By Design: From ‘Early Cottonwood’ to ‘Elegant Beach Cottage’

Redesign is the service of creating dramatic room makeovers, utilizing the client’s existing furnishings, art and accessories.

I had the pleasure of being hired to redesign friends’ Canda and Don William’s lovely beach-inspired home. Canda was gracious enough to share the couple’s redesign experience with readers.

This was the Williams’ living room before redesign.
Photo by Canda Williams.

Q: Canda, thanks for taking the time to offer your insight and experience of having your home redesigned. What was it about your home that brought you to the point of seeking redesign?

A: Our home in San Diego was beautifully decorated in a beach-cottage style. When we brought the same furniture and accessories to our home in the north state, it was a design nightmare! We rarely sat in the living/family room area because the room felt so awkward. We were at our wits’ end when we finally gave you a call: SOS! Need help!

Q: Even your appeal for help has a nautical theme! Would you explain the redesign process, from a client perspective?

A: The first thing, was being able to talk about our vision for our home. We wanted the living/dining area and the master bedroom to have a beach feel. It was absolutely amazing to watch the redesign process in action.

After the walk-through of the house, as well as the deck outside, you began moving furniture around. An armoire and couch from the bedroom were brought into the living space, while a sideboard with TV and aquarium were taken from living room to the bedroom.

The TV was then placed in the armoire in the living space. A wicker rocker and ottoman from the deck were placed in the living space. Suddenly, the entry way had a welcoming look with furniture and accessories that had formerly been scattered in various rooms.

With the exception of a couple of accessories and sheer draperies, and using our existing furniture, Don and my pitiful attempt at decorating was transformed into a cozy and inviting space. We loved your suggestion of painting a beautiful color (Benjamin Moore, Beachhouse Beige), in the living room, dining room and kitchen.

The transformation from “Early Cottonwood” to Elegant Beach Cottage was complete.

Q: Were there some aspects about the redesign process that surprised you?

A: I was surprised at the efficiency of time and expense used in redesign. When we shopped for draperies  and a few accessories, there was always your conscious consideration of keeping cost down. You never tried to steer me to anything in particular, but allowed me to find pieces I liked, and gently guided me. After a successful shopping trip, the redesign was completed within a week, except for the paint, and new cushions for the wicker rocker and ottoman. I never would have thought to bring patio furniture into the house, but the end result is absolutely beautiful.

Q: I have to say, you were a good sport to allow moving outdoor furniture indoors. When I did the initial consultation, I’d asked how often you used the outdoor patio furniture. Your response of “hardly ever” was all I needed to hear, with repurpose in mind.

Did family and friends notice the redesign of your home?

A: We do a lot of entertaining, and many of our friends have seen the before-and-after of our redesign. Everyone is totally amazed at the difference. We now enjoy our comfortable and elegant living space whether alone or with friends. The conversation area is so cozy, and something we never would have thought of. For a relatively small amount of time and money, we have a home that could easily be in the pages of “Coastal Living”.

The is the Williams’ living room after Shelly Shively’s re-design. Shively achieved this “beachy” theme by using the couple’s belongings and giving the room a new coat of paint. Photo by Canda WIlliams.

“Q: “Coastal Living”! Thanks for the high compliment!

Aside from moving furniture around, a couple of things stood out for me with your project. First, I was particularly pleased that we were able to find a lovely glass cabinet to showcase your formerly concealed kaleidoscope collection. Second, painting the room also served as a warm and natural backdrop to your nautical collections of shells, coral and lighthouses.

Finally, the addition of a large, whimsical metal fish over the mantle gave a nod to your love of things of the sea, while avoiding a theme that was overly “matchy-match” – if you know what I mean.

We made a lot of fairly significant changes to your home. Sometimes, in the redesign process, a client may experience insecurity about change, which is totally natural. What was your and Don’s comfort level with the process? Feel free to speak bluntly.

A: I would have to say that we enjoyed the entire process. We noticed that care was taken to learn about our lifestyle, entertaining needs and our vision for the overall look of our home.

I have known people who are hesitant to use a designer for fear that he/she will push a certain style that does not reflect that of the family. Don and I appreciated that your goal is to bring out the essence of the client, not to replicate a particular trend, or design style.

Thanks, Canda, for bringing me “on board” with this project. I’m happy with the results, and more importantly, that the success is in your great satisfaction of enjoying your redesigned Elegant Beach Cottage.

Shelly Shively lives in Redding. She is IRDN (Interior -Re-design Network) certified.  Among her specialties are real estate staging, furnishing vacation and new homes, and the art of interior “re-design” – where she transforms and refreshes clients’ living spaces using their existing belongings. Shelly is also a freelance artist, illustrator and muralist.  To inquire about a consultation, she may be reached at  530-276-4656 or

Shelly Shively
Shelly Shively lives in Redding. She is Interior re-design network certified. Among her specialties are real estate staging, furnishing vacation and new homes, and the art of interior re-design where she transforms and refreshes clients living spaces using their existing belongings. Shelly is also a freelance artist, illustrator, muralist, Whiskeytown kayak volunteer and curator at O Street Gallery. To inquire about a consultation, she may be reached at 530-276-4656 or
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12 Responses

  1. Don Williams Don Williams says:

    You did a great job, Canda handled all the design ideas with you and all I have/had to do is enjoy the results. Many of our friends have commented how beautiful the room looks.

  2. Avatar Shelly Shively says:

    Thanks, Don. It helped that you & Canda share similar taste in themes/style.
    Still, you indulged us in the process of turning your house Topsy-turvy for a week!

  3. Wow – very nicely done. Love the understated nautical theme – it’s just right: calm, soothing but not cutesy.

  4. Avatar Janet Tyrrel says:

    Nice article and I’m happy to know your services are available.

  5. I love your make over! It really looks so calming and inviting…a wonderful relaxing environment. Enjoy and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  6. Avatar Shelly Shively says:

    Thanks so much, ladies…Canda’s photos really helped describe the before & after, & in looking at them just now, noticed that both of us forgot to mention the little used piano (before) that we had Don move to the guest room. Another good reason to take Before pics…; )

  7. Avatar Laura Rathe says:

    Absolutely gorgeous ! I have copied down your info and hope to have you come out next year to “re design” my home office.

  8. The re-design really updated the look of the room ~ kudos!

  9. Avatar Ginny Hibbard says:

    You did a wonderful with the redesign. Sometimes it is not all new, but know how to use what one has, with just a few added touches.

  10. Avatar KarenC says:

    I love that you worked with the clients to use what they have, and paint. Paint can make such a huge difference. Hard to achieve a “beach” look in our hot Redding, but you did it. Looks so peaceful.

  11. Avatar Canda says:

    Wow, I haven’t looked at that “before” photo for awhile. The living area was so blah and uncomfortable before Shelly’s redesign, we rarely used it. We really do marvel daily at our cozy space. Walking in the front door is like being enveloped in a warm hug. The room invites you to sit back and relax. Thank you so much, Shelly. Your talents were a true blessing to us and our home.

  12. Avatar Grammy says:

    Love the fish over the fire place