Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series showcasing the homes of local interior designers.
Bari Beukelman had just one item on her bucket list: to leave Los Angeles and head north to live near the ocean. So when she was diagnosed with cancer, her brother Scott Beukelman and his partner Laila Tallon set about making that wish a reality.
Together, they began scouting coastal properties. Price was their primary stumbling block until they chanced upon a weed-choked 1925 cabin in Cambria that had been foreclosed on and abandoned.
Located on a wooded hillside in a neighborhood known as “Happy Hill,” it had a partial ocean view and was a 10-minute walk to Moonstone Beach. They were charmed by its log cabin structure and stone fireplaces that “reminded us of our younger days growing up camping near lakes or oceans, in tents and cabins,” said Scott Beukelman.
They bought it in September 2013. Beukelman, a semi-retired Hollywood set designer, and Laila Tallon, an interior designer, were confident their skills would be sufficient to cope with the necessary renovations. At the time, Bari was undergoing treatment, so they envisioned a slow and leisurely remodel.
But before the sale was even final, the couple learned that Bari’s condition had worsened. Plans for the cabin were put into overdrive, with the hope that they could move in with Bari before Christmas.
They quickly assembled a team. Paul Duston of Duston Construction was charged with the formidable task of making the house habitable within three months. Beukelman handled some of the finish work.
“It was a community effort,” said Tallon, who noted that everyone worked hard to expedite the process — from the real estate agent Jack Posemsky, to painter Frank Welsh, to employees at Lowe’s Home Improvement. “Once they knew our story, they pulled together in an amazing way,” she said.
The structure was actually two cabins that had been joined together, likely in the 1940s, to create a 1,500-square-foot home. After years of sitting vacant, the home had no heating, no hot water, broken appliances, insect infestations, and cabinetry that was falling apart from mold.
The team addressed all of these issues. They installed a new kitchen, as well as new plumbing and electrical systems. Two fireplaces, in the master bedroom and living room, became the cabin’s heat sources with the addition of gas inserts. New skylights now flood the previously dark space with sunlight.
The team preserved original features whenever possible, including the old water glass windows, original doors and wood floors that required repairs.
Walls were covered in multiple layers of paint, so Tallon opted to start fresh with a whitewashing of “pearl white,” a shade by Dunn Edwards.
Although the couple went with modern stainless steel appliances, they maintained a rustic cabin vibe overall.
In the new kitchen, cabinets and shelving by Personal Touch Woodworks are alder in a natural finish. Quartz countertops have the look of polished concrete. The backsplash consists of wooden v-groove boards. In the master and guest bedrooms, vinyl flooring was replaced with textural jute carpeting made of sturdy olefin that resists moisture damage in the high humidity area.
Tallon’s design for the interior is “eclectic but comfortable,” she said. “I didn’t want people to walk in and think it’s something out of Pottery Barn.” The look combines elements of midcentury modern with farmhouse modern.
In the living room, for instance, she combines a modern Eames chair with an antique Welsh armoire, antique pottery and kilim rugs. Some accents hint at a cabin theme, such as old oars and wooden wall pegs. Others, such as vintage film posters, pay homage to Beukelman’s career in the film industry. “It’s all wrapped up in a lot of nostalgia,” said Tallon.
The couple moved in with Bari on Dec. 18, just in time for the family to gather for what they knew would be Bari’s last Christmas. She died just four months later.
The community that pulled together to complete the renovation provided consolation for the couple as they worked through their grief.
So did the house, with its enveloping, retreat-like feel. The couple continued to improve the cabin, refinishing the hallway, adding sliding barn doors to the bathrooms, layering in elements of comfort at a time when they sorely needed it.
So when the question came up of whether to return to Los Angeles, the answer was clear. “We had gotten really rooted here,” said Tallon. “We felt we had more here than we ever could have if we went back.”
Tips from Laila Tallon
TAKE A PIC Sometimes decluttering is all the redecorating you need. If you’re not sure what needs to go, take photos of rooms and identify where you could use more open space. Photos often reveal clutter that you no longer notice in your day-to-day life.
WHITEWASH FIRST When redesigning a home with a variety of wall colors, sometimes it helps to begin with a blank slate. Paint the walls a crisp white, then live with the house for awhile before you decide on wall colors.
PASS ON PAINT CHIPS Examining a tiny paint chip is usually not enough to choose a wall color. Try buying samples of your favorite colors, then painting them on large Styrofoam boards, available at craft stores. They are so lightweight, you can easily tape them up on various walls to see how changing light affects the colors.