While you may know Cydney Morris as the brains behind cult brand Stone Cold Fox, it seems that the entrepreneur also has clear talent for interior design and styling evident in her latest endeavour, The Foxalow. Australians are no strangers to the dream of owning a home, and for Morris, creating her dreamy Californian bungalow in the heart of Venice Beach was a life-long dream that, after years of careful preparation, (and saving) finally came to fruition. The dreamy, coastal aesthetic adopted by this once slightly-decrepit 1920s home is one that many décor devotees try to emulate—perhaps due to the laid-back way of life it intrinsically reflects.
Dripping with white linens, antique trinkets, pops of blue hues and a Pinterest-worthy outdoor shower, Morris has tirelessly worked to create a unified home that practically begs you to take off your shoes, indulge in a top-notch drop, and never leave the couch. But as you read on and see the beautiful images of the bungalow, it’s worth remembering that the original space required extensive renovation: A true testament to the creative accomplishments of Morris. Below, she shares her renovator's journey for creating her dream abode, from planning to execution and everything in between.
Have you always wanted a home of your own, or was it something that happened more organically?
Yes, there isn’t a time I can’t remember walking into someone’s house and getting envious because I wanted my own so bad. I am a big dreamer, sometimes to a fault, but I’ve wanted a home (or many homes) all my life. A beach house, city house, even a vacation house. Especially when you get older, there’s a feeling that comes over you of wanting to nest and make a home that is completely yours. My savings, the right house, a few years searching and here I am!
The Foxalow required a lot of work and imagination to turn it into what we see today. How did you begin the renovation process?
After looking for a house for almost two years and finally finding The Foxalow, the ideas started flowing. As soon as I saw the bones of the place, I did a lot of research, drawing, visiting supply stores and really looking at the structure of homes and spaces I visited. I had a new set of eyes. I made folders of each room and saved images of ideas I had, to keep my racing-mind organised. It always starts with a budget, then I’d determine what was most important to me to start with or choose which key antique pieces I wanted to design around. I had a great contractor who took my ideas and made them come to life, and also squashed a lot of them that were completely crazy.
When it came to inspiration, have you always wanted a laid-back, bungalow design, or is it something you came to after researching ideas?
I grew up in Laguna Beach. My parents' and grandparents' homes are your typical craftsman style with beautiful gardens, lots of light, attention to small detail and full of character. I’m not a modern girl, but I can appreciate different forms of architecture so much. I love a place to feel lived in, comfortable, open and I’ve always had an interest in neutral French antiques and the shabby-chic look. There are lots of “boxes” in Venice Beach, so when I found my little gem I knew it would be more of a project than normal since it was built in 1924, but it was all worth it.
How would you best describe the Foxalow’s aesthetic and what are some key features in the home that give that essence?
Sometimes, I feel there is an ocean right outside my doorstep. The house very much adheres to my adolescence with the coastal-cottage aesthetic. Some of my favourite key features are the windows I turned into French doors in every bedroom, the skylights, the light wooden floors, open shelving, the white Smeg refrigerator, and my recurring theme of blue and white porcelain in every room. My vintage Swedish fireplace in the living room and the deck with the outdoor fire pit are really great for entertaining.
What are some of the first key steps you suggest for those wanting to renovate their own home?
I would suggest being organised about what you want to do. Sometimes you start an area and a new project appears mid-way through. That being said, always plan for it to be more expensive then they say. You may open a wall and find an unfortunate surprise that you need to be prepared for. I would suggest living in your house for a bit before making some of the major decisions. When you are living your day-to-day life, you notice so many things by going through your regular routine. For instance, I ripped out my driveway and replaced it with decomposed granite, but didn’t really think about all the rocks in the house and how it would look after lots of rain—I’m now saving for cement pavers.
What’s your favourite room in the home?
The living room was the room I hated the most when I bought the place, and now it’s my favourite. It was so stuffy and dark when I bought it, so I popped the roof up, added four skylights, beautiful mouldings and tongue-and-groove walls. I’m hoping to add some French doors and a built-in media centre later this year, but now its a space that everyone hangs out in. It’s so bright and open, definitely the focal point of the home.
Was there anything that was surprisingly hard during the renovation process?
Drawing the line between picking the best hardware, or ones that would sustain. Are you designing this house to sell eventually, or live in forever? It's a really interesting place to know where you are now and where you will be, and deciding where to invest based on that. I could have gone mad with finishing touches, but is it all really worth it to some degree, if I plan on growing out of this home one day? I just found myself wanting everything and having so many ideas. I had to keep telling myself, “Come back to earth, Cyd! Do you really need the 200-year-old refurbished wood shelves that have been shipped here from Italy and blessed by the Mediterranean seas?” I eventually found a balance and still find it a bit of a battle
Why is home so important for you?
I work really hard, and when I’m home, it's sacred. It's my time off, it’s an expression of me and I want to feel comfortable to have friends over, make memories and be proud of my space. Starting up The Foxalow has been one of the most therapeutic accomplishments I have ever achieved. The freedom of being able to do whatever you want, just for yourself is an amazing feeling. Spending my off time work on something that is sacred is so satisfying, and making a home yours, fulfils those nesting feelings I was speaking of before. I landscaped my entire place over the last six months, and I never thought I would say watching plants grow is so satisfying!
What’s some of your favourite Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration?
What’s one of your favourite items in the house?
My man doesn’t have too much say about how the house looks, but I absolutely love the things he has put in the house. They have really added amazing details to the house. He found a vintage piano which has the perfect shade of light-oak and surprised me with it one day. That makes the living room complete and really fun for late nights. Also, he has his vintage surfboard in a corner, which adds a really great pop of colour to our large, white lounge room. Besides that, I would have to say my antique bi-fold I found and turned into my closet doors. I bought that piece not knowing where it was going to go, but I had to have it, and it really makes the entire bedroom.
What’s next for the Foxalow?
This project has been so fulfilling, I can’t stop. Whilst I have many plans for the current house we’re in, over the next few years, I have now begun taking outside clients houses and consulting on their properties. It’s a never-ending project, and every month a new idea comes up with hopes that Foxalow Interiors might be a new path I take one day.
Opening Image Credit: Hugh Forte and Michaela Wissen.