Next Stop, Montecito: Once a Train Depot, Now a Minimalist Sanctuary
We love it when the designers we’ve featured on our site check in with us to report an update to their home, a new project, a new venture, a relocation. Like a high school teacher visited by former students, we’re eager to see the changes that have happened since we were last in contact.
So we were delighted to open an email from Remodelista alum Kathleen Whitaker, an LA jewelry designer whose works are unusually elegant and artful. In 2014, we shared her first remodel of her Echo Park home, and a few years later the update to the update. The summer before last, she wrote to tell us, she temporarily moved into a rental in Montecito, a sleepy-chic community next to Santa Barbara, to escape the stress of living in the city during a pandemic.
“The cottage dates back to the 1920s. It is a single-story one-bedroom—at 675 square feet, exactly what you need (and nothing more) for a getaway spot,” she says. “It is one of four cottages, all originally part of the train depot, so each one is unique and very charming. I was told this specific cottage was likely the ticket office and luggage room. So even in its initial carnation, it was a place just to pass through, temporarily.”
The place came unfurnished—an inconvenience that, for many, would lead to a trip to Ikea. But Kathleen saw it as an intriguing design challenge: to create the peaceful retreat she sought using mostly furniture, decor, and art that she already had in her LA home. “It was a little confining but fun to work with big limitations,” she says. But even with the limitations—no painting, no permanent changes—she was able to sneak in a small, nail-free, easily removable DIY project. (Scroll down to see the clever corner desk she built.)
Here’s how it all came together.