unexpected guests: hygge house.
by victoria comment

1/19/11

this week our unexpected guest is Alex Beauchamp, of hygge house. The Danish word Hygge (hu-gah) is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary, and i think alex does that quite wonderfully in her sunny santa barbara california cottage. if you’ve never been, it’s a lush and lovely beach community, and i think you’re going enjoy this visit.

alex grew up in a creative family of social vagabonds, and she’s lived all over the world, including France, Denmark and New Zealand. In 1999 Alex immigrated to America and has lived from one coast to the other and everywhere in between — from Bowling Green Kentucky, to Seattle Washington, to Santa Monica, California. today we’re dropping in on alex’s 1920′s restored cottage by the beach, where she lives with her dog, Jack Darcy and her cat, Grace.

What are your top three etsy or online handmade shops?
Having been shopping on Etsy for almost 5 years, it’s hard to narrow my favourites down to three! Here’s my attempt:

For home: Modern Arks takes salvage crates and turns them into side tables. Recycling at its finest.
For art: Eva Juliet is a Montreal artist whose combines images and French sayings to create thoughtful and beautiful prints.
For clothes: Allen Company’s vintage pieces are unique, beautiful and affordable.

What’s your favorite flea market, or secondhand find?
My 1940’s wooden bookcase, that is actually the top of a dining hutch, it’s the focal point for my living room. I’d been looking for a bookcase for my cottage for months but couldn’t find anything with the measurements I required. One day last fall my mum came to visit and during my tour of the area we popped into a local antique shop I’d always meant to visit. And there, in the parking lot, was this piece (it was too big to fit inside). It was marked $95 and I bought it on the spot. The unexpected find is always the best, isn’t it?

What’s your favorite possession?
My custom, down filled, slip covered, larger than life couch. I was able to design the frame and design the pillows & slipcovers (people often question my choice of white since I have a black cat!). It often doubles as a bed when I have a full house and is perfect for entertaining as it instantly makes people feel cozy.

What five things can’t you live without?
Having lived through a couple of natural disasters in which I had two homes destroyed and also because my nature is to live pretty minimally, I try not to get too attached to anything one thing because they’re just that. But I do have favorite things that just make living nicer and that I would re-buy in a heartbeat.

1. My space heater. I seem to be always cold and running the heat high for the whole house doesn’t make sense. My space heater keeps my sanity.

2. A good bed. My money goes to good linens, orthopedic mattress toppers, good pillows and a great foundation. Neither my or the guest bed sees anything cheap. If I don’t sleep well, I don’t do anything well.

3. Tea. My cupboard is stocked with amazing teas and pretty cups. Earl Grey or Yerbe Mate will get me in the morning and the herbal ones will calm me in the evening. I can tell how tired I am by the number of cups I’ve had that day.

4. Water filters. I have sensitive, dry skin and live in a city with notoriously hard water. A filter in the shower and the sink have saved my skin.

5. Candles. I grew up with a candle at breakfast every morning and every evening. It’s part of my Danish heritage that would feel strange to not do. My current favourite candles are from Linnea’s Lights – hand made, they burn beautiful and have the nicest fragrance. All candles should be natural and subtle. And lit as much as possible.

what are a few of your favorite things to do in your neighborhood?
Santa Barbara, California is my home of five months so I’m still getting to know it. Thankfully, the town is very bike friendly so hopping on my Dutch bike to explore the city and look at all the historic Victorian homes and coastal cottages is something I often do. The Farmer’s market downtown on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings are a must for amazing local, organic produce and flowers. For coffee, nothing beats The French Press on State Street. Float Luxury Day Spa is run by local sisters in the heart of downtown but they’ve made the spa feel a million miles away with its gardens, indoor fireplace and treatments. I’m never able to leave Botanik empty handed whether it’s picking up something for the garden or a new candle. And for the best views of the city and ocean, nothing beats driving Alameda Padre street from Highway 101 up to the Santa Barbara mission.

Although it’s not in my neighborhood, just a few miles down is the little coastal town, Montecito, which I really love. There’s a wonderful and relatively private beach, Hammonds, that my dog and I love equally. Montecito’s main street has interesting assortment little boutiques and restaurants (I’m partial to The Pharmacy). Montecito is also home to my favourite place to eat and entertain – The Four Seasons, Santa Barbara. It has that old world luxury feel but is completely relaxed whether you’re having Sunday brunch (that I often just take myself to) or dinner and drinks in the lounge (which I often take guests and locals alike).

If you could go shopping with anyone in the world, who would it be?
For home it would be Rachel Ashwell! We both go to the Santa Monica Outdoor Flea Market but I don’t find the things she does there. I only find them in her store, for 80% more!

What bores you to death?
Shopping and television.

23 responses to “unexpected guests: hygge house.”

  1. Adorable place, but have a couple of questions.

    1. Where did that wonderful bicycle come from?
    2. Love the wall “it’s beautiful here” decoration. From an etsy shop?
    3. Is the print in the table picture vintage? If not can I purchase it somewhere? Makes me think of Goldilocks and the 3 bears.

  2. Love that you found the word “hygge” :-) Being from Denmark myself I know a lot about how to “hygge” – I´m “hygger” when I´m sitting in the sofa under the blankets with my two children and is reading books to them, and maybe having a little cake.

  3. Alex I enjoyed reading this and seeing photos of your lovely apartments again — your bed looks so cozy! I hope you are doing well and enjoying Santa Barbara. Is your dog still with you?

  4. Thanks for all your comments! You’re all invited for tea :)

    Here are a few answers:
    1. The bicycle is an Electra Amsterdam – you can find these at a lot of bike stores in the US. It’s 3 speeds but I absolutely love it and highly recommend!

    2. The ‘it’s beautiful here’ is by South African artist Heath Nash – it’s actually discarded electrical wire twisted into this shape.

    3. The print in the table picture is actual needle point and was done in the 30’s. It just seemed very ‘hygge house’ to me when I saw it in an antique shop. It should be a print…! :)

  5. your house is just so beautiful. thanks for sharing with us. i love that tree owl lamp you have. it is my biggest regret. i should have bought it when it was still in stock! thank reminds me, off to ebay to see if anyone has one for sale :)

  6. Love many things! firs photo, vintage dress, print in the table, flowers, orange and red colour at the bedroom… Peaceful space, beautiful house!!!

    lovely blog, regards from spain

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