Sea Glass Gem in the Jewel Box

beach theme home

From the moment you step into this sea glass-inspired cottage, your cares practically float away. Cool sea foams, bright corals, and rich textures combine to make sea glass jeweler Marylou Forrest and her husband Hugh’s rental cottage a slice of beach heaven. 

Marylou and Hugh just completed a remodel of this two-bedroom bungalow in Opal Cliffs, Santa Cruz, California, which they have been renting out to visitors from around the world for 10 years. Nestled between the Jewel Box and Pleasure Point neighborhoods, Marylou was inspired to create a beach home worthy of the names. 

sea glass and shells in a bowl

“I wanted to convey my love of sea glass, mermaids, and all things that relate to the beach,” said Marylou. “I wanted to create a space for visitors to make special memories.”

One of Marylou’s goals was to reuse and upcycle discarded things, just like using the broken glass that has turned into sea glass jewels in the waves. Marylou also stepped out of her comfort zone by incorporating fresh, colorful, beach-inspired paints. She used Kelly Moore colors Ocean Cruise, Synchronicity, and Nature Spirits to create a soothing palette. She installed new flooring that brightened all the rooms, and painted trim white for a clean coastal look.

seaside bedding

It doesn’t take a lot to add a little bit of the beach to your home. Marylou selected fabrics with coastal colors (above) at Bed Bath & Beyond and sprinkled plenty of shell  and starfish-themed pieces around the house. A $5 Craigslist glass lamp, opened up and filled with Marylou’s sea glass, adds just the right beachy touch. A greeting card Marylou had saved, now in a frame from Marshalls, sit on top of the repainted dresser (below).

shells and starfish on dresser

Marylou and Hugh’s remodel didn’t break the bank, though, thanks to yard sales, Craigslist, and Marylou’s ability to add artistic touches to her discount store finds. Lucky for Marylou, she has an enviable collection of sea glass, shells, and vintage Hawaiiana that she drew on for inspiration. And she has a great eye for spotting a garage sale bargain and finding ways to repurpose items for new uses.

beach bathroom

Marylou’s favorite color is turquoise, and it shows when you step into the cottage. Most of the surfaces and accessories are shades of blue and green. The bathroom counter top is from Vetrazzo, a Georgia-based company that creates counter tops from recycled glass. 

recycled glass countertop

Recycled-glass countertops in the bathroom and  kitchen (above) were part of Marylou’s commitment to recycling whenever possible. A yard-sale lamp and mermaid (below) sit atop a Craigslist table in the bedroom. Glass jars from Goodwill with a collection of sea glass and a rummage-sale mermaid soap dish (far right) brighten up the kitchen.

mermaid decor

“I fell in love with Vetrazzo but couldn’t afford it for the whole kitchen,” said Marylou. “I  found a Vetrazzo remnant called Emerald Coast, made of recycled glass and oyster shells, and used it in the bathroom.” The kitchen has GEOS Recycled Glass counters, instead.

beach cottage

Decorating the cottage with warm and welcoming art and furniture did not break the bank, either. Marylou got the living room wall art on Craigslist and the living room couch and chair were purchased on sale. She found matching end tables, originally $149 each, at two separate tag sales for a total of $45. And she used her own collection of shells, sand dollars, and starfish to decorate the kitchen. 

sea glass lamp

Marylou found great ways to cover the walls on a budget. The living room art was bought for only $60 from a company closing its offices. The dining room features a triptych (below) that Marylou made with $25 shadowboxes from Target, filled with her personal beachcombing finds.

beach shadowboxes

You may not want to leave this adorable beach home, where you can hear the waves crash and the sea gulls call, but it’s just a five-minute walk to charming Capitola Village or the world-famous surf break at Pleasure Point. And, it’s a short stroll down to the beach where you can collect sea glass, seashells, and sand dollars to add a little bit of the beach to your own home.

sea glass kitchen

This article appeared in the Glassing Magazine November/December 2018 issue.

Check out these other fun ways to organize, store, and show off your beachcombing collection.


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beach house interiors and decor

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