyard and fountain.

Image above: Small space living to the max! My summer and winter wardrobes are interchangeably stored in vintage suitcases above the closet.

Image above: What home doesn’t need a little Hugo Guinness moment?

Image above: Tyson, on the rare occasion that he is not sunbathing in a sun warmed spot on the terra cotta pavers.



Image above: A San Clemente staple: an outdoor shower for the post beach day rinse off.

Image above: True to the original Spanish architecture the fountain is made of cantera stone. The cast cement woman bust is not part of the fountain but she was there when I moved in and looked so pleasant it felt just right to keep her.


Image above: Rope chairs and loveseat by Lostine.

Image above: With multiple sets of French doors my home tends to become one indoor/outdoor living space – one of my many favorite things about it.

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  • Wow, this is stunning! I love everything about it, it looks open but also very homey, comfortable, and inviting. And it has a patio! Such a beautiful home and space.

  • I love small space inspiration, so I really appreciate this post. When thinking about my own small space I tend to lean towards the minimalist approach, with little to no decoration, but I love how Julia incorporated personal touches while keeping things harmonious and uncluttered. Beautiful space.

  • wonderful and inspiring – thank you for sharing your home! I wonder if that’s a Barbara Barry sofa, and also if you are on Pinterest?

  • I love anything that makes a house feel as if the outside has come in. The tile on the floor has done that for this house. I love it.

  • Too neutral in color for me, but I appreciate the creative solutions and that it feels like holiday when I look at this home :)

  • Beautiful, and that wine rack. I just died. Any info on it would be immensely appreciated!

  • Thank you everyone for the kind comments!
    Judi, the sofa and ottoman are Crate & Barrel and you may find me on Pinterest simply under my name (Julia Long) or @vignette.
    Mitchell, the wine rack came from the cellar in my fathers house in Sonoma, CA. When he moved out east, the wine rack found a home with me. It is a very rustic, forged iron piece. From what we know about it, it was handmade in Sonoma and originally used in a restaurant. It really is a spectacular statement!

  • This is a dream house. I’m a huge fan off off-white/cream coloured walls and natural wood accents, so this is what I envision my house looking like some day! Wonderful job, Julia.

  • A beautiful home. So much care in display of objects yet it does not look contrived. Very inspiring.

  • Julia Long, I want to live in your building. What a stunning place and what magic you have created.
    Diana from San Francisco

  • Can I pleeeez just have the floor plan? I’m in L-O-V-E love with this place! It breathes sunshine.

  • What a wonderful space you’ve created! In your bathroom, it seems like there is so much natural light! Is there a window or skylight that isn’t visible in the pictures?

  • Even as a student, you were always painfully cool–now you’ve outdone yourself! WOW!!

  • Tiny with respect to US standards. By European standards, it’s just about right, if not large. :)

  • This one is my absolute favorite. San Clemente is captured perfectly in this beachy, laid-back, classy, sunny, little place. Love to see reminders of my hometown, and this made my heart ache. Perfect!!!

  • Where are the bathroom and kitchen located…opposite the open arched bedroom wall??? Would love to know. This house is perfection!

  • As if I didn’t need another reason to move to California one day! This space is lovely and I loooove the indoor/ outdoor of it all. French doors have my heart!

  • Lovely home! Excellent use of space. The area might not be huge but the interior design, use furnitures, and plants makes it appealing. There’s certainly a perfect combination of indoor/outdoor living space. It reminds me of homes in Wild Dunes which offers atmosphere of exclusivity and lush beauty where you can enjoy a cocktail by the pool, relax in the sun, or stroll along one of the prettiest beaches in the Carolinas.

  • This photo spread truly captured your individual style perfectly, it gave a charming look into the person that lives here, and especially the memories she cherishes most. You absolutely have captured the laid back feeling and beauty of San Clemente, one of the most beautiful beach cities anywhere. My parents owned a Spanish home in San Clemente built in 1928. Without question, some of the greatest memories as a kid growing up, were spent in this jewel of a seaside town. Ole Hanson’s’ dream is alive and well! Thanks Julia!

  • Hi Julia,

    Here I am in Melbourne, Australia and it’s winter. I was transported to a much sunnier place when I looked at your pictures. You’ve done a very elegant job of decorating your home. I wish people would understand that the ‘dead rabbit’ pic is typical of what one would find in a French home. It’s all to do with cuisine – fresh produce cooked at home. There are similar pics in English art and particularly country homes. It’s not morbid even though when one first sees such a picture, one might wince! By the way, your decorating style could easily transfer to Australian beaches. The only difference here is huge windows. We like to see the sea! Bring the outside in. However, you’ve done that in a different way with the French doors and the continuity in floor tiles to the outside garden/courtyard. This writer thanks you for an interesting glance on Pinterest.