Retro Bliss

Gray beaded wood siding with yellow and melon accents set the scene.

Gray beaded wood siding with yellow and melon accents set the scene.

Beaches and orange groves aren’t the only thing Florida has in abundance. Vintage cottages are also plentiful in the Sunshine State. Unlike other areas along the state’s Gulf Coast, historic preservation guidelines have saved many of Sarasota’s bungalows. Built during the 1940s and 1950s, the tiny homes surround a revitalized downtown area.

Vintage barkcloth in soft shades of green slipcover comfy seating.

Vintage barkcloth in soft shades of green slipcover comfy seating.

Every day when Betsy Sublet walked her dogs to town, she passed a cottage half hidden by overgrown bougainvillea vines.
“One day, I decided to leave a note in the mail box inquiring whether the owner might be interested in selling,” says Betsy. A deal was struck and Betsy began the long road of restoring the 900 square-foot house.

For a small bungalow, it required serious renovation. Betsy had to tear off and rebuild the back of the house, which had rotted from water damage. She also wanted to enlarge the kitchen and add a bedroom and laundry room.

When it came to decorating, Betsy relied on the cottage’s particular era for inspiration. ” I love the way the kitchen turned out,” Betsy says. “The colors–palm and soda lime–are retro yet cheerful. The only thing I kept from the previous owner’s kitchen is the glass cabinets. They honor the room’s ’50s flavor.”

betsy-kitchen-detailA fan of vintage appliances, Betsy added a 1954 O’Keefe and Merritt stove to the space. The chrome and vinyl kitchen table and chairs are also in keeping.

A 1954 O'Keefe and Merritt stove looks at home in the cottage

A 1954 O'Keefe and Merritt stove looks at home in the cottage

Because the dining room and living room share one open space, Betsy repeated the same palette — palm, ginger root and slate — in both rooms. In the living room, classic 50s wood furniture and patterned barkcloth add authenticity to the décor, while the dining area’s upholstered chairs continue the tropical floral motif.

The ball-fringed tablcloth is a modern repro.

The ball-fringed tablecloth is a modern repro.

By pairing period-perfect furnishings with retro colors and collectibles, the cottage’s interior is more than just a cozy nest for Betsy. It’s a showcase of how beautiful historic preservation can be.

Photos by Dan Mayers.

**Please note that the homes shown in Home Tours are bonus features, and are not repeated in Waterside Cottages.**