Wednesday 26 October 2016

California dreaming: How to give your home a cool, beach-vibe makeover

Emily Westbrooks

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

California-cool style is all about a combination of comfortable classics and mid-century touches. Picture: DFS
California-cool style is all about a combination of comfortable classics and mid-century touches. Picture: DFS
Miami taupe occasional table from Tesco.
Red chunky hi-ball glasses from Argos.
Egglight by Mikkel Vanborg, €129 at Nordic Makers
Osiris 12-bulb pendant lamp from Next.
Conran pictures from Marks & Spencer.
Barrett's series celebrates the quality of light we enjoy here in Ireland.

Spring is still a little ways off, but that doesn't mean we can't take inspiration from warmer seasons or climates year-round. California-cool is a growing interiors style that puts a spin on the popular mid-century modern style (which draws on the 1930s-1960s) in a way that will last longer than that trend.

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It starts with a base of traditional furniture in soft neutrals and layers in mid-century-inspired pieces, with muted 1970s colours and warm wood tones. Top it off with a few pieces of soft, beachy artwork - or an equally wistful Irish landscape (see Off the Wall, right) - and you have a style that will inspire lots of staycations as you relax and soak up the California cool vibe in your own home.

Cali Cool

This California-cool style is all about a combination of comfortable classics and mid-century touches. It's a style that will stay current for years to come. Simply choose a classic base for big-ticket items such as your couch, then swap out accessories and accents to update the look.

Buy it: Two-piece Freya Sofa, €1,300, DFS,

Sputnik Style


A delicate yet funky pendant light sets off a room even when it isn't illuminated. Make a statement with a hanging lamp like in our main picture (above) by searching for 'origami lampshade' on sites like, or pick up this 1970s-inspired Sputnik-style lamp from Next.

Buy it: Osiris 12-bulb pendant lamp, €195 from Next,

Modern Mid-century


Once you have your classic staples, add in retro mid-century-inspired pieces, like this simple occasional table from Tesco Direct. When you're looking for mid-century-inspired furniture, keep an eye out for metal hairpin legs or these tapered wooden ones, often found with brass tips that are both functional and funky. Or try the ever-popular Saarinen tulip table and a set of Eames chairs.

Buy it: Miami taupe occasional table, €37, Tesco Direct,

Warm Wood


Steer clear of dark wood, instead opting for warm birch or oak. These egg-shaped pendant lights from Dún Laoghaire-based Nordic Makers can be dimmed and come with an LED bulb that lasts 35,000 hours.

Buy it: Egglight by Mikkel Vanborg, €129 at Nordic Makers, The Lighthouse, George's Street Lower, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Art School


Art for the walls in this style should be calming and restful, nothing too jarring that would disturb your California-cool vibe. Beach scenes, either in photography or prints, are always a good option, just make sure the hues aren't too bright. These prints from the abstract Conran collection at Marks & Spencer come pre-framed and offer just enough interest without being too busy. For more artwork options that will remind you of the calming beauty and colours of home, see the panel below left.

Buy it: Conran pictures, €85 each, Marks & Spencer,

1970s on Mute


A 1970s colour palette is perfect for this California-cool vibe. Simply mute blues and greens down to their palest shades, and pair them with rust and barely mustard yellow and they'll sit well with your classic neutrals and warm wood. These glasses from Argos would be the perfect shade for dressing up a grown-up bar cart - the all-important accessory for a mid-century-inspired space.

Buy it: Red chunky hi-ball glasses, €15 for a set of four, Argos,

Off the wall


Looking for something new to adorn your walls? Choose one of Paula Barrett's 16 "Turfprojects", a series the Irish artist has created using her original photography paired with beautiful colour palettes drawn from the landscapes around the country. Barrett's series (above) aims to celebrate the special quality of light we enjoy here in Ireland, highlighting the greens as well as the greys in our daily landscapes. The series features locations ranging from Mizen to Malin Head, capturing rock walls and rooftops in stunning locations in between.

Available exclusively at Dust interiors shop in Dublin (, Barrett's prints can come framed in walnut, and the series is also available in postcard size format. Unframed prints are €125, framed prints are €230.

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