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Before and After: A California Cabin Becomes a Coastal Retreat

August 07, 2023

A dark cabin on the California coast got a major makeover. Now, it's the beach house it was meant to be.

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Photo: Catherine Leanne Photography. From: HGTV Magazine.

The Story

The winding road from San Francisco to Katherine and Murat Bicer’s weekend home in Muir Beach, California, has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean — and very spotty cell service. “That’s the best part,” says Murat. “As soon as you’re out of the city, you’re forced to switch to vacation mode.”

Katherine found the property by accident, shortly after the family moved from Belmont, Massachusetts, to the Bay Area. “I got lost looking for a hiking trail and ended up at the most gorgeous overlook,” she says. “I called Murat and said, ‘We should have bought a house here!’ ”

Two years later, the couple closed on a 2,000-square-foot cabin in that very spot. The house was built in 1972 and needed a lot of structural work, plus an overhaul of the interior. The Bicers worked with designer Mary Jo Fiorella to transform it from a woodsy cabin to a bright beach house. “I wanted to use a lot of white so the inside would look almost blank, because the outside is what’s important here,” says Murat. Katherine was worried the home would feel sterile, so Mary Jo brought in cozy natural fibers, light wood accents and textured tile. “There’s a serenity that washes over us when we walk in this house,” Katherine says.

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Photo: Joy Coakley. From: HGTV Magazine.

The Exterior: Before

The original house was covered with battered redwood boards.

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Photo: Vivian Johnson. From: HGTV Magazine.

The Exterior: After

The Bicers replaced the wood with fire-resistant Hardie siding in arctic white. Expanding the upper deck was the family's biggest renovation spurge. "This gave us more opportunities to enjoy the view," they say. "We love to have a cocktail and watch the sky turning brilliant colors at sunset."

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Photo: Joy Coakley. From: HGTV Magazine.

The Living Room: Before

“We liked the original fireplace, but it was a behemoth,” says Katherine. (It was also wood-burning, which is now restricted in California.)

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