Tessa Hendrie’s interior design career began when she was 8 years old.
“She started by redoing her bathroom,” recalls her mother, Stephanie.
It turned out so well, she encouraged Tessa to move forward with a red and black jazz-lounge-themed bedroom.
Stephanie knew her daughter was serious about interior design when she made the paint attendant at the hardware store remix a gallon of red paint “about 50 times.”
“Tessa kept saying, ‘Red is not red,’ ” her mother says now with a laugh.
An aspiring interior designer, Tessa, now 29, realized her dream eight years ago when she and her sister Alyssa, 36, purchased a rundown beach house in Dana Point.
“It was advertised as the cheapest house in Dana Point,” says Tessa, who was a student at San Diego State at the time.
It may have been the cheapest house — the sisters had saved their money for years to purchase a home — but it was also, well, sketchy.
Still, Tessa looked at the forlorn property and imagined a Caribbean-style boutique hotel.
Commuting from San Diego, Tessa and Alyssa updated the house, doing much of the work themselves. They painted the walls and exterior in colorful hues, furnished it with Craigslist finds and christened it the “Bitchin’ Beach House.” Before long, the rental was booked regularly and bringing in more than $200 a night.
After seeing what they could do, family friend Debe Vicharelli hired the sisters to find and design a high-end version of what they had accomplished in Dana Point.
The only requirement: The house had to have a view.
Now a licensed Realtor, Tessa found a dated double-wide trailer in the gated Point Dume Club just a few miles from Zuma Beach.
Although unremarkable, the trailer was perched on a hillside and featured unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Mountains.
With Vicharelli’s blessing, the sisters kept the chassis and removed everything else as they worked to create a mobile home so grand they now refer to it as a villa.
With views a top priority, the sisters moved the home’s entrance from the side of the house to the front. Now, when you walk through the front door, you are instantly transported to Zuma Beach.
The women chose understated, natural elements for the interiors, including seamless beige travertine floors and walls, transparent onyx slabs in the kitchen and bathroom, and a massive sliding divider door made of natural-edge American elm.
The dark trailer is now a light-filled space brightened by 13 skylights, a white palette to emphasize the ocean and a wraparound deck from which you can see dolphins, whales and sea lions.
While incredibly elegant, the luxurious, four-bedroom abode features a whimsical charm. An electronic “doggy door” over the kitchen sink opens to reveal a slab of onyx that, on the other side, forms a wall of the bathroom shower in one of two master suites. A Moroccan-theme secondary bedroom features a hanging bed that rocks you to sleep. And on the deckt outside a shabby-chic master bedroom sits a foot bath, in case you want to wash your feet.
The mobile home proved to be a charmed project for the Hendrie siblings since Vicharelli, who is retired, is not ready to move in. So the sisters are renting the trailer while Vicharelli travels the world.
Now caretakers, the enterprising sisters can appreciate the special environment they created.
“We knew we could create something beautiful here,” Tessa says. “But we had no idea we would be living here. It is truly amazing. It’s hard to feel stressed out when you can look outside and see the ocean.”
Here, Tessa shares five tips on how to spruce up your home:
Look to lighting
Lighting is a fantastic opportunity to change the look and feel of your home, while adding style and flair. Gorgeous pendants, sconces and lamps can be lifesavers.
Find a common thread. Tie in all of your eclectic belongings by using variations of a unified color palette for your rugs/pillows/blankets/curtains. Keep things consistent. Bring in things that tie it all together.
Work with what you have
Use your environment to your advantage. Highlight the beautiful and learn quick tricks to hide what you don't want to see. If it's not in the budget to move a window and you don't have a great view, add light-filtering patterned window film or beautiful plants just outside.
Depend on the details
Little things, like switching out cabinet knobs for unique crystal knobs or ones with a contrasting color, can really spruce up the joint.
Don't overlook the possibilities of Craigslist, thrift stores and garage sales. You can find diamonds in the rough out there. You just have to look.
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