Home & Garden

Coastal without the kitsch: Morro Bay beach house gets contemporary redesign

Mary Jean Jerkovich Mazzei and Jim Jerkovich recently got a fresh start in redesigning their Morro Bay home. The porcelain tile floor looks like weathered wood but is much more easy to maintain.
Mary Jean Jerkovich Mazzei and Jim Jerkovich recently got a fresh start in redesigning their Morro Bay home. The porcelain tile floor looks like weathered wood but is much more easy to maintain.

For 42 years, the Jerkovich family beach house in Morro Bay was the site of reunions, vacations and family celebrations. But decades of wear on the 1972-built home took its toll.

The family had never updated the house, aside from routine maintenance projects. So the current owners, siblings Mary Jean Jerkovich Mazzei and Jim Jerkovich, felt it was time for a fresh start “so we could continue to enjoy it with our families,” said Mazzei.

The families, who live in Fresno, hired designer Heather Tissue and general contractor Chris Isler of CRI and Associates. The 1,200-square-foot, ranch-style home was “classic ’60s California” in architectural style, Tissue said. It sported paneled ceilings, small rooms and a closed-off kitchen. As for décor, there was no style.

“It was full of whatever anybody was getting rid of over the years,” Mazzei said.

The families wanted the house to be coastal in feel, but not kitschy.

“We wanted to stay away from the shells and ocean pictures,” Mazzei said. Also on their wish list was a contemporary aesthetic, a feel of comfort and ease, and low-maintenance materials.

The floor plan stayed intact, except for the kitchen. To open up the space, workers removed a wall, a peninsula and some upper cabinets. The new layout creates flow between the kitchen, living room and dining room.

Throughout the house, materials reflect the serene coastal look the family wanted. In the kitchen, Tissue helped them select countertops made of engineered quartz called “Galloway,” which is part of the Coastal Collection by Cambria stone. It has the look of marble with movement that “echoes the patterns you find in the sand on the nearby beach,” Tissue said.

Tissue worked from a color palette that brings to mind fog, rock, sand and silvery driftwood. Beige carpet gave way to durable and easy-to-clean porcelain tile with the look of silver-gray aged wood. It has become the family’s favorite feature for its beauty and the fact that it hides any sand that gets tracked in from the beach.

Walls went from off-white to ocean-inspired hues by Sherwin-Williams: a light taupe called “heron plume,” and a soft gray-green called “sea salt.”

In the master bath, Tissue incorporated glass accent tile that is reminiscent of sea glass. A pebble floor in the shower seems to flow out onto the bathroom floor.

Texture plays a large part in creating a coastal feel in the house. Roman shades are made of natural fiber. Bar stool frames have a finish reminiscent of driftwood. The dining table is made of reclaimed wood with a simple, rustic design. And light fixtures in the dining room and kitchen have rope details, yet mercury glass for sparkle and sophistication.

The team kept a close eye on finishing details for an individual look.

For instance, Tissue likes to mix metals among fixtures and cabinetry.

“I think of cabinets as distinct pieces of furniture,” she said. “They don’t have to be match-y.”

She used polished chrome for plumbing fixtures and oil-rubbed bronze for doorknobs, hinges and cabinet pulls. The island has its own distinct personality with brushed gold pulls.

The family let go of decades of furniture castoffs, keeping only one bedroom set that had sentimental value. Their new furniture is mostly contemporary, selected for comfort. Mazzei said that everyone has enjoyed finally having a coordinated look in the home.

The remodel took eight months to complete and the families are now finding themselves using the beach house more often. Mazzei, who has fond memories of clamming and dune buggy riding with her own children, is enjoying introducing her grandchildren to the joys of unwinding at the beach. She believes the house now has a timeless style that will appeal to more generations to come.

Design tips

MIX IT UP: Not all fixtures and hardware needs to match. Play with finishes and styles among cabinetry hardware, plumbing fixtures and other metals in the house. For instance, a distinct hardware finish on a kitchen island or built-in hutch makes those pieces feel more like freestanding furniture.

PLAY WITH TEXTURE: Texture plays a big part in coastal style. Think sisal rugs, natural fiber window coverings, rope details, pebble accents and weathered woods.

COASTAL COLORS: The coastal color palette doesn’t have to be nautical blue and white. Consider more subtle hues that bring to mind sand, silvery driftwood, stones and fog.