Coastal Chic

Hillsborough-based interior designer Grace Ghiselli reimagines an ocean view beach house just south of San Francisco.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Interior by
    Ghiselli Designs
  • Written and photographed by
    Heidi Lancaster

The ocean at Miramar Beach can be heard outside… and steps away are a few wonderful restaurants. Montara, nestled along the coast just south of San Francisco between Half Moon Bay and Pacifica, is an enclave of beach style homes set amidst the beauty of the Northern California coastline.

Upon entering this charming beach house designed by Grace Ghiselli of Ghiselli Designs there is a sense of pure relaxation and perpetual vacation. This 1970s throwback has been revitalized into a fabulous oasis that makes it hard to leave once settled in.


You’ve created such an airy inviting home—what did the before pictures look like?

The house was very ’70s! A rust orange hue engulfed the home. The previous owners took a small cottage, expanded the footprint, and added a second story to take advantage of the beautiful view.  The view was what sold the house to my clients.


The house now seems like it just flows—especially the great room—were there any structural changes?

The great room space was not changed structurally at all.  We just wanted to give the home the current update that it deserved.  The natural wood beamed ceiling in the living room was lightened with a wash to make it look weathered, complementing the reclaimed wood look of the floors throughout the house.  We worked with a local metal craftsman, who created an amazing railing utilizing a rope motif, a sunset, and a sailboat to make a unique centerpiece for the space. The dark slate tiles were removed from the fireplace and light tiles that replicated washed wood were installed horizontally for an updated look.  We added a long window seat in the dining area to add warmth and accommodate large groups, with functional storage underneath.


How did you decide on the color scheme and this fun yet relaxing blue?

The main goal was to bring a lightness to the home, so most of the rooms are either white or a light neutral color, to expand the beachy feel.  Fabrics are kept neutral, with a few pops of color. In the great room there is a large picture window. The client loved the idea of blue for the walls, to highlight the blue of the sky on sunny days, and give the feeling of blue skies even on cloudy ones so we used Benjamin Moore’s ‘Nantucket Fog.’


The details in both the master bathroom and upstairs bathroom are stunning.  Where did you find such perfect knobs, tiles, etc?

We wanted to bring in different textures and bright colors as accents since the home is so close to the ocean. In the master bath, we used a Cambria quartz that is taupe and white, with veins of aqua. Aqua glass mosaic tiles were chosen for an accent wall and niche in the shower, which really gives the space a punch and looks like sea glass. Cabinet pulls made of glass from Sietto punctuate the white cabinetry and continue the feel of sea glass. The overall effect makes the space a serene and restful retreat.

In the upstairs powder room, we used another mosaic glass tile, this one hexagon-shaped and opaque, on the entire sink wall for dramatic effect. Two glass pendants with blue swirls hang on either side of the mirror, picking up the blue in the tiles.


This home is so inspiring and such a gracious space—what is your favorite room?

The clients wanted to add elements throughout the house to make it unique and personal.  One of the first purchases for the house was a mosaic tile for the main stair risers, which really makes the stairs an interesting focal point.  The pattern of this mosaic was enlarged, and the same colors were used by a local craftsman to create the accent stained glass over the front door. From the outside, the stained glass gives a bit of pattern to the facade, and from the inside, it glows beautifully. I think the entry is one of my favorite places in the home because it is such a dramatic change from before. It is light and fresh, setting the tone for the whole house!

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